Tucker Max is dead

Ok.   Not really.   Just Tucker Max the persona.   A recent “Shout and Murmur” in the New Yorker, tells us that  Tucker Max, the persona women love to hate (except—maybe—the ones who sleep with him) and young men (and I use the term “men” loosely) want to emulate, is dead.   He has recently released a new book of short stories, Hilarity Ensues, that he claims is nothing like I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell or the even more cleverly (?) named Assholes Finish First, (and I use the term “asshole” precisely here).

He is trying mixed maritial arts and yoga.   He is eating salads and no longer sleeping around.   He is not even throwing himself a book party.     He is 36, and I wonder if he has really grown up or if he is trying to find his next gimmick.

I was just at this year’s Associated Writing Programs conference and swimming in conversations about all of these things—personas and gimmicks and literary merit (oh my!).   One of the best panels I attended this year featured Phillip Lopate, Mimi Schwartz, Michael Steinberg, and Thomas Larson.  The topic was persona and the blurry lines between author, character, and narrator in memoir.   I couldn’t take notes fast enough and I could never, ever even summarize what they had to say in the space here, but seeing this news about Max’s reinvention of self is making it all float back for me.   (I wonder if this the first time Lopate and Max have been discussed in the same space…)

We will never know how much of Max’s work is persona, character, narrator and true self; it’s decidedly possible that neither will he.   We do know that his first book made the best sellers list for 5 years, even as women’s organizations and others staged protests at his readings and promotional posters were defaced; he created a marketable character.   If anyone reads the new book, let us know if it is apt to get him more attention, if his new persona will cause as much furor as his old one, or if Tucker Max really (kinda, sorta) is dead.


Kathleen Volk Miller is co-editor of Painted Bride Quarterly, co-director of the Drexel Publishing Group, and an Associate Teaching Professor at Drexel University. She is a weekly blogger (Thursdays) for Philadelphia Magazine’s Philly Post. Volk Miller writes fiction and essays, with work in publications such as Salon.com, The New York Times, Opium, thesmartset.org, and Drunken Boat. She is currently working on My Gratitude, a collection of essays. Recently, Kathleen Volk Miller was named a Creative Connector by Leadership Philadelphia. Follow her on Twitter @kvm1303.

2 thoughts on “Tucker Max is dead

  1. To be honest, I did not know who Tucker Max was until I read this. Even so, I understand what you mean. I really don’t think there is anyone who truly likes “that guy,” the meathead, wannabe, tool, poser, etc. What I can’t understand is, if I am correct and people just pretending this type of person is a valuable contributing member of society, then why are we pretending at all?

  2. As I always try to show in class, I am a huge supporter and fan of Tucker Max! I feel about him the same way I feel about Daniel Tosh; if you get offended by any of their statements, chances are you take life way too seriously. I have not yet read Hilarity Ensues, which sucks. However, Tucker *is* 36-years-old. He’s almost 40, and he is not the same man he was when he went to Duke. He grew up, and people out-grow their character “personas”. Eminem isn’t Slim Shady as much as he use to be, Ice Cube is in family films. I can’t see anyone being the same person when they were 26 being the same person at 36. There’s no doubt Tucker isn’t a good writer; anyone who’s read his books can tell the guy has a way with words. It’s sad when people judge him solely on that one time he clogged up the hotel bathroom. Tucker can write about driving a Winnebago through New York City or, I don’t know, raising kids. I’ll still read whatever he offers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>