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Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite
What a refreshing change! A writer who tells it like it is, who is honest and raw and lets you know from the word go, and not in terms as polite as this, that if you don’t like his choice of words, you can go…well, you know…read something else! Yes, that’s the approach Oliver Markus Malloy takes in Bad Choices Make Good Stories, and it may indeed turn more genteel readers off immediately. But it’s also very clever, as Malloy isn’t afraid to state. Is he smug? No, but it’s what he would call good marketing as he knows the majority of readers are going to be curious enough about chapter headings like “Prostitution” and “Sex and Crime” to read on a bit further. And those who do will be rewarded with a read that is, at times, highly entertaining and enlightening.
Bad Choices Make Good Stories is a memoir. Readers meet Oliver Markus Malloy as a teen in Germany where he excels at hacking video games and eventually moves on to more lucrative pursuits. When his internet gaming hobbies put him in touch with an American woman, Donna, whom he eventually marries, his life, now in the US, yo-yos between being jobless and gainfully employed. But Oliver is remarkably intelligent and very talented in various areas and folks are willing to pay him for those talents. Bit by bit he becomes incredibly wealthy. All would be well, but the richer he becomes, the more impoverished and unsatisfying his love life, thanks to his decidedly poor taste in women. He’s a good guy: he doesn’t use women. But they use him, and none more than the ones he cares for most. Sometimes you wonder how someone so smart can be so stupid, all of which makes him quite lovable.
There is no doubt that Bad Choices Make Good Stories is, at times, a pretty hard read because of the explicitly described sex. But that explicitness, though occasionally rather obnoxious, is not at all titillating. It’s there to make a point, and succeeds in doing so. And while Bad Choices Make Good Stories is a memoir, it’s also the author’s chance to present his philosophies on social issues, the differences between European and American culture, religion and much more. Readers will find themselves fascinated by what he thinks and what they learn, and might even find themselves agreeing with him on certain subjects: the chapter titled “There is no God” had this reviewer wanting to shout “touche” too many times to mention. So, bottom line? Read Bad Choices Make Good Stories by Oliver Markus Malloy if you’re not afraid of being a little shocked from time to time while learning lots about the not so pretty sides of life in the US. Entertaining, refreshing, unsettling and absorbing, and surprisingly perhaps, a thinking person’s book.