Book Review | Chump Change by Dan Fante


Have I ever read a book that needs more trigger warnings? I surely can’t think of one. I read Chump Change by Dan Fante because I’m working on an alcoholism / sobriety related post for Book Riot and this came highly recommended as a good book about a drunk.

I mean, yeah, it certainly followed a drunk around for a few weeks but he is exactly the kind of drunk that I don’t want my post to showcase. Not that he’s not a real drunk – this was autobiographical – but it describes the end stages of alcoholism. This is a protagonist who needs alcohol to function on a very basic level; without his booze he gets violently ill. Which is a real thing, obviously – people die from alcohol withdrawal. But I feel like this view of alcoholism is well represented. Not everyone gets to that stage – I didn’t – and what I was looking for was books that cast a wider net. So! This didn’t meet my requirements but I’m not telling you anything about the book on its own merits, am I?

I will tell you this: I kept reading. I was compelled to do so. The prose is down and dirty and I don’t know how anyone could read this and not compare it to Bukwoski unless they just weren’t familiar with Bukowski.

The trigger warnings though, yawch. We’re talking repeated, unapologetic sex with a girl child that is of indeterminate age – thought younger than 15 because that’s the age she says she is and he talks about how she’s clearly not 15 – who is so young that she does not even have the beginnings of breasts yet. There’s a whole lot of racist slang and just general vile things. I am not joking when I say this book gets all the trigger warnings.

I think I can best sum up this book by saying it accomplishes what it set out to do. I’m just not the intended audience for its intended purpose.

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