Book Review: Man Up! Tales of My Delusional Self Confidence by Ross Matthews

Ross-Mathews-Man-Up-Photo-2.13.13Ross Matthews is right about one thing – any self-confidence he feels about his writing skills is without a doubt delusional.  He’d have to be out of his mind to think that readers will actually be entertained by the garbage he passes off as a book.

These comedic memoir-esque type books seem to be growing in popularity these days, but I still consider some of Chelsea Handler’s and David Sedaris’ works to be the golden standard for this genre.  That said, many people have come close to replicating and even surpassing those authors (i.e., Mindy Kaling, Jenny Lawson, Tina Fey), while other “imitators” fall flat.  Like Ross Matthews.  If the name Ross Matthews is unfamiliar, he got his start as Ross the Intern on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, where he was actually pretty funny.  He now appears as a weekly commentator on Chelsea Weekly, and although I haven’t seen it myself, I would bet he comes off as pretty likable there as well.

Sadly though, his personality did not translate well into writing.  One of the main things that irked me about this book was the name dropping, as if Matthews was constantly proclaiming things like: “Hey look!  I’m besties with Gwyneth Paltrow.  This must mean I’m famous too!”  Although Gwyneth Paltrow was not the only subject of his effusive flattery, she seems to bear the brunt of his admiration.  If it wasn’t nauseating enough the way he gushed on about her incessantly, Gwyneth actually wrote an introduction to the book about how much she adores Matthews as well, stating that readers would absolutely want to be his best friend by the end of the book.  I have two immediate responses to that: (1) Nope, I’ll pass on friendship, thank you very much, and (2) Get a room already, where you can have a cuddle/tickle fest and whisper sweet nothings into each others’ ears all night long without subjecting the readers to it!

Stylistically, the book got on my nerves too.  It seemed like every other sentence began or ended with the words, “dear reader,” as in, “I made a promise to you, dear reader” or “I offer it to you, dear reader.”  It just came off as insincere and aggravating, like someone giving a speech that interjects “uhhh” after every few sentences.  Furthermore, most of the time it just seemed as though Matthews was trying way too hard to be clever with his choice of words rather than playing up the humor of the situation itself.  Here is just a brief sampling to show you what I mean:

  • Ross on wearing camo… “Cause honey, if you’ve got it, don’t camouflage it, camou-flaunt it!” (p117)
  • Ross on the holidays… “Damn right, I’m holly jolly.  I’m straight up Ho-Jo.  I’m Ho-Jo like a Mo-Fo.  I’m a Ho-Jo Mo-Fo Homo.  Watch out – I could do this all night!” (p 159)
  • Ross on food… Something told me that the secret ingredient tonight would be an herb called OregaNO-You-Didn’t!” (p185)
  • Ross when his favorite side item (squash) was discontinued at a much frequented fast food restaurant… “Someone had to squash this kind of squash injustice!” (p187)

Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for spicing up writing with clever plays on words.  If sentences like the above were sprinkled throughout the book, I could have taken them in stride – even enjoyed them.  But, of course, Ross does nothing in moderation.  I’d say a good 50% of all his utterances were similar to the above, which is like mixing in two cups of salt when the recipe asked for only two teaspoons!  The word-plays were just overpowering and overwhelming

That said, there were a few worthwhile chapters, although at the moment I am having trouble remembering any of them other than the one about his dogs.  And I can’t tell if I liked this chapter because it was actually funny and well written, or because I just really like dogs.  Either way, the few good chapters were outnumbered by the plethora of lackluster ones.  So, if you are in the market for a book in the genre, there are many much better choices you could make.

I am pretty disappointed in this book.  Sadly, I think that I would really like Ross (and we might even be friends) if I met him in person (and maybe just for 30 minute increments).  But as an author, he’s out of his element, and it shows.

Final Rating: 2 out of 5 stars.

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