Sunday, July 13, 2008

Choose Your Own Adventure

As a child, I was not particularly adventurous. Besides being a bit of a wimp, my hometown wasn't exactly rife with opportunities to do a lot exciting (Wal-Mart was [and arguably still is] the most exciting place there). However, I did read the "Choose Your Own Adventure" books. Not only did they allow me to find treasure or escape from kidnappers, they also had a built-in "reset" button that let me go back and rethink any stupid mistakes I might have made. I also vaguely recall a "Choose Your Own Romance" book or two, which catered to the teen girl idea of romance. The only thing I truly remember is an episode where I could choose to eat calves' brains in order to impress a guy (he was an aspiring gourmet chef).

Recently, "Choose Your Own Adventure" books for adults have come onto the scene. NPR recently did a feature on You Are a Miserable Excuse for a Hero by Bob Powers. This book puts a more adult spin on the idea of trying to save the world (or, in this case, the girl). The basic plot is funny, but also relies on a number or moral choices that the reader needs to make. In short, you (a young man) have been called by kidnappers who are holding a girl you just went out with hostage. Now they are demanding ransom money for her return. You have two choices: you can ask your parents to loan you fifty thousand dollars or you can have sex with your ex-girlfriend. The choice is yours, but so is the responsibility for this choice.

If you are in a more... ahem... adult frame of mind, there is also Sins and Secrets, a book that was the joke of the bookstore I worked at. This book could also be subtitled "Choose Your Own Erotic Adventure" and is more than a little wrong. Besides the horrifically titled Thong on Fire, Sins and Secrets was probably one of the funniest and strangely conceived books I ran into while at the bookstore job. While my memories of this book are very vague, I do recall that it was a far cry from the tame "Choose Your Own Romance" books of my teenage years. In fact, some of the things described in Sins and Secrets would probably make eating calves' brains seem like no big deal.