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Foley's Been Better
on 17 January 2015
After the huge success that was “Have a Nice Day”, Mick Foley’s biography of his time wrestling as Mankind and other characters, it was almost inevitable that there would be another part. Especially as his first book was supposed to end with his wrestling career and, as it turned out, his career within World Wrestling Entertainment didn’t end at that point.
Mick Foley also has something he wants, or maybe even needs, to say. About many things, mostly related to wrestling. He feels very strongly about the stupidity of the backyard wrestling craze in the US and the (as he sees it) unfair treatment handed out to World Wrestling Entertainment by the Parents Television Council.
He starts by talking in more depth about his time at the end of his active wrestling career, about his time as champion and what he felt was his worst moment in wrestling and as a father. He relates his story of a match when he was being filmed for his part in the film “Beyond the Mat”, when he was hit with a chair quite a few times with his family watching. His wife and children were extremely upset at him getting hurt, but he wasn’t aware of this and caused them more emotional distress than he realised, something that still haunts him several years on.
From this point onwards, however, the book ceases to be just an autobiographical account of Foley’s life. After all, he’s covered all that ground once, in “Have a Nice Day”, so there’s no real need to cover it all again. Certainly, he does dip back into his wrestling career, but mostly only into the later parts which had either occurred after “Have a Nice Day” was published, or only got a brief mention in the Bonus Chapter in the paperback edition.
Interspersed with these recollections are Mick Foley’s thoughts on wrestling related issues such as backyard wrestling, how his book came into being and how he came to be the author after an abortive attempt to use a ghost writer and some memories on some old friends who are no longer around. But this book, unlike his first, isn’t all about wrestling, so you get to hear Mick Foley’s thoughts on meeting Britney Spears and on going to amusement parks with his kids, as well as finding out some of his favourite things.
Unfortunately, it is this last that provides one of the worst sections of the book. Instead of writing as he has done throughout both his biographies, Foley descends into a list format, listing his favourite amusement parks, rides, wrestling matches and films. It’s a shame, as he has already proven himself to be an accomplished writer and several pages of lists serves only to break up the flow of the book. It’s certainly a nice change to read something that isn’t completely related to wrestling, but it’s more of a distraction than a change for the better.
Although Foley’s writing style is easy to read, being fairly laid back and not too concerned with using too much vocabulary, the style of “Foley is Good” doesn’t stand up too well to comparison with “Have a Nice Day”. Although it’s still quite easy to read, he seems to be in a worse mood than he was writing his original autobiography. Maybe part of it is that he’s writing about things that don’t make him happy, such as the deaths of a couple of close wrestling friends and the unfair behaviour handed out to the WWE. Maybe it’s because he’s writing about times where he has been treated badly, by a lawyer in a court appearance and by a television interviewer. Maybe it’s because, at this stage, he’s writing about his wrestling career – a career he has loved greatly – first going into a decline and then coming to an end.
It could just be that, for the first time, Mick Foley has a bee in his bonnet. He’s not just writing about Mick Foley, he’s writing about the World Wrestling Entertainment. And in writing about WWE, he’s not telling how it is, or was, but trying to defend the company he loves from all number of attacks, about drug-taking, about encouraging kids to imitate their moves with dangerous and even fatal consequences and about spreading filth and immorality to the nation via the medium of national TV. He’s on the defensive for the most part, and upset at the slurs on the business he loves, and it shows in his writing.
The sections where he is defending WWE are certainly very well researched, and their writing has clearly involved more thought that anything he’s written before. But they just don’t feel quite as good as the rest. For one thing, he’s writing with a purpose, whereas before he was just writing for the joy of telling his story, and that takes some of the spontaneity and fun out of it. As another, what he’s writing is very American-centric, and has less appeal outside the US, as other countries don’t have anything like the Parents Television Council (unless you count Janet Street-Porter), or at least in not such a visible form, so it gives us less of a reference point, even for the wrestling fan.
For all this, “Foley is Good” is a better book for the non-wrestling fan than “Have a Nice Day” was, purely because it’s not completely about wrestling. Unfortunately, he does refer back to parts of his career and parts of this book are about how “Have a Nice Day” came into being, so it’s one best read after “Have a Nice Day”, and doesn’t stand up terribly well on it’s own. Whilst it covers more ground than would be expected of a second part of Mick Foley’s autobiography, it’s essentially little more than a sequel to that first book, which will restrict the audience to people who have read “Have a Nice Day” – essentially mostly wrestling fans.
For anyone who has read and enjoyed “Have a Nice Day”, this is more or less essential reading. It may not be as good to read, but it is a continuation and you’re really missing out on large parts of Mick Foley’s life story by not keeping going. For anyone who has an interest in wrestling in general, past or present, this is virtually essential, as it’s full of how the WWE has been and been treated in the past and is well-written enough to appeal to the general wrestling fan, and not just a historian. For anyone who doesn’t like wrestling but does enjoy biographies, I’d recommend “Have a Nice Day” over “Foley is Good”, but to bear this in mind if you enjoy the former. For someone with no interest in wrestling, you may be surprised to discover that a former sports-entertainer can write so intelligently. But you’ll most likely be too busy being confused or bored by the frequent wrestling descriptions for this to be your over-riding emotion.
This is definitely worth a look, even if it is harder going than “Have a Nice Day”. It’s not one that will get you going in the same way as that did, but one not to be missed if you have an interest in the subject. As anyone who has read a number of wrestling biographies could tell you, even being a weaker sibling to “Have a Nice Day” makes this a better book on wrestling than most out there and it still appeals to me, despite my not having been into wrestling for quite some time.
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