In How to Win at Life by Cheating at Everything ($14.99, Dark Horse), the debut novel from screenwriter Mark Perez, a grifter known to readers by the alias John Dough recounts his life and scams in how-to form. Dough is a master bullshitter who got in on the con game when he was a child and works his way up to the ultimate job: scamming an entire town. He details his plans, how to work the system and how to get people to believe that he is the “town savior.” It’s hard to read this book and not think about current U.S. politics. However, that wasn’t Perez’s inspiration.
Perez says that the muse for this tale was his dad, who came to the U.S. from Cuba at the age of 13. “He would always teach me to cheat,” Perez explains by phone from his home in Sherman Oaks. “I don’t mean that we were grifters and we were stealing, but if you could lie to your boss to get more miles on your car, if you could lie about this to get that, if you could do stuff to give yourself an edge in ways, my dad didn’t consider that cheating, he considered that winning. That’s what winners do.”
Yet, the author can see the similarities between what he refers to as the “warped philosophy” that he learned in his youth and what he calls the “winning is all that matters” attitude in D.C. politics. “I was always thinking about my dad and that philosophy that, if you’re not cheating, you’re not trying,” he says. But, Perez adds, “That’s America now. So what if I had that meeting or so what if this happened? I’m the boss. Or, I won and you didn’t.”
“I think it’s reflective of what’s going on today,” Perez says, even if he wasn’t thinking about politics when he was writing.
click here to read more.