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How To Be a Man

de John Birmingham

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This is an often tongue-in-cheek handbook. Thematically organized to cover the full range of masculine endeavor, it puts the "Man" back in manhood.
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"How to be a man" reads like it was quickly thrown together by author Birmingham and publisher to capitalise upon the success of "He Died With a Falafel in his Hand", which is accurate.

We get essays on salamis found in surprising places, con men, fighting, drinking and so on. Really, nothing too exciting to be found here. ( )
  MiaCulpa | Mar 7, 2018 |
This book came out in two editions: an initial compilation of loosely-connected anecdotes and vignettes on “manhood” that Birmingham cobbled together on the back of his success with He Died with a Felafel in His Hand, and a newer edition in which he teams up with friend, fellow writer and scoundrel, Dirk Flinthart. The second edition was more of manual on how to be a man, with the authors counselling the seeker in a semi-serious vein on topics such as drinking, fighting, working, etc, with the first edition’s text included as text box break-outs from the text.

Being a big fan of Felafel, I purchased the first edition as soon as it came out, and found myself laughing out loud at some of the bizarre anecdotes (the guy who never rinsed the detergent out of his clothes, and the disco man with the salami tape to his inside leg were personal favourites). Some of these snippets seem to have been obtained by Birmingham through interviews or conversations, others were from Hemmingway and the like.

When the second edition came out I eagerly purchased it, hoping that it contained fresh snippets akin to the first edition. I was somewhat dismayed when I found the snippets relegated to supporting text, and the main text taken up with JB and Flinthart’s take on how to be a man. Unfortunately, they took themselves way too seriously. P. J. O’Rourke’s Bachelor’s Home Companion is a successful example of how to parody and celebrate a man’s attempt to wobble through life. But, already in my 30s, I didn’t really need advice on how to fight, for example, which was among the advice given by O’Rourke’s two Aussie successors.

Birmingham’s humour works because he establishes himself on a level with the reader, being his/her companion through various weird adventures & anecdotes. When he sets himself up as adviser, I found myself baulking. ( )
1 vote Iacobus | Apr 21, 2008 |
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This is an often tongue-in-cheek handbook. Thematically organized to cover the full range of masculine endeavor, it puts the "Man" back in manhood.

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