Tuesday, June 2, 2009

F*%@#ing summer reading

Call me a sucker for good advertising but when I came across the book “Drink, Play, F@#ck” by Andrew Gottlieb, I didn’t even flip through it before I headed over to the cash register and plunked down my money. With a title like that, I figured I was in for some juicy vicarious living.

“Drink, Play, F@#k: One Man’s Search for Anything across Ireland, Vegas, and Thailand” is the obvious guy’s answer to the bestselling chick-lit book “Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia” written by Elizabeth Gilbert. I haven’t read the latter book. Maybe I’ll pick it up sometime but not from a bookstore. I would be too embarrassed to hand the book over to the clerk. I guess I could say I was buying it for my girlfriend or my mother but I’m not a good liar and I get embarrassed far too easily. I’ll spare myself the humiliation and buy online—if ever I feel the need to get in touch with my inner touchy-feely feminine self.

But I felt very comfortable slapping down “Drink, Play, F@#ck” on the counter. I felt like I was ordering a Bud in a dive bar and I couldn’t wait to get home to read it.

Andrew Gottlieb is a good writer. His prose flowed easily and I managed to get through all 195 pages without losing interest or regretting my $12.95 purchase. What I did find bothersome is that the book didn’t deliver on its promise of a wild ride. With drinking in Ireland, I expected his protag to get so drunk, he got his jaw dislocated in a bar fight. With playing in Vegas, I expected him to lose so much money, he was begging for quarters on Fremont Street. And in the Thailand, there is really no excuse for not writing about an “accidental” encounter with a transsexual hooker.

Instead, the main character did some drinking, and a little playing and in the worst missed opportunity ever, he dove off a boat in Thailand where an orgy was just about to happen. Ho-hum. What kind of guy-gone-wild tale was this? The guy was supposed to be getting a life and instead he was running away from the flame? I felt like I had been promised a tale of male debauchery and instead I got a watered down slideshow of a year long vacation that could almost be described as “pleasant.”

At the end of the book, the guy does find happiness. Of course. In fact, he even gives a list of things that make him happy which includes, “Picking an apple of a tree, eating it in about five bites, and throwing the core at the base of the tree.”

Oh brother.

I had to check the title of the book again because for a second there, I thought I had just picked up a copy of “Eat, Pray, Love.” If I had written it, I would have had the guy being chased by five Vegas hookers with gonorrhea who were demanding paternity lawsuits, but hey, we all have our fantasies that we want to write about.

ON THE FLIP SIDE, I recently finished the autobiography of Russell Brand called “My Booky Wook.” Whereas “Drink, Play, F@#k” is a completely fabricated tale, “My Booky Wook” spills the guts of the author like an autopsy on a rotten cadaver. Russell Brand is the real deal that lives up to his hype and after finishing his book, I wanted to stand up and cheer like I always want to do after a good movie (except that I don’t).

I first heard about Russell Brand (like a lot of other Americans) while watching “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”, Jason Segel’s comedy in which he plays the rocknrolla Aldous Snow. Russell was pretty funny in this movie although it was hard to watch most of it after being blinded by Jason Segel’s penis. I picked up this autobiography for much the same reason I picked up “Drink, Play, F@#k”--I was lured in by the title which promised a memoir of “sex, drugs and stand-up.” This time, I was not disappointed.

Russell Brand has lead a life of scary, epic proportions. Being fearless and addicted to drugs and sex, you are bound to have a lot of stories to share and my lordy jesus, he has filled the basket to the brim. Taking a bath naked with a homeless man, sticking a Barbie doll up your arse while onstage and dressing up like the Osama bin Laden the day after 911 may not make you a likeable person but it can certainly make you a funny one. (Okay, okay, in a strange and sick way.) Not only is his book consistently hilarious, it s unabashed in its honesty and for that, I give it full marks. This guy doesn’t seem embarrassed about anything he did. And why should he? He’s mined his life for comic gold.

Who knows if there will be a sequel in the works for Mr. Brand. I, for one, certainly hope so. I know he may not equal his tales from a wild youth but I’m sure there will be fascinating stories that will develop out of his new found maturity.

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