Don’t Be Cruel

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Don’t Be Cruel

By Mike Argento

In his first novel, the delightfully goofy read, “Don’t Be Cruel,” veteran journalist Mike Argento proves once again he’s a twisted bastard with a heart of gold. This crime caper novel is filled with classic Argento observations of true life absurdities that devoted readers of his columns (and there are indeed more than a few of us) will immediately recognize and appreciate. Also, and Argento will hate me for noting this, his sentimental side is on fine display in “Don’t Be Cruel.” Just as I have done countless times while reading his work, I’m simultaneously shaking my head wondering, “What the hell is wrong with that boy?” even as I’m smiling and thinking, “Aw.” –Lauri Lebo, author of “The Devil In Dover.”

As a newspaper columnist, Mike Argento has always mixed the funny with the profound, but who would’ve thunk he had it in him to write anything as consistently funny, profane and gratuitously outrageous as “Don’t Be Cruel?” If Spew, Nunn, “Traci with an I,” the First Church of Elvis, Scientist and the whole crew don’t put you in cracked ribbed territory early and often, well, you might as well tie a tag around your own big toe and go work for Rick Santorum. This is a deeply American tragicomedy, rooted in Argento’s post-modern sensibility, insouciant nihilism and hillbilly smarminess. There’s even a little sweetness stabbing around the contours of its narrative heart which beats as solidly as anything this side of St. Vonnegut. “Don’t Be Cruel” races along like those early Elvis Costello records, pulling you by the throat into some pretty dark corners thanks to its irresistible rhythms. As usual, Argento delights in kicking us in the balls while proclaiming his undying love. His evolution from the most miserable of ink-stained wretches to book writin’ rascal is nearly complete. “Don’t Be Cruel” may not win the Pulitzer this year, but it is destined to kick start a budding cult around Mike Argento. –Tony Norman, columnist, Pirrsburgh Post-Gazette

“Bizarre, clever, and full of pitch black humor, DON’T BE CRUEL is one hell of a debut novel! Argento’s voice, prose, and wit are sharp as razors. Highly recommended!” –Brian Keene, best-selling author of Ghoul and Darkness on the Edge of Town

Mike wrote a book? –Jack Mayer, postal worker/musician

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