Author: Dr. Denis Leary
First Published: 2008
Page Count: 240
Film/ TV Adaptation: No
Rating: 3/5 Stars
Whether you’re black, white, skinny, fat, rich, poor, young, old, or more importantly American, Denis Leary has a few choice words for you in this funny, take-no-prisoners self-help book.
*Personal anecdotes humanize the writer *Observes the obvious/ not so obvious flaws in American society with humor
*Distracting grammatical errors *Vague theme *Tone at times seemed harsh
“I have never been fat. But I have been- and oftentimes continue to be- loud, lazy and stupid. So put down the Pop-Tarts and listen up a little. I’m trying to help us here.” If you’ve ever wondered why so many people, non-Americans and Americans alike, hate the United States of America, Denis Leary has compiled a list of reasons in his book Why We Suck. Loud, spoiled children, Dr. Phil, Lindsey Lohan’s parents, and Starbucks are all targets of Leary’s racy call to action against the type of people who are bringing down this once great nation.
Leary’s book points out the obvious flaws in society that we’ve all taken a mental note of but would never bring up outside of the confines of our noggin. I know my best friend will particularly enjoy the chapter entitled, “Your Kids are not Cute.” He also points out some not so obvious points about modern-day America such as the genius behind the empire known as Oprah. At the same time, the author breaks away from his ranting and raving to give the reader a look into his upbringing in a strict, and as he describes it, functional and dysfunctional Irish family. The flashbacks on his childhood take some heat off of the content in the book and give the reader a good look at where the author has come from and how he has formed his view on the world.
But Leary has a straight-to-the-point sense of humor that can sometimes seem harsh and against his own values. Hey, I’m always up for animated language and risqué opinions. I was one of the few people who thoroughly enjoyed the edgy hosting by Ricky Gervais for the Golden Globes earlier this year. However, Leary seemed to take things a bit far for the sake of comedy in some parts of his book. For instance, when he unrelentingly bashes parents who worship their children and think that the world is at their feet, I wondered if he would include himself in that group of parents because, throughout the book, there are a few mentions of his “gorgeous” daughter and “wonderful” son. Now his kids, his whole family in fact, look to be a perfectly beautiful group, but you’re telling me he never doted upon or dreamed up a picture perfect future for his offspring? I understand he was mostly dissing the ridiculous parents who fawn a little too much over their precious Mary Sue or Bobby Joe, but love between a parent and their child is a natural bond. I can’t believe that he was never one of “those” parents at one point in his life.
Within the book there were also a lot of grammatical errors including run-on sentences and incomplete sentences that could become more than a little distracting. The book is meant to come across as a personal look into Leary’s mind but a comma or period here or there wouldn’t take away from the casual tone; it might make it seem a little more professional though. I also was confused about the theme of the book. The cover and a couple of the chapters made it seem as if it was a book about what is wrong with American society today, but the other chapters that were filled with childhood stories made it seem more like a book promoting a proper Irish upbringing. The anecdotes did reveal why Leary feels the way he does about certain topics but it also made the book lean more towards the memoir department. The problems that Leary bemoans in the book also seem more like problems that any modern Western society might experience, even if America is usually at the forefront of some of the more embarrassing and idiotic trends. I think Leary started out wanting to talk about the problems with American society but that theme didn’t clearly translate throughout the whole book.
I did laugh out loud quite a few times, and some of the passages seemed like verbatim mental conversations I have had with myself on many of the topics. There were also many times I disagreed with Leary’s point a view but this is a comedy book. If you free up you mind and set yourself up for a good time, you’ll find something for yourself in this read. And if you can’t, then it’s probably best you skip this one. As Leary mentions in the opening of his book, “there are endless things you can buy in America- but a sense of humor isn’t one of them.”