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Mike Reyes, aka Mr. Controversy, has considered himself a writer ever since he was a child. He wrote for various school publications from about 1995 until 2006, and currently runs both The Bookish Kind and Mr. Controversy, which is an offshoot of the regular column he wrote in High School. He's also authored several short stories such as "The Devil's Comedian", "The Devil v. George W. Bush", and most recently "Wait Until Tomorrow". He resides in New Jersey. Any inquiries for reprinting, writing services, or general contact, should be forwarded to: michaelreyes72@hotmail.com

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Cannonball Read - Entry 13: The Average American Male by Chad Kultgen

Entry 13 is here with amazingly lightning fast speed. Hope you're all ready for an interesting one! This isn't a Hachette release, but I'd still like to thank them for encouraging me to sample and review their fine publications. (What can I say? I like to throw recognition where it counts.) As always, I would also like to thank Brian Prisco for not only being able to make sense of my writing but actually seeing them fit for mass consumption. If fame and adventure through the printed word suit your fancy, here's where you should be going for the ground rules: http://www.pajiba.com/cannonball-read.htm; and here's where you go to sign up.: http://gospelaccordingtoprisco.wordpress.com/choose-your-weapon-the-combatants/

A while back I started reading the book Choke by Chuck Palahniuk for two reasons: The first being the fact that I enjoyed Fight Club and its "peer behind the curtain" mentality, and the second being the movie was soon to be released and it looked rather good. Upon completing the book I found myself liking it, but still a little underwhelmed. The reason being that it wasn't as edgy or as dark as I'd hoped it'd be. Though to be fair, Fight Club ended with society crumbling in on itself and you really can't get any darker or edgy than that. To safely put this introductory tangent to bed, I think this is the book I was looking for when I read Choke.

The Average American Male centers itself around our unnamed narrator. Make no mistake about it, this guy is a complete asshole. He obsesses about sex, he's interested mostly in his own personal gratification, and for the most part he doesn't sugar coat things. In other words, he's the stereotypical male. However, the genius in the character lies in the fact that while Kultgen's writing does fulfill the key stereotypes, it also exceeds one dimensional characterization. We're privy to this guy's thoughts, fantasies, hopes, and dreams. It's all unvarnished, and it's all very interesting reading.

Our narrator proceeds to meet and slowly fall for a girl (Alyna), while in an increasingly loveless relationship with his girlfriend (Casey) and staring, hitting on, and sleeping with anyone or anything that crosses his path. He has no compunction letting us know every detail and makes no excuses for himself. The funny thing is, as time goes on we start to see that our narrator isn't as invincible as he initially portrays. He gets scared, he has some massive issues, he has a couple close calls, and ultimately we learn that he does get emotional over relationships...it's just that most of those emotions come when he's looking in the rear view mirror of his life.

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the book is when I started it, I did find myself thinking, "Wow, this guy really is an asshole". However, part of the reason he's an "asshole" is because people don't always enjoy what he has to say. Sure he does and says some things out of spite, but in the end he's playing the game everyone else plays with everyone else they know...choosing your truths and choosing who, where, when, and how to deploy them. Ultimately the average male is at once deplorable and commendable, but in the end he shares the same universal fears we all do.

The Average American Male is a quick read, and it literally only took me a day to start and finish it. The book reads like a diary, there's a lot of dialogue, and the plot clips along fast enough without any dead weight to hold it back. It's both funny and depressing, with bits of self loathing and happiness sprinkled in for some fun. I had a hell of a time reading this book, and I eagerly anticipate reading Kultgen's recent release, The Lie, in the near future. One final note: this book could cause some of you to get upset and throw it at whomever suggested it to you. (Particularly if you're female. No offense, but what us guys think of Sex and the City is probably what you girls would think of this book.) I highly suggest visiting the book's official website and watching the videos in order to get a feel for the book's content. If you're laughing instead of shouting...you're good to go. If not...stay away.

Next Book: Angels and Demons

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