By Max Gross (Skyhorse Publishing, 2008)
Quick prefatory remark: a lot of people love Geoff Dyer’s Out of Sheer Rage, a book about his inability to write the book he really wants to write, a critical study of D. H. Lawrence. Now, I love OOSR too, but unlike most of its fans, I don’t pretend it’s a brilliant meta-study about writer’s block, the meaning of biography, or obsessive fandom. Rather, I just think that it’s fun to meander with Geoff Dyer because, well, he’s good company. His trivial, time-wasting thoughts aren’t deep: they are just enjoyable to read.
Chuck Klosterman is fun in the same way; a lot of Klosterman is brilliant and hilarious, but even low-grade Klosto is still fun to hang with. So, too, with the best bloggers, whom we enjoy even when they are less than profound.
Add another one to the list: Max Gross, author of From Schlub to Stud, a new memoir of being pudgy, Jew-froed, Seth Rogen–looking, and hapless. Here’s the blog copy, than which I can do no better:
For years after college, Max Gross was a schlubby ne'er-do-well sporting an unwieldy Jewfro. He fought off double-chins and man-boobs. His style of dress was reminiscent of a stoned urban slacker. Young Max Gross truly was hapless in a big city. He was seemingly without luck or hope. He had bedbugs, a bad break-up, and an audit by the IRS that threatened to break his soul.
But he had heart (as well as two nagging parents). When Gross saw the smash comedy Knocked Up, he realized his day might have arrived. All these years of being a world-class schlub would finally pay off. Thinking quickly, Gross wrote an article about the phenomenon and soon found true love.
Not intrigued? Fine. But for those of us without enough hilarity in our lives, this is a book worth owning. And El Schlub-O has a blog worth visiting. And even his publishing house is hilarious — reading the catalogue of Skyhorse Publishing is funnier than all but the best Shouts & Murmurs and Onion articles. One would say that Gross deserves a better, less ridiculous publisher — except the point of his book is that a loser like him really doesn’t. They deserve each other!
Mark Oppenheimer has this article in the latest New York Times Magazine.