We thought that Neil Strauss, who chronicled his own transformation from "half a man" to a "Master Pickup Artist" in the one-of-a-kind bestseller, The Game, might be the perfect expert to assess Maddox's guide, and indeed, he came through with the sharpest take we've yet seen on the book, which you can read below.
Guest Reviewer: Neil Strauss
Over the past decade, Neil Strauss, former pop music critic for The New York Times, has established himself as the go-to guy for diarists of decadence, collaborating with rockers Marilyn Manson, Mötley Crüe (on the instant trash classic, The Dirt), and Dave Navarro, as well as porn star Jenna Jameson, on a series of witty and frank tales of celebrity excess. And then he stepped out on his own with one of our top-selling books of 2005, The Game, his bizarre, hilarious, and surprisingly uplifting memoir of joining a secret society of "Master Pickup Artists." Keep your eye out: he has many more smart and shocking projects on the way.
I am fully convinced after reading the entire A-Z of The Alphabet of Manliness that the author of its 26 essays, Maddox, is a nerd. And not just because he correctly alphabetizes the entries, but because he can recite the names of every Castlevania game, talks about hacking and IP addresses and various mathematical theorems, and has just spent way too much time analyzing in minute detail every aspect of the penis, its functions, and its influence on the male brain. However, Maddox's lack of bulging biceps may actually be a positive thing. Because having him become the symbol and policy-maker of all things alpha male just may be one of the most subversive byproducts of the Internet since file-sharing.
If you are new to the world of Maddox and unfamiliar with his website www.thebestpageintheuniverse.com, here's how you will react to the book: When you read the dedication--"to the love of my life, my soul mate, and the greatest person in the world: me"--you will think for a moment that you have encountered one of the most unlikable narcissists in the world. When he calls a woman a "bitch" on page 2, you may actually begin to hate him. But if you stick with it, by the time you get to the middle of the book and are fully immersed in his over-active, over-systematic, testosterone-addled imagination, you will begin to realize that Maddox just may be the Andy Kaufman of his time, in possession of the driest wit you've ever encountered. The middle of the book also happens to be the home of Maddox's finest essays. In his contribution to the geek canon of Chuck Norris worship, he spuriously notes that Norris uses hippies as firewood, intercepts letters to Santa Claus to use as toilet paper, and eats "bread, cheese, some tomato paste and a handful of basil, which sounds like pizza, but it's not because Chuck Norris doesn't want to give the Italians the credit."
In general, there are two types of humor in this book: things that are funny because they're wrong ("a pirate's semen is indestructible") and things that are funny because they're right (his entire essay on urinal etiquette).
By the time you get to his views on the quickie, in which he describes a sexual encounter with his girlfriend that involves her never showing up and him passing out drunk and getting robbed, you may be bookmarking his website. And by the time you turn to the last page, you'll be flipping back to the first, reading it again and looking for the jokes you missed because you were too busy being shocked, offended, and slightly titillated. In short, The Alphabet of Manliness just may be one of the smartest paeans to stupidity ever written. --Neil Strauss
What's more manly than crushing a can against your eye, Maddox-style? Mastered that advanced skill? Move on to Maddox's short quiz below, prepared exclusively for Amazon.com, and find out whether you might be one of the new breed of men, the "hetrosexual."
Straight Is the New Gay
In a world where metrosexuals--stylish, well-groomed, and sharply dressed men--have taken the center stage in defining the new masculinity, small pockets of men are starting to emerge, rebelling against the status quo. This new breed of man has rejected a lifestyle of wine tasting, pedicures, and excessive cultural awareness (i.e., any cultural awareness). This newly born response to metrosexuality is gaining momentum like never before, calling back to a day when men proudly wore plaid, ate liver and onions, and smelled like motor oil by choice. This modern man has come to be known simply as: the hetrosexual.
Hetrosexual men aren't afraid embrace their masculinity. They eat, drink, and sleep like real men: fully engorged. There's no such thing as a "fashion faux-pas" in the world of hetrosexuality. In fact, even the use of the phrase "faux-pas" draws the ire of the hetrosexual man in the form of beatings and social isolation (preferably both). These are men who refuse to be pigeonholed into the constraints of sexual ambiguity, and gladly welcome every opportunity to crotch-wrestle a hot babe. Hetrosexuals are making it cool to be straight again; straight is the new gay.
Think you might be a hetrosexual? Take the following quiz to find out:
|1. How much should you tip a hairstylist?|
|If you answered, you're wrong. Hetrosexuals don't go to hair stylists.|
|The correct answer is B) No. Acceptable fragrances for men are: sweat, grease, rum, or some combination thereof.|
|3. Which language do you speak?|
|The answer is B) English. French is the language of love, and men don't love anything. At best, there are varying degrees of "like," and even then, men don't like anything that much.|
|4. When dining at restaurant, you should|
|A) Push aside your friends and wrestle over the best seat|
|B) Wait until the maitre d' seats you|
|C) What's a maitre d'?|
|The correct answer is A and C. A, because if you don't secure the best spot at the table, you may find yourself in the position of having to engage in small talk with your guest. And C, because of the answer to question 3 above.|
If you answered all of the questions correctly, congratulations: you are the winner. The important thing to keep in mind is that you are a man (unless you are not), and nobody can take that away from you.
About the Author
Jim Moore is the author of five collections of poetry, including "The Long Experience of Love" and "The Freedom of History," He lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and spends his summers in Italy.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.