How to Be Right by Greg Gutfeld (2015, Crown Forum)
There was a time when Gutfeld was clever and funny. This book stands as a border wall between that time and today.
The book, as with all of Gutfeld’s books, is a libertarian humor book in its self-definition but it makes clear that Gutfeld stands firmly with the Republican party and against the Democrats in all things, despite his purported ideological affiliation. Knowing that his audience at the time was comprised almost entirely of Republicans, he provided them what they wanted: an image of the Libertarian as simply a Republican who was unconcerned about a handful of issues.
That’s not far off from what many Libertarians are in ideology, but the key distinction is that in reality, few are Republicans. They tend to be kicking against the imperfections of both sides, and Gutfeld is revealed in the book to be fighting only one. This is the instinct and attitude which has led to him becoming a reflexive and generally thoughtless promoter of President Trump.
This book is a tome of sadness for those who wish to remember the Red Eye days, when Gutfeld was still funny. The problem with it is that his chosen topic in this book can be broken down as “how to argue with a liberal”. It comes off as a more polished, less researched version of an Ann Coulter book than Gutfeld’s prior works.
This is the point at which Gutfeld stopped having anything original to say. It’s a tidy wrap-up to a once promising career. The humor in it, often flavored with anger, is now useful to illustrate his glaring hypocrisy in his support of corruption at every level… the corruption that is typically a key issue against which Libertarians fight.
Not Cool, his debut book, is worth a read. This one? Let it linger on the library shelf.
Mike Nelson’s Death Rat by Michael J. Nelson (2003, Harper)
Let’s start with the little things first: the copyediting on this book was terrible. It is peppered with misspellings and continuity errors, bringing the overall production quality down to a level just above self-published works. For a major publisher, that is an egregious failure.
Moving beyond that, it is a humor book by the former head writer and screen talent for Mystery Science Theater 3000. The humor chops are evident as one reads, and it’s almost enough to carry the book.
The book effectively has three reasons to exist. The first is to eviscerate Garrison Keillor by means of an obvious analog. The second is to portray rural and small-town Minnesotans in a generally positive light. The third is to make the reader laugh.
As an attack on Keillor it succeeds admirably; everything about him, including his writing style and subject choice, is skewered in the book. Above and beyond that, the book has many entertaining moments and is a solid humor book.
Only solid, though; not exceptional. For those unfamiliar with Lake Woebegon, the story construction is going to seem a bit haphazard and the plotting predictable.