Ultra-hip hell-raiser tells the story of his agitated but enjoyable life.
According to longtime animal-rights activist Mathews, he’s far from the dour killjoy most people expect: “When I wake up each morning, my first thought isn’t, I want to help animals, but I want to have fun.” His quick-witted memoir takes pains to emphasize things he imagines will surprise those expecting to hear a rant. He describes with memorable sarcasm a meat-eating California childhood, his family “having flunked middle class” and moved to bland Costa Mesa, “brimming with tanned white people who were really happy that the weather was nice.” A self-described “outcast” since grade school, Mathews got involved early in animal-protection demonstrations, but he resisted becoming a vegetarian until a fellow teen dragged him to see an anti-meat-industry documentary. But he still wasn’t interested in the activist life, bounding off after high school to study, model and occasionally turn tricks in Rome. He finally arrived, by roundabout means, at a position as vice president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and the book’s most dramatic passage describes PETA’s takeover of the National Institutes of Health offices to protest animal testing. Mostly, though, Mathews focuses on how he furthers the animal-rights agenda and doesn’t waste much time on why. This is actually a blessing, as he writes much more interestingly about his own life.
A passionately delivered handbook on leading a purposeful life.