Bitter Boy’s Guide to Love

Kyle Field

Chris Lyons

Mechanical Mariner

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

So you just got dumped by your girlfriend of 12 months and now you’re looking ahead to 2-6 months of spirit-raping loneliness? Well, you won’t believe what Kyle Fields and Chris Lyons have in store for you! Bitter Boy’s Guide to Love is your jocular guide to recovery that will put you on the fast track to sanity – as the authors declare on the book’s first page – “no more swimming in vodka’s sleepy waters!”

A follow up to Adventures in Paying Rent, Bitter Boy’s Guide to Love is an activity book filled with the fun and games you enjoyed as a kid – usually during a long road trip or airplane flight. Crossword puzzles, connect the dots, riddles, word puzzles, only instead of tame, G-rated kid stuff, these puzzles are completely R-rated – and hilarious!

Instead of searching for boring words like “apple” or “pumpkin” in the book’s opening word find, you’re tasked with identifying phrases that warn of certain breakup like smothering, need time to think, and needy. The connect-the-dots on the following page turns out appropriately to be a bottle pouring liquid into a cocktail glass – you can use your crayons to color the drink the warming amber of whiskey, or leave it uncolored for vodka or gin! Isn’t this fun?!

There’s a challenging maze, where you must get from Start to Sleep without running into such perils as the bar, the gun store, the pawn shop or your ex’s house!  There’s a Pill Spill, where you must sort through a mess of spilled Xanex, Vicodin and Quaaludes to find (and color) three matching pairs.

I love the Draw Her Tits exercise, where you’re given the outline of a female torso with missing boobies and instructed to draw your ex’s perfect chest (I was fortunate to see that my wife had already completed this exercise).

There’s a great touch-up game simply titled You Look Awful where you’re given a picture of a dejected, down-and-out loser and asked to fix him up by removing the 5 o’clock shadow, giving him a fancy new haircut and slapping a smile on that pathetic never-getting-laid-again face.

Along with these soul-repairing stunts are pages and pages of fun including a Drunk Text game, a word puzzle called Where Did I Go Wrong and a page of riddles called Cheaper Than Therapy. The artwork is crisp, the puzzles are funny and sad at the same time but best of all are the instructions for each puzzle. As one of them says, “As you try fruitlessly to fall asleep, can you pinpoint all the ways you foolishly squandered her affection?” You then find yourself decoding sets of numbers to reveal words like clingy, time hog and too many texts. At the end of the whole thing, there’s a Certificate of Completion, with a perforation so you can detach it and hang it on your wall as a reminder that you are well on your way to recovery, and hopefully (but don’t kid yourself) no longer depressed.

As I was reading through this book, admiring the artwork and laughing at the puzzles I came to realize that this stuff might actually work! These puzzles are so honest and cutthroat that they would actually aid someone going through a tough breakup. They would force you to laugh at your misery, to embrace your pain and find something to enjoy amid those dark hours of loneliness and self-doubt. We’ve all been there, and now, in Bitter Boy’s Guide to Love, Kyle Fields and Chris Lyons have given us comfort. A coping mechanism that is cheaper than therapy.

Reviewed by Mark McGinty, October 2010

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