Man-I-Festo of Dude Talk
- Buy the book
Reviewed by Jeff Giles
here’s really no reason to review this book. Like a bowel movement or a rainy day, “Brocabulary”gives every impression of being something that just happened, without a great deal of foresight or craft, and is therefore able to successfully deflect pretty much any attempt at intelligent, objective criticism. It isn’t even a book, really. It’s more of a thing with pages that have words on them.
That being said, it’s only fair to hasten to add that some of those words are actually pretty funny – even if they stand virtually zero chance of ever being read by the majority of their target audience. Written by Daniel Maurer, best-known for his work as the editor of New York magazine’s Grub Street blog, Brocabulary is filled with the sort of juvenilely profane, pun-heavy humor practiced by 12-year-old drinkers and guys who desperately miss the frat years they can’t remember – in other words, people who don’t (or can’t) read. Writing a book for this demographic seems like a pretty curious thing to do – sort of like marketing Viagra to eunuchs, or distributing free oil change coupons to the blind – but Maurer obviously had his reasons for wanting to write this book. (Hopefully, his publishing advance was at the top of the list – and hopefully, it was huge, because he’s probably never going to see another dime from “Brocabulary.”)
The book’s stated goal is to teach you “a revolutionary new lexicon for bonding with your bros,” and the back cover promises to help you “step into the testosterzone” and leave the “vagibberish to the chicks.” If you just “stop brocrastinating,” you’ll “become everyone’s guydol,” and dominate all your “dudescussions” now and forever.
Are you laughing yet? Because it doesn’t really get funnier. Dirtier, sure, but not any more humorous.
Maurer has helpfully divided into a dozen sections (plus a final list of “sacknowledgments”), guiding the reader through the ins and outs of “brommunication,” “barticulation,” “hocabulary,” “spankspeak,” “shitter chatter,” “banguage,” and more. It’s less of a guide than a glossary (ahem, “dicktionary”), broken down into page after page of terms that fall more or less evenly along the line between chuckleworthy and groanworthy, sometimes both. Where the book succeeds, it succeeds mainly because it just never stops coming at you – Maurer (whose previous book was titled “Six Feet Under, Six Inches In: The Complete Necrophiliac’s Guide”) is a gushing fountain of punny jargon, from “MC Hammered” (“the state of being so drunk that you forget that you’re a white dude”) to what it means to have a “Lil Jonversation” (“in which you can’t really hear the person you’re rapping with so you just say ‘WHAT!,’ ‘OKAY!,’ ‘YEAH!’ a lot”). Those are two of the, um, smartest examples, but seriously, the book never stops – it’s 229 pages of definitions for terms like “blowtivation,” “clitastrophe,” and “dresspionage.”
Did we mention that it lists for $15?
Ultimately, this is a book not without its (admittedly limited) charms, but it’s awfully hard to recommend it to anyone who does much reading. If you know of a frat house whose bathroom is in serious need of reading material, then you may want to try and find “Brocabulary”on sale somewhere. Otherwise, you can safely content yourself with a few minutes of leafing through it and chuckling quietly at your neighborhood Barnes & Noble.