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McKagan, Duff
How To Be A Man (Book Review)
August 2015
Released: 2015, DeCapo Press
Rating: 3.0/5
Reviewer: JP

When I first learned about this book I must admit I was a little skeptical. A self-help guide from an ex-member of Guns N’ Roses? That is like asking a T-Rex how to be a vegetarian. However, having read a number of other books by G N' R dudes, I kept an open mind. In the end I think my gut instinct was correct, there is not much substance to his basic life lessons but he presents his story in a fun way so it worked out.

HOW TO BE A MAN (AND OTHER ILLUSIONS) is McKagan’s second book after his tell-all debut, IT’S SO EASY and this time after airing the dirty laundry he takes a different angle. Published by DeCapo press this nice hardcover is a short, easy read. There are no photos and really no bonus features to speak of, just plain simple text.

HOW TO BE A MAN sort of picks up where he left off. Now clean and sober, recently re-married (Third time) and a university graduate, he describes his recent activities, family life, and a few tales from the road. Parts of the book consists of lists, albums he likes, books he likes some basic life rules that he follows and so on. Most of what he says is good basic advice but at times it is almost painful to read him describe things that most ‘normal’ people learn at a very early age in life. Of course, his life trajectory was not normal by any means so much of this simple advice about maturity, personal growth and how to behave like an adult and responsible citizen, most of us learned when we were ages 13-18, not 40-50 years old. The chapters are broken into simple pieces of advice and examples of each, using experiences from his life. It is a neat idea . However, advice like ‘Be on time’ and ‘Don’t be a dick’ (both on page 8) is not really all that deep or insightful. Chapters like ‘Get A Dog’ are less to do with life lessons and advice and more on a chance for him to talk about his family pet.

Despite the simplistic nature of the story, disguised as a self-help book, HOW TO BE A MAN was a fun, easy read. Duff is an engaging writer with lots of great stories and anecdotes. People everywhere, myself included love a rags to riches to rags and back again, story of redemption and salvation. I admire the guy, he got clean, got educated, got focused, grew up and now has a pretty cool life, traveling rocking out, working hard but still enjoying some of the trappings of his residual fame from his ‘glory’ days as bassist of arguably the world’s biggest Hard Rock band of the era. If you are looking for something deep, seek elsewhere. You want a great read about a cool guy with some common sense stuff thrown in, then HOW TO BE A MAN is just the book for you.
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