CC2K

The Nexus of Pop-Culture Fandom

Year of the Cock: It Ain’t About Roosters!

Written by: Tom Hardej, Special to CC2K


ImageUpon hearing the title of Alan Wieder’s new book, Year of the Cock, you might be included to think it’s a book about roosters.  Or maybe it’s about the Chinese New Year.  Nope.  Wrong and wrong.  This is a book about a man and his penis.  There’s really no other way to describe it.

This book is supposed to be a look into the male psyche.  What do guys really think about women, about sex, about their dicks?  But the truth is, Wieder isn’t some average guy.  He’s actually pretty nutso, and it’s only under the guided hands of a psychiatrist (and some Xanax) that he’s able to get out from under it to tell his story.  That’s fine—many a memoir has been written by a crazy person.  I just hope people don’t read too much into this one and think this is what guys are really like.

Wieder is a reality show producer who specializes in pulling cruel pranks on people with shows like My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiancѐ.  His troubles start when he leaves his wife at the beginning of the book.  He doesn’t just leave her, though; he also refuses to take her calls or even speak a word to her for six months!  (They had been together for 10 years at this point, so it almost seems like he’s pulling one of those reality show-type pranks on his wife!)   He wants something—it’s not entirely clear what—different than what his life offers him at that moment, so he grabs a few things and takes off.  He flirts with women again, he dates and hooks up with them, until one day he starts to become obsessed—with his penis.  He thinks it’s too small, and neurotically measures it several times a day.  He checks on the internet to see what other famous people’s dicks look like.  He even tries enlargement techniques.  Throughout the book he proves himself to be a self-involved jerk and takes it to the nth degree, each chapter getting crazier and crazier. 

I’m throwing around unfair words like “crazy” and “nutso.”  Wieder was, as he admits, psychologically unwell.  He was obsessive and dealing with a lot of issues.  But hey, he also chose to write a book about it, opening himself up to the judgment of the world.  It also raises a serious question about memoirs: why should we care?

Many other people have written memoirs about mental illness—Augusten Burroughs and Jeanette Walls come to mind—so why do we need this new book in the series, especially since no firm resolution seems to come at the end of the book.  Wieder is getting better, he says, but still has all of the issues.  We don’t know what’s going to happen to him, because it is still happening (the events of the book occur in 2005).  And on top of that, he claims that only 87% of the book is true.  So which parts did he make up?  Which parts did he exaggerate?  Which parts did he expand upon facetiously so that he could have a book in the first place?  It’s hard to tell.  In the end, he’s a narcissist, a misogynist, a homophobe (maybe he needs to look into this one, because for someone who’s so quick to throw around the word fag, he sure spends an awful lot of time subscribing to websites to check out other guys’ dicks), and he might be even be a little racist (his obsession with hip hop comes off a little as such), so why should he subject us all to his book?  He writes really well; I will give him that much.  It was this that compelled me to read the entire book.  But in the end what was I left with?  I guess he makes me feel better about myself, since I’m not him. 

The best memoirs—think Joan Didion or AJ Jacobs even—find a way to illuminate the human condition by asking big questions about their personal stories that are universally relatable.  I’m sure that ultimately Alan Wieder probably isn’t a bad guy, and it takes a lot of guts to put into writing your deepest secrets and insecurities for the world to read.  But the book is severely lacking in thesis.  Sure, all guys think about sex.  And yes, all guys at one point or another wonder if their penises are big enough, but this story is uniquely his.  All I can say is that I hope that writing it all down helped him in some way, because reading it certainly didn’t help me.

Author: Tom Hardej, Special to CC2K

Share this content:

Leave a Reply