Since I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell first came out and became the huge success and cultural touchstone that it has, I literally cannot keep count of all the people who have tried to copy it in some form or another. Thousands upon thousands of people have started blogs about their “fratire” stories, and almost all are blatantly unoriginal rip-offs of mine.
It also seems like each one sends me an email either asking for advice or telling me how much better their stories are. As of yet, none of them have ever done anything of note. My agent Byrd Leavell estimates that he’s gotten 20,000(!) submissions where the author explicitly compared themselves to me in their proposal. He’s never signed one of them.
I’ve tried to tell people that the way to replicate my success is NOT by copying it. You cannot be a better “Tucker Max” than me; the best thing you can do is take my work as a starting point, and then build out from there to create something that is new and authentic to you and your experience. Yes, I get credit for inventing fratire as a genre, but the way I do it is just one way; there are an infinite other number of ways to write about the same basic things I write about.
This is my favorite part about the Total Frat Move book: It doesn’t try to be anything other than what it is. It’s a book about one dudes experience at a fraternity at Texas State, and that’s all it is. His life, his experiences, his thoughts and ideas, expressed in a pretty authentic way, and nothing more.
I won’t summarize the book, you can read the synopsis on Amazon. Here’s my my TL;DR review:
1. The book is not all that interesting to me personally, BUT,
2. I think its very well done for what it is, and a lot of my fans will really like it.
In fact, that’s already the case: a LOT of my fans have told me they like the Total Frat Move book. I can see why. It’s a light, entertaining read that absolutely captures the reality of a specific college experience. If I’d been in a fraternity–especially a southern fraternity–I’d really like this book, and anyone who can understand that experience will relate to Total Frat Move.
I also think that people who like my books for the pure shock factor of the stories will like this book as well. If your favorite aspect of my writing is the light, entertaining style of humor, that you get a few cheap laughs out of, then you will probably see TFM the same way, and enjoy it a lot.
If either of those things apply to you, I highly recommend you go to the “Look Inside” feature on Amazon and read the first chapter. You’ll know very quickly if this book is for you or not.
Let me be very clear: I am NOT criticizing the book, or the Total Frat Move site or meme. I have a ton of respect for those guys; I know how hard it is to build an entertainment brand, and they’ve done a really good job. Which is sort of my point: Just because I don’t personally enjoy the book that much doesn’t mean that it’s bad, and it doesn’t mean that there aren’t a lot of people who do like it.
Let me be clear, again, because I know some people are going to get this wrong: I fully recognize that Total Frat Move is a funny book to a lot of people; I just don’t happen to be at the stage in my life anymore where I care about some bar stories. I lived it, and I’m done with it. But thats just me. It kinda has no bearing on whether YOU will like the book.
That’s sort of my second point in writing this review:
I HATE critics who think that their personal opinion of a book should be the defacto truth about the book. Bullshit. I cannot stand 50 Shades of Grey (yes, I’ve read it), but millions of people disagree; OK fine. My opinion is valid for me, and wrong for them.
This is the problem with professional criticism. Critics stopped being relevant when they stopped writing to inform and contextualize, and when they started writing to signal who they are, to display their identity by their stance on what they are writing about. Criticism should never be about the critic, but thats what it has become, and that’s why no one cares about professional critics anymore.
I’m off my soapbox now.
In short, I think TFM will be very appealing to a huge cross section of my fans, and if you think you might be one of those people, I encourage you to check it out and see if you like it.
[DISCLAIMER: My agent, Byrd Leavell, is the TFM agent as well. And I know their editor, Ben Greenberg, pretty well. But I am not getting anything at all to post this review; no money, no beer, the TFM guys didn’t send any sorostitutes over to my place or anything like that. In fact, I’ve never even met any of the TFM guys. I posted this mainly because I legitimately think a lot of my fans will enjoy this book, and because I wanted to use this to rant about how stupid modern professional criticism is, and show that its easy to review a book where you separate your personal opinion from a legitimate informing piece.]