About an hour before I am scheduled to meet Drew Magary at a hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese restaurant to talk about his new memoir, I check his Twitter feed to see what kind of mood he is in. Not that I think that he will be anything less than pleasant and friendly, as most (but not all) people promoting a new book, movie or television show who I talk to tend to be. But Drew Magary has made an identity for himself – at least on the Internet – of being angry. Very, very angry. At scarves, Sports Illustrated's Peter King, at "Big Mayo," at the gun industry and at Jerry Seinfeld. Writing for GQ, the sports blog Deadspin and football-centric blog Kissing Suzy Kolber among other outlets, he has gained a devoted fanbase, with features like The Hater's Guide, The Insufferabilty Report and Why Your Children's Television Program Sucks. He employs SUCCESSIVE CAPITAL LETTERS as if he invented them. Even subjects as benign as Charlie Brown and the Williams-Sonoma Catalog are targets of his disdain.
Today he is ticked about sangria. I don't agree with his disgust for a cocktail I find fruity and refreshing. But, OK, I won't order it at lunch.
When I meet Magary, he is not the angry Internet troll one might expect. For one, he is quite tall. He is also extremely amiable – so friendly that he offers to share his pork dish with me (this was my first time eating Vietnamese). But his mild-mannered demeanor may come from the fact that we spend most the afternoon talking about something he clearly loves, his children, who are the subject of his new book "Someone Could Get Hurt: A Memoir of Twenty-First Century Parenting."
"Anyone can write a parenting book. All you have to do is have a kid, and then, boom, you've got your irreverent parenting book," says Magary. "So it took me a little while to convince everybody to be like, 'Look, I can do this," – hopefully in a way that's interesting enough and different enough where it's not just, 'Hey, wacky punk dad talking about how sh--ty changing diapers is.'"
And in many ways, his children are the perfect material for Magary's crude brand of humor. There's plenty of penis jokes, made at the expense of both the author and his subjects. There's ample cursing (the best of which comes from his children's mouths). And there's his unsparing mockery of the parental-industrial complex. Though Magary dedicates "Someone Could Get Hurt" to "every other parent out there still trying to figure it out", those readers without children (myself included) will find his tales both hilarious and horrifying.
"My hope was to write something that at least, if you didn't have kids, it will be funny anyway," Magary says. "It wouldn't matter because you've been there on the other side."
But the episode that inspired Magary to write "Someone Could Get Hurt" is heart-wrenching. As he has detailed in his "Dadspin" series, his third child was born seven weeks premature and suffered a whole slew of other complications.
"I just had to get that out first," says Magary, who was initially planning a follow-up to his debut novel, "The Postmortal."
"I was talking to my agent, like, 'I have to write about this whole experience,' and he was like, 'Well, listen, you can't write a whole book about a sick baby.'"
He instead uses the painful ordeal, told in two parts, to sandwich the otherwise lighthearted book. He makes you cry before he makes you laugh and then he makes you cry again.
"So much writing you see is written for the person who is writing it," says Magary. "So I do my best to write something someone else will find entertaining."
Entertain he does: There are the stories of him trying to make his wife less paranoid about her pregnancy, of the insecurities arisen by being the only dad at his kids' Gymboree class, of his daughter's various costume phases, of how he tricks her into taking a bath (it involves a Mad Libs game with the word "butt"), of the unconventional anatomical location his son chooses to stick his toothbrush.