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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 a film journalist/critic for Cocktails & Movies and CinemaBlend, as well as the author of several short stories such as "The Devil v. George W. Bush". Any inquiries for reprinting, writing services, or general contact, should be forwarded to: mikereyeswrites@gmail.com

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Book Review: "I Drink for a Reason" by David Cross

Just a little disclaimer here, since I vaguely remember some sort of legal rigmarole involving bloggers having to declare where they get their free stuff (which I've always done) but I received a free copy of this book from the fine folks at Hachette Book Group. They are awesome as anything, and like any good publisher they love publicity and the printed word so much that they'll give you the latter, so long as you provide the former. Also, as a nice guy measure, I've included the link to the book's official web page at Hachette's website, so that if you're so inclined you may buy it through them.

If you're a comedy geek worth their salt these days, you know David Cross. If you're a fan of underrated television shows like Arrested Development, you know David Cross. Even if you're some kid with no taste who watches shit like Alvin and the Chipmunks (or a kid with taste who loves Men in Black), you know David Cross. He is the definition of a character actor, because you know his face, but you might not know his name. After reading, I Drink For A Reason, I not only forgave him for Alvin and the Chipmunks (which I never saw, but it's a matter of principle), I wished Arrested Development was still on the air.

I Drink For A Reason is much like Drew Carey's Dirty Jokes and Beer, in that it's both part anecdotal ("Beef with Jim Belushi" gives everyone the backstory on his long standing dislike of "The Belush", and even provides a link to a video of David being escorted off stage at one of his blues concerts.) and part off the wall comedy. Except in David Cross's case, you should replace "off the wall" with "batshit insane" (a prime example being "Excerpts from the Galley Copy of James Frey's Latest Memoir, Lesson Learned".) He even opens the book opining about writing the book and the fortune. fame, and author parties it will allow him to indulge; allowing him to criticize while mockingly wish to be a part of the leisure class.

This book is proudly a product of a comedian that hasn't sold out (Not completely, anyway. I still hold Alvin and the Chipmunks against you, David!) and therefore hasn't toned down his humor in an effort to mainstream it. This is after all the guy who, according to the book jacket, is "currently fucking Amber Tamblyn". When you're banging the girl from Joan of Arcadia, you're not only located in the dead center of obscure, you tend to revel in it. (Look at her picture and prove me wrong.) As such, this isn't a book for every one. There were points where it was a little too much for me, and there were still points that only made me smile or chuckle a little. Those moments have nothing on the ones where I was laughing my ass off in the middle of the work day. (I tend to read on my lunch break, so I'm often spotted laughing behind a book.) Some of the standouts include "Gay Canada" (which is continued in animated form on the website, idrinkforareason.com), "I Hate America!, or 'I Hate America?", and "The Bill O'Reilly Fantasy" (which gets so out there at the end, I could swear I've written similar).

Another great attribute this book can lay claim to is the fact that scattered throughout the book, as mentioned before, are web links to videos that compliment certain passages from the book. While Gay Canada's sequel feels more like a hilariously nonsensical detour than an actual continuation, and Jim Belushi's video proves that he's not only a lame singer, he also really is a douche; the fact that there's extra material online makes me feel like anyone who buys the book is getting more for their money. In the worst case scenario, a book written by a comedian is just a rehashing of their material, and you'd probably be better off listening to the recordings, or borrowing said book from the library. But in Cross's case, it's not just riffs on everyday life that populate this book. Part travelogue, part satire on society, part name calling fueled/profanity filled rants, I Drink For A Reason not only makes you laugh, it also makes you laugh hysterically.

So what's David Cross's reason for drinking? I think it's one of two options: Either he drinks for the same reason I do (to stay funny/become even funnier/seem even funnier/cry), or it's to wash away the residual anger he and the rest of us Arrested Development fans have against Fox and their bungling of a modern classic.

I'm Currently Reading: "Stop This Man!" by Peter Rabe, courtesy of my new friends at Hard Case Crime

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