I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell
Author: Tucker Max
New York Times Bestseller
Original Publication: 2006
Genre(s): Biography (Autobiography), Short Stories, Memoir, Nonfiction, Comedy
I first became acquainted with the fantastic adventures of Mr. Max via his blog, TuckerMax.com. The pioneer of a genre since dubbed “Fratire”, I laughed until I cried at some of his stories. Here’s the setup – Max is a socially privileged law student who is more or less disenchanted with his education, and passes his time drinking an outrageous amount of alcohol with his similarly jaded guy friends. In what amounts to a six-way bromance, you get to know Max and his buddies as they drink, get thrown out of bars, get into fights, insult people (mostly women), and have indiscriminate sex (mostly with women.)
Each chapter tells the tale of another debauched day in the life of the fellas. Most, to my chagrin, had already been told in more or less the same fashion on his blog, and I had already read them for free by the time I picked up his book. For the uninitiated, however, I thought that the book was entertaining. He’s absolutely a vain woman-hater, but even as he described pushing a fat girl that he was having sex with out of his bedroom window (rather than ask her to leave through the house, where his roommates might see her and make crass remarks), I had to laugh. Those of my friends who have read the book have commandeered a phrase Max himself coined – one does not simply get ridiculously drunk anymore, they get “Tucker Max drunk.” That said, the book resonated better with my male friends than it did my female friends. I particularly liked “Sushi Pants”, wherein Max winds up sans pants in a Sushi restaurant, drinking with the patrons in a contest to see who can blow the highest on his pocket breathalyzer.
The reactions to I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell tend to land squarely in either the “Man, this guy is completely awesome!/Man, this guy is completely unbearable!” category. I think that most people who were ever in a fraternity or part of the club scene would probably find Max par for the course, if entertaining. He’s a drunk, ego-maniacal, misogynistic ass; that’s a given. What sets him apart from the rest of the drunk, obnoxious, woman-hating asses that frequent bars is that Max is smart, well-spoken, hilariously funny, and unapologetic about himself. Max himself:
My name is Tucker Max, and I am an asshole.
I get excessively drunk at inappropriate times, disregard social norms, indulge every whim, ignore the consequences of my actions, mock idiots and posers, sleep with more women than is safe or reasonable, and just generally act like a raging dickhead.
But, I do contribute to humanity in one very important way. I share my adventures with the world. They are known as…The Tucker Max Stories.
Fun Fact: Max was sued by Miss Vermont 1999 (Katy Johnson) for telling stories about when he was dating her. In response to the lawsuit, a Florida state court judge issued an “unusual” order for Max not to write about Johnson, to use Johnson’s first, full, or last name, to use the phrase “Miss Vermont” on his website, or to disclose any “information” or “stories” about Johnson. Legal experts called the decision “kooky” and “clearly a suppression of free speech.” The ACLU intervened, claiming a breach of Max’s First Amendment rights, which led to Johnson’s voluntary dismissal, and Max’s story was once again posted on his website.
Bother if: I, too, hope they serve beer in hell. This book is most definitely not for everyone, but some of the most entertaining people are an acquired taste. It’s the perfect “airport novel” – something you pick up when you need a completely mindless read and few laughs. It’s probably a lot funnier if you’ve “been there”, to a certain extent, or are given to also mocking idiots and posers. My reactions were more of the chuckle-and-shake-my-head variety than of the seething-about-what-a-jerk-he-is variety. I put the book down wanting to go have a beer with him.
Don’t Bother if: The guy is a total ass, and unless you’re up for hearing story after story about Tucker Max getting drunk and embarrassing himself and others, you might want to pass on this one. Many people, particularly women, would probably take offense to nearly everything Tucker Max stands for. As for myself, I thought he came off like most grad-school students who think they are smarter than everyone else. I thought it was very funny, but it admittedly probably appeals to a limited cross-section of general senses of humor.