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.