The Emptiness of Modern Manhood: A Review of A Dead Bat in Paraguay by Roosh Vörek

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by Ferdinand Bardamu on September 25, 2009

If I had a loonie for every cubicle jockey I’ve known who’s huffed and puffed about quitting their office slave job and going on an trip abroad, I’d have enough money to do it myself. Roosh Vörek is one of the few men who had the brains and balls to follow through. After ditching his career as an industrial microbiologist and finishing his first book, Bang, Roosh took a trip through South America that lasted six months and took him to eight countries. Now, he has transcribed the events of his trip into a travel memoir. Don’t be dissuaded by his cliché-laden description of A Dead Bat in Paraguay as being about “suffering and pain and hardship and darkness” – Roosh’s book is a glorious triumph of low comedy and high adventure, a breezy and worthwhile read.

Unfortunately, as this is Roosh’s first foray into literary writing, his inexperience shines through at regular intervals. While he narrates his misadventures with a wry tone that readers of his blog ought to be familiar with, every so often he breaks voice to go on a sentimental missive. Take for instance, this snippet in which Roosh tries really, really hard to convince us that he gives a shit about poor miners in Bolivia:

Until the output of the Potosí mines cease to be profitable—and it is a matter of when, not if—these men and future generations who follow will die miners, much younger than is fair…I felt small for complaining about my relatively easy job at home that paid me a salary the miners could only dream of. How did I come to the conclusion that a professional job with fair pay in a modern building was actually torture?

My god, someone has it worse off than you! What an original observation! Please, shut the fuck up and spare me the bathos.

But aside from these trite diversions, A Dead Bat in Paraguay maintains a breakneck pace from beginning to end. The story begins in Washington, DC, where Roosh relates the story of his life and the factors that led to him giving the bird to the 9-to-5 life and heading to South America. The sequence of events will be familiar to longtime Roosh readers, both of his current blog and his previous incarnation as DC Bachelor, but Roosh fills in details about his career and family life that are new and interesting. In particular, his description of his close relationship with his sister is moving, showing a side of Roosh that we don’t see in his other writings.

An important part of any book is its diction, and on this front, A Dead Bat in Paraguay is as smooth and pleasing to read as a good wine is to drink. An acolyte of the Hemingway school of literary writing, Roosh shies away from flowery descriptions and overblown metaphors, relaying his story with an understatement that conveys imagery and emotion in its own way. His bone-dry sense of humor pervades his prose at almost all times, with lines like “I made love with the toilet.” Roosh is awfully fond of toilet humor in the literal sense – a lot of the laughs come from his loving descriptions of the painful, explosive bowel movements he had while on the road. No mere clown, though, he also retells the struggles of his journey with a bluntness that gets the reader invested emotionally. A large part of the narrative is Roosh’s attempts to hook up with the local women in the various places he visits, only to be met with repeated failure. His constant battle to adapt his game to the cultural idiosyncrasies of the women who he tries to bed is so compelling that when he finally meets success, you’ll want to cheer.

The frankness and honesty of A Dead Bat in Paraguay is a refreshing change from the fake, phony, and fraudulent memoirs that have flooded the book world in recent years, but it also hurts the book in some ways. Any good storyteller has the ability to bullshit with aplomb, and Roosh isn’t quite there yet. His emphasis on relaying the details of his trip has too much of a “just the facts, ma’am” feel to it, as if he was writing a college paper and not a commercial book. The weakness of this approach culminates in the book’s ending, which just sucks. In fact, it isn’t really an “ending” – the book just sort of stops.

In pointing out these issues, I don’t want come off as being too critical. In a literary world full of flotsam, jetsam, and other varieties of garbage, Roosh Vörek has produced something remarkable and memorable. Beyond its other qualities, A Dead Bat in Paraguay speaks to something deeper – the dissatisfaction so many men these days have with their lives. Writers sublimating their existential angst into grand adventures which they later published is nothing new, as we can see from this stanza from Lord Byron’s Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage:

Childe Harold bask’d him in the noontide sun,
Disporting there like any other fly;
Nor deem’d before his little day was done
One blast might chill him into misery.
But long ere scarce a third of his pass’d by,
Worse than adversity the Childe befell;
He felt the fulness of satiety:
Then loathed he in his native land to dwell,
Which seem’d to him more lone than Eremite’s sad cell.

gotohellWhat IS different is that ennui with one’s existence is no longer confined to misfits like Byron. Last year, former Lonely Planet guidebook writer Thomas Kohnstamm published his own travel memoir, Do Travel Writers Go to Hell?, in which he stated similar reasons as Roosh for abandoning his high-paying corporate job in Manhattan to roam northeastern Brazil. In fact, Kohnstamm is mentioned in passing in Roosh’s book, though not by name (Kohnstamm achieved some notoriety when he revealed that he had fabricated parts of his guidebooks, even claiming he wrote the Lonely Planet guidebook to Colombia without having visited there). This concept of men being unsatisfied with their lives has become clichéd to the point where we now have “mid-life crises” and “quarter-life crises.” What is it about the modern West that sucks the joy out of being a man? To quote John Derbyshire:

The modern workplace has also been de-masculinized. I have spent many years working in the offices of big corporations, among the vast clerical middle class of the Information Age. It has often struck me how much more suitable this work is for women than for men — how, in fact, men seem rather out of place among the “tubes and cubes” of the modern office. No masculine values are visible here. The mildness of manners, the endless tiny courtesies, the yielding and compromising, the cheery assertions of labor-room stoicism (“Hangin’ in there!”) that are necessary to get this kind of work done, leave little outlet for masculine forcefulness. Such outlets as did once exist have been systematically sealed off by the feminists and “sexual harassment” warriors. Was it really only twelve years ago that my mixed-sex office in a big Wall Street trading house celebrated the boss’s birthday by bringing in a full-monty stripper to entertain us? Yes, it was. If we did that today, we should be the subject of a 60 Minutes segment.

The more boisterous manifestations of masculinity — physical courage, danger-seeking, the honor principle, belligerence, chivalry, endurance, small-group loyalty — which were once accessible to all men, in episodes of war or exploration if not in everyday life, have now been leached out to the extremes of our society — to small minorities of, at one extreme, super-rich sports and entertainment stars, and at the other, underclass desperadoes. There is no place now for a brilliant misfit like the Victorian explorer Sir Richard Burton, whose love of danger and of alien cultures led him to be the first, and quite probably the only, non-Moslem ever to penetrate the holiest sanctuary of Islam, the Ka’aba in Mecca — he even had the audacity to make a surreptitious sketch of the place while he was supposed to be praying. (Burton, by the way, was a holy terror as a boy — would be a sure candidate for heavy Ritalin treatment nowadays.)

With the government and society out to crush any expression of manliness beyond servile boot-licking, we are forced into feminized roles in order to survive. Any expression of true masculinity is suppressed. As men, we have allowed ourselves to be mentally and emotionally gelded by a culture that seeks to abuse us for its own immoral ends. But you don’t have to be a slave. Rebellion doesn’t necessarily entail ripping up stakes to settle in an alien nation on another continent. It begins when you become cognizant of the system and how to avoid being enmeshed in its grinder. The revolution begins with you.

In the meantime, feel free to give Roosh your greenbacks. He’s earned them.

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Welmer September 25, 2009 at 04:51

Great review, Ferdinand — you’ve got a knack for this. Definitely makes me interested in Roosh’s book.

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Cless Alvein September 25, 2009 at 06:55

The modern workplace has also been de-masculinized. I have spent many years working in the offices of big corporations, among the vast clerical middle class of the Information Age. It has often struck me how much more suitable this work is for women than for men — how, in fact, men seem rather out of place among the “tubes and cubes” of the modern office. No masculine values are visible here. The mildness of manners, the endless tiny courtesies, the yielding and compromising, the cheery assertions of labor-room stoicism (”Hangin’ in there!”) that are necessary to get this kind of work done, leave little outlet for masculine forcefulness.

Yes! This is right-on. This is one of the reasons I prefer being in technology. No one bats an eye if you say something like “this code is fucked up”, disagreements are technical rather than personal, and programming is an inherently masculine activity.

I address this at the end of my latest blog post: http://alvanista.wordpress.com/2009/09/25/in-one-letter-the-problem-with-modern-american-women/ . Read the side note at the very bottom.

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Cless Alvein September 25, 2009 at 06:59

Addendum: On my note that “programming is an inherently masculine activity”, I don’t mean to imply that women are worse at it or can’t do it. There are some brilliant female programmers out there, and they tend to write code that is more pleasant to read than men do. I characterize programming as “masculine” because it’s a discipline that values correctness over appearance.

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Paul September 25, 2009 at 07:04

This is my first visit to this site and the above book revue is the first thing I have read. I think it is very good indeed that there should be reviews like this on what I think is an MRA site. Too often MRA sites are just statistics or politics. Reviews like this raise both the spirits and the cultural content. Reflecting on this matter for a moment makes me aware that one of the effects of feminism has been in a way to limit the thinking of MRAs. We are too much responding and not enough thinking our own thoughts and finding are own way.

I will end that I appreciate reviews that are illuminating. I like things to go beneath the surface of the work and bring out what is there. I don’t like criticism that is just egocentricity. I felt the above review was what I wanted and well worth the read.

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Doug1 September 25, 2009 at 12:30

Ferdinand–

Well done.

It would be great if you’d review other books in this genre. What genre? What came first to mind is “fratire” but that doesn’t seem quite right. It does ably describe Tucker Max’s “I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell” (which movie is opening today; have read; haven’t seen). This by Roosh sounds at least somewhat more grown up, though they seem to share an affection for toilet humor.

The alpha booty banging adventure tales genre?

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Ferdinand Bardamu September 25, 2009 at 14:39

Thanks for the comments, everyone.

Doug1:

“The alpha booty banging adventure tales genre?”

More like the “disaffected guy goes on a grand adventure to cure his boredom” genre. A good start is the Kohnstamm book I mentioned in the post, which I may review in the future.

Ganttsquarry September 25, 2009 at 16:36

Excellent review.

I’ve always liked Roosh because he comes across as candid and doesn’t seem to bullshit, even when it would be easy to do so.

“If I had a loonie for every cubicle jockey I’ve known who’s huffed and puffed about quitting their office slave job and going on an trip abroad, I’d have enough money to do it myself.”

Good observation. Roosh lives the kind of life he advocates for.

“My god, someone has it worse off than you! What an original observation! Please, shut the fuck up and spare me the bathos.”

Trite as his observation may be, a lot of Americans (especially women) haven’t been hit with that revelation yet.

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Welmer September 25, 2009 at 17:07

Ganttsquarry

“My god, someone has it worse off than you! What an original observation! Please, shut the fuck up and spare me the bathos.”

Trite as his observation may be, a lot of Americans (especially women) haven’t been hit with that revelation yet.

To be honest, it hit me hard when I lived in China. It was a real shock to see people getting by on so little despite working so hard.

However, although it scared the living daylights out of me at the time, because my first thought was that Americans were living well above their means and I foresaw a serious decline in our standard of living, I now see it as kind of a liberating glimpse of reality. What I mean is that although it’s nice (sometimes) to have all this junk, we can still live fulfilling lives without it, and some of us might be better off. One thing I can say for sure is that the women in these situations are better-looking (when young), because they can’t stuff their faces on whims as they do here.

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Ganttsquarry September 25, 2009 at 19:13

Good point.

It seems to me, once basic needs are met, happiness, or more accurately- contentment, isn’t predicated on a super high material standard of living.

I don’t think a lot people in the U.S. ( again, especially women) are content.

A lot of people, because of the economy, are being forced to downsize and simplify. Many may find that it isn’t so bad after all.

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Epoxytocin No. 87 September 25, 2009 at 23:11

Wait, huh? He has two last names?
Is it Valizadeh, or Vorek?
I don’t get it.

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jin September 26, 2009 at 10:50

his name is [redacted by admin]. He changes his name to try to detour the girls trying to google him after they meet him. he lies to girls. he is only “candid” and “honest” at times to appear honest. he was not an industrial microbiologist. he only has a four year degree [editor: big deal]. he just doesn’t want to be considered stupid in a city like DC where most are over educated.

[Admin: This post is included for future reference. Outing authors by anonymous commenters will not be allowed, because this is a publication that relies on having a relationship with its writers that is based on trust. The slander seen above, although essentially harmless, will put those who post it on the moderation list. I will shortly write a commenting policy page to clarify the issues. Suggestions from authors concerning the comment policy would be appreciated.]

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Roosh September 26, 2009 at 15:02

Many authors pick pseudonyms and Roosh Vörek is much easier to pronounce than my birth name. Many guys with Persian names have an “American” name for this reason. Bloggers have outed my full name and it’s not hard to find if you know how to use Google.

“He changes his name to try to detour the girls trying to google him after they meet him”

Wrong. I introduce myself as Roosh to girls (the first result for “roosh” on google is my blog). If I wanted to detour girls, I’d tell them my real name, which is more google friendly.

I was actually an “Associate Scientist,” as said by my business card. You can have a title of scientist in the private sector without a phd. I have known guys with a four-year degree like myself who run entire departments in biotech firms, managing guys with phd’s.

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jin September 29, 2009 at 09:41

An “associate scientist” isn’t exactly an Industrial Microbiologist now, is it Mr. V? And do tell your readers that none of the girls you ever appraoch know of your blog or that you are preying on them. Do you honestly think they would date you if they did? So, you are, in fact a lying liar. That is fine, but at least own up to it. You could not get laid if they know the truth. Also, Mr. V got FIRED from his job, he did not quit. Roosh gets girls drunk and has been rummored to slip roofies into drinks to score with the ladies because he is revenge fucking to over correct his utter lack of skills in high school and college. I pity the women who give you their trust only to have it abused. He projects his own issues onto innocent people and risks giving them STD’s. Nice guy. If you don’t believe me, just spend some time researching him. It’s all there. He has a reputation in DC as a complete douch bag, hence the move to another country. I’m not hating on Roosh, just speaking the truth. See for yourselves.

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The Truth September 29, 2009 at 11:16

Jin, is there a reason you are speaking about this here? If you don’t like Roosh, do not buy his books. Why come here and slander him? We can make up our own minds whether what he says is useful to us or not. We do not need you telling us how to think.

Regards,

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Ganttsquarry September 29, 2009 at 13:32

“You could not get laid if they know the truth.”

Two words: Tucker Max

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Roosh September 30, 2009 at 10:07

“Roosh gets girls drunk and has been rummored to slip roofies into drinks to score with the ladies”

Please I’m trying to keep that technique under wraps for a future book, tentatively called Guaranteed Bang.

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Stinky37 October 22, 2009 at 05:30

Choose examples of spelling correspondences, patterns, rules, and exceptions. ,

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Maxx61 October 23, 2009 at 04:15

Just copyrighted the copyright symbol. ,

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DADT November 5, 2009 at 08:25

“With the government and society out to crush any expression of manliness beyond servile boot-licking, we are forced into feminized roles in order to survive.”…

Um no, just take up blue collar jobs. Duh.

Americans are so spoiled and un-grateful it makes me sick.

Complaining about comfy jobs with fair pay in fully modern and temperature controlled buildings…..

What babies!

Yeah, you are really “forced” to work in such “horrible conditions”.

Try working in a coal mine if you wanna be a “real man”.

Your soft pink butt would be running back to the cubicle within 3 days.

More navel gazing from a spoiled rotten American boy.

Next?

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jason November 18, 2011 at 20:33

“Roosh gets girls drunk and has been rummored to slip roofies into drinks to score with the ladies because he is revenge fucking to over correct his utter lack of skills in high school and college”

this is absurd, maybe if you stopped kissing girls asses and started following some of his advice you could spend more time getting laid and revenge fucking, then chewing out a guy who gives decent advice. I may not agree with everything he says but fuck your just riddiculous

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Tyler Steel January 4, 2012 at 10:07

Okay, I mostly get this.

But before knowing if the MRM has anything for me to benefit from, can I ask one simple question?

In the John Derbyshire excerpt, he says they brought in a stripper to celebrate… in a mixed-sex office. I mean, I get the anti-PC, anti-anti-masculinity stuff, but bringing in a stripper to celebrate *everyone’s* success is obviously NOT the best move.

I mean, WTF, is the assumption that the women contributed nothing and don’t deserve a group celebration they can also enjoy? Because if that’s a typical view of MRM folk, I want no part of it.

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