Barbarous Book Club




Remember Motley Crue’s The Dirt? Of course you do, it’s like the single greatest thing ever written by anyone anywhere in the history of writing or even conveying stories via grunts and finger painting on cave walls. And Neil Strauss, the guy who put it together, clearly understands storytelling as an art form; for one of the cardinal rules of telling a story is “Grab your reader right from the start,” and Strauss certainly accomplished that. Here’s the entire first paragraph of The Dirt, told from the point of view of Vince Neil:

“Her name was Bullwinkle. We called her that because she had a face like a moose. But Tommy, even though he could get any girl he wanted on the Sunset Strip, would not break up with her. He loved her and wanted to marry her, he kept telling us, because she could spray her cum across the room.”

BRILLIANT. A++++ WDBWA. In just four sentences, Strauss has pretty much assured that you will read the rest of The Dirt. This paragraph has sex, it has humor, it makes immediate reference to other members of Motley Crue, and it offers a “Psst! Wanna hear some gossip?” tone that allows the reader to feel secure that he or she did not waste his or her money. No wonder this thing was such a high seller.

Now, let’s contrast this with the opening paragraph of It’s So Easy and Other Lies, Duff McKagan’s new autobiography, the first eighty pages of which are now available for free download here:

“DJ Morty is standing behind a table in the backyard. The anemic last rays of a late- afternoon California sun stream over the adobe roof tiles of the single-story house I share with my wife, Susan, and our two girls, Grace and Mae. In front of the DJ table is a small patch of polished wood planking—a portable dancefloor we rented along with a few little tables and chairs.”

Well, there’s some very pretty language there that certainly proves that Mr. McKagan did, indeed, go back to school and get his degree after the original GN’R split up. But guess what? No one is buying this book because they wanna hear about Duff’s wife, Duff’s daughters, or DJ Morty, whoever the hell that is. And Duff must know this; there are not one but two allusions to Guns N’ Roses in the title, for fuck’s sake. And yet, it’s another two pages before Duff even mentions GN’R, and even then, it’s only in passing.

It’s too bad the book gets off to such a bizarrely slow start, and I hope it doesn’t discourage readers for checking out the rest. I haven’t had time to read all eighty pages yet, but as soon as the first proper chapter begins, things start to pick up. In fact, just for the sake of comparison, here’s the opening paragraph from said first proper chapter:

“I’ve known a lot of junkies. Many of them have either died or continue to live a pitiful existence to this day. With many of these same people, I personally witnessed a wonderful lust for life as we played music together as kids and looked toward the future. Of course, no one sets out to be a junkie or an alcoholic.”

Still not quite the reason you bought the book, but certainly a step in the right direction, no? From there, Duff actually does go on to tell some fun stories about his days in Guns (I somehow never knew that Duff’s Beer from The Simpsons was named in McKagan’s honor), and, of course, talks a lot about substance abuse. None of it is an entertainingly penned as The Dirt, but then, nothing ever is.

Download those eighty pages here, then weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section. It’s So Easy comes out October 4.


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