Review: Do Not Feed the Clown by Matt Nagin

Romance today, like the sea, is a chemical-ridden, genetically-modified cesspool likely to poison you to death.
Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ (4/5)

What’s This Book About?

Genre: Satirical humour

Synopsis: Do Not Feed The Clown is a box full of 34 satirical and parodical short works, focused on the absurdities of the socio-political climate, the mayhem of the news cycle and inconsistencies of Western cultural norms. This is a countercultural book, seeking to challenge the system in a lighthearted way following the tradition of the court jester.

First things first, you absolutely need to be okay with dark humour to enjoy this book. As long as you remember not to take this seriously, you’ll be fine! I certainly raised my eyebrows many times, and had to remind myself that Nagin doesn’t mean everything he says, especially as most segment are written from the perspective of either a parody of a famous figure or an imaginary person. ‘Do Not Feed the Clown’ uses sardonic humour to jostle socially acceptable boundaries and raises some pretty interesting points, especially about social justice warriors, virtue signalling and the possibility of being over-sensitised to matters of racism and discrimination. Much like how the court jester could sling verbal barbs at whoever they please – even the powerful – no group is safe from Nagin’s brand of sarcastic wit.

One of my favourite segments was the very tongue-in-cheek ‘Gay Conversion Therapy 2.0’ chapter – not what it sounds like – which hilariously details an action plan towards ‘going gay for Jesus’ rather than the old turning-off-homosexuality that characterises ‘traditional’ gay conversion therapy. It also plays off stereotypes of gay men as effeminate and flamboyant to great comedic effect – I think this was likely intentional (especially considering the context of the chapter) and aims to highlight how these caricatures fail to capture the nuance of sexuality and expression.

Religion cannot eradicate human urges. That said, if devout Christians wants [sic] to “reform” homosexuals, they would have way more success aiming for a middle ground. An alternative campaign that might succeed (or, at least, not fail so spectacularly) is titled Go Gay For Jesus! …Jesus died for our sins — died so that if you wish you can go gay for him — love him wholeheartedly — making him your lord and savior. Never lose sight of all this sexy hunk has done for us. Amen!
It was SO. HARD. Not to cackle out loud as I was reading on the train!

This was actually the first satirical humour book I’ve ever read, as my brand of humour doesn’t usually veer quite so dark – unless we’re talking about death. I did enjoy it, but I think it requires a greater and personal understanding of the US socio-political climate to really have full comedic impact. (I’ve never even visited the USA!) There were a few typos but they had a negligible effect on the book as a whole.

Overall…

…a quick and hilarious read serving as a spicy introduction to the satirical comedy genre. Nagin has also written some acclaimed poetry, which I’ll definitely check out too.

Thanks to Tenth Street Press for providing me a copy in exchange for an honest review!

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