Success!? by Hunter Burgan
Since Malcolm Gladwell has legitimized shitty self-help books by trading in the faux profundity of willful paradox, where does that leave those of us who would truly love to probe the arcane inner workings of this thing called “success”? It leaves us laughing our asses off to Success!?, that’s where. Written by Hunter Burgan, better known as the bassist of the platinum-selling punk band AFI, Success!? is the kind of small-press curio that I used to collect obsessively in my days of making and trading zines. The slim, modest tome has that kind of bare-bones grit to it—which makes it all the funnier that Burgan, who bills himself as a “self-made thousandaire,” is ostensibly trying to instruct readers on how to get rich. Playing bass in a platinum-selling punk band is never proffered as a possibility, of course; instead, each page of the book is some bit of wordplay, contortion of logic, or eye-straining diagram meant to show that those pimping success are basically a bunch of bullshit artists. Not the most original message, sure, but Burgan’s silly mix of meta-jargon, hand-waving mumbo jumbo, and Office Space-level satire is a hoot—and it shows that he doesn’t take his real-life role as a low-level rock star as seriously as AFI’s melodramatic music might lead you to believe. Now that’s my kind of outlier. [Jason Heller, AV Club]