The Life–and Sometimes Death–of the Party
(nb: I received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley)
In my drinking days, I knew a lot of men like “Man.” The synopsis describes him as being, “witty, carefree, and probably not sober. He’s Dean Martin meets Jack Benny, Don Draper, and Jack Donaghy.”
The book “Man v. Liver” is a series of one panel drawings with Man imparting some bon mot or another. Some of them are hilarious; others are tedious and non-sensical; others are a combination of those.
My favorites showed Man, cocktail in hand, saying “Instead of never speaking of this again, let’s just keep drinking ’til we forget it.”
In my day, I probably said something just like that.
I admit that I used to spend a LOT of time in bars. “A LOT” meaning, “every night from after work at 5:30 till the bar shut down at 2am.” I drank a lot, and I saw the whole palette of humankind: skanks, failed jocks, lawyers, radio people, ad agency reps, construction workers, teachers, nurses, you name it.
I also met a lot of people like Man. They were flesh and blood, of course, not crudely drawn pictures. These guys would say things like Man does, and so many of their alcohol-fueled platitudes and lines failed; they wanted to be funny, and weren’t.
It was sad, honestly. The rest of the bar’s regulars just rolled their eyes. Nobody really disliked the guy. When he was in that mode, though, he was just a loud, insufferable jackass.
There was something tragic about these people I knew back then, and I see that same sadness about Man. He’s trying too hard, and so many of his lines–the ones obviously aimed at women–just crater.
I may be guilty of transference–reading “Man v. Liver” through my own, vodka fueled former bar life–but this collection reads a different way if you see this guy as a real person. For as funny as some of the panels are–and I did laugh quite a few times–I couldn’t help but think, “I knew this guy, and he was hollow and sad inside.”
That’s how I took “Man v. Liver”: The study of sometimes funny guy, who’s empty inside once you take away the booze-fueled bravado. And I may be the only reviewer on earth who feels that way. C’est la vie.
Recommended (liking drunk jokes is a bonus)