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

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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: 9.4 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #461,485 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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See all 11 customer reviews
His parents showed me his suicide note, and it was embarrassing!"
I had a hard time putting this book down, and I found myself laughing out loud at the "ego and hubris" of Michael Malice.
L. Lewis
Gary Dumm's wooden, lifeless artwork perfectly depicts Mr. Malice.
Kerry Walters

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Red Eyes on December 2, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I have followed and rated Pekar's work for years -- writers like Pekar, Crumb,Clowes and a handful of others reach the heights of Chekov and even -- perhaps -- Dostoyevsky at their best, and they have contributed to the comic genre being taken seriously.

However, I have found that as Pekar gets older, his work has become more dull, and his illness has perhaps ( understandably of course ) made his work a little more self indulgent and introspective, but in a rather pedestrian, boring way.

I haven't really enjoyed his recent work that much. A certain edge is gone now, and of course, so much of his work has been packaged, repackaged and sold off in different volumes since his movie success. The idea seems to be "cash in" rather than innovation nowadays with Harvey. (But no one could say he doesn't deserve cash in after all his years as a file clerk).

So, I approached this book with caution, expecting a book cashing in on his recent cinema success, or perhaps rehashing old themes and ideas.

How wrong I was -- this is like a new beginning for Harvey -- a close study , not of himself, and his own inner demons, which he has done admirably for years, though he has started to grow a little tired of late -- but a study of the shortcomings, failings, flawed aspirations, intelligence and eccentricities of others.

It tells the story of one Michael Malice, a Russian Jewish immigrant to the USA. He is an atheist, and feels no affinity with his Jewish ness, (an "identity" which he considers preposterous, scripturally and socially) or his "Russian-ness" (an ethnic identity he considers parochial and primitive). Neither does he see much value in being an American.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Kerry Walters VINE VOICE on May 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is one of the most intriguing autobiographies I've ever read. Its subject, one Michael Malice, could've come straight out of an overdone piece of fiction. He's a rather talentless loser with a mile-wide mean streak. He chalks up his continuous failure in life to bad parents, stupid teachers, dogmatic professors, and idiotic bosses. Malice is smarter than everyone else--he tells us that he was a brilliant child, and defiantly demands to know why he should be modest--and obviously believes that the world neither appreciates nor deserves his genius. It's the stupidity of others, not his own blemishes, that are to blame for anything in his life that dissatisfies him.

But the reality of the situation (as he rather ingenuously confesses) is that he's lazy and a cad. He's manipulative and cruel, sneaky, and duplicitous. He makes fun of a troubled classmate who kills himself. He's vindictive, fantasizing about murdering a teacher's children or wishing that the 9/11 horror had murdered some of his co-workers. He panders to influential people (such as Senator Bob Dole), lying through his teeth to suck up to them, while all the while disdaining them. Curiously, he tells us that he values his integrity above all else. Needless to say, he's working on a pretty idiosyncratic notion of integrity.

Pekar's presentation of him is nothing short of brilliant. Malice obviously thinks of himself as a sort of Nietzschean ubermensch. But in telling his story to Pekar, a cumulative portrait of something far less comes through. Malice suffers from what Nietzsche called "ressentiment," a malicious envy of others that seeks self-promotion through destruction.

Pekar has focused for most of his artistic career on chronicling the ordinary.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Cody C. Gaisser on August 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is a very hard book to recommend or explain, but I quite enjoyed it nonetheless. Harvey Pekar simply relates the life story of one of his eccentric acquaintances (a conservative anarchist named Michael Malice) in a very deadpan, matter-of-fact first person perspective. A quick summary of Malice's narrative would be: "I am smart and under-appreciated, all of my bosses and coworkers are idiots, here is how I told them off and got fired." Don't expect it to go anywhere - it doesn't. At least not anymore than real life "goes somewhere." Despite his willful obnoxiousness and condescending attitude, Michael Malice still somehow comes out a champion of sorts because he lives life his own way without compromise - always striving to learn and create, and he seems genuinely satisfied with his unorthodox lifestyle choices. You may not want him talking your ear off at a bar, but most people will probably see a little bit of themselves and a LOT of their acquaintances reflected back in Michael Malice's inner thoughts. Pekar is VERY astute at capturing these sorts of universal elements and situations, allowing the reader to identify with someone they might not normally be fond of. By the grace of this man's incredible gift, we are able to understand ourselves and others from new perspectives... which is the real the key to human progress. If you already enjoy American Splendor, you will likely find something to love (or hate) about Michael Malice.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful 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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