Here’s what people are saying about Don’t Be Cruel and the twisted bastard who wrote it.
Victor Gischler, author of Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse, called Don’t Be Cruel “funny and entertaining. It very well could have flown under the radar if I wasn’t sent a copy. So now you know it exists. I’d put it vaguely in the Carl Hiaasan school of crime writing. Fast and fun. Check it out.”
Steve Yohe of the Keystone Record Collectors says: “Cleverly plotted, hilarious, ironic, irreverent, unapologetically profane—all these words describe Don’t Be Cruel. The characters and tone are infused with the dark humor of Carl Hiaasen’s novels, and the plot premise and development are reminiscent of Kurt Vonnegut at his absurdist best.”
From my cousin, Michele Chueng: “I hope you’re sitting down for this. You are a good example. Also semi-curricular. Dangerously verging on a teachable moment. You betterwatch yourself. Maybe you should walk around all day today with your fly open as a prophylactic measure.”
Done and done.
In his first novel, the delightfully goofy read, “Don’t Be Cruel,” veteran journalist Mike Argento proves once again he’s a twisted bastard with a heart of gold. This crime caper novel is filled with classic Argento observations of true life absurdities that devoted readers of his columns (and there are indeed more than a few of us) will immediately recognize and appreciate. Also, and Argento will hate me for noting this, his sentimental side is on fine display in “Don’t Be Cruel.” Just as I have done countless times while reading his work, I’m simultaneously shaking my head head wondering, “What the hell is wrong with that boy?” even as I’m smiling and thinking, “Awwwwww.”
— Lauri Lebo, author of Devil in Dover: An Insider’s Account of Darwin v Dogma in Small Town America
As a newspaper columnist, Mike Argento has always mixed the funny with the profound, but who would’ve thunk he had it in him to write anything as consistently funny, profane and gratuitously outrageous as “Don’t Be Cruel?” If Spew, Nunn, “Traci with an I,” the First Church of Elvis, Scientist and the whole crew don’t put you in cracked ribbed territory early and often, well, you might as well tie a tag around your own big toe and go work for Rick Santorum. This is a deeply American tragicomedy, rooted in Argento’s post-modern sensibility, insouciant nihilism and hillbilly smarminess. There’s even a little sweetness stabbing around the contours of its narrative heart which beats as solidly as anything this side of St. Vonnegut. “Don’t Be Cruel” races along like those early Elvis Costello records, pulling you by the throat into some pretty dark corners thanks to its irresistible rhythms. As usual, Argento delights in kicking us in the balls while proclaiming his undying love. His evolution from the most miserable of ink-stained wretches to book writin’ rascal is nearly complete. “Don’t Be Cruel” may not win the Pulitzer this year, but it is destined to kick start a budding cult around Mike Argento.
— Tony Norman is a columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
It is an understatement to say that Mike Argento is a funny writer. His wit unfolds across every character, scene and scenario of “Don’t Be Cruel” and virtually every page elicits grins and frequent gut-busting laughs. I’ll never sit in a church pew again without looking at the altar and imagining the worship service at the First Church of Elvis, Scientist.
— Mike Leonard, columnist, The Herald-Times, Bloomington, Ind.
Mike wrote a book?
— Jack Mayer, postal worker/musician.