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Book review: <i>Dave Barry’s Complete Guide To Guys</i> by Dave Barry



If this was a beverage, it would be a deliciously cold lager shandy, placed in your eager hand by a friend on a hot summer’s day.

Cover

Dave dressed in various “guy-ish” recreational outfits, arranged around the text. They really need to think of some new ideas for these books. PS- He’s a WRITER, we don’t need to know what he LOOKS LIKE, even if it was actually FUNNY, which it frankly NEVER, EVER IS.

Plot

A collection of Dave’s writing relating to “guys” (a group he defines in the first chapter as being distinct to “men”). There’s a blend of new stuff and old stuff re-edited into chapters (as opposed to columns, where it would have originally appeared). There’s a little bit of journalism but it’s mostly observational comedy in text form.

The good

It’s really funny. That’s about all I ask from Dave. I can, too, give this one high marks even compared to many of his other books (which I’ve FINALLY been able to purchase now that Borders opened in the mall). The columns are from his best period (mid nineties), there’s plenty of new jokes dotted throughout the recycled material, and whole chapters of exuberantly silly comedy which are brand new.

As also found in his better work, there’s a journalist’s eye at play behind the laughs—sure, Dave uses every textual trick from the stand-up’s notebook, and is equally keen to disregard anything and everything “serious” in pursuit of a laugh, no matter how occasionally cheesy—but his sense of human nature is so forgiving and sane that even the craziest comic curlicues feel drawn against a canvas of identifiable reality. Sometimes this is reminiscent of good observational stand-up comedy (i.e. the “urinal ettiquette” piece), and sometimes it flirts with that truth which can only really occur halfway between the author’s and the reader’s memories, emotions and neuroses (the parts about men’s insecurities are the truest things in here).

There’s not a lot more I can say to recommend this book. If if was four feet thick I’d still be reading it in a month (well, a week—it’s pretty damn breezy). Barry at his best, as he is here, is like heroin for the humorous.

The bad

Took me about a day to read.

The “guy” theme always put my nose out of joint a little in his columns, although that never stopped me enjoying them, of course. It just seemed a little bit easy and unimaginative, a little too reliant on stereotypes. In some ways, I was right too, because there’s a fair bit of that in here, but the thing is: It’s still funny. It’s not meant to be anything else. Anybody who can wring a few drops of humour from the increasingly brittle rag of P.J. O’Rourke’s prose will be in heaven here, occasional thematic laziness or not.

What I leant

To quote Bernard in Black Books: “It’s not really that type of operation.”

In short

Title: Dave Barry’s Complete Guide to Guys
Author: Dave Barry
Publisher: Ballantine Books
ISBN: 0345440633
Year published: 2000
Pages: 272

This review was written by Tom Vaughan. Tom has his own website, which contains many other reviews and strips and art and other fun stuff here.

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