Review of “Have A Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks by Mick Foley
by Raywat Deonandan
Jan 1, 2002
I have never hidden my fondness for professional wrestling, that mutant child of sport, circus and pornography. Indeed, I have often celebrated its merits vocally, shouting the genres praises to all who would listen. I would use allusions to classic drama, morality plays and timeless storytelling themes to convey to unbelievers the universality of wrestlings appeal, the inherent humanity and purity of its heart…. the artistry of its essence.
Of course, I am not alone in this opinion. Professional wrestlings role in the history of human theatre has been the topic of several doctoral theses, books and television shows. There is no shortage of well-degreed fans willing and able to use big words to defend their love for this bizarre entertainment form. What has been lacking, however, is a similar heartfelt and articulate offering from the wrestlers themselves.
Often, professional wrestlers come across as steroid-addled freaks and low-lifes, skirting that treacherous line between productive citizen and vile felon. This is why wrestler Mick Foleys 1999 autobiography, Have A Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks, was such an important contribution to the weird world of sports entertainment.
Foley is a hardcore legend. His destroyed body, which includes eight concussions, a missing ear and over 325 stitches, is testament to his sacrifices for his art. Foley tells of his beginnings as a geeky teenager who would channel his romantic failings into hand-filmed wrestling vignettes featuring his manufactured persona, Dude Love. The Dudes spirit follows Foleys career from its earliest incarnations as violent madman Cactus Jack to its pinnacle as the Hannibal Lecter-inspired Mankind, always providing that necessary temperance of the insane with the true fundament of the sport, love. His tale is hilariously told from the viewpoint of both a lover of the sport and as a wrestler who was eyewitness to some of the most important developments in the industrys recent history. The writing of one chapter, for example, was interrupted by the death of Owen Hart, who was mistakenly dropped from the ceiling of an arena in whose dressing room Foley was hand-writing this book at the same time. It is a chilling injection of reality into a story whose pervasive surrealism is so theatrical it approaches fiction.
Much has been made of the fact that Foley wrote this book himself. This is an important consideration since most celebrity so-called autobiographies are penned by more literate ghostwriters. The result of Foleys personal efforts is a more touching and genuine recitation that glows with Foleys own unique humour and warmth. Foleys love for his wife and children is the backdrop to almost every scene of choreographed violence, as is his fascinating relationship with physical pain and, perhaps, masochism. Scenes of his flesh ripped by barbed wire or explosives are always ended with the requisite uncomfortable phone call to his worried family. This constant intertwining of tenderness and brutality is as hypnotic as it is sometimes horrifying. It is Foleys unrelenting comedic sense that makes such images tolerable.
His tale is an epic one. The greatest moment in Foleys on-stage career, his famous leap from the top of a twenty-foot cage, is told in cinematic detail, enhanced by the lasting image of his opponent, The Undertaker, standing mythically atop the cage as it is raised to allow EMT personnel to treat Foleys broken body. Foley has organized his lifes story into an easily digestible storybook format, culminating with the arrival of his teenage creation, Dude Love, onto the stage of the WWF, and with Foleys winning of the world championship belt —a marvelous and unlikely development given his unheroic personas and dumpy physique.
Have A Nice Day debuted at number three on the New York Timess bestseller list. Yet the majority of critics refused to review it, deeming anything from the world of wrestling to be unworthy of their attentions. Evan Solomon, host of CBCs Pretense Today oops, I mean Hot Type once even held the book up to the camera and declared it to be laughable…. without ever having read it. Foleys autobiography is certainly humourous, but is by no means laughable. It is a glimpse into a wonderful comic book world of supermen and timeless theatre, a world whose inhabitants Foley convincingly calls artists. To those who would arrogantly dismiss such a claim without first reading his book, Foley invites them all to line up and collectively apply suction to [his] genital area. Ahh, sweet poetry.