Ten: A Novelization of the Film ‘Ten’ by Jade Sylvan [Book]

TENnovelsmallwrapTen women find themselves in a vacant mansion on Spektor Island in December, 1972. Each believes she’s traveled to the house on business, but they all agree that something seems strange. For one thing, the entire house is full of pictures and statues of pigs.

The women all come from drastically different walks of life. None of them would have chosen to spend the night together in such an eerie place, but the last ferry for the mainland has just left, and a terrible storm is rolling in. Trying to make the best of an unpleasant situation, they raid the mansion’s wine cellar and throw a party. As the night creeps on, however, it becomes clear that someone–or something–has lied to get them in the house. It’s not long before someone mentions that Spektor Island is supposed to be haunted.

Of course, no one in the house believes in ghosts. At least, not until the first murder.

What do an actress, a religious zealot, a renegade, a coed, a model, a singer, a medium, a real-estate investor, a historian, and a doctor have in common? None of them is who they seem.

MICHAELJEPSTEIN.COM

Regular Trainwreck’d Society readers probably won’t be surprised to see that we have found yet another way to exploit the excellence the project known as Ten.  The film was spawned by regular TWS attendees Michael J. Epstein and Sophia Cacciola, who we simply can never get enough of around here.  The project also featured the amazingly talented writer/musician/actress/alot of stuff doer Jade Sylvan who helped write the script and starred in the film as well.  And in a with just our luck, she also managed to write the film’s novelization, being that her latest success these days has come in the form of writing.  And what she has created here is a perfect example of what can happen when brilliant and like-minded souls merge together to form a more perfect artistic union.  Between these three amazing artists and the other bright minds around them, they are like the freaking Captain Planet team of the Northeast United States.  But, alas we are talking about a book.  And what a doozy of a book it is.

With this book being a novelization, we can eleviate the whole “book is better than the film” bullshit.  It also helps that the book is written by a co-writer of the original screenplay.  And in the vein of Sylvan’s previous works, she makes a brilliant effort to create an original story out of a previous work.  This book acts as a brilliant personalization of the characters that so many have already come to love and enjoy in the film version.  And Jade does so damn well at just that.  This is a book that doesn’t simply retell a story, it is a brilliant alternate look at what each character had going through their minds during this whole ordeal.

Jade Sylvan 3 (from TEN)The concept of Ten is one that was golden right from the beginning.  If the film acts as a brilliant homage to 70’s slasher and exploration films, the book has similar effects.  It is truly hard to explain how it feels to be read words that come off as classic literature, but are about pigs, death, and a mix bag of eroticism and narcissism that provides brilliant comic relief from a gruesome tale.  I truly enjoyed this little book, although I could arguably be called out as being totally bias on the grounds that I have become such a fan boy of everything that these beautiful team has created.  And with that being said, I might as well use this space to announce that I have my fingers crossed that Jade might return to novelize Epstein and Cacciola’s new project Magnetic.  If it isn’t in the works, I suggest we all rise up and beg the best we can to make this shit happen.  Who’s coming with me?

 

Note: 2014 is the first year for book reviews at Trainwreck’d Society. We will be making a valiant effort to read and review at least 100 books. This is review #15. Be sure to stay in touch and be on the lookout for further reviews throughout 2014. Be sure to let us know if we are falling behind. For a complete list of book reviews, click HERE. Enjoy!

Bad Monkey by Carl Hiaasen [Book]

Bad Monkey by Carl HiaasenAndrew Yancy–late of the Miami Police, soon-to-be-late of the Key West Police–has a human arm in his freezer. There’s a logical (Hiaasenian) explanation for that, but not for how and why it parted from its owner. Yancy thinks the boating-accident/shark-luncheon explanation is full of holes, and if he can prove murder, his commander might relieve him of Health Inspector duties, aka Roach Patrol. But first Yancy will negotiate an ever-surprising course of events–from the Keys to Miami to a Bahamian out island–with a crew of equally ever-surprising characters, including: the twitchy widow of the frozen arm; an avariciously idiotic real estate developer; a voodoo witch whose lovers are blinded-unto-death by her particularly peculiar charms; Yancy’s new love, a kinky medical examiner; and the eponymous Bad Monkey, who earns his place among Hiaasen’s greatest characters with hilariously wicked aplomb.

GOODREADS.COM

 

I stumbled upon this little book by Carl Hiaasen simply by process of elimination.  Our local library here has a very limited selection of audiobooks.  I’ve resorted to scouring the world wide web for books to listen to while I cook up so atrociously too crazy dinners for my family, and have had some success.  But, sometimes it is just easier to pop in a disc every once in a while without the worry of wifi signals being as distorted as tween romance connections.  But, as I mentioned, the library here is very limited.  In fact, basically anything I may be interested in, I have already featured in this series.  The last two Stephen King books I reviewed were part of this category.  And unless I really want to torture myself with some bullshit John Grisham law fiction, or the enter Fifty Shades series, the library is pretty much dead to me now.  (Note:  I do read REAL books, but the joy of audiobooks is a great blessing for a husband and father of three with a full time job.)

Carl HiaasenBut, no matter how I came across the work of Mr. Hiaasen, I am certainly glad I did.  I have previously mentioned that I am not one for books that primarily follow cops.  But, I am a big fan of comedic based mystery novels, which often times featured cops.  So, you take the good, you take the bad, take the rest and then you have….well, you get the point.  Bad Monkey turned out to be an absolutely amazing little story, that if not taken to seriously, is a fine read.  Hiaasen has a unique way of forming a story in a manner the likes of the which I have rarely known.  Bad Monkey is written in a (sort of) third person nature, but has a personalized feel for whichever character happens to be the main feature for the given chapter.  He is mostly writing for or about the book’s protagonist Andrew Yancy, but he switches it up at just the right time, to sort of understand what other key players are thinking at any given time, during whatever scenario may be occurring at that particular moment.  Although it is safe to say that the common reader is continuously going to be wishing nothing but the best for Inspector Yancy, and will be thoroughly upset when things don’t go his way, and rejoice when he makes a break through.

The “mystery” of Bad Monkey is discovered rather early on in the reading, which was sort of strange to say the least.  But, Hiaasen won’t let a reader off that damn easy!  There are still plenty of mysteries to be discovered and surprises to be found.  And while I had never heard of Hiaasen, I soon learned through the good people of the internet that this is a very common trait for this well loved author.  Folks have continuously praised the man as one of the finest comedic mystery writers of our day.  And if Bad Monkey is but one example of how great he truly is, I know that I will be digging in a bit more into this cat.

 

Note: 2014 is the first year for book reviews at Trainwreck’d Society. We will be making a valiant effort to read and review at least 100 books. This is review #14. Be sure to stay in touch and be on the lookout for further reviews throughout 2014. Be sure to let us know if we are falling behind. For a complete list of book reviews, click HERE. Enjoy!

Death Machines of Death by Vince Kramer [Book]

Death Machines of DeathAll machines suddenly come to life for some reason and go on a rampage to kill every human being on the planet. It’s kind of like that movieMaximum Overdrive, only ten time as fucking brutal!

Welcome to the Big Old Gaylord Opryland Resort! Do you lack the energy to get a date? Are you batshit insane and looking for a cure? Are you a pants-shitting senior who wants to stop being old? Do you hate Stephen King? Then, this weekend, there’s a seminar for you! Sure, there’s a comet flying through space bringing all machinery to life and killing everybody, but don’t worry about that! Here, have a sandwich! Visit our many attractions! See our massive convention center (of death), our beautiful atrium (of death), and our arcade (of death)! Ignore the massive senior citizen orgy. Don’t talk to the kid in the wheelchair. We guarantee the elevator will not transform you into a cyborg. Mr. Coffee isn’t trying to kill you. And there is absolutely nothing suspicious going on in the basement. (Don’t go down there though, seriously).

Take a load off, have a good time, and prepare to die!

Death Machines of Death is an apocalyptic horror comedy by Vince Kramer that just so happens to be a million times better than anything you’ve ever read before. And if you think for one minute that those boring literary classics like The Great Gatsby or Moby Dick are better than this, then you’re fucking stupid!

VINCEKRAMER.WORDPRESS.COM

 

What the hell really needs to be said about this book?  The motherfucker is called Death Machines of Death!!!  How cool is that shit right there?  With a title likes this, there is absolutely no chance in hell that this isn’t going to be fantastic, which is most definitely is.  I don’t know if I have literally laughed out loud whilst reading a book like I did when I was reading this one.  It is hilarious, it is gruesome, it is just so much fun!  It’s like Maximum Overdrive for the rest of us, the ones who veer towards the absurdity over the thrills.  And I truly believe that if Vince Kramer had decided to veer from is incredibly unique style of bizarro narrative, it really would have been pretty boring.  But, with Vince Kramer behind the keypad, boredom is something you will never have to worry about.

Vince KramerI have not quite entirely explored the world of Bizarro fiction, but I do find it absolutely intriguing.  Of all the titles I have noticed, it seems to be an absolutely fascinating take on the world of fantasy and science fiction.  And in my own personal opinion, makes it not so god damned boring.  In Kramer’s work alone, there is no reasoning and explanations for such bizarre shit to happen such as a gaggle of masturbating senior citizens or bowie knife swindling Jesus.  It just happens!  And it is awesome!  Say what you will about this strange style of writing, but even Stephen King could never hold my attention this well.  Just have some fun with this shit people!

Loyal readers of TWS may remember Vince Kramer from a Guest Wreckers feature we posted last year about Pornographic Action Figure Erotica (Noobs- please report here, and get on our level, maggots).  And just as he can do with toys, Vince uses his words the make the obscure and deranged just a shitload of fun.  Last year I also introduced myself to his work with his debut novel Gigantic Death Worm, which I also highly recommend.  Both of Kramer’s books are short in nature, but cram packed with excitement and hilarity.  To put it simply, Vince Kramer creates some of the tastiest junk food for the brain you will ever taste.

Pick up your own copy of Death Machines of Death at AMAZON.  And while you are there, find Gigantic Death Worm.  Get them both because, once you finish one, you are definitely going to be begging for more, you truly sick son of a bitch.

 

Note: 2014 is the first year for book reviews at Trainwreck’d Society. We will be making a valiant effort to read and review at least 100 books. This is review #13. Be sure to stay in touch and be on the lookout for further reviews throughout 2014. Be sure to let us know if we are falling behind. For a complete list of book reviews, click HERE. Enjoy!

Joyland by Stephen King [Book]

Joyland by Stephen KingAfter realizing his romantic life is not going in the direction he’d hoped, Devin Jones decides to take a summer job at an amusement park. There he makes friends with Tom Kennedy and Erin Cook, also summer hires at Joyland, which years before had been the scene of the murder of a young woman named Linda Gray whose ghost is said to be seen at the Horror House. He also befriends a young boy, named Mike Ross and his mother, Annie. Their lives all become entwined when Devin decides to investigate the mystery of Linda Gray’s unsolved murder by the “Carny Killer.”

STEPHENKING.COM

 

 

I just need to say first off, that Joyland shouldn’t really be classified as a “thriller” or “suspense” novel.  This is simply because there was absolutely nothing thrilling or suspenseful about it.  The books acts mainly as a sort of How To guide to working at a third rate amusement park during the 1970’s.  I also have to say that this is probably the worst book by Stephen King I have ever read.  But, as I have said before about the likes of Palahniuk, it was still pretty good (remember the sex pizza reference?  yeah, it’s like that).  It’s not that book is bad, just a sort of jumbled mindfuck that seems to take the easy way out at so many moments.

The novel’s main focus is advertised as being about a ghost of girl that was murdered and now haunts a (Surprise!) haunted house ride at this busted ass amusement park these days.  Yet, the damn ghost was hardly explained in the first act of the book, mentioned even less in the second, and had it’s story concluded in a bullshit manner in the third.  Oh, okay, so the boy can read minds, so that obviously means he can be the one to set the ghost free?  Sure, whatever, let’s get back to the kid losing his virginity.  That is my only real gripe is that this was suppose to be a suspense novel.  Which I really shouldn’t mind because I generally don’t like suspense or thriller or horror as genres for reading, although I seem to have dug into more of them lately.  I also feel the same for books centered around cops, with the exception of the Fletch series and Bukowski’s last novel Pulp.  But, Stephen King is, well, the Stephen King of horror and suspense.  Although he is also the genius behind such wonderful stories that are only mentally horrifying like The Green Mile and Rita Haworth and the Shawshank Redemption (these are prison based books, prison guards don’t count as cops), and he seemed to have sort of mashed together these two styles of writing.  Which is shame because it is suppose to be a book about a goddamn ghost!

Stephen KingBut, although the book is only 15% ghosts and 85% coming of age in the 70’s, the best parts where the unnecessary ones.  And much like all of Stephen King’s work, it is so damn easy to become mentally invested in the well being of the characters.  I found myself wishing nothing but the best for the main character, and absolutely horrified when I discovered that is own hero was actually the legendary woman slayer who killed the girl 4 years earlier inside the Haunted House ride.  I was actually furious at this fact.  The dude I thought could have only been played by Matthew McConaughey if a film adaptation where to be made (the lead would go to Joseph Gordon-Levitt, in case you were wondering, but in the era of Brick, not that piece of shit Looper), was the bad guy?  Leave it to King to perfectly ruin our interpretations of heroes and assholes.  So in this respect, King did alright.  King can write the shit out of a character, this is just a fact.  Hell, it is a widely know fact that he wrote some many books under the influence of drugs and alcohol that he doesn’t even remember writing them.  Yet is is still impeccable at character development, and in the case of those few novels, able to scare the shit out of you.  Now that’s punk rock, if you ask me.

Go ahead and read this book.  I definitely recommend the audiobook.  Michael Kelly does a bang up job on this one.  Just take heed that you shouldn’t really be looking to get yourself scared, it’s not going to happen.  And understand that this may very well be the most forgettable works by the legendary Stephen King you will ever read.  And that even at King’s worst, he’s still probably a better writer than you.  Enjoy!

Note: 2014 is the first year for book reviews at Trainwreck’d Society.  We will be making a valiant effort to read and review at least 100 books.  This is review #12.  Be sure to stay in touch and be on the lookout for further reviews throughout 2014.  Be sure to let us know if we are falling behind.  For a complete list of book reviews, click HERE.  Enjoy!

Blaze by Richard Bachman [Book]

Blaze by Richard BachmanOnce upon a time, a fellow named Richard Bachman wrote Blaze on an Olivetti typewriter, then turned the machine over to Stephen King, who used it to write Carrie. Bachman died in 1985 (“cancer of the pseudonym”), but this last gripping Bachman novel resurfaced after being hidden away for decades an unforgettable crime story tinged with sadness and suspense. Clayton Blaisdell, Jr., was always a small-time delinquent. None too bright either, thanks to the beatings he got as a kid. Then Blaze met George Rackley, a seasoned pro with a hundred cons and one big idea. The kidnapping should go off without a hitch, with George as the brains behind their dangerous scheme. But there’s only one problem: by the time the deal goes down, Blaze’s partner in crime is dead. Or is he? – GOODREADS.COM

I can’t tell you rightfully how long it has been since I read a book from Stephen King.  I can tell you that I spent a whole lot of time between the ages of 8-18 living in the worlds he created.  Whether it was digging into his books, or watching the many film adaptations, he was a huge inspiration to me.  I can remember watching Maximum Overdrive or The Shining with my Grandma in the late hours, loving the sensational amount of fear I was feeling.  I remember reading his short story Apt Pupil in my sophomore year of high school during Sustained Silent Reading time and becoming so damn entranced that I hadn’t noticed that the bell had rung, and I was going to miss my next class.  Funny how the god damn teacher didn’t say a word, but that’s probably a whole other story.

There is a reason Stephen King might very well be the most famous writer in modern American history.  He is a writer that anybody can get into, and almost everybody has.  He released work as feverishly as Woody Allen makes films, and he has a natural ability to be able to turn everything he sees into a story.  And he has been doing it for over 40 years.  One thing I could never understand, because I never really cared to Google it anyway, is why a man with the name Stephen King would use a pseudonym like Richard Bachman.  Your name has King in it!  King!  This should be wore like a god damned badge of honor, not as a hidden little secret from the world.  But no matter, a guy with such immense talent as this can call himself Archibald Big Nuts Johnson III and it will still create some amazing work.

The story behind Blaze is that it was written in the early 70’s by “Richard Bachman”, and found by Stephen King about 30 years later.  King updated and touched up the book a bit, and finally released this treasure to the world.  I have heard a lot of talk about Stephen King simply slinging out bullshit just because he knows it will sell if it has his name on it.  Sort of like Quentin Tarantino does on shitty kung fu movies, except King puts more effort into his work rather than just throwing money at the RZA and says Go!  And as I mentioned earlier, I haven’t read much of King since high school (holy shit that was a long time ago!) so I don’t really know what he is up to these days.  Blaze is obviously a 40 year old novel written in a very different time, only slightly reinvented.  And unlike to so many “never before seen” type of works we see being reinvented by wealthy writers lately, this is a fucking brilliant piece of literature.

Richard BachmanIn the books introduction, written by Stephen King, it is clearly stated that this was an early piece of work for him, and that it is highly influenced by John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men.  This was a very wonderful revelation to come to know before reading the book.  This is because anybody who went to junior high school will instantly understand the reference, even if King had said nothing at all.  Blaze is obviously Lenny.  And hell, the George character in this book is incredibly similar to the George character in Of Mice and Men.  Instead of a “wabbit”, this book has an actual baby named Joe.  And the same sentiments towards this big Oaf become amazingly clear, and you find yourself rooting for the “bad guy”.  Yes, the similarities are obvious and clear.  Yet the story has an original freshness that is undeniable.  I think it is just a sort of American spirit that many of us have.  We want to root for the little guy (or the giant dope) and see them prosper, although we know in the end that many books are a reflection of the real world, and it probably isn’t going to work out in the end.  Yet we routinely show our inner support for a book’s antagonist even though we know we will only be let down.  And Blaze is a good one for this type of set up.  I was sure this silly fuck head was going to get away with it, right up until the very end.

I was honestly surprised at how much I got into this story.  There is nothing starkly complex about it, which I can appreciate.  Aside from our beloved Oaf hearing the voice of his recently deceased friend, there is no sense of science fiction in this work, which is how I have always preferred King’s work.  There really is nothing to take away from this book that we haven’t already taken from other stories.  I am not ashamed to say that I am cashing this book in as just another beautiful number to the already astonishingly impressive library of Stephen King.

Note: 2014 is the first year for book reviews at Trainwreck’d Society.  We will be making a valiant effort to read and review at least 100 books.  This is review #11.  Be sure to stay in touch and be on the lookout for further reviews throughout 2014.  Be sure to let us know if we are falling behind.  For a complete list of book reviews, click HERE.  Enjoy!

Jaws by Peter Benchley [Book]

Jaws by Peter BenchleyJaws is the tale of a marriage on the edge of failure. Chief Brody, head of the Amity police, is married to Ellen. They’ve three kids. He’s a native of the area; one of the poor boys who spent his days on the beaches while the rich folks came down to vacation from the big cities. She’s from one of those big cities, from one of those rich families, and since she married Chief Brody she’s been an outsider amongst the natives and outsider amongst the tourists. She belongs nowhere and feels herself wasting away in the tiny beach town, and she pines for what once was.

Jaws is the tale of shady land speculation, organized crime and local governmental corruption, wherein another poor local boy “makes good,” becomes Mayor, becomes one of the “nouveau riche,” then winds up putting lives at risk to save his own skin and pay his bad debts.

Oh yeah … Jaws is also the tale of a killer shark that starts eating swimmers off the coast of Amity. Chief Brody, Matt Hooper and Quint (the infamous modern Ahab captured so wonderfully by Robert Shaw in Spielberg’s movie, although he only shows up in the book in the last eighty pages after one brief half page cameo early on) go out and try to save the people and Amity’s economy by catching the greatest of great white sharks. It all feels like an afterthought, a tacked on third act of a book that never knew what it wanted to be, and the total lack of closure as the novel ends is pretty disappointing.

Once again, the movie proves to be better than the book. Much, much better.

GOODREADS.COM  – written by author of Existence CostsBrad Simkulet

Brad Simkulet

Brad Simkulet

First things first, until now I had never heard of Brad Simkulet.  But I must say that I desperately want to now.  As I was scouring the internet for a brief plot summary of this book, I became seriously aggravated, as one could expect when you are trying to find the summary of the book that birthed the original “Summer Blockbuster” movie of the same title 40 years ago.  But Mr. Simkulet absolutely hit the nail on the head, and just about said everything I wanted to say about the book in the comments section of Goodreads.com.  And in even greater honesty, I don’t think I could truly put anything in to words (although you know I will try) that works as great as Brad’s compelling comments were.  So if you were to stop reading right now, and just go check out Brad Simkulet’s account on Goodreads, or look in to his own novel Existence Costs, I would not be upset.  It is exactly what I would do after reading this paragraph of assertion of dumbassery.

The primary reason I feel as though I am not the right person to be doing this review is based around and ideal I would have never thought about before.  You see, I have never watched the film Jaws.  (pause for gasps) Yes, I’ve never laid eyes on the original blockbuster.  It’s not as though I am some sort of anti-commericialism hipster who absolutely will NOT enjoy a massive hit film that cost as much to make as a third world country earns in cocaine or human trafficking profits.  I do like them.  Well, not most of them.  I’m actually straining to really think of one, but I know I am not against them.  Well, Django Unchained cost $100 million to make, does that count?  No matter, I am straying off topic.  This is the first time that not seeing a movie has impacted my reading of a book before.  Going in to this book was estranged to me because I knew the basic plot, as I have at least a partially function brain and have heard of the infamous man eating shark.

What I was indeed most curious about was how much the characters in this book would matter.  Though I have not seen the film, I could only imagine that the only character any movie goer might give a shit about is the 3 ton shark that is eating sexy bikini legs off (as the movie poster might suggest).  But this was a novel.  The characters had to matter at least a bit more, right?  And as it turns out, they really did!  As much as Mr. Simkulet jests in the quoted text above, this book was really about the people.  The descriptions he makes are absolutely true, and I would not be surprised if they make no sense to anyone reading this review, who has only watched the film.  I know the names of Brodie and Quint are the same as in the film.  I only know this because the infamous filmmaker Kevin Smith named his two main characters in Mallrats after these two.  I’m dead serious about that.  Anyway, I really don’t see it as too of a cry away to imagine that so many of the story lines in this novel where probably highly omitted or erased altogether in attempt to keep the pace of the film moving in the right direction, and to keep the thriller elements alive and ready.  And this is one book-to-film adaptation I believe was done correctly, simply based on reading the actual novel, and hearing what film critics have written about the film.

Peter BenchleyI know I must watch the film adaptation of Jaws someday, and I am sure I will stumble upon it involuntarily.  But, I am glad I read this book, even if there hadn’t been a world famous film adaptation.  It really was a good story.  Although, if it hadn’t fasted around the idea of a giant shark coming around and eating everybody, it could make a very serious and thriving tale of a dying beach community, and the people who populate these summer destinations year in and year out.  The ones who serve you at the seafood joints.  The arcade vendors.  The fishermen guides, etc.  This concept was a blunder for me that I was really getting in to.  So much so that I could give a shit less when they sot out after the big fish, which I hear is a major part of the film.  But, I guess that is just the damn dirty hipster in me who just can’t seem to appreciate a good bit of junk food for the brain with a John Williams score.

I do recommend for people who truly enjoyed the film, to check out the book, and maybe get a new point of view of all the thing Benchley wanted to (but probably didn’t do well) say in this novel.  It’s not exactly Gone With the Wind, a beautiful book with an even more beautiful adaptation, but it could give you a nice new perspective when you pop in your favorite summer blockbuster film again.  Hell, at least you would be reading.  And that can’t be a bad thing, right?

Note: 2014 is the first year for book reviews at Trainwreck’d Society.  We will be making a valiant effort to read and review at least 100 books.  This is review #10.  Be sure to stay in touch and be on the lookout for further reviews throughout 2014.  Be sure to let us know if we are falling behind.  For a complete list of book reviews, click HERE.  Enjoy!

Paddle Your Own Canoe by Nick Offerman [Book]

PaddleYourOwnCanoe by Nick OffermanGrowing a perfect moustache, grilling red meat, wooing a woman—who better to deliver this tutelage than the always charming, always manly Nick Offerman, best known as Parks and Recreation’s Ron Swanson?  Combining his trademark comic voice and very real expertise in woodworking—he runs his own woodshop—Paddle Your Own Canoe features tales from Offerman’s childhood in small-town Minooka, Illinois—�I grew up literally in the middle of a cornfield”—to his theater days in Chicago, beginnings as a carpenter/actor and the hilarious and magnificent seduction of his now-wife Megan Mullally.   It also offers hard-bitten battle strategies in the arenas of manliness, love, style, religion, woodworking, and outdoor recreation, among many other savory entrees.

A mix of amusing anecdotes, opinionated lessons and rants, sprinkled with offbeat gaiety, Paddle Your Own Canoe will not only tickle readers pink but may also rouse them to put down their smart phones, study a few sycamore leaves, and maybe even hand craft (and paddle) their own canoes.

GOODREADS.COM

I absolutely must start this thing with an obviously needed disclaimer:

This is a book by actor Nick Offerman who portrays Ron Swanson on NBC’s Parks and Recreation.  This is NOT  a book written by the fictional character Ron Swanson who is portrayed by actor Nick Offerman on NBC’s Parks and Recreations.  Although the two characters are very similar in nature, it is Nick Offerman who has put a bit of his real self into the character that is Ron Swanson.  Both are absolutely wonderful people.  The only difference being that one is completely made up, and the other is one of the finest character actors and all around men to have ever graced this unworthy earth.  So there you have it.

With all that being said, I must also disclaim that I absolutely recommend choosing the option of the audiobook version of this brilliant memoir over a physical copy.  I rarely recommend this, but I can already say pretty surely that you are all going to be trying to hear Offerman’s rustic and manly voice in your head anyway, and you are probably going to screw it up.  Also, the audiobook also includes additions that you will not find in the physical copy of the book.  Go ahead and read both.  That’s what I did, and I enjoyed them both so god damned much.  Alright, enough with the disclaimers, let’s dig in to this thing.

Nick OffermanThis book.  This intriguing bit of guidance/memoir/humorist wit/so many different things…..was downright fucking brilliant.  Seriously.  I can’t remember the last time I felt so much inspiration, education, and down right bemusement since I learned about how lady parts worked in the 7th grade. It was incredible to listen to this amazing man’s man discuss everything from the joys of woodworking, the struggles of being a theatre kid in the 90’s in the Windy City, or just how wonderful a little thing like marijuana can actually turn out to be.  I, like the rest of you will or do, was consistently thinking about Ron Swanson the entire time I was reading this book.  Hell, we are only human, this is bound to happen.  But, to my utter delight, there were an equal amount of things that were rightfully unique and different front he Swanson persona that Offerman has created, as well as so many great things that were similar.  Which only even further highlights the genius of this man who has created a messiah of manliness on television who actually does mirror a bit of the manliness that he portrays in his everyday living.  A beautiful fucking combination if you ask this humble reader.

There is a shit ton of sage like advice to be found in this book, and almost all of it should not be taken lightly.  Offerman pulls no punches when he tells us his most sincere thoughts on anything from being an atheist to following our dreams whilst having something else to fall back on, and never taking yourself so damn serious that you forget that life is a short hot mess that we are forced to endure and make the best of no matter how many times we get kicked in the ass and knocked to the proverbial or physical ground.  This god damned man’s words are some of the most inspiring collection of vowels and consonants I have heard in such a long time.  Even when he is simply telling you a story, he is giving you some amazing advice on how to achieve the ultimate goal of having an absolutely “delicious life”.  He also managed to transfix me into the Chicago theatre world, which I had never really known or cared about, made me long for a time and place that I never knew about, but wanted to know just so damn bad!  And, oh by the way, the man was a break dancer?  I know this was outed on late night TV a while ago, but I didn’t see this unit after reading about it.  Sorry for spoiling such a surprise, but you should definitely YouTube that shit ASAP.  He still has it!

megan-mullally-and-nick-offerman-the-2011_3648831What is definitely most intriguing about this book are the thousands of words dedicated to Offerman’s love for his wife Megan Mullally.  I will admit that felt sort of silly for the fact that I had no idea that he was married to the chick from Will & Grace.  Of course, I am not as in touch with the YouTube and the P&R fan base as I should be, so I just took it as a nice surprise from a gentle giant.  I didn’t care, and still don’t, that his wife was sort of a big deal in the 90’s and when he first met her.  In fact, I loved hearing him talk about how much he loved the woman who was is soul mate in the chapters prior to his all out love bathing with words he did.  I now presume that most readers were already supposed to know who she was whilst listening to Nick speak so highly of this wonderful woman.  I am actually sort of glad I didn’t, because I still only really know anything about her based on how he describes her.  And he does this in such a wonderful way.  I can only wish that I could ponder up about 15 percent of the praise in writing for my own wife that he does in this book.  He is a lucky man, and she is a lucky gal.  And yes, I feel the same way about my own relationship.  I would have never known until reading this book, but there could be a case that Offerman’s career only exists because of his marriage to the Emmy Award nominated actress.  But this is such a horse shit idea that Offerman doesn’t even try to debate out, yet clearly shows how this is definitely said horse shit.  I guess the fact that I knew Nick Offerman by name and not is lovely wife at first reading is a good indication of how wrong this idealism would be.  So, I am happy that it isn’t a big deal.  I am just happy that these two wonderful people have found each other and continue to spread their joy to us all.

Overall, I’m not sure I will be able to find a better book that this one in the coming year, or the other years to follow.  This was about as perfect of  a book as we will ever know.  It is filled with wonderful stories with an incredible range of topics.  There is advice that definitely should be taken (although I am not sure I have the patience for woodwork) and so many different trends of life to take heed of.  Basically, if you love Ron Swanson, you are absolutely going to adore Nick Offerman.

 

Note: 2014 is the first year for book reviews at Trainwreck’d Society.  We will be making a valiant effort to read and review at least 100 books.  This is review #9.  Be sure to stay in touch and be on the lookout for further reviews throughout 2014.  Be sure to let us know if we are falling behind.  For a complete list of book reviews, click HERE.  Enjoy!