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The Dartmouth
May 22, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Book explores male view from a bar stool

It seems like the politically correct movement has spawned a backlash of sorts, or at least with Ralph and Reggie, the two authors of the book "Macho Meditation."

The book is an account of the thoughts and ideas of these two bar-dwellers as they reflect on certain notable quotables day after day.

The two reminisce on when a guy could be a guy and not some new age softy. They also spend a good amount of time talking about sex or sometimes their lack of it. Whatever it is they are thinking about, it is always macho stuff.

The format of the book is simple: for every day of the year, there is a quote followed by a macho meditation. Of course the book is not meant to be read one day at a time; the format is more of a gag than anything else--a mild parody of those self-help books that give a piece of corny inspiration every day.

There's no cheesiness here though. This is inspiration for the real man. These thoughts can range from snide and witty remarks about the quote to personal stories about childhood or marriage. Most of the passages are humorous, and a few even spark a little laughter.

However, this is a book best read in small doses. After awhile things start to sound the same. There are only so many times the reader can hear about Lillian, the nagging wife, or the panel discussions at McSorley's bar where most of these revelations are conceived. However, if read maybe a few sections at a time, the humor will stay fresh and amusing.

The book is at its best when it is responding directly to the quote of the day. I was surprised at some of the ideas that popped up here and there throughout the book, such as, "The difference between a psychiatrist and a bartender is that a bartender really cares," or "Maybe kids would be better off without role models anyhow. Give 'em less to live up to. Might be better for their self-esteem."

Perhaps the most distracting aspect of the book is the fact that these blue-collar guys are actually Harvard alumni.

That would explain the wealth of great quotes in this book from a wide variety of sources. It would also explain some of the references made here that I don't think a normal drunk at a bar would make.

However, a question lingers over this book. Are these writers parodying these macho barstool ideals, or are they paying homage to them as they slowly move towards extinction? I think it is a mix of both. After all, while half of the humor here comes from these devout macho stances, the other half comes from a ring of truth in what they are saying.

"Macho Meditations" is an amusing book to read and could be very useful in a boring waiting room or before class or just right before going to sleep. It could also be a fun gift for that special someone who needs to learn a thing or two about being macho. The book is not intense reading, and for its gift-book/humor genre, it is a pretty decent piece of work.