When people ask me why Harvey Pekar wrote a book about me, my answer depends on my mood that day. If I’m glib, I tell them it’s because “he finally met a Jew with a more negative outlook than his own.” If I’m feeling smarmy, I say “it’s about growing up with a famous dad.” (“Who was your dad?” “Count Chocula.”) And if I’m being pretentious, I explain, “It’s the story of a boy who thought he was better than everyone else—and was.” Should I ever experience a fourth mood, I suppose I’d need a fourth answer—but those three have been adequate for the 3 years since Ego & Hubris: The Michael Malice Story.
The better question, I think, is _how_ Harvey wrote the book. I don’t know how he mines the everyday into the extraordinary, and even if I did no one would be able to do it as well as Our Man. It’s the one question I didn’t bother to ask when I went to see him recently in his native Cleveland and interviewed him for INTERVIEW Magazine. It was just two friends shooting the breeze over a plate of freedom fries—a bulwark of warmth in a town of cold steel, rusting away slowly.