The True and Twisted Mind of the American Man
Penguin Press HC, The, Hardcover, 9781594201066, 256pp.
Publication Date: February 1, 2007
Heir to Jack Kerouac and Hunter S. Thompson, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Charlie LeDuff scours the country, tossing back whiskey with the seedy, the dreamy, and the strange in search of the soul of the American male.
No one knows life's underbelly better than New York Times reporter Charlie LeDuff. Christened the "bibulous scribe of the working class" by his peers, he's made a career chronicling, with dead-on feel for character and idiom, the gritty lives of the drifters, the forgotten, and the strange-people washed up and washed out on alcohol, broken dreams, lifetimes of hard living. Willing to follow his subjects where no respectable white-collared man would dare go, he is clearly-and admittedly-a writer "not for people who have doormen, but for doormen." And while his wholly original coverage of this beat has brought him acclaim as a journalist, it has also made him something of a working-class hero.
Who better, then, to examine what it means to be a man in modern-day America? US Guys: The True and Twisted Mind of the American Man is LeDuff's equally intoxicated and intoxicating journey across the country in search of the heart and soul of today's American male. With characteristic audacity, compassion, and humor, he takes part in a Bacchanalian Burning Man festival in Nevada, clad in a Mohawk and little else; trains with the sadhearted Russian clown of a traveling circus; leads a cavalry charge down the Little Bighorn River with war reenactors; joins a C-level professional football team; infiltrates a West Oakland bike gang that holds fight parties; travels with Appalachian snake handlers and tent revivalists; and covers a cowboy love story at a gay rodeo ("Not like the movie. Life is never like the movies. Life is messy and complicated and self-loathing and funny"). At each juncture LeDuff faithfully records their religion and sins and racism, their freaks and misfits, their search for the American dream, and the sweetness they find in living it out, if only for a moment.