Arthur Chappell

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BOOK REVIEW – AHRVEY PEKAR – EGO AND HUBRIS – THE MICHAEL MALICE STORY. 2006 Balantine Books.

Pekar met Michael Malice during the making of the film of one of his earlier books, American Splendour, which incorporates a Malice short story, ‘Fish Story’. Pekar followed the best selling graphic work with Malice’s biography, the story of an appalling individual, egotistical, vain, rude and cruel to anyone who crosses him, eagerly correcting any mistakes made by his teachers, destroying any employer who he dislikes, getting security guards sacked. His confrontational argumentative style takes on an air of sadism, and he disrupts courtroom jury service, upsets his parents, and struggles to write a book. Moving from his birth in the Ukraine to his life in New York, taking in his education and employment history until the post 9/11 era.

There is little to like about the appropriately named Malice, and his cock-sure self-conviction, and glorying in being proved right in many events.   He has difficulty in securing a stable relationship, and gains some extremely lucky breaks, mainly in his meeting with Harvey Pekar to discuss his stories.

Malice works through temping agencies and bounces from job to job with indifference, knowing that the loss of one job just opens up the chance of getting a fresh one.

The honesty of the study by Pekar makes Malice a very real person, though not a likable one. He is a monster, especially if he feels the need to take revenge on anyone who crosses him.  Malice triumphs in his anarchic stance, and seems happy to have hurt lots of people to get by in life; a life lived one day at a time.

There are surreal touches when Malice sees himself as a malevolent demon, and seems to threaten even the readers not to dare cross him.

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