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Ego & Hubris: The Michael Malice Story Hardcover – April 11, 2006

4 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

American Splendor's Pekar branches out into a full-length story of someone else. This first-person tale documents the life of New York native Michael Malice, a fairly streetwise geek of frightening intelligence, if he does say so himself. Which he does. Numerous times. Malice's autobiography consists of a long string of episodes where he is right and everyone else is wrong. From first grade—where a teacher forces him to mispronounce a word in a children's story—to his string of nowhere temp jobs, he's in constant contact with people who are far stupider than he. The story gets much of its power from the shock value inherent in the narrator's unshakable confidence in himself. Dumping a girlfriend with leukemia, beating up on his intellectual inferiors, heaping contempt on those he doesn't agree with, Malice has endless energy for pointing out the faults in others. Still, Pekar makes him a compelling and memorable character, with his endless hunger for something better. Malice is clever and, at moments, surprisingly sympathetic—chiefly when he contradicts his own stated principles and derives intense satisfaction from the approval of others. Dumm, longtime Pekar collaborator, illustrates in his usual straightforward, quotidian style. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

The dean of nonfiction comics tells the story of a guy who is just becoming tolerable at the end of the book, when he snares a job developing a show for VH1 and gets all smile-button. Michael Malice has his excuses: insensitive, officious parents; dumb schoolmates; dim-bulb teachers; clueless fellow coeds; lying college advisors and professors--in fact, liars all around. But he is a jerk who boasts about his flair for verbal cruelty, gloatingly recalls every time he was right but suppressed (by his lights), and cuts no slack for anybody else's attempted diplomacy, fears, and mediocrity (they're all liars, you see). On the other hand, he is honest, scrupulous, and smart. Pekar nails his most salient qualities in the title, though. For Malice, it's all me, me, me, and I'm better than everyone else. (He's an Ayn Rand admirer. No, really.) Pekar counters his fascination with Malice, perhaps purposely, by choosing the rather ham-fisted Dumm, who makes every character look 45, to draw the book. One thing's for sure: Pekar isn't resting on his laurels. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1st edition (April 11, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345479394
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345479396
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.7 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #766,439 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jordan Hofer on May 14, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Harvey Pekar captures a character so disturbing I'm glad I never met the guy in person. As for Pekar himself, the man should be recognized as one of the great American writers of the 20th-21st centuries. He's real, man. I called him up one night and he was really nice to me. He could've told me to screw off, but he was polite. Harvey's got another fan for life. I just wish we could convince him that he's worthy of praise.
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Format: Hardcover
so here we have pekar's second graphic story after "the quitter." the story is told first-person by a guy whose actual name is michael malice. mr. malice has an extremely high IQ, and boy, does he ever know it. he has no time to waste on people he thinks are dumb or trying to hinder his wishes. in this sense, malice is a superhero just like pekar. i found myself asking the question, why is pekar interested in malice? i think the answer is, they're opposites. pekar is smart, but seems to feel no need to be intellectually superior to any other working stiff. pekar is a supreme creature of habit, staying in the same job, city and apartment for years and years. malice is the opposite, quitting jobs on a whim or because he dislikes how he's being treated. malice gives real-life action to those temptations inside of us to get revenge on the people we hate. strangely, malice seems to get screwed over A LOT. is this because he draws negative situations to his life, or sees things negatively? or are we all getting screwed over and malice just does something about it? as you can see, this book can bring up a lot of questions. oddly enough, i found myself able to connect with malice's personality quite a bit. i'm also intelligent and highly at odds with society at large. but i think the difference is, malice has a pretty big ego! malice always gets his way in the end, and has no regrets. most of his conflicts seem to be with evil women, which brings up another question. does malice have issues with women, or are there simply a lot of evil women (or both?) i found myself a bit mystified at the end, not sure what to think about this guy. so i'm glad pekar included a small note on why he chose to write the story. in the end i sympathize with malice to a great degree..Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
I never thought I'd read a book by Harvey Pekar that I wouldn't enjoy. But this one did it.

First of all, I couldn't figure out how or why Pekar would pen a biography about a fellow like Malice. It just didn't make any sense to me. He is the absolute opposite of everything that Pekar was. Where Pekar was compassionate, Malice is self-centered. Pekar was objective and outward looking, and the subject of this volume is an insular, selfish prick.

The whole project just did not make any sense to me, at all.

And then it hit me. The whole thing took place as a series of interviews. Pekar grilling Malice without emotion. Just the facts, ma'am. Also, I recall how Pekar talked in flat terms of how his retirement income was not enough to keep him going after leaving the clerk job. And then it made some sense.

Pekar had hired himself out to write this biography of the prickly, unlikable Malice. It was, of course, the only thing that made any sense. It was a job. Just do it, get it out of the way, and move on to something worthwhile.

This is the only book by Harvey Pekar that I've ever read that wasn't excellent. Like the subject of this biography, it was just a small, pitiful construct without any real worthwhile emotion or meaning.
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Format: Hardcover
A friend suggested I read this book, and it is the first I've heard of Harvey Pekar (I know, I live under a rock). I had a hard time putting this book down, and I found myself laughing out loud at the "ego and hubris" of Michael Malice. Everyone knows a guy like this -- and would probably prefer they didn't. Fun reading.
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This should have been titled "Loser" to go with Pekar's autobiographical "Quitter." One wonders why Pekar was interested in the project, perhaps seeing it paralleling his own story. Not! Anyway, while the artwork is well done and there are good moments, this is way too repetitious. Yes, we've all suffered from those who plague MM's life. Yes, we all know someone like him whose delusions of grandeur are pitiable and yet funny. But the details of his many triumphs over co-workers and bosses, parents and teachers, are, well, too detailed. One gets bored. And the ending--of course, he will succeed in his generation's world, Media Universe. A novel (Ayn Rand, how dated though), a song, a band, a video, etc. etc. I have just visited MM's latest website (after the one mentioned in the book). In it he explores Our Universe and runs back to his own to comment on us. Yee-ha. Pekar's great talents are somewhat wasted here. I recommend this because one wants to read anything Pekar has written. That's the best I can say.
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I had fun with this one. Thanks to Harvey Pekar and Gary Dunn for bringing Malice's story to light. My advice is to try not to think too hard about how it might be....um....not so much fun to be in the same room as Malice, but enjoy his life story, at least the version that was told to Pekar, which is all we, as readers, can go by. Since this is a graphic novel that is meant mostly to entertain imo, I hope that the "professional" reviewers from the mass media will cut Malice and Pekar some slack and not hold it up to the scrutiny that that poor sap James Frey has been put through. In the same way that I doubt that Frey's stories were 100% truthful (as has been proven ad nauseum by The Smoking Gun, then Oprah, etc. etc.), I don't expect that Malice's stories are always spot on truthful; but so what? They made me laugh.... Hope they do the same for you.
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