Hmm, I wasn't sure where to put this, but since it is a book, I'll go ahead and put it here. Please move if you feel this belongs in the wrestling section.
Anyways, as it seems that my Target doesn’t mind breaking street date on books (they only care about movies and music apparently), I was able to pick up the Foley book on Friday night. I’ve read about 100 pages a day, which should tell you about the basic briskness of the book so far. I’m on page 270 of 370, so I’m not far from being done.
The book mostly chronicles Mick Foley’s diary entries from basically right after his Wrestlemania 22 match with Edge up through his Summerslam match with Ric Flair. Actually, I’m only up to the ECW pay per view buildup with Foley, Edge, Terry Funk and Tommy Dreamer. It is fascinating to see what Foley’s original thoughts were on his storyline, and how he and the WWE had to work together many compromises before we see what the end result was. This give and take did lead to the kind of arguments that Foley hints at in his WWE “commercials” for the book. He really doesn’t go too hard on anyone though, at least not yet (I’m a bit worried about what he’ll say about Flair though).
Foley takes many detours from this mostly chronological story, telling us about his family, his famous and not so famous friends, and other anecdotes. I found most of them engrossing, with the Afghanistan entry being particularly heartfelt. There are some chapters that have bored me, but still overall I can’t complain.
The fact that we know what ultimately happened shouldn’t dissuade anyone from reading this book. Like I said before, Foley’s storylines changed quite a bit from where they started. So overall I give this book a thumbs up, and while I don’t think this book rivals either of Foley’s first two wrestling-inspired books, I still encourage any Foley fan to pick up a copy.
Has anyone gotten a chance to read it, or do you plan to? I do wonder how many people are going to pick up a third wrestling-themed book from Foley.
Here are some more thoughts from a demented mind in Central Florida: Bought it last night at Barnes & Noble after a late dinner. Finished it this afternoon/early evening. Yes, it helps that I didn't do much of anything today but read that book (and buy some RAM upgrades for my computer and play StarCraft, but that's beside the point).
Though I've never posted it much anywhere or anytime, I am a huge critic of Foley's second book, Foley Is Good. It's a raging irony that Foley starts that book talking about writing a screenplay for Have A Nice Day, but abandons the project after realizing he wasn't doing well with it, and another writer applauds him for being an honest critic of his work. Then, he proceeds to turn in the worst of the three autobiographies he's written. After the wonderful story and tone of his first book, Foley Is Good just turned into, "Hey, I'm champ, but I've got nowhere to go with this, and I won't be champ for long. I'm losing my talent, I'm losing my ability, I suck. I no longer have the dedication or the passion I once did. And Vince McMahon may be openly criticizing my wife and me, but that's okay, because he's awesome! Fuck Barry Blaustein!"
Problem number 2 with Foley Is Good? Lists - too many of 'em. Unless your book title makes it clear that your book will be nothing but lists, lists are a sign of a few things, in my ever-so-humble opinion: 1) Your story's not long enough or interesting enough to justify a full book; 2) You've run out of ideas; and/or 3) You have no idea where your book is going.
Take a good look at The Big Show: Inside ESPN's SportsCenter by Keith Olbermann and Dan Patrick for another classic example of too many lists screwing up a perfectly good book/story. But getting back to Mick, I mean, Jiminy Farging Christmas, was it really that captivating to find out what Mick's favorite theme parks and rides were/are? Or his favorite movies? Did it really give the reader that much insight about who Mick Foley was then, and what he'd been up to since Have A Nice Day! ended? Granted, Have A Nice Day had about fifteen-some-odd years of tales to tell, whereas Foley Is Good only covered a year-and-a-half, maybe two years.
But, as Bill Cosby once said, "I told you that story to tell you this one." The Hardcore Diaries, with the exceptions of a few "flashbacks" and nonsequiturs, covers an even smaller period of time than Foley Is Good... and does a much better job at telling the story and keeping the reader's attention and staying focused on what he has to say, in the order that he has to (or wants to?) say it. Foley seems to keep a much more neutral tone towards one Vince McMahon in this book - despite part of the book talking about his "Kiss My Ass Club" angle with Vince and Melina, I'd argue that he was previously a member of said club back before it came about, judging by what he said in Foley Is Good. To his credit, however, this book shows that while he may still respect McMahon, there's a question whether he still likes him.
Foley also keeps a much more interesting tale to tell in this book. Covering a period from around last year's Wrestlemania to last year's One Night Stand, Foley goes into detail about planning the angle(s) with him and Vince, Edge, Terry Funk, Tommy Dreamer, how the ideas started out, how the ideas changed, what changes he liked, what changes he didn't like, etc. To his credit, Foley lists many of the ideas on his part that weren't so good, and doesn't really defend them too harshly. It's as if perhaps he learned to be a better critic of his own bad ideas. Of all the wrestlers out there who've written an autobiography, only Foley seems to be able to give us such insight into the creative process and backstage. Like his previous autobiographies, there are nonsequiturs and flashbacks aplenty, but they don't come anywhere near the level of distraction and pointlessness that the ones in Foley Is Good did. Dare I say - he seems to tie these ones in better with the main story, with his life post-Foley Is Good and post-Wrestlemania 22.
As a good friend of mine says, "Sometimes it's not so important what someone says, compared to what someone doesn't say." Based on that philosophy, it's hard to not notice that Mick doesn't have anything nice to say about Triple H, HBK, and a few others - in fact, the closest he seems to get to mentioning them is vague references about the DX reunion and how certain people seemed to have changed their tune about the things he did, now that he's no longer doing those things for them. Strangely enough, he seems almost cordial and professional with Ric Flair, despite noting their previous history. More surprisingly enough, he doesn't make a single mention of Al Snow - nary an Al Snow joke to be found. Makes me wonder....
There may be criticism of Foley's story in that he's no longer a top guy in the company, and Triple H and HBK are, and of course that they should be getting the lion's share of the show. In turn, Foley's tone (or lack of tone) toward them might be sour grapes, or even Foley doing what's popular (at least among the IWC). I'm not sure I have an answer for the sour grapes criticism. But as for doing what's popular - since when has Foley followed trends in wrestling?
The reader will likely note a change in tone by its author as the story progresses... one that seems more distraught, more depressed, and even betrayed. As I'm currently going through what might be considered a similar time in my own life, some of the things he writes when the tones changes hits close to home for me... perhaps a little too close for me. In a strange way, I preferred this tone over the one in Foley Is Good as in the current book, he actually seemed to give a damn about what he was trying to do, and how he felt like it wasn't happening... and maybe parts of that were his fault and other parts were the fault of others.
Make no mistake, the trademark Foley humor is still there. Though he does openly re-use at least two jokes from Foley Is Good, he seems to even joke about that, suggesting an idea of "Hey, why not? What're you going to do about it?" and/or "I know I used these before, but I'd rather use them in a book that doesn't suck."
I also can't help but wonder if this book also serves as his final goodbye to pro wrestling. It really seems to hit him that not many people seem to give a damn about what he has to offer and to say, and that once you're off the road and out of the business full-time, out of sight, out of mind. I can only imagine how much Foley's tone with that resonates with some of the old-time wrestlers and retired NFL players.
Bottom line - The Hardcore Diaries has an interesting tale (tales?) to tell, and takes its readers through many moods and emotions and tones. Thank you, Mick, for writing such a great story... and for finally eliminating the taint of Foley Is Good. I can't believe I tore through that 300+ page hardcover in about a day.
Definite thumbs up.
Why yes, I am both a musician and a lawyer. Thanks for asking. :)