“Man v. Liver” gives both style and harsh truth to suave drinkers

Chloe' Robbins-Anderson

Neil Hinson and Paul Friedrich released their collaborative piece “Man v. Liver” earlier this year for the Don Drapers and Karen Walkers in everyone’s lives.

This short book shows all the style and alcoholism that a “man” should represent, according to the author and illustrator. Illustrator Friedrich created the simple sketch to be a mix between Dean Martin, Jack Benny, Don Draper and Jack Donaghy. He’s the one always on top, even if he has a hangover – and he always does. While Friedrich gives him his physical style, Hinson, who is both a writer and journalist, shows readers his innermost workings.

These workings are not deep. Man thinks about women and booze, and he loves them both equally.

In fact, it’s fairly easy to fall into the trap of thinking this is a very misogynistic book at first read. But when the reader steps back and looks at the bigger picture, this is everyone, at some level. Everyone who has ever at any point looked in the mirror and couldn’t look away, or awakened sloshy drunk and gone in for more: this is them.

Many of these pages contain witty sayings that can be repeated at the bar to friends or potential lovers. More than a few of these will get a man – or woman – slapped. Some great pick-up lines include, “These pants are scratch ‘n’ sniff,” and, “If you don’t want me to stare at your chest, don’t hold your martini near it.”

Sometimes Man is accompanied by a nameless woman with a slinky black dress and perfectly coiffed hair to counter or encourage his advances in a clever way: “I’m old enough to be your father.” “I’m young enough to be your stepmother.”

The authors dedicated the book to their hard-working livers. Man’s mission is to destroy his liver, one Scotch at a time, any place, any time: “Screw it. It’s noon somewhere.” His cynicism is about equally fueled by and in spite of his drinks. On one page, his drinking improves life – “Instead of never speaking about this again, let’s just keep drinking ‘til we forget it” – while on the next, it destroys the joyous part of him – “My inner child has a fake I.D.”

Man expounds on style, both in reality and imagined from drinks, but he does not cover up the ugly truth of the next day. He speaks about hangovers on nearly every other page and jokes about his liver mutating and taking over Tokyo. He even manages to toss in some style with his hangovers: “Slept in my clothes last night. Which means I was the best-dressed at breakfast.”

His wisdom on today’s world is a favorite: “Twitter. Texting. Posting. Is anyone actually here?” It’s an oft-observed sentiment, but Hinson is perfectly succinct.

In the end, Man chooses what many do, especially those experiencing the burn-out near the end of college: a stiff drink at the end of a long day over a long-lived liver. “Hangovers can feel like punishment. But sobriety is a life sentence .”