Every nonfiction book makes a promise, stated or unstated, and Damn Right I’m From Cleveland: Your Guide to Makin’ It in America’s 47th Biggest City by Mike Polk states its promise right there in the subhead — to help the reader make it in Cleveland.
I picked this book up thinking, “Maybe I’ll learn something that can help ME make it in Cleveland. Or maybe I’ll learn something I can share with my cousin from Lyndhurst while he waits for his arraignment. This confident-looking man on the cover, Mike Polk Jr., is wearing a natty suit and boldly-chosen socks. He’s drinking that cocktail with such nonchalance. He’s doing OK. I bet there IS good information in this book. I bet I will find out how to make it in Cleveland.”
But I didn’t. I didn’t find out how to make it in Cleveland at all.
For example, I don’t understand how using a crudely pasted cartoon of city founder Moses Cleaveland fleeing Cleveland right after he founded the city is supposed to help me make it in Cleveland. If Moses Cleaveland cannot make it in Cleveland, I’m not sure anyone can. At this point, nine pages in, Polk should have realized this book was a fool’s errand, and he should have returned his reported $30 million advance to Gray & Co. Instead Polk rambled on—drunkenly, for the most part—for another 100 pages.
Damn Right I’m From Cleveland is a crooked river of nonsense.