Mike Sager is an august purveyor of New Journalism, giving frontline reports on everything from the rapper Ice Cube to expat Vietnam vets in Thailand to suburban-Maryland Tupperware saleswomen. His new book, Revenge of the Donut Boys, collects highlights of more than 20 years worth of Sager's articles for many leading magazines, mostly Esquire, for which he is a writer at large.
Here is Sager hanging out with Roseanne and her multiple personalities; playing high-stakes gin with the football legend Mike Ditka; observing adolescent Newark car thieves (the titular "Donut Boys"); even traveling the United States on a quest to meet as many other Mike Sagers as possible. Nearly all of the ethnographic pieces in Revenge of the Donut Boys encourage you to think that most people are venal megalomaniacs, most societies decaying and lawless, and everyone's engaged in wanton self-delusion and self-destruction.
Sager may capture our current cultural mood, but his stylized, aggressive, laconic writing suggests that America's funk dates at least to the Reagan era, when Sager rose to prominence: In his piece on the insouciant dot-com billionaire Mark Cuban, Sager refers to Wall Street's Gordon Gekko and the Tom Cruise star-maker Risky Business in the same paragraph. The DeLoreans are gone, but it's still 1987, right?
Mike Sager has seen most of the world and interviewed many of Hollywood's biggest celebrities, so he should have plenty of stories to tell at 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 30, when he visits Quail Ridge Books and Music in Raleigh. Call 828-1588 or visit quailridgebooks.booksense.com for more information.