"Loud, raucous, infantile, racy, and very funny...The book is full of likable eccentrics, sexual shenanigans, and--if you know where to look for them--valuable life lessons."--Booklist
Animal House, the movie, didn't tell the half of it.
Writing with a freshness and joy that make Dartmouth 1960 feel like a beer-soaked rock-and-roll heaven on earth, Chris Miller tells the real story of the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity as no one else could. Seal, Doberman, Otter, the legendary Moses (he of the burning bush) - these titans and dozens of others come alive again, terrorizing the administration, taunting cops, surviving their own lunacy, and challenging the squareness of a stifling time. The Real Animal House is the perfect antidote for a conventional age much like today.
"A breezy, chuckle-worthy read, and a must for the Animal House fan." -Courier-Post
"Action-packed. . . . A boozy holler of a book, with a great soundtrack." -Kirkus Reviews
"A seriously funny read. . . . The joy and exuberance that Pinto and his pals demonstrate holds a lesson for every generation that needs to learn not to blindly follow the expectations of parents and guidance counselors, but to seek out those blissful bands of merry misfits that appear from time to time." -Review
|Publisher:||Little, Brown and Company|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 1.00(d)|
About the Author
Chris Miller is a screenwriter who was the story-writer in residence at National Lampoon for 25 years. A former ad man, he now lives in Venice, California.
Read an Excerpt
The Real Animal House
By Chris Miller
Copyright © 2006
All right reserved.
Ye Nob Hill Inn
"THE MOST IMPORTANT THING when you go to college," Ace Kendall
declared, "the single most important thing"- he paused for effect
-"is never, ever to join a fraternity."
I shifted in my seat. Ace's assertions were making me uncomfortable.
They tended to do that. "Yeah, well, easy for you to say. They don't
have fraternities where you go. At Dartmouth, that's all there is."
"Hey, man, go hiking. Write a poem. Plant a tree. There're all kinds
of things to do without wasting your time drunk in some smelly
frat-house basement." When Ace smiled, he looked like a devil, only
a blond one.
"Ace, what are you talking about? You're drunk now. You like being
"True, but this isn't a fraternity. This is Ye Nob Hill Inn." Indeed
it was. The jukebox, with its great forties jazz sides, was blasting
away. Jan the bartendress was shaking up drinks. The electric
Ballantine beer sign was making its bouncy arcs of color on the
wall. Having all recently turned eighteen, my three best high school
friends and I were ensconced in a booth, drinking beer and smoking
"And," Ace went on, "I'm with friends I chose. Guys I came to know
naturally, over four years at Roslyn High. Unlike in a fraternity,
where you have to like whoever they pledge, whetheryou really do or
"Ace, what is this animus toward fraternities?" said Josh. "Can't
you ever live and let live?" Josh, up at Rochester, was already in a
house, one of the Jewish ones. He was a weight lifter who made fun
of weight lifting. Still, he enjoyed it when his highly developed
pecs, abs, biceps, triceps, lats, and what-have-you drew attention
on the street.
"Oh, he's just trying to be boho." Froggie, in his Ivy League
clothes and Ivy League haircut, looked like a model in a J. Press
catalog. He was quoting what some dopey girl at a party one night
had said when Ace attempted to recite Beat poetry. He hadn't gotten
Now, as then, Ace chose to ignore the comment. "I'll tell you. But
first ..." He signaled to Jan, who came right over. She was large
and hearty. She and her husband, Eddie, ran the joint. Eddie looked
like Jack Teagarden. Jan was Rocky Graziano with breasts.
"Hey, check it out." She nodded at the elevated TV, where Douglas
Edwards was delivering the late news. "Man's got a badbreath face."
I considered it. Yes, by God, Douglas Edwards did have a badbreath
face. It was something about his lips. Jan was often perceptive this
Ace ordered another round and Jan went off to get it. "Okay,
fraternities. You have to be a conformist, man."
"You're right," said Josh. "Every last guy in my house is a Yid."
"You know what I mean." Ace touched his soul patch reflexively with
an index finger. "Plus, they discriminate. They're breeding grounds
for prejudice and elitism. Bet you don't have any Negroes. Bet you
don't have any guys with beards."
"We took a quadruple amputee last month, though," Josh said. "And
there's this ax murderer we have our eye on."
"At Amherst," Froggie put in self-righteously, "there's at least one
dwarf in every house."
"I stand by my point," said Ace. "If you're black, or weird, or, you
know, a homo or something, you don't get into a house."
"A homo?" the rest of us cried. "Sure," Ace said. "They can't help
being homos. Black guys can't help being black guys. Why shouldn't
they get in fraternities too?"
I myself would soon have to decide about joining one. It was not an
easy choice, and Ace's assertions were making it harder. But - "Ace,
Dartmouth is this little island in the middle of nowhere. I don't
need to plant trees - there's millions of them. Plus, the closest
girls' school is an hour away. Half the time we're buried under
blizzards. How am I supposed to live as an independent up there? If
I joined a house, I might have some fun. You know, friends? Parties?
Rock 'n' roll?"
"But those things are the bait, man. It's how they lure you in ...
and then, whomp, the jaws close and you're lost! First thing you
know you're a corporate robot in a gray flannel suit who does what
he's told, has two and a half kids, and lives in the suburbs. In a
house made out of ticky-tacky!"
I shook my head. "That's bullshit. I'm never going to do that. I
just - Ace, listen. My freshman year was horrible. They put me in a
dorm room with these two guys - one never talked about anything but
sports and the other didn't talk at all. They didn't know anything
about what's cool. I'd mention the Five Satins, and Brad thought I
was talking about a basketball team and Isaac just looked at me. I
want to have some fun up there, you know?"
Jan arrived with the beer and Ace took a drink. "Look, you're not
going to find many Five Satins fans at Dartmouth anyway. It's
totally Republican up there. They probably listen to Dixieland or
Glenn Miller or something. Now at Grinnell we have these hoots -"
"'Hoots'?" said Josh.
"Owl music," said Froggie. "It's very now." "Hootenannies, you
shitheads. Folk music! And we visit Negro churches and get to know
the, uh, Negroes who, you know, sing spirituals and stuff there. I
met great Negroes last semester." I sighed. Meeting great Negroes
was fine by me, especially if the Negro in question happened to be
Bo Diddley or one of my other musical heroes, almost all of whom
were black. For rock 'n' roll was the very defining influence of my
being. Nothing was more important than this musical gift from the
gods that had arrived in New York, along with redoubtable disc
jockey Alan Freed, back in late '54. But I wasn't sure there were
any Negroes in New Hampshire, much less ones with electric guitars.
The life Ace was talking about would be fine if you were going to
school in Alabama or Los Angeles or even here on Long Island, but at
Dartmouth? It was different up there.
And now, somehow, summer vacation was all but over. I'd finished my
swell job with the Roslyn school system - cleaning desks and toilets
with the school janitors - a week ago. The day after tomorrow I'd be
returning for my sophomore year, which began with this horrible
thing called rush, the process that sorted the majority of Dartmouth
guys into one or another of the school's twentyfour fraternities and
left the rest high and dry, condemned to three years of unaffiliated
assholehood. This latter category would include guys with grave zit
problems; or breath that was like poison gas; or glasses so thick
they magnified their eyes, making them resemble Mr. Toad; and, well,
yeah, Negroes, although there were only three of them allowed per
class, which meant a grand total of twelve in the whole school at
any given time, and some of those were African. And homos? At
Dartmouth? As far as I knew, I'd never actually met a homo. They
were really rare, as I understood it, maybe only one guy in a
thousand. So of which group would I be a part - the conformist,
square, yet fun-loving fraternity guys? Or the wretched social
outcasts? It wasn't much of a choice.
"You know," Ace said to me, "Kerouac and Ginsberg and Cassady never
joined fraternities. Look at the fun they had."
It was true - being on the road and smoking gage and digging starry
dynamos sounded extremely cool. But there again, gage at Dartmouth
was probably rarer than homos. What would work for Ace at Grinnell
seemed impossible at the Big Green.
"Maybe so," said Josh to Ace. "Maybe I should be like you and sing
folk music and integrate Negroes. But you know what? I got laid last
spring. Did you?"
Ace flapped his mouth once or twice. "Well, uh, I got a hand job
from this chick behind the kiln ..."
"I rest my case." Josh returned to his beer, his biceps flexing
prodigiously as he brought it to his mouth.
And there, it seemed to me, was the crux of the matter. Even if it
took becoming a corporate robot, getting laid was number one. I
gazed at girls as a man obsessed. If fraternities were the road to
that, I'd join in a minute. The key thing to be striven for in life,
I felt, almost as important as listening to rock 'n' roll, was
continuous sexual activity with every beautiful woman I could find.
"Ace, I don't know. Folk music doesn't exist at Dartmouth. If you
read poetry, they think you're weird. What if I did join a house?"
"You might be sorry," Ace said quietly. "Or he might have a ball,"
said Froggie. "And get laid and blown," put in Josh.
On the TV was that senator, Kennedy, who was running for president.
They watched awhile. Actually a pretty cool-looking guy, I thought.
Sharp dresser. The fraternity subject slipped away now and we united
in laughter and the verbal play, punctuated by expressions of sexual
yearning, that had gotten us through high school. Eventually, Jan
threw us out so she could close. With many slurred assertions of
undying friendship in the parking lot, we bade each other farewell
until Thanksgiving and drove in our separate directions. I made it
home without mishap, hit the sack, and dreamed I was a corporate
robot, marching with thousands of other corporate robots off a cliff
and into a sea of beer.
Excerpted from The Real Animal House
by Chris Miller
Copyright © 2006 by Chris Miller.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I thought this would be full of hilarious hi-jinks and college pranks. It turned out to be 90% drinking, peeing and puking, 9% sex, and 1% pranks. More annoying and disgusting than funny. Unless you're a college freshman who loves to drink yourself to unconsciousness on a nightly basis, avoid.
I enjoyed the movie years ago. Still as someone said, what you thought was funny when you were twenty is not the same when you are forty. I am seventy plus. I once said I could relate to this movie, but I never joined a fraternity so this life is new to me. I think if you are or were big into fraternities it would be a great book.
If you know and love National Lampoon's Animal House as much as I do, then all you need to really know here is that Chris Miller was Pinto. Dartmouth College's Alpha Delta Phi fraternity was the primary inspiration for the movie, and there really was an Otter (he looked like an Otter, not like Tim Matheson). This book is Miller's fond look back at the fountainhead of his mythic undergraduate years in the zoo fraternity that inspired Animal House. Miller was the co-author of the movie with Lampoon magazine founder, the late great Doug Kenney and the celebrated comedy director and screenwriter/actor Harold Ramis. This book is a must read for Animal House fans and for readers who enjoy ribald humor and early 60's nostalgia. A terrific read.