Thursday, March 4, 2010

Book Review: No Mad by Sam Moffie

My sister has recently been whining that she never gets anything in the mail, so I let her take pick of one of the hauls I got last week. Here's what she's gotta say.

Title: No Mad

Author: Sam Moffie

Pages: 335

Received from: author

Summary:

Racing home to share news of a long awaited book deal, Aaron Abrams unexpectedly finds his wife and beloved brother TOGETHER. Tossing a few mentionables into the car, along with his golden retriever, Churchill, his now only trustworthy lifelong companion, Aaron embarks on an odyssey like no other. With his own music as a backdrop, while guzzling his favorite Newman's Own Virgin Lemonade, Aaron begins in Youngstown, Ohio, travels interstate 80 in Pennslyvania, and continues into Gettysburg, Pa., Boston Ma., Roswell, NM., to name a few, ultimately ending his road trip in scenic Niagara Falls. Along the way, he continues to embrace each moment, every situation, all relationships and brief encounters. Never losing his zest for life, Aaron stays positive, upbeat and open for adventures, not letting his ex-wife-to-be interfere with his new found freedom, while at the same time rediscovering and recreating bonds that will never be broken. The game of Jinx has never gotten so much attention; what that means the reader is soon to discover.


So, you know, you literary people, you always have that guy who will warn you of the evils of self publishing? "Heavens, no! Self-publishing are just a bunch of rich guys with no talent who want to beat off to their own egos! Growl!"

I am tempted to agree with them, I'm afraid. Normally, I'm all for sticking it to the Big Bad Publishers, but in this case, their is a very good reason this book had to be self-published. It's a piece of shit.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not the Grand Puba of good literature. But I like to think I have a general knowledge of good and bad. And this was plain-ass-fucking bad. The story left so much promise, too. A middle-aged dude who catches his brother (who he God-worships) and his wife fucking, then goes on a road trip to write a book. Better books have been made with worse plots. But the writing here is just so...amateurish.

First, it's told in third person. I despise the practise. Sure, it's okay if you have multiple protaganists and you do it right. But with one central character, and a story told entirely from his point-of-view, it's terrible. Fucking terrible.

Okay. Now. My main problem, really, is the overall smugness. You can tell from the first page that Moffie thinks he's writing a masterpiece, the next On The Road. The way he repeats these joke-names for people and places, they were cute the first time, but not when he says them overandoverandover. After the likefifteenpage introduction, he always refers to his wife as his 'ex-wife-to-be', and his brother as his 'ex-brother'. Pennsylvania is 'Pennsy-fucking-vania'. He also seems to think that, not only is Jinx (that game where you say something at the same time as another person, yell jinx, and either get a free soda, make that person not talk until someone says their name, or, in this case, punch them in the arm) the funniest, cleverest thing anyone has ever done, but that he invented it. Always, he has to recount a story in which he (or his surrogate, Aaron) teaches someone it because they've never heard of it. Excuse me sir, but not only have I, my sister, and our entire first grade class heard of it, we got tired of it in fourth grade.

My second problem? This entire book seems to be the wet-dream of a middle-aged dude who really wants to be a famous writer. Let's recount...not one day after he leaves his wife of two decades, he hooks up with his agent's sexay assistant. Effortlessly. Like, he says maybe five words to her and she's dragging him home. After this, he hooks up with at least three other sexay ladies. Also, he's a 'big breast man'. The sex scenes, the manymany sex scenes, are unneccassarily graphic, and you have to wonder why they're there at all.

Not just his mad-game, either, you guys. He's also a Renaissance man. The smartest guy any of the characters have ever met. I direct you, fellas, to this particular passage:

“No one remembers the writers in today’s society. Just the actors. “Animal House,” who wrote it Jane?”

She thought for a few seconds.

“See?”

“Belushi? Akroyd? Matheson?” she guessed.

“Wrong on all three. If you were a baseball player, you would have struck out.”

Jane had been one-upped. She didn’t like that, but she admired this guy’s guts. He was going to be a great client.

“It was Doug Kenney,” said Aaron.

“Who?” Everyone at the table said at the same time.

Boy did Aaron wish he were playing Jinx.

Boy, is this guy going to be a great writer, Jane thought to herself.


Specifically, let's look at the last line. This agent, Jane, who is described as the best in the business (but it's okay, men, because she's a lesbian), decides he's going to be a great writer because he knows who wrote Animal House. Well, do we say any evidence of his awesome writing skillz? No. We see bolded passages of interviews for his nonfiction book.

He's also supposed to be an awesome teacher at an awesome Catholic high school (but he's Jewish! Wacky!). If this dude was my teacher, my class whould rip the poor fuck a new one. He looks like an untolerable jackass, who goes off on random spiels to strangers about the history of so-and-such, or whatever.

(Dude, just because you watch the History Channel and have some fiction books under your belt doesn't make you a Smart Guy)

It's not just him. All of the characters are unbelievable. Aside from the agent, there's his three kids, who call him every five minutes. Oh, sure, he just got cheated on, but these are, all three, twenty-somethings. Two in college. No offence to that particular generation, but they're heartless bastards. What makes these three Jinx-loving youngins different?

A cartoonishly evil mayor of Chicago named Arrogant Prick by our Witty Hero, a sex-crazed female cop, a hippie who writes poetry and keeps Viagra on hand...everybody is reduced to half-assed stereotypes.

Now, I'm almost prone to comparing this book to The Room. Y'know, that hilariously bad movie? It's not quite on that level of bad, but there are similarities. Referring to the wife as 'ex-wife-to-be', referring to S.O. as 'future husband' and 'future wife', hilariously detailed sex scenes...I doin';t know, it's just small things that ran through my mind.

But here's the thing...I couldn't put it down. It genuinely is a...hm...I'd call it a 'passive page-turner'. Just one of those casual books that's genuinely entertaining enough if you turn your brain off and just read the fucking thing. If there is absolutely nothing else to read, you could do worse than No Mad. If you are a mid-forties male with hemorroids and a penchant for history lessons and music lyrics every five pages, you'd even like it.

Rating: 3 out of 10

--

Yikes. Um, thanks, Erika.

4 comments:

April (BooksandWine) said...

Hah!

Oh my that is funny.

Kristen said...

So I guess she didn't like it?

Dannie said...

Kristen: its safe to say...

riotburnsleaves said...

THANK YOU! Yours and the commentary over at Small-Press Review seem to be the only ones that agree with me on this book. Glad someone else thought it was pretty insulting towards women, too.

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