These two books discuss love. I recommend avoiding love.
Love is for gamblers, and thus easy to find on cruise ships. You might meet your spiritual match. You also might lose your time, dog, and smile. And that’s if you’re on the side with serial killers. Serial kill-ees risk everything.
If you insist on trying, learn to read odds. The one that got away? A smart bet, and rare. Bad bets, however, are abundant. Otherwise the casino wouldn’t exist. You’re much more likely to meet someone with a secret family than a sense of humor. Because despite the slogan, investors don’t like apps designed to be deleted. That’s like a landmine designed to spare civilians.
There’s one bad bet every sane adult should avoid: writers. Drug dealers can be nice. Murderers can be reformed. Dictators can treat you like royalty. Just don’t date writers.
Today’s books explain why. Chad Kultgen and Hilary Winston wrote about each other, and then published it worldwide. Every English department mixer for the rest of history is now a War Games scenario. We’re used to hacks and lunatics here, but that’s not today’s main event. It’s two creatives ensuring neither can walk in sunshine with normals again.
We’ll start with the novelist Chad Kultgen. It’s fitting that his debut book, The Average American Male, is mostly known for its commercial. Here’s CNBC talking about it while Iraq burns:
Okay, she’s actually saying “It’s the book everyone is talking about, whether you’re the average American male or not. And it has spurred viral marketing genius.” But I’m an adjunct writing professor. I deal in subtext and food stamps.
They used a cash-register sound effect, by the way. TV journalism can be profitable or dignified, but never both.
That said, I like money. Let’s learn how to make money. One kaching!-worthy ad for The Average American Male features a restaurant date. The following captions are real:
Yes! Stop resurrecting Triassic sound effects and tell me how to make money! I’m selling 300 page bricks in a 280-character world.
Ah. The secret to making money is trolling. Specifically, Troll Strategy 17: antagonize half of the culture war, harvest ire, and sell to the other half. This works for anything. You could bottle the tears of caged children, call it “White Power Juice,” and sell it at CPAC.
It’s standard Barstool fare now. But Kultgen deserves some credit for acting out in 2007. Back then, people posted like there were consequences.
Like many ads, this spot’s provocative by design. Unlike many ads, it reflects the product. Chad writes in a bored, bitter, and horny stream of consciousness. “What guys are really thinking,” to quote the book jacket. Which made me expect sex, food, and constant awareness of death. Instead, just sex.
Before I quote it, a disclaimer for 2022. I did not write this book. I did not edit this book. I did not roll the author on his side after a long night of drinking Jagermeister alone. If I wrote this book, it would be about robots objectifying wizards. Cool? Cool. Here’s a chapter opening:
To the young/elderly/mentally well: my age bracket called this style “fratire.” That’s a portmanteau between “fraternity” and “tire fire.” Something that sounds cool to step into, but you immediately regret.
I’m surprised mainstream fratire died out. The audience still exists, based on the fact that Sam Hyde can afford food. And the culture war lives on, based on the fact that Sam Hyde can afford food. You could pitch this at Warner today, get two seasons of breathless Vulture headlines, and retire. I guess Elliot Rodgers took the fun out of counting money.
Two plot threads unfold, but I only care about one. The narrator’s zombie relationship with his girlfriend, Casey. Casey’s a loose collection of coastal stereotypes, sprinkled with insecurity. I’ve slapped Chad around a bit so far, so I’ll sample some stronger prose:
The sex politics are middle school, but he has a point about improv. While improv comedy is less disturbing than killing cats, it’s equally attractive. And stealing jokes is worse. At least rogue taxidermists produce original flesh dolls.
The subsequent story involves cheating on Casey, dumping Casey, and replacing her with a younger Casey. Imagine Eric Cartman as Don Juan and you have the gist.
Eventually, Chad’s narrator dumps Casey in front of her parents. The scene elegantly demonstrates the merits of dueling:
Inventive. I think that’s why this book outlived its genre. Most Tucker Max types tried to pass off this fantasy as reality. Chad was smart enough to call it fiction.
Lest we correctly judge Chad for incorrect reasons, this book came out before prosecutors explained “last minute resistance” to judges from sane eras. His gorilla thoughts are his own, and have a defeated mordancy missing from “Spotting Damaged Prey 201.”
So why’s this matter? Kultgen wanted young men to see themselves in the book. Instead, one young woman did. Namely Hilary Winston, his ex. She took depiction as a vapid sexual cadaver as well as one could, by typing, spell-checking, and trademarking the breakdown.
My cyberstalking says that Hilary Winston’s written for TV since 2003. She’s got diverse credits, from the merchandising vehicle Community to the cult favorite Lego Ninjago Movie. Or maybe it’s the other way around, I did grad school drugs at the time. As Roland Barthes once wrote, drugs are a hell of a cocaine.
She also has this book, called My Boyfriend Wrote a Book About Me. It’s about her boyfriend writing a book about her.
Enter Player Two. Nonfiction, so no dumping anyone in front of their parents without getting shot.
If Chad’s an explosive striker in the humiliation octagon, Hilary’s a pure wrestler. She takes her time and wears him down. She’ll risk a hit to the chin (identifying as “fat-ass girlfriend”) to get the armbar (incel jokes). She even dedicates much of the book to other romances, which we’re skipping because my target word count was five pages ago.
Her general portrait of Chad is a short, 69-obsessed child. His gaming habit catches strays as well. Note that Chad is “Kyle” the way Hilary was “Casey,” because lawyers save countless careers every day.
I can’t pretend I didn’t immediately identify Star Wars Galaxies. I suspect Chad was “NineInchSaberstaff,” scourge of virtual Dathomir. I assumed my rival merely neglected his education, like myself, rather than his partner. Perhaps that’s why I lost.
One interesting tidbit amid the jabs at hobbies and fetishes: Hilary maintains that Chad has OCD. I have my own diagnosis, but I majored in “liking books” and don’t plan on getting sued this year. In any case, she lists her evidence:
I have no idea. I’m recovering from Twitter, so every time I guess at mental health a chip inside my spine shocks me unconscious. But the list aims for embarrassment, and succeeds.
Hilary gives space to the good times as well. This tender moment comes between a pregnancy scare and Chad’s inability to say “I love you:”
From here, “The Kyle & Hilary Show” sounds like her friends wanted Tony Jaa to kick them into heaven. But she co-wrote For a Few Paintballs More, so benefit of the doubt. Besides, I imagine true balance between his blowjob jokes and her navel-gazing is comedy zen.
Her friends do want Chad to get Jaa’d. They gently suggest that marrying a man with fourteen different insults for her ass would have gone poorly. But with their funny and his ticket to Tatooine or something like that, she felt unstoppable. And if we understood love, we’d replace Bumble with joy.
They meet one last time at the original Olive Garden. I’m pretty sure every joke I’m considering here is the true form of reverse racism. I’ve had some rough breakups, but I never dumped anyone at a Golden Krust. Then Hilary ends her book with emotional growth. This, like love, is a mistake.
This is my Super Bowl XXV. Football’s not my sport: I specifically polled ten fans and two search engines about the worst late-game screwups. My brother said XXV, and to stop calling before dawn.
Sure it’s fine writing. But the grudge match comes first. Never show mercy a second before the bell. That leads to a starring role in Surprise Knockout Reactions 14. Who knows what slander Chad is cooking up while–
A natural question: who won? As a black MFA survivor, I’m a federally licensed diss track judge. You can see me in most King of the Dot videos, scoring slurs on a clipboard. I sat behind Jeff Ross on Roast Battle, noting the best punchlines and potential alibis. I shouted “he’s choking” in 8 Mile.
Consider it official when I say that Chad Kultgen loses for quitting in the first round. The riposte is harder than the opening attack, and skipping it is as good as rolling on your back, neck exposed, and tweeting “I’m sorry you were offended.”
This should be his greatest shame. Not Hilary’s book. Not his 8chan Bukowski prose. Not trading love for a dead MMO. The fact that he didn’t publish My Girlfriend Wrote a Book About Me Writing a Book About Her.
In fact, open invitation to everyone I’ve dated: let’s embarrass each other. We could retire off of this. Imagine writing My Boyfriend Wrote a Book About Me Writing A Book About Him Writing a Book About Me Writing A Book About Him Writing a Book About Me. Then imagine the movie deal.
After reading both books, let me guarantee: you can write one in a week. In fact, I’ll write both sides. Just let me put your name on a few bestsellers.
What do you say, Jess? Kyung? XxSniperGurl_GanjaSquad? Let me make up for all the forgotten birthdays and names with cash. I’ll work with any of you, even [Name Removed By Request of Blexit Foundation Legal Team].
There are lessons here about conflict resolution, the nascent antifeminist backlash, and moving on. Forget them. Just remember to never date writers. If you can’t absorb that simple lesson, let’s grab lunch at La Fontaine Duchamp this Saturday. Ignore the laptop, I’m just taking some notes.