I’d like to preface this review by noting that while I’m sure there’s a beautifully designed jacket out there for Ken W. Hanley’s satirical self-help book The I in Evil: Accepting and Embracing the Monster You Are, I can only review the book based on the digital copy. This was after not one, but two hard copies from Skyhorse Publishing vanished somewhere within the netherworld of the postal “Bermuda Triangle” of New York City, Canada Customs, and Canada Post. Out of the three, the only logical explanation for the book’s disappearance is that when the hard workers at customs gave it a quick once-over to make sure it wasn’t housing illegal narcotics, they started reading it and couldn’t put it down. I can’t fault them for that; I can only beg them to send the book(s) my way when they’ve satisfied their literary urges. It would be most appreciated.
“Who are you? It’s a simple question asked by humans, monsters and classic rock stations every single day” (from Chapter 3: “You Are More Than The Sum Of Your Parts”). The I in Evil is the latest and—dare I say—the greatest addition to the ka-drillion dollar industry that is Self Help. The author has certainly found his angle: the unchartered waters of the monster community that has yet to be self- helped. The book is a (monster) mash of Dr. Phil infomercialesque sales pitches, Universal Studios’ gang of monsters and freaks from the 50’s, and the “tell it like it is” approach of a potty-mouthed Judge Judy—all delivered in the comedic style of Simon Rich and Steven Colbert. There is a chapter for EVERYONE—human or monster. Another unique selling (or buying) point of the book is its awareness of some of the issues monsters face in today’s world, and so the author has some great advice for the LGBT and racially aware monster community. Hanley has been quite careful to make sure that the book is very inclusive to every kind of monster or monster combination (gill-man and werewolf, for example). He also throws humans into the mix so there is a section of the book for you to read in any given situation involving a monster in crisis.
Those familiar with Hanley’s work will enjoy the way he weaves in his heavyweight horror knowledge with very extreme black humour. This combination provides priceless guidance for getting monsters out of their slumps and back into the real world where they will be able to read and buy more copies of this book! Not to leave any possible consumer sector out, the horror knowledge mixed with pop culture references is accessible enough for just about anyone.
I had a blast reading this book, laughing like I was at a great stand-up gig. Hanley’s comedic timing is flawless and not a single laugh felt lazy. It packs a punch and is almost exhaustingly entertaining. Much like Simon Rich (if you haven’t figured it out yet, I love Simon Rich) this is a book that will be a go-to when I crave a smart, witty and effortless piece of satire that works on every level. I’m impressed, and I look forward to re-reading this book in its hard copy form whenever it arrives in my mailbox. I don’t know what Hanley has up his sleeve next but I can’t wait to find out.
The I in Evil: Accepting and Embracing the Monster You Are is available in hardcover through Skyhorse Publishing and also available as an ebook.