A humor book far more mean than funny.

Calling all Tucker Max fans: McInnes (Street Boners: 1,764 Hipster Fashion Jokes, 2010, etc.) delivers a monumentally unfunny memoir of being a jerk.

The author was born and raised in a boring town in Canada, the son of two “bombastic drunk Scots.” There he engaged in typical teenage hijinks like dropping acid and figuring out who could drive the drunkest. Seeing promise in such pursuits, he soon became a mainstay of the regional punk scene, forming the band Anal Chinook, and drinking, puking and having lots of sex. University led him to Montreal and his eventual founding of the magazine Vice. When the magazine became an international hit, McInnes sold it for a large sum of money. However, the book isn’t as much a linear narrative as a pastiche of the author’s many outrageous experiences. First and foremost is sex with “bitches”—or as McInnes writes, “[people] you jerk off into.” In one bit of debauchery he nearly pushed a woman’s head into the toilet while having sex with her. Then there’s the time he gave himself an STD by swallowing his own semen. Another time he pretended to be a “retard,” and people actually believed he was retarded and treated him with kindness. There are plenty of stories about drinking and fighting, and he even got beat up by a “faggot.” Occasionally there’s a story that is actually funny (the time his mother got stoned) or poignant (being in New York during 9/11). But while the author pictures himself a latter-day Hunter S. Thompson, there’s a thick line between Thompson’s inspired lunacy and the insipid callousness offered here. McInnes did eventually settle down, however, and got married; in marriage, he writes, “women become human beings for the first time ever.” Inspiring stuff.

A humor book far more mean than funny.

Pub Date: March 20, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4516-1417-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012


If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998


The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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