It’s all podcast books: In advancing an industry forecast, Simon & Schuster also publishes an excellent manifesto
August 21, 2018
Writer and illustrator Michael Kupperman recently appeared on the podcast Chapo Trap House to talk about his book.
The conversation turned to Hollywood and the abundance of nostalgia movies these days, as studios would rather invest in stories with already established audiences.
"Publishing is like that now too," Kupperman said.
"It's all podcast books," replied one of the hosts.
On Tuesday, Aug. 21, Simon & Schuster released Chapo Trap House's podcast book, "The Chapo Guide to Revolution."
With more than 23,000 paid subscribers, the podcast has proven its audience and is ready to venture into a new medium, one where you don't have to press a button to review the part you missed while daydreaming.
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The book is political satire from five writers, four of whom are hosts of Chapo Trap House, all of whom are between the ages of 20 and 40, and one of whom I know personally, my old friend Matt Christman. I've always recognized Christman to have an amazing mind so naturally I had to get a copy of this book.
They came up with the Chapo Trap House brand name using the same wisdom as another popular purveyor of audio-based art, Childish Gambino. I believe the reasoning was something along the lines of "it sounds cool."
And now, also like Childish Gambino, they create across multiple mediums — triumphant heroes of the content mines who emerged without developing AdSense lung, broken spirits and empty pockets, in their words.
It's like the great Huffington Post contributor John Rougeux always says, "your brand's name is only 1 percent of the equation. The other 99 percent comes from what you stand for."
The book contains no references to El Chapo Guzman or domiciles where drugs are sold.
GRIT AND DETERMINATION
As a reporter I was able to obtain a pre-release copy of "The Chapo Guide to Revolution" through grit, determination and the promise of this review. In doing so I traveled in time back to my profession's apparent glory days, when "journalists spent the coke-fueled 1980s living the dream."
Upon re-entering 2018, I received advice on how to become part of the "perpetually insecure floating labor reserve of Digi-News," including:
1) Get a good Twitter avatar.
2) Get a good Twitter bio.
3) Write good tweets.
4) Regale the crowd with the latest memes.
5) Good journalism, find some time to do this.
The media, the digital age and those years following Watergate, when "Hoffman and Redford beat the streets" and "reporters and pundits were finally perceived as whisky-slugging alpha dogs" are just a few of the many hilarious riffs in the book, which take place across several intertwining subjects.
On the United States' place in the world, the writers answer a question that's been on the minds of international businessmen for decades: "How did America grow from a small-time, mom-and-pop plantation into a gigantic, ruthlessly efficient multinational?"
On work, they have a subsection predicting the future, called "Jobs you will probably have," where one of the jobs, "Bio Bag," adds new meaning to the term "sell yourself."
On culture, one writer starts a rant about how video games "jettison all pretensions to artistry … in favor of catering to the basest instincts of an increasingly slothful and sadistic citizenry," before another writer "hacks into the printing press to delete this shameful anti-gamer tirade" and — using the book — commences a screed about how gaming allows one to "achieve a level of interaction with essential texts that book readers could only ever dream of."
LIBERALS AND CONSERVATIVES
While they're certainly not centrists, the writers spend two chapters shredding both liberals and conservatives, in that order.
For liberals, reading the book is like a restaurant experience where you're enjoying a pleasant meal (liberalism,) which becomes lodged in your throat, only to have someone (Chapo Trap House) step in and perform a Heimlich maneuver (this book) on you. Expelled from your body to the other side of the room and covered in mucus, that meal will never look appetizing again.
The writers contest that instead of recognizing the problems with the campaign of "fact-checked, focus-grouped, data-driven Clinton," liberals are now fooled by what they always accused the right of falling for — "Infowars-level theories" about "Russians and Communists hiding behind every corner."
Conservatives who read the book might come to the realization that their worship of freedom has evolved to champion "the freedom to dominate anyone deemed lower than you."
My favorite part of the book was Christman's reminiscence of the populist right during the Bush years.
"Support for obscene military spending and imperial bloodletting satisfied a deep psychic need," Christman writes.
While the writers are critical of both sides of the mainstream debate in America, and mine both liberals and conservatives for some pretty great humor, South Park-style nihilists they are not. The book ends with some real prescription for change, which both liberals and conservatives need to hear. I would recommend this book for its good criticisms and humor and — since I really want to hear the rest of that gaming rant — I hope it sells well enough to satisfy Kupperman's assessment of publishing these days, proving there's audience for a spin-off or three.