Book: A Million Ways To Die In The West

Seth MacFarlane's first novel 'A Million Ways To Die In The West' is mouth-agape terrible. Sean Maguire reports.

Based on the screenplay for the film of the same name, the story is set in the Wild West in 1882 and centres on a cowardly sheep farmer named Albert Stark who despises the dangerousness of the American frontier. As Albert says, "everything that's not you wants you dead ... outlaws, Indians, angry gamblers, disgruntled prostitutes, wild animals, the weather, disease - hell, even a trip the dentist means taking your fucking life into your hands."

Albert's girlfriend Louise dumps him for his meekness and starts going out with a much more successful and masculine moustache barber named Foy. Albert, who is heart-broken, befriends a 'beautiful gunslinger' named Anna who promises to help him get his ex-girlfriend back by making him more manly. The only problem is that Anna 'is married to the biggest, meanest, most jealous badass on the frontier.'

The story follows an overdone romantic comedy model: boy loves girl, boy loses girl, boy recruits another girl to get the first girl back, essentially mirroring the central 'American Pie' love triangle of Jim, Nadia and Michelle 'Flute Up My Pussy' Flaherty.

But it's not the mediocre plot that makes this book awful; the humour is an atrocious mix of fart, shit and tasteless sex jokes all lazily smushed together. Take this scene between Albert, Anna, Louise and Foy as a very repeatable example:

'She's my girlfriend," Albert said, reluctantly taking the cue. "The new GF. Big-Time."

"Lots of sexual activity with us," Anna offered.

"Y-yeah," Albert stuttered, shooting her a what-the-fuck glance. He turned his focus back to Foy and Louise, trying to roll with the cards Anna had dealt him. "Nonstop. I...I practically live inside her. So...y'know, if you ever want to write me a letter, you have to address it c/o Anna's Vagina."

Dismissing this as 'teenage boy humour' is reductive because when it's done well, teenage boy humour can be a joy to behold. 'There's Something About Mary,' 'Dumb and Dumber' and the majority of Seth MacFarlane other works, come to mind as examples where crude jokes can be interspersed successfully over the top of a solid storyline.

When the plot is lacklustre and the tasteless humour decidedly predictable, not even the most perverted and debased 14 year old is going to be laughing.

If you find yourself unlucky enough to be given this book by a distant uncle called Graham because you once told him you liked 'Family Guy', you should really do the unthinkable and ask if Graham kept the receipt.

Hurting Graham's feelings is a regrettable price to pay to avoid reading this shit pile.

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