Long before “Maddox” ever published a book, he was an internet wunderkind–a viral advertisement all by himself. His website, The Best Page in the Universe, is an exercise in to-the-limit satire, wherein Maddox plays a man’s man who loves pirates, eats animals, lives a porn star’s sex life, and berates anyone who dares to question him.
I personally have followed the site with a lazy sort of interest for the past few years. It’s updated very infrequently, and looks like hell, which is a testament perhaps to Maddox’s staying power with his bemused or–scarily–vehemently agreeable fanbase. Ironically, the site has been updated even less frequently in the year that Maddox has been writing and promoting The Alphabet of Manliness, ostensibly, I suppose, because the bulk of Maddox creative juices went into the latter.
Appropriately enough, The Alphabet of Manliness isn’t nearly as funny as the website whose popularity grew on word-of-mouth alone. This book, layed out in 26 chapters–one for each letter of the alphabet–covers topics which are supposedly of interest to manly men: pirates, lumberjacks, beef jerky, breasts, pornography, etc., all of them covered in Maddox’s satirical voice, which is as much of an exaggeration of the oversexed, misogynist, bullheaded stereotype as possibly without falling victim to its own schtick. The entire book is like one big Chuck Norris joke–in fact, Maddox dedicates the letter N to good old Chuck–but Chuck Norris jokes just aren’t funny for 200 pages. The appeal of Maddox’s website is the monthly addition of piece which takes two minutes to read: in small doses, the heavy-headed vitriol is funny, and the web gives it a hip modernity and spontaneity which prevents it from seeming sad and pathetic. The Alphabet of Manliness has no such charm, and so while it did induce a few chuckles from me, especially early on, it wore very thin very quickly, so that by the time I hit “W” for “Woman,” in which Maddox proffers a guide to woman that reads as though it was cropped from a pet training manual, I was bored, only very slightly bemused, and kind of perturbed that I had wasted my time.
Maddox himself is a strange cookie: for all his bluster and bravado and iconoclasm, I found it hard to miss that he includes his religious views very clearly: Maddox, though you might guess otherwise, isn’t an atheist, but rather subscribes to a creator god who made a universe full of dust and gas from whence we arose over billions of years. This isn’t at all important, but it seems a bit of a nonsequitur to see someone advocating–in jest, of course–headbutting uppity women in the ovaries turn around and declare, in his authorial voice, a certain allegiance to the popular deity of fans and foes alike.
I can’t really find any reason to recommend The Alphabet of Manliness. If Maddox’s brand of humor is indeed something that appeals to you, perhaps you’d be better off picking and choosing articles from his website; the book, by comparison, is rather…well…. stupid.