I recently finished reading a wonderful new book from Mark Hayes. The name of that book is RanDumb-er: The Continued Adventures of an Irish Guy In L.A. You can order it here and I seriously recommend that you should.
Mark Hayes is a comedian, a DJ, a writer, and, as you can probably guess from the book’s title, he’s also an Irish guy who has found himself living in one of the most uniquely American cities around, Los Angeles. In RanDumb-er, we follow Mark as he looks at American culture with occasionally hungover eyes and an often biting (but never cruel) wit. Whether he’s dealing with a B-list celebrity who is busy predicting the end of the world, bravely trying to survive a date with a girl who insists on howling like a wildebeest, or experiencing a fake snowfall at the Grove, Hayes is never less than entertaining and sometimes even rather poignant.
He also realizes, early on, that all American girls love an Irish accent. And it’s true! Whenever I hear an Irish accent, I get all girly and giggly and one of the things that I loved about RanDumb-er is that, even though it takes place in Los Angeles, it is ultimately an Irish story. I think that the Irish have a special ability to appreciate the small absurdities of existence (and I’m not just saying that because I’m a fourth Irish myself!) and that’s what truly makes RanDumb-er stand out as a work of non-fiction comedic literature. Any writer can capture the obvious weirdness of living day-to-day. What makes Hayes so special as writer is that he picks up on the small oddities of life that we don’t always notice and he makes us consider them in a new light.
Consider the moment, early on in the book, in which Hayes has a panic attack when he realizes that he managed to accidentally leave his scissors behind in Ireland when he left for L.A. In just a few pages, Hayes manages to perfectly capture the anxiety that comes with travelling. Once you get over the initial excitement, you suddenly realize that you’re somewhere new and that you can no longer claim to be able to completely control your surroundings. It’s at moments like these that you truly realize how vulnerable you are and just how false your assumption of control is in environments both new and old. Hayes captures all of this without ever failing to make us laugh as we recognize our own individual neurosis in his story.
(I have to admit that one reason why I related to Hayes’ panic over his scissors was because, when I was in 17, I went with my family to Hawaii and it wasn’t until we were all walking along the beautiful beaches of Honolulu that I realized that I had left my St. Vitus medal back in Texas and I proceeded, under the most brilliant blue sky and surrounded by beautiful people frolicking half-undressed on the beach, to have one of the biggest panic attacks ever. Eventually, I recovered but trust me — not a day went by that I didn’t think about that medal.)
As a writer, Hayes has a very interesting and compulsively readable style, one that goes beyond the fact that he happens to be a very funny guy. Hayes writes in a stream-of-consciousness type of style and the end result is that, after a few pages, you feel that you truly are inside of his head and you are experiencing Los Angeles — and all the weirdness that goes with it — with him. If you cross James Joyce with Jack Kerouac and then add in a little Terry Southern and Tom Wolfe with a slightly less drug addled Hunter Thompson, you’ll have Mark Hayes.
Perhaps the best thing about RanDumb-er is that Hayes ends it with the promise of a sequel. I, for one, can’t wait to read it and you should feel the same. However, for now, you really should go over to Amazon, order your own copy of RanDumb-er and get acquainted with the continued adventures of an Irish guy in L.A.
RanDumb-er. Read it.