Matt Forney
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Hell and Other Happy Memories by Zampano

Reviewing this debut release from Zampano, one of the newest must-read bloggers in the ‘sphere, puts me in a compromising position. I’ve been a sort of mentor to Zampano over the past few months; indeed, it was my book Confessions of an Online Hustler that inspired him both to start blogging to begin with and release his first book.

Nonetheless, I can’t ignore this product’s flaws.

I’m not bashing Zampano’s work by any means; Hell and Other Happy Memories is a damn good read from a talented and up-and-coming writer. It’s a series of stories from his past, loosely revolving around his journey from frustrated chumphood into the game via writers such as Roosh and myself. The stories are propelled by Zampano’s slick writing style, which hits you like a street hustler trying to con a businessman out of a Jackson:

Ravi was the filthiest kid I had ever seen and that was saying something. I lived with a guy once who showered twice in the nine months that I lived with him. Our entire apartment smelled like his body odor and no, since I’m sure you are wondering, I never brought a girl over there. In fact, it was my experience living with him that taught me what I know about banging girls at their own places. Ravi, however, was filthier. He was wearing a black Misfits shirt with the sleeves cut off and his arms were literally blackened with dirt. Do you have any idea how much time and filth it takes for black dirt to actually start materializing on your skin? It takes a while. I’ve gone a week without showering before and didn’t actually look dirty, I might have smelled, but you wouldn’t have been able to notice from a distance of eight feet. With Ravi, at a distance of eight feet, he looked fucking filthy.

The stories are dark and emotional, yet are buoyed by Zampano’s keen eye for comedy. My personal favorites were the two final ones, “Ed the Pimp” and “The Strongest Reality,” thanks to passages like these:

Ed is the single most disgusting human being I have ever encountered. Boils are literally sloping down his neck. You could mount his boils. You could climb them for fuck’s sake. Now I shouldn’t shit on Ed’s aesthetic too much because 1. he wouldn’t care and 2. Ed has truly been nice to me. I haven’t really received this niceness, but it has been given. What I mean is he does nice things to me, but they always end up further screwing me up. He’s the reason my car has four doors and three door handles. He also gave me a shirt.

The biggest problems with Hell and Other Happy Memories concern Zampano’s inexperience. He writes in the jittery voice of a young man still searching for his mission in life, his tone wavering between unwarranted self-importance and cringing sentiment. While it doesn’t detract from his skills as a storyteller, the rapid tonal shifts will likely be annoying for some people.

Still, given the strength of Zampano’s writing and the low, low price ($0.99) of the book, these feel like petty complaints. Hell and Other Happy Memories is a entertaining and poignant debut from a smart young guy. I look forward to seeing where Zampano’s talents take him.

Click here to buy Hell and Other Happy Memories.

Read Next: Pleasant Hell by John Dolan