The internet explosion has unleashed thousands upon thousands of amateur writers on an unsuspecting world.-hell, this very site is proof of that. Able to perfect their craft on anything from consumer review sites to personal blogs, some of these writers have enough of a gift that they’re a natural to go on and get professionally published. Blogger Jason Mulgrew is one such writer. The hilarious observations on life featured on his blog have won him a committed following, and that has translated into Mulgrew’s first published work: “Everything is Wrong With Me: A Memoir of a Childhood Gone, Well, Wrong”.
The book consists of a series of vignettes from the now thirty-something Mulgrew’s childhood in South Philadelphia-and the stories told are colorful, to say the least. Now, most people have childhood stories that could crack up the average group of people, but what separates Mulgrew from most other people is his delivery. He’s got a good sense of comic timing, and his storytelling style is self-deprecating enough that you can tell he’s not taking himself too seriously. Consider Jason a more blue-collar version of Augusten Burroughs or David Sedaris. Basically, that means that while the three authors have similar writing styles, Mulgrew makes more references to things like masturbation and the size of his wang (which he devotes much of an entire chapter to).
In other words, if you’re the type that would spend a spring day like today sitting on a blanket in your local park, drinking a Naked juice and thumbing through a copy of “The Old Man & the Sea”, “Everything is Wrong with Me” is probably not for you. If you’re the type that would spend a spring day in the backyard, polishing off your rifle and thumbing through a copy of “Going Rogue”, you probably won’t get the humor. However, if you (much like me) intend to spend this beautiful spring day sitting on the couch in your underwear smoking a joint, then this book is perfect (and it’s probably even funnier when you’re stoned)!
It’s completely relatable to anyone in my age group (I think Jason is a couple of years younger than I am), and some of the stories here put even my own relatively colorful childhood tales to shame. Among the highlights:
*Jason reveals that his parents’ initial contact occurred while his dad was marching in a parade with fresh stab wounds. His dad also breaks his neck while drunkenly diving off a pier and gets questioned for attempted murder-proving that in order for there to be a crazy apple, there must first be a crazy tree.
*He gives it up for Philly baseball hero Mike Schmidt and outs himself as a sports nerd, although he admits to having next to no athletic ability whatsoever (hmmm…sounds familiar).
*He (briefly) runs an illegal fireworks ring. Later on, he becomes a bookie’s secret weapon due to his prowess on Sega’s NHL ’93 and, even later, attempts to win $100 by swallowing a Scotch bonnet pepper and then trying to go a full minute without drinking anything (did he win the money? Go get the book.)
Mulgrew also includes side-splitting footnotes on most pages (some of which are funnier than the actual stories), and occasionally interrupts the stories to go into detail about the Sacraments of the Catholic Church and the six songs that defined his adolescence (which is probably the only place you’ll ever find New Edition and the Grateful Dead appearing within 5 pages of one another).
No, “Everything is Wrong with Me” is not a work of literary genius-but it fits in perfectly with what I look for when I pick up a book. Reading, much like film and television, is about escapism for me-a chance to take a break from everyday life and just have a good laugh. Mulgrew’s type of humor isn’t for everybody-but it’s certainly right up my alley, and considering I knew nothing about the book itself or the author when I walked out of the bookstore with it, I’d say that “Everything is Wrong with Me” is one of the best “blind purchases” I’ve made recently.