After almost a half century of performing, David Hasselhoff has decided to try his hand at writing. Rather than follow in the footsteps of less-inspired aging stars with some messy, self-involved tell-all, Hasselhoff determined to try his hand at fiction a la (no judgment) Bill O’Reilly. The result is Up Against the Wall, an Audible exclusive that hinges entirely on the performance of its narrator — who also happens to be David Hasselhoff.
Welcome to Berlin in the waning days of the Cold War, seen through the eyes of a vacuous TV star. Buckle up; shit is about to get real, real weird.
I Got This Book Free!
Before we dive in, full disclosure: I was fortunate enough to receive a free copy of Up Against the Wall from the kind folks at Audible.com. In no way, shape, or form did I guarantee them a positive (or even a polite) review.
In fact, when I saw the words “David,” “Hasselhoff,” “Cold,” “War,” and “thriller,” all in the same sentence, my inner jerk stood at attention and immediately began putting together jokes about “Atomic Hoff.”
I reasoned that slamming the audiobook might very well be the end of my free books from Audible, but who could really take such a silly premise seriously? As it happens, the answer is no one. No one could possibly drop David Hasselhoff into such a deadly serious environment without cracking a smile or two. That’s the whole point (and charm) of Up Against the Wall, a thoroughly enjoyable listen propelled by velvet-voiced crooner and slow-motion runner extraordinaire, David Hasselhoff.
And, believe me, no one paid me to say that.
A Dark Night on the Wrong Side of the Wall
The story begins as a rote Cold War thriller Hasselhoff might have once made as a made-for-TV movie around the same time he was patching up as the first Nick Fury.
In the closing days of the Cold War, a pack of rogue Soviets aims to set off a nuke in East Berlin to keep the party rolling. To stop the baddies and put the kibosh on hostilities, the CIA sends in super spy Nick Harper. (Yes, Nick Harper, because Brock Stonejaw was too on the nose.)
Harper gets his mission to stop these nefarious fellas using — Dunh. Dunh. DUNH! — any means necessary, and it’s off to the Soviet side of the Berlin Wall, a place where happiness goes to commit suicide. The first chapter or so of Up Against the Wall goes like that. Cards on the table, it is a yawn and a half. Then, a miracle happens.
After getting accosted by a group of armed security personnel, Nick Harper finds himself fleeing through the streets of Berlin, only to be rescued by a fan of American-actor-turned-German-heartthrob David Hasselhoff. As it happens, Mr. Harper is a dead ringer for the Hoff. The only appreciable physical differences between David Hasselhoff and Nick Harper (as the narrator will repeatedly tell you) is that the government agent is shorter and less attractive. His jaw is less defined, too.
See, in 1989, David Hasselhoff was a legit superstar on both sides of the Berlin Wall (he outsold Michael Jackson during the Thriller days), so there was literally an army of average German people ready to stick their necks out to lend old Knight Rider a hand.
Seriously, it’s hard to understate how big a star David Hasselhoff was in Berlin during the late-80s. Just watch this crowd of people at the Berlin Wall lose their minds because David-freaking-Hasselhoff is about to start singing (in a suit made of lights no less):
Anyway, I digress. Super spy (and less-attractive Hasselhoff lookalike) Nick Harper just got rescued by a wannabe Hasselhoff groupie. Around that same time, Hasselhoff himself decides to take a sightseeing trip through East Berlin before a show. A quick drink in a bar later and suddenly Hoff has been confused for his counterpart and half-yanked into a tale of espionage with international implications.
‘Up Against the Wall’ Starring David H., as Read by the Hoff
The core of the audiobook’s appeal is its performer, writer, and star: David Hasselhoff. As the book’s narrator, David Hasselhoff becomes not one, but two characters — the doofus walking through the story in 1989 and the pompous dillhole working overtime to protect the reputation of the Hoff. The result is genre-bending hilarity.
Here is Hasselhoff at his best, lacing Up Against the Wall with his patented tongue-in-cheek bravado. When superstar David Hasselhoff is introduced into the events, for example, he’s a self-important dolt concerned with getting laid and preserving the moneymaker. When narrator Hasselhoff recounts incidents in which he was supposedly attacked, the former Knight Rider star almost sounds belligerent. Why, after all, would anyone want to harm the man who wrote, “Looking for Freedom?”
Throughout, Up Against the Wall is elevated thanks to the delicate relationship between solipsistic Hasselhoff as lead character, aging lothario Hasselhoff as narrator, and writer Hasselhoff who thinks of both of those other guys are total dicks. Just try to keep it together when a super-dose of truth serum prompts Hasselhoff to break into a very deep character history of Mitch Buchanan.
‘Today We Burn the Balls of a Hero.’
After a masterfully-calculated slow start, Up Against the Wall morphs into a charming combination The Man Who Knew Too Little and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, propelled by Hasselhoff’s fascinating performance, and the actor/author’s willingness to cloak himself in his public image while simultaneously holding himself up for mockery.
With each new chapter, Up Against the Wall gets further away from what you’re expecting, blending into a gleefully self-indulgent pseudo-memoir about the time David Hasselhoff saved the mother-fucking planet.
Up Against the Wall is available now on Audible, and it’s worth eight hours of your time.