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Book Review of: Brocabulary

The New Manifesto of Dude Talk

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Review of Brocabulary, by Daniel Maurer (Paperback, 2008)

(You can print this review in landscape mode, if you want a hardcopy)

Reviewer: Mark Lamendola, author of over 6,000 articles.

I can see where some guys would enjoy Brocabulary. I am not one of those guys.

I must have completely misunderstood the description of this book. For some reason, I thought Brocabulary was going to take a look into how guys relate to each other today. We have code words, like calling someone "bro" when we think that person is a stand-up sort of guy. We say often "Dude" when we are trying to make a point and it's code for, "I'm about to say something clever or important, so listen." Straight guys are straightjacketed when it comes to expressing ourselves, thus the rise of these subtleties. I thought that was what this book was going to be about. It's not.

As it turns out, this book is a massive collection of punnery, neologisms, crude-isms, bar lingo, mysogynisms, homophobisms, and low brow humor in general. It's vapid. It seems squarely aimed at the single guy who is a frat boy (or aspires to be one, or was one not long ago), and whose only real concerns in life are getting laid and not being seen as a homo (by standards only the seriously insecure would care about).

Much of the material read like script lines or background material written for Seann William Scott in some sequel to American Pie. In the movie (and in similar roles in other movies), Scott's character spices things up with this kind of "brocabulary" and this "chick hunting" mentality. Adam Herz, who wrote American Pie, added just enough in the right places, being careful not to overdo it (almost).

Brocabulary overdoes it. In fact, the book consists completely of this kind of shtick. Reading it is like drinking hot sauce straight from the bottle instead of using it to liven up the food (you may prefer the "drinking from the fire hose" metaphor). That isn't necessarily bad. This may appeal to some people's tastes. It doesn't suit mine.

Brocabulary consists of 12 chapters. The first chapter is pretty much a general glossary and worth some snickers to almost anybody. The second chapter is a glossary for bar patrons. To me, bars are places where guys go to fatten their waistlines, pickle their brains, and damage their lungs while practicing lame pickup lines on women who don't have anything useful to do with their time. I didn't give the second chapter more than a cursory scan.

The third chapter, "Player Palaver," goes into the lingo and behavior a Don Juan needs to know. This includes what not to do, as well. If the Don Juan is successful, he can move on to Chapter 4, "Banguage." The content is what the title suggests. However, it has culturally specific references that were completely foreign to me.

Presumably, the Don Juan, after banging enough "hos," will move past one night stands and then need to know the information in Chapter 5, "Hocabulary." The underlying concept here is the man has to show who has the cajones and the woman who was the fulfillment of his manhood in Chapter 4 is a threat to his manhood in Chapter 5. If she is actually the boss, he's a wimp and he will lose face with his "bros."

We move into a different area of life's challenges in Chapter 6, "Chilloquialisms." This chapter looks at what a "bro" needs to know about recreation (chilling) so that he doesn't appear to be unmanly. I found this chapter to be just too alien to my experiences and way of thinking, and read only the first third of it before moving on to the next chapter. Chapters 7 and 8 are about the proper language and etiquette for masturbating and sharing bowel movement moments, respectively. Mercifully, they are short.

In Chapter 9, Maurer goes into the lexicon of praise. He also delves into the proper way of looking up to other guys, so you don't come across as a wimp or a homo. This chapter includes a table listing acceptable idols and unacceptable idols. Chapter 10 explains how to effect the opposite of Chapter 9. It goes into great detail about the proper ways of spurning others so there is no doubt you aren't among the losers.

Chapter 11 is about clothing, and Chapter 12 is about technology. Actually, there is some good advice in these chapters. Maurer's comments, for example, on obsessive texting and other "chained to my device" behaviors are right on target.

If you're in the age group and culture pocket that Maurer wrote for, you will  probably recommend this book to your "bros." If you're outside that demographic, don't buy this book.



About these reviews

You may be wondering why the reviews here are any different from the hundreds of "reviews" posted online. Notice the quotation marks?

I've been reviewing books for sites like Amazon for many years now, and it dismays me that Amazon found it necessary to post a minimum word count for reviews. It further dismays me that it's only 20 words. If that's all you have to say about a book, why bother?

And why waste everyone else's time with such drivel? As a reader of such reviews, I feel like I am being told that I do not matter. The flippancy of people who write these terse "reviews" is insulting to the authors also, I would suspect.

This sound bite blathering taking the place of any actual communication is increasingly a problem in our mindless, blog-posting Webosphere. Sadly, Google rewards such pointlessness as "content" so we just get more if this inanity.

My reviews, contrary to current (non) standards, actually tell you about the book. I always got an "A" on a book review I did as a kid (that's how I remember it anyhow, and it's my story so I'm sticking to it). A book review contains certain elements and has a logical structure. It informs the reader about the book.

A book review may also tell the reader whether the reviewer liked it, but revealing a reviewer's personal taste is not necessary for an informative book review.

About your reviewer

  • Books are a passion of mine. I read dozens of them each year, plus I listen to audio books.
  • Most of my "reading diet" consists of nonfiction. I think life is too short to use your limited reading time on material that has little or no substance. That leads into my next point...
  • In 1990, I stopped watching television. I have not missed it. At all.
  • I was first published as a preteen. I wrote an essay, and my teacher submitted it to the local paper.
  • For six years, I worked as an editor for a trade publication. I left that job in 2002, and still do freelance editing and authoring for that publication (and for other publications).
  • No book has emerged from my mind onto the best-seller list. So maybe I'm presumptuous in judging the work of others. Then again, I do more describing than judging in my reviews. And I have so many articles now published that I stopped counting them at 6,000. When did I stop? Probably 20,000 articles ago! (It's been a while).
  • I have an engineering degree and an MBA, among other "quant" degrees. That helps explain my methodical approach toward reviews.
  • You probably don't know anybody who has made a perfect or near perfect score on a test of Standard Written English. I have. So, a credential for whatever it's worth.

About reading style

No, I do not "speed read" through these. That said, I do read at a fast rate. But, in contrast to speed reading, I read everything when I read a book for review.

Speed reading is a specialized type of reading that requires skipping text as you go. Using this technique, I've been able to consistently "max out" a speed reading machine at 2080 words per minute with 80% comprehension. This method is great if you are out to show how fast you can read. But I didn't use it in graduate school and I don't use it now. I think it takes the joy out of reading, and that pleasure is a big part of why I read.

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