Author and ad guy Mark St. Amant gets this self-critique—and much, much more—from ESPN fantasy guru and FANTASY LIFE author, Matthew Berry.
Frankly, I’m shocked that Matthew Berry—a.k.a. ESPN’s “Talented Mr. Roto” and Senior Director of Fantasy Sports—had time to answer even one of the questions below, let alone spend nearly two hours with me on the phone. But by his own admission, talking about himself is what he does best. Plus, this is a man who’s basically the Sting of fantasy analysts, once tantric chatting for 13 hours and 12 minutes straight (still an ESPN.com record).
But for those who might not be familiar, Matthew’s to-do list as ESPN’s most ubiquitous fantasy sports personality also includes: hosting the award-winning Fantasy Focus Podcast (for both baseball and football); hosting SportsNation chats; writing his annual Draft Day Manifestos; writing twice-weekly rankings; writing “Love/Hate” columns; taping Fantasy Roundtable segments; his Emmy-winning co-hosting gig on Fantasy Football Now every Sunday on ESPN2 during the NFL season—(deep breath, sip of water)—taping segments for SportsCenter, Sunday NFL Countdown, Mike & Mike, NFL Live, and Fantasy Focus videocasts; serving sloppy Joe’s in the ESPN cafeteria; repairing ESPN’s satellite dishes; skimming Chris Berman’s pool; and 57 other things he probably does that I don’t know about, but assume involve either (A) pedaling a stationary bike to power the entire ESPN campus like Lance “before he was a loathsome shitbag” Armstrong once did in a classic This Is SportsCenter commercial, or (B) delivering babies right in the studio for female staffers who just can’t make it to the hospital in time. “As soon as I learn how to say ‘red zone target’ in Spanish,” he jokes, “I’ll probably be on ESPN Deportes, too.”
And you want more? Berry’s also managed to squeeze in writing his debut book—Fantasy Life: The Outrageous, Uplifting, and Heartbreaking World of Fantasy Sports from the Guy Who’s Lived It
—which hits shelves today (Tuesday, July 16th). Among other things, it covers his socially awkward teen years, his time in the Hollywood TV and movie trenches, his foray into the fledgling fantasy sports industry and joining ESPN, all interspersed with hilarious-to-heartwarming true stories of fantasy sports obsession, and all culminating in the elusive “final chapter” he’d always been searching for—finding Mrs. Right and becoming a dad to not one, not two, but FIVE children.
Simply put, Berry is arguably the biggest, most recognizable catalyst behind the explosion of fantasy sports from pimply-faced, underground dork hobby into a mainstream social/ entertainment/economic juggernaut. And his high profile on ESPN has afforded him a level of celebrity and success previously thought unthinkable for those involved in such a niche “hobby”. (He’s one of only four people elected to the Halls of Fame of both the Fantasy Sports Trade Association and the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.) But success has its downsides, too. Even a cursory Google search of “Matthew Berry sucks” reveals blog comment sections, rants and, hell, entire blogs devoted to bashing him, calling him “incompetent,” “smug,” and worse. So labeling him as polarizing is drastically underselling it.
But is being insulted just part of the gig? Is inspiring envy, anger or professed hate better than inspiring no emotion whatsoever? What life lessons have everyone from his dad to Howard Stern to Crocodile Dundee passed down to him? Why does he want to go on “The View”? What was it like being a rookie dad thrown into the parenting fray? And why will he soon be found in Dave & Buster’s restaurants all over the country?
Berry answers these and more in this latest installment of “Very Patient People Tolerate Long-Winded Questions from Mark St. Amant,” a.k.a. Man-to-Man.
MSA: FANTASY LIFE comes out today. Congrats. How will you be spending book-release day?
MB: I’m doing “CBS This Morning” tomorrow. Then popping by Sirius XM. Then doing some other online stuff. There’s a whole publicity calendar that, to be honest, I haven’t fully studied, so I’m like “Just tell me where I’m going, and when I’m going,” ya know? So the day will be filled with a bunch of publicity, and then that night I’m gonna have a nice dinner with the whole family.
MSA: I figured you’d be spending that day like most neurotic authors: refreshing your Amazon author page every 30 seconds to check your ranking. Not that I’ve done that. (Awkward throat clear.)
MB: Mark, I like the fact that you assume that I haven’t been doing that already, throughout the pre-order process. As if that process starts on opening day! Like it’s, “This thing that I’ve only spent the last two years of my life working on? Whatevs, no biggie, just lemme know how it does.” I mean, it’s hilarious, right? To be honest, I’ve only checked [Amazon] about once a day—I mean, I’m not crazy—but because we’ve had a heavy pre-order campaign, I do check it. And Amazon is like, “Dude, you’ve checked this page so much why don’t you buy this book?” They send me emails like, “Hey, ‘Fantasy Life’ is still available, here’s a great Kindle price!” Amazon just won’t understand why I won’t commit to this book considering how much I’ve checked it out.
MSA: Note: Your ranking as I type this is #167. Which is very, very good. Do they suggest that if you pre-order your own book, you can get an early copy signed to yourself, by yourself, saying very flattering things to yourself?
MB: They haven’t yet…amazingly.
MSA: You said you spent two years on FANTASY LIFE. But you’ve been a fantasy columnist on ESPN and elsewhere pretty much since 1999. And sometimes, columnists just cobble together fragments of old work and, essentially, crap it out as a “book.” So, did you want to make sure you had enough original material before you finally wrote your first book? And being the face of fantasy at the network, did ESPN pressure you to put a book out sooner?
MB: There’s definitely been interest over the years [from other outside publishers; not pressure from ESPN]. But I wanted to wait until I had so much good stuff that I HAD to write it. And ultimately—I don’t mean for this to sound trite, but it’s true—I wrote the book when I did because I finally felt like I had a last chapter: the birth of my daughters, marrying my wife, things that just completed the arc of both my professional life here at ESPN, and my personal life.
MSA: Which included your dating life, something you’ve written about in your columns over the years. Having briefly lived outside of Hartford as an adult myself, I know that for a single dude the ‘burbs of central Connecticut aren’t exactly Heff’s grotto.
MB: Exactly. I mean, as a divorced, 37-year-old guy moving to such a family-oriented area, it was definitely tough going there for a bit. It gave me a lot of fun stuff for my columns, of course, but personally it was somewhat of a struggle. But also, I just had so many stories over the years that I knew I wanted to use, but didn’t quite know how…so it took me a while to figure out what the book should be. It wasn’t as simple as people saying, “Hey, fantasy is huge, you work at ESPN…so, uh, do a fantasy book.” What does that book look like? I didn’t want to write a “Here’s how you win at fantasy sports” book because I think that book’s useless because “advice” and strategies and players change so much from year to year. That book has no shelf life. So, I’m really proud at how FANTASY LIFE turned out because it’s a nice mix of my life, and all the stuff I love about fantasy sports—the trash-talk, the crazy trophies and attempts at cheating, the obsessive behavior, the weird draft day locations, and all that. Bottom line, fantasy sports is fun, and I wanted to write a fun book.
MS: Full disclosure: I haven’t had a chance to read FANTASY LIFE yet. [Note: while we were talking, Matthew was borderline horrified that I hadn’t received a review copy, and offered to send one. But I’m a firm believer in paying people for their hard work, especially other writers. Anyway…] But the early reviews have been great—Amazon has already named it one 2013’s best books so far—saying there’s something for everyone: insider fantasy sports stuff for your core fans, and an entertaining, memoir-ish narrative for those “not-so-sports-obsessed” folks. Was it a conscious decision NOT to lean too far toward the “sports dude” audience and make it more broadly appealing?
MB: The thing is, rightly or wrongly, I feel a huge sense of responsibility to the fantasy community, trying to mainstream fantasy sports and make it more accessible and popular, to both men and women. So when I first pitched this book, I said I wanted to do a fantasy sports book that I can also pitch on “The View”…and they were like “WHAT??” They didn’t think that was possible, but I said lemme try. Because I didn’t really think in terms of men versus woman; I thought more fantasy player versus non-fantasy player. Because in the end, this is a book about people. And you don’t have to play fantasy to think that a guy losing his fantasy league and being forced to get a Justin Bieber tattoo on his leg is funny. It just IS funny. Or a guy who had to work on the night of his draft – work AS THE GIANT BIRD MASCOT AT RED ROBIN, mind you – and was forced to draft while wearing his big robin costume, with his draft cheat-sheet taped to the inside of his beak. So the book has funny stories, heartwarming ones, crazy ones, it runs the gamut. Basically, I wanted to write a book that my wife would enjoy reading, or one that a wife/girlfriend can buy her husband/boyfriend, and then he can give it back to her when he’s finished and say, “Honey, read this, because this is WHY I am how I am.” I mean, your book was all about obsession, right? So that was one of my goals: to open up this funny, crazy world to people who aren’t necessarily aware of it.
MSA: I’m just glad you’re one of the literally tens of people who know I even wrote a book. But let’s get to your life. You were born in Denver, CO, but moved to College Station, TX as a teen, where you were raised by Texas A&M academics. Is there something about growing up in a college town that steered you toward a writing career?
MB: That’s a great question. No one’s ever asked me that. And the answer is: I don’t think so. One of the things I talk about in the book is that I moved around a lot before I even got to College Station—born in Denver, moved to Richmond, then to Atlanta, then to Charlottesville—where I became a Redskins fan—and then to Texas when I was twelve. So I was always the new kid. And I was a socially awkward kid—frankly, I’m a socially awkward adult—but I don’t think it was growing up in a college town, per se, that drew me to writing. I think it was because my father is a very successful business writer. He’s written like a dozen books, tons of columns, published in the Harvard Business Review a couple of times. But I don’t really think of myself as a “writer,” even though I’ve been writing my whole life. I think I’m good at writing—if I can say that without sounding like I’m bragging—but I think it’s more that I just happen to be better at writing than anything else I can do. And like for everyone, writing is a struggle for me.
MS: Speaking of your dad, besides his cool job title—“Presidential Professor for Teaching Excellence, Distinguished Professor of Marketing and M.B. Zale Chair in Retailing and Marketing Leadership, Mays Business School, Texas A&M University”—what two words describe Leonard Berry?
MB: Thoughtful, and ethical. My dad is the most principled man I know, and someone who considers everything, isn’t rash, very methodical in his thinking, and he’s a huge influence on me. Luckily we’re very close, and he loves this book which is great because I think all of us—especially men — we’re always trying to please our fathers at some point, right? So, that he loves this book has been really gratifying and cool.
MSA: And how are you most like or unlike him?
MB: Unlike him, I’m a complete bastard! No, let’s see, I’m most like my father in that he’s very ambitious. He’s a very hard worker and takes things seriously. He’s a very kind man, and I like to think of myself in the same way. I’ve always gone out of my way to help people over the years—to get into the fantasy industry, for example—and I’m real proud of the fact that a significant number of the guys I gave a break to on my original “Talented Mr. Roto” site are now some of the biggest names in the industry, not just at ESPN but Yahoo, CBS, SI, AOL, and so on. Oh, and my dad’s a HUGE sports fan…and a loyal one. He watches every Texas A&M game. And not just football—I’m talking baseball, basketball, tennis, both men’s and women’s, everything. I got that from him.
MSA: And how are you unlike him?
MB: I’m an extrovert. I don’t mind being the center of attention. I mean, I do nothing but write egocentric stories, right? My dad’s the opposite. He deflects all praise, and isn’t comfortable with others praising him.
MSA: As you know, my “day job” for the past 20 years has been in advertising. In fact, you and I first met in 2007, I believe, while shooting some ESPN Fantasy commercials (starring you with a certain caveman), and we’ve worked together a couple times on various ESPN commercials since (a faux-rock opera with Geddy Lee; a faux- soap opera). And you’ve obviously built a personal brand within the four-letter network, so the ad agency-owner in me must ask: was your dad a ringer when it came to your building the Matthew Berry “brand”?
MB: Oh yeah, I learned a ton from my father in that area. You correctly surmised that, and it’s interesting because you’re the first person to correctly put that together. And at my original sites, we were known for customer service. We had GREAT customer service, and the best marketing you can have is word of mouth, right? And my father taught me to be consistent, so we were the first site to offer a 100% money-back guarantee. At the end of the year, if you didn’t feel like you got your money’s worth, you got your money back [$49/year back then] no questions asked. We believed in the product, and it was a bold marketing statement: the reason being, I’d rather pay fifty bucks to that guy for whatever reason than keep the money and have this guy go on message boards and complain about how his experience sucked, which will ultimately do more damage to a brand than losing fifty bucks any day of the week. My dad also taught me the “under-promise, over-deliver” lesson: we had a guarantee that if you emailed us, you’d get a response within 24 hours. Guaranteed. But internally, I told my employees to respond within SIX hours. So when customers are expecting twenty-four hours, and get six, their experience goes through the roof. Finally, he taught me the difference between “brand aware” and “brand trust.” Brand aware was my giving free content to every big TV station, radio station or big web site I could find, in exchange for them just mentioning or linking back to my sites. So soon we had big content deals with SI.com, CBS.com, ESPN.com. No, weren’t making a single penny from them the first two years, but we were getting our name out there. Meaning, people would then come to our site and have a great experience, which built brand trust. And those were all things that I learned from my father: how to promote that brand, protect it, and so on.
MSA: So how did you ultimately build the “Matthew Berry brand”?
MB: I’m a huge Howard Stern fan, and took a lot of lessons from Howard, mostly in terms of making everything about me and my life, like he does a lot. Because while I was pretty good with stats when I started, I wasn’t Bill James. I wasn’t Ron Shandler. So I wasn’t going to “out-stat” anybody. And while I’ve watched a ton of sports and been playing since I was fourteen, I never played sports professionally, I wasn’t a pro scout, and there were certainly people out there who could watch game film with a more experienced eye than I could. So I needed to find an edge, and I took another lesson from my father: if there are already better people than you in a marketplace, you have to give consumers a reason to come TO YOU over them. Why should I give you my business? So I’m looking around and I thought, “What’s the one thing I can do better than anyone else?” And I quickly decided the answer was, “I can talk about ME. No one else can talk about me better than me!” So the way I set myself apart was being somewhat egocentric and talking about my life. And people responded to that. Some people didn’t like it, some people love it. But at least they’ve responded somehow, and so far it’s working out for me.
MSA: Funny you brought up Stern, because your writing/podcasts/etc. make me think of the scene in ‘Private Parts’ where they compare the average listening times of radio fans who love Stern and those who hate him.
MB; Funny, I actually talk about Stern for a couple pages in the book and reference that exact scene: “The average radio fan listens for fifteen minutes; the average Stern fan listens for an hour and fifteen minutes. Most common reason? ‘I want to see what he’ll say next.’ What about the people who hate Stern? Good question. The average Stern-hater listens for TWO hours and ten minutes. Why? Most common reason? ‘I want to see what he’ll say next.’” I would guess fifteen percent of my audience reads me to hate me, or because they enjoy hating me. Hey, like I said it’s not for everyone, but I’m happy with it.
MS: What’s the worst decision you’ve ever made—personally, professionally, or both—and how have you learned from it?
MB: Doing “Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles.” But not for the reasons you’d think…that is, because it was a bad movie. It’s because I did it for all the wrong reasons. I did it to make a lot of money, and because it was a film, and all those things. But in my gut I didn’t believe in the project from day one, but I thought the money would be great, it’s a movie that’s getting made, and bla bla bla. And it became just an unbelievably painful, hurtful experience, which I talk about in the book. Paul Hogan challenged us for writing credit, dragged our names through the mud publicly. When he did publicity for the movie he trashed us in every interview. We were treated like crap at the premiere. It was just a soulless experience. And it taught me that money isn’t the end-all, be-all. I made enough money from that movie to buy a nice house in Los Angeles, and I’d have returned it ALL if I could have that year of my life back.
MSA: But oddly, that experience has served you well over the years. And one of the things that works for you – and what I like about you from your columns and from our admittedly limited personal interaction on commercials and stuff—is that you don’t seem to take things too seriously. I mean, you point to your Razzie nomination [short for Golden Raspberry, an annual award for THE WORST in film] as a point of pride in your career, for godsake!
MB: Oh, you’re right—I’m STILL pissed about that. I think we got screwed out of the Razzie. We should have won. Stupid “Planet of the Apes”! [Note: he’s kinda, joking…but also kinda not.] So yeah, I can proudly say that I’m not only the author of a novel now, I’m also a Razzie-nominated screenwriter! But what I learned from all that was not to chase not money and success, but chase happiness. Which ultimately gave me the courage, even though show business was “glamorous” and I was paid well, to admit that the thing that made me happy was fantasy sports and these dumb little web sites that I was building. So as of 2005—when my first marriage was also breaking up—I said these two little sites with like 2,000 subscribers were the only thing that makes me happy. So I’m gonna make a go of it. Maybe I only make ten grand a year. Maybe I have to eat Ramen Noodles for an entire year. Who knows. But I’ll figure it out…because it’s what makes me happy. So I was basically starting over at 35-years-old, and about to make a career out of something not a lot of people, if any, were making a career out of: being a fantasy sports analyst. And it’s funny, in going down the path to just being happy, money and the other stuff has followed. And I’m much happier at ESPN and doing what I’m doing than I EVER was in Hollywood.
MS: Your “new” family came no-assembly-required, i.e. on your first date, your now-wife brought three kids to the table (just figuratively, I hope). Fast forward: you’re married and an instant stepdad to three boys ages 7, 11 and 13. Fast forward again: you have twins. Boom. Instant Brady Bunch. Was this as massive a shock to your system as it appears on paper? And what’s been the single biggest surprise/revelation about fatherhood?
MB: To me the biggest revelation was that I actually love kids. I mean, my ex-wife and I never had kids, and here I was, forty-years-old, and had never spent any significant time with kids, aside from, you know, buying cup of lemonade at a stand on the way to work…or dealing with angry twelve-year-olds on Twitter. And living in LA for so long, most of my friends didn’t have kids, people stay single longer out there–
MSA: Because they’re pursuing a certain level of achievement—i.e. movie or TV stardom—that kids can often get in the way of more than other careers?
MB: –yeah, exactly. So I always thought maybe I’d be a bachelor, or if I did have kids, maybe just one. But to date a mom with three kids? I mean, when I first started dating my now-wife and she says she has kids, I’m thinking, “Well, THIS ain’t lasting long.” But then I ended up falling in love with her, and I met her kids, I discovered that I loved her kids, too. She’ll joke now, saying, “I think you love the kids more than me!” and I’m like, “Oh, it’s not a question.” So, yeah, she had three boys, and it was great, I loved it. I’m stereotypically neurotic, but when I’m around the kids, it frees me from that. You just can’t be up in your own head, ya know? You have to concentrate on them. So that’s been amazing.
MSA: And then you had twins…
MB: Yup. We were older when we got married, so we were honestly like “If it happens, it happens; if it doesn’t, it doesn’t”…and then boom, right out of the box! So being an older parent, I admit, at first there was a moment like “Whooaaa…twins.” But now that they’re here, it’s just awesome. I can’t even imagine not having them. We were playing just before you called, we were all like rolling around on the floor, and I said to my wife, “I can’t imagine there’s a better feeling than having your own baby crawl all over you.” They’re so sweet and loving, and they’ve changed my life. I never thought I’d marry a woman with kids, or be the father of five—if you asked the 25-year-old me where he’d be in eighteen years, you could have given me a whole year and I never would have answered, “In Connecticut…working for ESPN…married…with five kids.” But my life makes a lot more sense to me now than it ever did before.
MSA: What lessons do you hope to pass down to your kids (aside from, of course, “Never pay for saves” and “Bartolo Colon really, really likes to eat”)?
MB: First, they’re going to be brainwashed into being Washington Redskins fans. I mean, I had a Joe Theismann helmet when I was five-years-old. But as for parental wisdom, I just want them to be happy and pursue whatever makes them happy. To treat themselves and other people well…oh, and to call their parents often. And because my twins are girls, to not date anyone until they’re out of college! My wife jokes that I’m totally gonna be the dad on the porch with the shot gun. And she’s right. Basically, Mark, I need FANTASY LIFE to be successful so I can afford to hire armed guards for them all through high school.
MS: What advice would you give the teenage Matthew that the adult Matthew now knows about life?
MB: Be more confident. I had a lot of self-doubt as a kid, was too nervous about stuff. I retrospect, I shouldn’t have been. I mean, I’m a human being, I’m flawed, very imperfect like everyone, and there are still things I’m just terrible at. But a lot of the stuff I worried about, I’d tell him not to.
MSA: But doesn’t a lot of your self-doubt stem from moving around so much, always being the new kid? I mean, lots of comedians, actors, and others who end up in varying degrees of the spotlight, learned to seek attention as a defense mechanism of sorts, to avoid being the lonely new kid?
MB: That’s interesting, and you touched on something I’ve never really thought about or examined: so yeah, I’d tell the teenage Matthew to be comfortable being alone. I mean, you get to a new town and it’s always a while before you make friends and get invited places. But being alone and comfortable on your own is what sometimes helps you learn to write. And now I’m not freaked out by the idea of being alone, when I can be. I love being by myself. I don’t like writing. As the late, great Douglas Adams said, “It’s like staring at a blank piece of paper until your forehead bleeds.” But being alone a lot as a kid, I think, now gives me a comfort level when I’m alone and it’s just me and a blank screen. I’m fine with it.
MS: Back to marketing and branding: having worked with both pro athletes and ESPN personalities, I was always a little hesitant using ESPN folks in ads because I worried you guys were being forced at gunpoint by [ESPN Executive Chairman] George Bodenheimer to participate, to be a good “company man” as you often call yourself. And there’s nothing worse than having talent who’s just not into it. Which is why I was always hugely appreciative of the relentless work ethic and “we’re up for anything” attitude that guys like you, Eric Karabell, Buster Olney, Trey Wingo, any of the ESPN’ers displayed when the cameras turned on. But DO you enjoy the advertising/marketing aspects of your job? And along with being the cyber face or DraftStreet.com, are there any other endorsement deals you’ve lined up recently? (Please don’t say Magnum condoms…please don’t say Magnum condoms…)
MB: I do enjoy it. It gives me a chance to experience new things—I mean, where else am I going to meet Geddy Lee?—and sometimes get to go out and meet with fans, and talk to different people. Too often, you’re just stuck in Bristol in front of a computer or TV screen. So whether it’s a commercial or speaking engagement or event, I enjoy it. And it’s easy for me because ESPN Fantasy is something I truly believe in, because it’s a great product. I truly believe fantasy sports are something fun that everyone should play. As for new marketing partnerships, I’ve recently partnered with Dave & Buster’s because I’m not doing a typical book tour—yes, there’ll be some typical bookstore stops, but I’m going to six Dave & Buster’s around the country. I’ll talk about the book, of course, but I’ll do some Q&A, talk about [fantasy football] sleepers and busts, and just basically hang out. Which I’m excited about because this is a fun book, and we all love fantasy sports, so I didn’t want to do the typical stuffy book tour. I hope people check out the schedule & try to come on out.
MS: Fame-related…you’ve always been pretty open about your success/notoriety (“How the hell is this even a job??”-level stuff). But much like some of the writers of whom you’ve said you’re a fan—Tucker Max, Bill Simmons, e.g.—you’re also a polarizing public/online character: those who like you would run through a wall to read/defend you, and those who hate you REALLLLLLY seem to hate you. Is it just envy? The belief that they could easily do what you do, and do it better? Are you pretty much numb to the haters by now?
MB: First, I’m flattered to be mentioned with those guys; they’re both amazing writers. But I think they’re controversial for different reasons. With Tucker, it’s obviously because of the stances he takes. He’d tell you this himself—he’s actually a good friend of mine—I think it’s because his books are just so far from politically correct. But with Bill, I honestly think it’s nothing but pure jealously. And I think maybe I’m somewhere in between those two. Maybe? I think there’s jealousy to some degree, and also some people who just want the fantasy facts and analysis and “don’t tell me about your wife and your kids!” I’ll say this, one of the lessons of Stern I learned is that you can inspire passion two ways: I love that guy, or I hate that guy. The day the answer to “What do you think of Matthew Berry?” is “Meh…whatever” then I’m screwed. Is there an “artist” alive or dead who has universal appeal? I haven’t been able to find one. But trust me, some guy posting anonymously about how much he hates Bill Simmons, if he were suddenly at a bar and Bill Simmons were standing next to him? That guy would be kissing Bill’s ass, taking pictures with Bill, and bragging to his friends that he met Bill Simmons. So it goes back to passion, that back-and-forth between love and hate, because it inspires success, and that’s something I aspire to.
MS: What, in your mind, defines a ‘good man’?
MB: Someone who’s true to himself. Treats himself and others with respect. And someone who does his best no matter what his job is: whether it’s his actual job, his relationship, his kids, taking out the trash, whatever. Someone who does his best at all time, and takes pride in himself, what he does and how he does it.
MS: Do you have one last pitch to anyone who, for whatever reason, might on the fence about buying FANTASY LIFE?
MB: I swear on the life of my children: it won’t be the worst book you’ve ever read.