Mike Sager,
Revenge of the Donut Boys:
True Stories of Lust, Fame, Survival and Multiple Personality

(Thunder's Mouth, 2007)

Mike Sager can write about anything with empathy -- what it's like to be Frederick's of Hollywood model Brooke Burke ("Secret Life of a Beautiful Woman"), what it's like to 92-year-old Glenn Sanburg ("Old"), what it's like to be one of the many personalities that range and roil inside the head of an overweight comedy queen ("The Multitudes of Roseanne"). This collection of articles gives a pungent sampling of Sager, who has even written about what it's like to Mike Sager, hunting down other people of the same name so as to be totally objective.

Sager writes for Esquire and GQ, and some of his articles have been optioned for film. He looks at both the shiny side and the greasy side as he plunges and plunders along the highway of life. He spent time with swingers to compose "Deviates in Love," learning that faithfulness is enhanced by swinging, at least according to "Butch" who enjoys watching his wife have sex with other guys: "What it comes down to is that if you can trust your wife to go to bed with somebody else and be honest about it, you can trust her about anything." He hangs out with Ice Cube ("The World According to Amerikkka's Most Wanted Rapper"), asking him about his pervasive use of the word "nigga." Cube opines, "Back in the day, when you call somebody a nigger, that meant they were stupid and inferior, right? But now, I'm slapping the m-------s in they face with they own s--- ... they can pray to God that every so-called nigga ain't like this one."

No assignment is too grubby, too dangerous, for Sager, who can make the grubbiest aspects of human life seem momentarily fascinating and very often surprisingly funny. He's as relaxed, literarily speaking, with the greats he writes about (Burke, Barr, Ice Cube, Mike Cuban) as he is with the unknown Mike Sagers he visits in Illinois (father and sons Mike and Mike), Pennsylvania (Accu-Weather Mike) and on Sager Hollow Road in the backwoods of West Virginia, where he meets a Mennonite elder Mike Sager who concludes, "I guess it's true what they say; we're all related under the skin."

book review by
Barbara Bamberger Scott

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