The Ugly Guide to Being Alive and Staying That Way (Random House)

ugly-header.gifThis Ugly Guide is amusing mainly because it has a wide-eyed tone that is definitely at odds with what it’s actually saying in the fine print.

 

 

 

64 pgs., color; $5.99

(W/A: David Horvath & Sun-Min Kim)

 

So I’m a little hopeless. I’m kind of a dork and I listen to weird music and I forget a lot more things than I remember. If there is a roadmap to life, I need a copy of it. To be frank, I could really use one with interactive GPS and step-by-step instructions that I can flip through—I get kind of lost. After a lot of looking through various sections of my local public library (self-help, religion, popular fiction, unpopular fiction), I’ve come to the conclusion that no such thing exists for our messy universe, much less my sometimes messier-than-average corners of it and I’m stuck just making the best of it. Luckily for us, though, the husband-wife duo of David Horvath and Sun-Min Kim have created an alternate plane AND a guide for it. Pack your bags and grab your guides, kids, we’re off to the Uglyverse!

The Uglyverse is populated by the truly Ugly, which is to say those who are totally self-actualized and in tune with themselves. No, seriously, the authors define "Ugly" as "not being afraid to show the world who you really are." I know—I find it hard to believe we could fill a South City bar with these people, much less an entire universe. Mr. Horvath and Ms. Kim disagree, though, and have given us the guide to making it through life there from birth to death. It starts right with a note that the Uglyverse is whatever the inhabitants want it to be because someone had to dream it up so being told that something is just your imagination is "a good start." Cool.

Click for a larger image.From there, we travel from birth to death, with several stops along the way. There’s a guide to the various kinds of bullies in the grade school section, my favorite being the Popular-Music Bully, along with the note that teachers are the highest paid professionals in the Uglyverse. High school also has a charming section on the various types of nerd, defining "nerd" as "being excited about something and not afraid to show it!" There are sections on shopping (including a guide on how to dress like the local Price Hike’s employees in order to sneak into the back and get the popular item you’re looking for that they swear they don’t have) and toys. It give some vague advice about love and better notes on a career and the subsequent cashflow. There’s even a little portion of the book devoted to home purchases but they promise that you’ll get along fine with the ghost that comes with every home in the Uglyverse.

This Ugly Guide is amusing mainly because it has a wide-eyed tone that is definitely at odds with what it’s actually saying in the fine print. At one point, we’re told that the "special time when you realize you don’t want to do the thing you were studying to do" is called "move-back-home time," but another page tells us that we’re only as old as we feel. It looks like a children’s book, it’s written in small words with lots of shiny graphics for our eyes to wander through and it’s about a series of dolls created by the authors. Yet, it eludes classification as a youth book with the occasional twist of sophistication. The book has a charmingly simplistic primary color scheme that, be warned, might not appeal to all of the jaded funnybook-consumers of today.

I’m pretty sold. In the Uglyverse, being a nerd is awesome, resumes are doodles, and no one can tell if your handbag is real. Poe the Ugly Dragon is waiting to drop a french fry in your hair and the most popular video game in the Uglyverse is Helping Others 2000. Most compellingly, they have a guide to living there that makes it seem pretty easy and it doesn’t look like anyone else in the book remembered to reapply their lipstick, either. | Erin Jameson

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