Thursday, April 14, 2016

Bibliovile: Obama's America and A Very Merry Christmas

              Exciting news! We’ve started a podcast, it’s on Soundcloud, here. We use a $30 microphone to record it in our walk-in closet, so take it all with a grain of salt. We’ve also never done anything like this before, so also take that with a grain of salt. Just, a whole heaping bowl of salt.

Sue: Obama’s America, by Dinesh D’Souza

              The Anti-Colonial Argument
              It took a long time for me to actually get into this book, because instead of getting fired up or defensive about the points that Dinesh D’Souza makes in Obama’s America, my main reaction was, “I agree with your thesis, but instead of being outraged, I think it’s a good thing.” So basically I’m not the target audience for this shit-show. In Obama’s America, D’Souza’s main thesis is that President Obama operates from an anti-colonial lens, and that he no longer wants America to dominate and control other countries. I agree with this. D’Souza is furious about this, because in his opinion, America needs to retain its place at the top through economic and military control. I do not agree with this. D’Souza is convinced that Obama’s anti-colonial beliefs will lead him to purposely bring America into decline, lower the standard of living for all American citizens and making us vulnerable to attack. I think this is insane. Again, not the target audience.
It's on the right side of the screen, too



              President Obama’s anti-colonial policies, according to D’Souza, will decline the American standard of living “relative to the rest of the industrialized and industrializing world. . . The United States will lose power and influence. The United States will continue to be a world leader, but it will no longer be the boss” (p. 31). Again, I don’t see the problem. D’Souza argues that our standard of living will decrease in relation to other countries, not in comparison to where it currently is. It’s not that we will become poorer, but rather that other countries will be less poor. We’ll continue our current way of life, but others may not be living in abject poverty in comparison. Call me crazy, but isn’t that a good thing? We can be successful while other countries are also successful. It doesn’t have to be an all or nothing game…
              And if our standard of living is about to decline, it clearly won’t be too devastating. That is, at least according to the quote below from D’Souza,
“People who are used to going on vacation to Europe are going to have to vacation near their homes, or camp in the backyard. Indeed, it will be more common to see foreigners vacationing in America than to see America vacationing abroad. Americans will have to become accustomed to eating at home rather than eating out. If things get bad enough, families may have to ration how often they eat meat. Indeed, Americans will have to endure the unfamiliar sight of Chinese, Brazilian, and Indian visitors occupying the best tables in the best American restaurants. Americans will start going abroad to study, and find that they may have to learn Mandarin Chinese or Hindi in order to improve their job prospects. Moreover, American popular culture will lose its global appeal, since America will cease to be associated with what is new and rich and cool. Even more significant, the average size of the American home, which has been growing since WWII, is likely to start shrinking… All of this may sound like a nightmare scenario, yet there is nothing dreamlike or imaginary about it. Some of it is already happening, as suggested by a headline in the Wall Street Journal, “Foreigners Snap Up Properties in the US” (p. 199).

              Vacationing in America!? The horror! And let’s be honest, the majority of us aren’t eating at restaurants that have designated ‘good tables.’ If D’Souza is, he made way too much money on this book. And for a former president of a four-year private college, D’Souza doesn’t understand much about college students, because students are already studying abroad and learning Mandarin Chinese. When the majority of the world population speaks a language, it’s a pretty good business plan to learn it. That’s why most countries teach their students English. We’re just finally catching up!
              D’Souza is most critical of President Obama’s anti-colonial policies when it comes to foreign policy and defense. Quoting Obama and the Middle East, “US influence… is at its lowest point since the beginning of the Cold War in the late 1940s. America’s ability to dictate policy in the Middle East has diminished considerably, and it no longer determines the course of events in the region. America’s moment is coming to an end” (p. 174). Again… Yeah. Good. Why do we need to be in control of the entire world? Why don’t we focus on our own problems and let countries in the Middle East take care of their own affairs? Why is a declining ability to dictate foreign policy a bad thing? D’Souza is also outraged by President Obama’s disarmament policy regarding nuclear weapons. He disagrees with the president’s philosophy, arguing that the best way to ensure peace is by increasing our supply of nuclear weapons, not decreasing it. I find this entire argument ludicrous, because let’s be honest, if anyone in the world fires a nuclear weapon, we’re all going to die in a hurry, so what’s the point in arguing semantics?
              The most appalling party of D’Souza’s colonialist argument is in his final chapter; in which he has the gall to argue that colonialism was a good thing for the colonized peoples. Using Mohamed Ali as an example, D’Souza says, “[Colonialism] was the transmission belt that brought black and brown and yellow people into the orbit of Western prosperity and Western freedom. It brought them into the modern world… Modernity is a gift from the West to the rest of the world.” D’Souza goes on to elaborate that being kidnapped from their families and sold into slavery on a different continent was probably difficult for those individuals three or four generations ago, but now their descendants are living a happy and prosperous lifestyle, clearly not facing racism, discrimination, or any other psychological impacts. The most astounding part of this to me is that this man is from India! He grew up in a country that has been colonized, and is part of a culture that has been suffering the effects of colonization! And he thinks that colonization is a good thing! Ugh, I just don’t get it.

Ridiculous Statements
              The best part of reading this book was finding some little gems that were just plain ridiculous. Some of my favorites are listed here:
              “There are still gaps in his personal story. I am not speaking here of the so-called birther issue, whether Obama was born in the United States. That issue is a distraction from other aspects of Obama’s life that remain obscure. For instance, no one has revealed Obama’s SAT score for getting into college, or his grades at Columbia University, or his LSAT score for getting into law school” (p. 19). Why is any of this information relevant? What could we possibly gain by knowing the number assigned to our President after he took a standardized test at the age of seventeen? What value information does that provide to our country?
              “Obama is an intellectual. He’s just too cerebral, preoccupied with scholarly ideas. Jacob Weisberg remarks, ‘His relationship with the world is primarily rational and analytical rather than intuitive or emotional’” (p. 24).  You’re right, D’Souza. The absolute last thing I want the leader of the free world to be is rational.

              Despite his proclivity for tossing insults around to others, it seems as though D’Souza responds criticism toward himself in the same way that an eight-year-old would. On page 39, D’Souza spends a solid half of a page whining about the mean things that critics said about his book. He was particularly offending by Maureen Dowd’s comment that he is “Ann Coulter-in-pants,” and Keith Olbermann’s observation that he is the “second worst person in the world.” Don’t worry, D’Souza, it could have been worst. They could have implied that you were a rational and analytical intellectual. That would have been the worst insult of all.
              The pictures featured in the book are ridiculous as well… The final one is a shot of a man holding a garbage bag and a suitcase, with the caption, “[If Obama is re-elected], this homeless man in Tupelo, Mississippi may no longer be an aberration. America in 2016 may be facing not just ‘decline’ but rather ‘collapse.’” First of all, why the quotations around the words decline and collapse? Second, it’s 2016 now and the apocalypse has not yet occurred, exposing D’Souza to be the fear monger that he’s been the whole time.  
              In the chapter about Obama’s mother, D’Souza complains that she gave her son a false image of his father, telling young Barack that her father was “principled” and “uncompromising,” and trying to instill those same qualities in her son. According to D’Souza, this was a mistake. Apparently Ann Obama should have told her five-year-old that his father was a drunk and a philanderer, because that’s a totally appropriate thing for a mom to tell her kindergartener. Of all the ridiculous things that D’Souza argues in this book, this might be one of the most ridiculous.
              “What American would not rather buy from the Canadians than from Hugo Chavez in Venezuela or from the Muslims of the Middle East?” (p. 141). Yeah! At least the Canadians are white!
              In chapter 8, D’Souza references an article published in 1965 by Barack Obama Sr. In this article, Obama argues that the people should work together to eliminate power structures controlled by a small number of people who control the vast majority of resources. He argues that the wellbeing of society should be prioritized over the commercial freedom of a few, and that the government should step in to regulate such things. D’Souza is absolutely appalled by this article, even going so far as to say, “It’s remarkable that this paper by Obama Senior has gotten so little media coverage. One would expect it to be on the front page of every newspaper and a lead item on the evening news, especially during public debates in America over taxes and massive government intervention in the health care and financial sectors” (p. 129). Clearly the fact that the media isn’t reporting on a fifty-year-old article written by the president’s estranged father is a conspiracy of the liberal media, and not just the fact that people don’t care.
              “It may seem odd for Americans to hear others – let alone their president – think of their country as an evil empire. We don’t consider our nation, for all its flaws, to be a rogue nation. That’s a term we associate with Iran or North Korea. Those are, after all, the bad guys” (p. 148). WHAT. IS THIS A COMIC BOOK SERIES? THIS IS REAL LIFE, NOT THE SUICIDE SQUAD. THE WORLD IS NOT DIVIDED INTO GOOD GUYS AND BAD GUYS. PRETTY SURE THE FOLKS IN IRAN OR NORTH KOREA WOULD CONSIDER US THE BAD GUYS. Also, when has President Obama ever referred to the United States as an evil empire? You can’t just make this stuff up!

Things That Are Just Straight-Up Offensive
              In addition to being awful and illogical in numerous other ways, D’Souza also happens to be incredibly racist, sexist, homophobic, and otherwise offensive throughout the content of the book. He starts off his series of offensive statements in a big way in a chapter about President Obama’s youth, saying, “Obama’s actual background includes a pet ape and a transvestite nanny. He has relatives who, in keeping with Luo tribal custom, have their six front teeth removed; a father who has four wives and eight known children – none of which he looked after – and a mother who sent him to America at the age of ten while she lived the rest of her life as a Bohemian academic in Indonesia.” Now, Dinesh, it doesn’t seem entirely fair to blame the President for having an odd family. We all have those relatives we’d rather not talk about, and even the Commander in Chief is no exception. Also, I would  like to make note of the fact that I strongly disapprove of the word ‘transvestite.’ If you’re talking about transgender folk, please use the appropriate terminology and pronouns. And if it isn’t absolutely necessary to discuss a person’s gender or gender-conformity (hint: it rarely is), then you should really just go ahead and avoid the topic altogether. I’m looking at you, D’Souza.
              D’Souza keeps the insult parade going in a chapter focusing on President Obama’s mother, Ann Obama. While discussing Ms. Obama’s life in Indonesia, the author leaves us with this little gem, “Ann’s sexual adventuring may seem a little surprising in view of the fact that she was a large woman who kept getting larger” (p. 62). DON’T FAT SHAME, IT’S NOT NICE. ALSO DON’T SLUT SHAME. IT’S NOT NICE EITHER. For real though, who the hell cares whether Ann Obama slept with anyone in Indonesia? Whether she did or didn’t that’s her prerogative, no one needs to get up in her business. And sexual proclivity aside, who are you to say that fat people shouldn’t get laid! No one asked you, D’Souza!
              The author doesn’t reserve the insults and offensive comments for members of the president’s immediate family; he makes sure to throw plenty of shade toward the big man himself. This one really stuck out to me, “If you review pictures of Obama from his student years, he looks like a disheveled urban thug” (p. 112). Man, D’Souza, you are not pulling any punches! Going straight for the racially charged insults! Other words used to describe Obama include, “multicultural,” and “diverse,” always in quotations.

Things I Would Push Back Against
              “Education at the grade school level is already under government control – and largely for this reason, it is a mess” (p. 135).
              “Upon returning from Kenya, he had improved his appearance. Now he stopped smoking in public and began using a Midwestern accent. Obama says this himself, ‘The fact that I conjugate my verbs and speak in a typical Midwestern newscaster voice – there’s no doubt that this helps ease communication between myself and white audiences. And there’s no doubt that when I’m with a black audience, I slip into a slightly different dialect;” (p. 117). Yeah. It’s called code switching, and pretty much anyone who speaks multiple dialects or languages does it. Code-switching is essentially just the idea that you speak differently based on the group of people that you’re talking to, which makes perfect logical sense.
Barack Obama (D'Souza's rendering)

              “The vast majority of whites… reject the ideology of white supremacy. Their moral code is anti-racist. They don’t just want to avoid being perceived as racist; they don’t like to think of themselves as racist. Again, this says something good about America – it is a measure of genuine racial progress. It also says something good about white people – they want to bring their thoughts and actions into line with their anti-racist moral code. But here the plot thickens, because blacks know this, and the white need for racial vindication provides blacks with a source of political and financial opportunity. White guilt… is the real source of black power” (p. 119). D’Souza goes on to argue that black people capitalize on white guilt in two different ways: by being the challenger or the bargainer. The challenger, according to D’Souza, “forages for opportunities to cry racism,” in order to ruin the reputation of white people. The bargainer will make a deal with whites by giving them the benefit of the doubt and assuming they are not racist, in return for white appreciation. Obama is a bargainer, and that is why Americans voted him into office. He helps alleviate the white guilt felt by Americans, and so they voted for him.

The end. I'm done. The book's bad. He's bad. It's all bad.

Mick: A Very Merry Christmas, Various Authors

              For this week’s Terrible Book Exchange, Sue and I had a bit of a disagreement. When I saw the book she’d picked for me, A Very Merry Christmas, I shook my head with a tinge of pity. Oh Sue. Another romance book. I was going to become inured to the genre. It was nothing like my genius, a man who accuses the sitting president of being corrupt and later goes to jail for fraud, I thought. Surely, I have won this round.

              But no. I looked closer at the book. It isn’t one big sex novel. It’s three short sex novellas. Each one is about 100 paperback pages long, and each one is worse than the last. It really makes a guy wish for How to Marry a Duke. Sue had presented me with a Christmas-themed, sex-focused, triple-threat of garbage. She won, and hard.
              First of all, you know how libraries will have stickers on the spines of their books so you can grab one from a genre you like? Like how a little man in a hat with a magnifying glass will tell you it’s a mystery novel, or an empty pair of boots lets you know it’s a western? Well, this spine has a pine tree on the sticker. Are there really enough books taking place during Christmas that it needs its own genre? A Wonderful Life: A Novelization, this ain’t. Of course, I don’t think polite society would like a pictographic representation of the special type of romance this book presents. Dick romance.
              I don’t think we’re giving this book enough credit. It’s a sex book. Centered around Christmas. Is there some sort of Kris Kringle fetish that I was unaware of? More like Daddy Christmas. More like XXX-Mas. I guess we found out the true reason for the season. Gives a new meaning to “O, Tenenbaum”! Ain’t no silent nights in this book! Bet that Rudolf is now the Red- alright let’s move on.
              Since there are THREE books inside this one book, we need to break them down one by one. They get worse as they go, actually. By the time I was reading the third, I was longing for the relative hilarity I felt for the first.

              “Do You Hear What I Hear,” by Lori Foster

The holiday season heats up when Sergeant Osbourne Decker is asked to watch over pet psychic Marci Churchill. Sure, the woman is nutty, but she’s also a knockout. And when she’s accused of stealing a donkey from the local nativity scene, he can’t stop thinking about frisking her…

              Lori gets top billing and headlines with this sacri-luscious start to our endeavor. She doesn’t waste any time; the first sentence of this book is the main character, Osbourne Decker, responding to a SWAT call for a hostage crisis. A lesson in hooking readers here, kids. With a hundred pages, you don’t have time to waste on that petty establishment or character development or realistic portrayals of time, as we’ll continue to learn.
              Or time for anything that isn’t boning, since the FOURTH sentence of the book is the resolution to that crisis. Everyone’s fine. Welp, that went well.
              He returns to the station to find his partner (in the force, not in life), Lucius Ryder who is somehow NOT the sex protagonist. The name "Lucius Ryder" would seem a little too on the nose for fainting couch pornography. Ryder wants Decker to hunt down replicants take care of his sister’s crazy twin sister while they’re out of town. Guess what; the twin is crazy hot! And crazy crazy, but, in a fun way.
              Decker is nonplussed at this proposal, because one of Ryder’s rules is that they can’t bone. I wish that the character would just say “Yeah right, this is a sex book, we’re obviously gonna bone” and suddenly found I’ve got a fourth-wall breaking fetish. He’s also, get this, got a humongous donger. So much so, that his partner can’t help but comment on it when he gets a boner from talking about this girl. Maybe I was wrong about this whole “partner” thing.
              So, anyway, blah blah blah, he goes over to her place, they immediately start making out because who needs building desire, they’re gonna bone, she’s stolen a donkey, they can’t make it- and what? The donkey thing? Oh, she’s like, an animal psychic or something and it turns out she’s just restealing the donkey from a nativity scene (it’s near Christmas remember), and is keeping it in her bedroom until she can find its true home.
Get it cause it's a donkey

              Look, it’s really dumb, but I don’t mind it. It’s a Christmas themed sex book. You wanna have a donkey in your room and play it for laughs? I dig it. It’s blissfully stupid and weird and doesn’t make sense. Go ahead. But we need to talk about your word choice.
              Another weird through line you’ll see in this review is the disregard for using word choice to set a true mood. In this book, blissfully dumb, we get “The chemistry between them was enough to choke a bear” which is either a mixed metaphor or more about Decker’s huge wiener. The woman, Marci, is so horned up by this guy that she wants to be “the most flagrant hoochie imaginable”. Then he is described as “eating at her mouth” which whaaaaaaaat. That’s within three pages of each other. She says his name so many times, non-climax, it’s like she’s working on becoming a people person.
              All of the conflicts in this book arise and are resolved with such speed, it’s confusing as to why they’re brought up in the first place. Uh oh! Marci’s being stalked! Oh, it’s a reporter. Oh no! He’s called to a hostage crisis, which, in the middle of this really dumb, fun book, is A RAPE VICTIM AND HER ABUSER WHICH IS SUCH A TONAL LEFT TURN EVEN JEFF GORDON WOULD HAVE TROUBLE ADJUSTING. Don’t worry, he busts in and shoots the dude. Not to death. From mission briefing to shots fired is less than two pages.
              Things I did not mention in this for lack of space: His dead grandmother, the donkey’s return, more about his giant wiener, her disbelief at what an orgasm is, her uselessness post-coitus, her stream-of-consciousness to a dog to reveal her motivations, the second, abused dog the couple gets, his wiener, more doing it.
              And welp, they’re in forever love and get engaged by the end of this book spoiler alert. The end Merry Christmas.

              “Bah, Humbug Baby,” by Gemma Bruce

The last thing ad exec Allison Newberry wants this year is to spend the holidays with her former flame, the unreliable-but-sexier-than-hell photojournalist Lee Simonson. Hang stockings? She’d rather hang him. But when a blizzard hits their ski lodge, there seems to be only one way to keep warm…

              Gemma Bruce, her About the Author page says, is actually the alter ego of a popular mystery writer. Did anyone check for writers named Bruce Gemma? Also, a fake name for romance novels should be called a nom de poon.
              This novella, no joke, is exactly what I was hoping would happen at some point in a Terrible Book Exchange. This book functions just well enough to be readable, moves just quick enough to not throw it away. And it. Is. AWFUL. It’s the Space Mutiny of books. The cameras work but the shots are nonsensical. The actors can act, but the words they’re saying are laughable. You can follow the plot, but where it takes you is absolutely ridiculous. I loved every second of reading this book. Everyone should read this book.
              With no pages to spare except for all of the ones spent on much-more-explicit sex, the book starts like a freakin’ romcom trailer. This is the first line introducing the penile lead: “Lee Simonson had learned early in life not to trust his family.” He’s a fly-by-night award winning photographer who can’t stand commitment! The vaginal lead is an overworked ad executive who needs to plan everything! Wackiness is sure to ensue.
              They’ve been tricked into sharing a ski lodge together by their families who want to get the two of them back together, since their relationship ended so genially, with a screaming match in an airport.
              Wouldn’t you just know it, a blizzard happens along to cover the picturesque town of Good Cheer, Colorado. There’s no way out, especially since Lee tries and literally crashes his SUV and just kind of walks back and shrugs it off.
              They hate each other for the requisite amount of time and then bone. Their foreplay is him rubbing his bare, possibly frost-bitten feet along her neck and down her robe? His toes are deft enough to curl her hair and his calf is flexible enough that the front of his foot is able to slip down her robe. Picture that in your mind. How does a foot fit into the back of a robe when a leg is still attached to it? Romance novelists don’t let things like physical mechanics or portrayals of time get in the way of doin’ it. Then she squeezes his calf, the universal sign of “let’s do it” and not “holy crap your foot is quite literally freezing, please don’t touch it to my bare back.”
              Speaking of bareback
              No just kidding. They bone, then bone, and bone again. Why are men’s wieners ALWAYS “cocks” and why are their cocks ALWAYS “jumping to attention”? That phrase was in all three of these books at least once.
              They fall asleep together and wake up the next morning. A jolly man, Chris Olsen, owner of the bar in town, bearded, kinda pudgy, ya know, wink wink, stops by and explains that the town is totally snowed in and that they’re stuck. Thanks for the visit, Exposition Santa!
              They go into town and are totally charmed by the charming charmers of this quaint little charming town. Shops! Kids! Puppies! It’s got everything you need in a romantic romping-through-the-snow montage. I know what you’re thinking and yes, there is a snowball fight with small children. Maybe, think both of our characters, they actually CAN love each other. I mean, if a town can be this charming, anything’s possible!
              Then they go back to banging. They bang six times in two days. What are their spongy and bruised bodies doing in between? Well, we don’t really know. They cease to exist in the space between sex scenes, it seems.
              Oh, wait, there’s too much happiness and not enough conflict. Um, uh, um, the author stammers, looking around, how about, like, they want to get married?
              Ew gross, both of them suddenly decide, and for no reason at all, get overly mad at each other. Oh, but don’t worry, they explain their character flaws and motivations, hash out to the reader why their relationship didn’t work before, and then decide maybe they can make it work.
              Shit, um, ten pages until quota. Um, uh. CUTE CHILDREN GO MISSING. Yeah. Christmas morning, the kids from the charming town charm themselves right into a missing persons file. Of course, our two leads have to help look for them. Lee takes his camera, because he is that stereotype. Ally goes off alone, a brilliant idea in a search party environment.
              Oh man, missing kids in a sex book? This has everything. What if they’re like, really hurt and we get to see the physical attraction between our characters buckle as they face real emotional distress and- oh wait Allison found them three pages after losing them. They are in a cave. The boy’s leg is hurt, for reasons. They were in the cave because- well, um, see, they like to… hide presents? Up there? To keep people from peeking? Yeah, that’s the type of stupid shit kids do, yeah, it’ll work.
              Oh damn um still five pages left uh avalanche over this cave lol yeah total big problem how are they gonna survive this and oh she’s out. Seriously. The mountain has an avalanche scene that’s resolved in TWO PARAGRAPHS. Why even add it?
              They finally escape from Good Cheer, Lee’s busted ass SUV totally forgotten. He develops his film and find that all his pictures are of empty store fronts. Of an avalanche scene but no crowd. No cute trio portrait of the two kids later to go missing and their dog. What’s going on?
              OH YEAH SON YOU BETTER BELIEVE THEY GO BACK TO THE TOWN AND IT TURNS OUT IT WAS A GHOST TOWN THE WHOLE TIME BEEN ABANDONED FOR THESE TWENTY-ODD YEARS

              THEY BONED IN AN ABANDONED HOUSE AND APPARENTLY ATE GHOST FOOD? OR SOMETHING THE ENTIRE TIME AND ALL OF THE PHYSICAL TANGIBLE THINGS THEY INTERACTED WITH OR THE FACT THAT HIS SUV IS ALSO NEVER MENTIONED AGAIN IS FINE BECAUSE IT’S A GHOST TOWN FOR LOVE REASONS
              Then they get engaged at the end Merry Christmas this book is amazing

“By Firelight”, by Janice Maynard (Heh, nard)

Madison Tierney is feeling anything but merry this Christmas. But when she gets stranded with mountain man Grant Monroe in his secluded cabin, she feels her Christmas spirit—and her temperature—start to rise. Grant has a tantalizing secret and what he asks Maddy to do by firelight sparks a Christmas adventure she’ll never forget…

              This book is the most threadbare excuse for sex. It would seem sudden and uninvolved as internet pornography. There is seriously no lead in to anything that happens and it just kind of putters along until it ends.
              Madison Tierney is hiking the Appalachian Trail. Around Christmas. Alone. Great start! Then a blizzard happens and she busts into a fortuitous cabin that happens to house a sexy sex man instead of a murderous backwoods moonshiner or something. She passes out, he gently undresses her to warm her up, and her first thoughts UPON REGAINING CONSCIOUSNESS are about her lackluster love life. This, I swear, is in context.
              “There had been a brief half hour when she faced the very real possibility that she was going to die. The knowledge had been sobering. She hadn’t been scared, not really, but she remembered feeling a searing regret that she was going to exit this earth without ever experiencing the kind of love the poets wrote about.” Then three more paragraphs about how love doesn’t exist and also she apologizes to the dog because there has to be a dog in every one of these stories like there’s some sort of style guide or something.
              She’s on the very real brink of freezing to death in a strange man’s cabin, all alone, thinking about how she prefers vibrators over men. Character motivations!
              I’m going to skip the deep dive into the summary. They want to bone, but he’s too honorable to bone after only 24 hours or whatever, so he asks her to get naked so he can paint her because he’s a painter? Then they do, and they have sex a bunch, play Scrabble (not kidding), and go to his family’s for actual Christmas together. Where he announces, not asks, announces that they’re engaged and gonna get married. The story ends with her reading her poem to him because remember that thing about love and poets from before? Well, actually, the book’s ironic climax (heh) is the poem. The book actually ends with the beginning of cunnilingus. Really left the reader with a sour taste in their okay folks let’s move along.
              The thing I want to talk about instead of the terrible, boring, go-nowhere plot of this book is how it feels like something I edited in my intro to creative writing courses. Better than some of the other pieces where they actually don’t make sense, but the ones that are just functional enough to pick apart instead of marking punctuation.
              The biggest thing about this book, and to a lesser extent the others in the collection, is that the author takes no stock of real life mechanics. There’s no effort to realize time, space, or arrangement. I don’t know if maybe my wiener is just a bit slow on the uptake or something, but son, blood’s got to flow into it before you’ve got a boner. It doesn’t pop up like a meat thermometer, like every single book seems to think. Nipples don’t flip to hard like a light switch, or those cheap rubber toys that were only 5 tickets at Chuck E. Cheese.
Not an accurate representation of human anatomy
              In this book, they are having a snowball fight. She runs out of snow, and wants to distract him or something? So she takes off her coat, her sweater, and her bra “in quick succession”. It’s presented in that fashion. Have you ever gotten undressed to go to the bathroom from being out in the snow? That takes forever! That would take a solid 45 seconds to do, not to mention ditching mittens so that you can actually work zippers and clasps and stuff. Do me a favor. Sit silently for 45 seconds. It’s a really long time. What is he doing while she’s undressing? There’s no like “What are you, uh, hon, it’s cold and-”. Nope. He’s just gone from existence while she fumbles with getting naked in the snow.
              Physical realities don’t play a part here either. The dolls that our author smooshes together while making kissing noises are like 3D rendered models, clipping into themselves and making sure they fit, glitches be damned.
              Manufactured conflict won’t work without enough skill to make it feel mildly real, because suddenly the characters are yelling at each other and then apologizing and I still have no idea why. Then they’re combing hair out of faces because that’s what you do when you’re pressing for info about people’s personal lives, and then they share all sorts of stuff and fall in love immediately and what.
              In addition, if you can’t write well enough to have noticeable body language cues and clear intentions outside of dialogue, don’t just shrug your shoulders and make them dialogue. Here are real questions the characters asked each other; “Are you interested in having sex with me?” and “Can I kiss you good night?” THAT ONE CAME AFTER SHE ASKED HIM TO BONE HER, LIKE READ SIGNS DUDE.
              Word choice, once again, is a cruel mistress. If you do it right, you can set a mood in only a couple words. The difference between a gasp and a cry can’t be overstated. But, no, in this book teeth both scrape wieners and mutilate lips. That is not the mood you want to set. Please describe to me what makes up a “truly noteworthy butt.” Our hero has one, apparently.
              They get engaged and Merry Christmas this one just kinda sucks



              As you choke down the special salty taste of this collection, you begin to notice some repeating themes. Hatred is really really close to bone town. Marriage is trivial at best. Scenes need scandalous language, not logical progression. And I’m closer to being published than I’d ever thought, if books like this can make it to market.

4 comments:

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  2. Long time reader, first time writer. Mick and Susan, hilarious, well written, and interesting blog post. Please keep writing them!

    Susan, you sent me down a D'Souza wiki-wormhole because I could not believe this guy was for real. Besides being an Indian-American for colonization, the element of D'Souza's past that is most telling is that his second marriage was officiated by Ted Cruz's father. How does anybody take this fella seriously? I'm curious, does D'Souza mention America's present cultural imperialism?

    Saint Mickolas, do you now have an appreciation for the genre's possibilities?

    For both, are you better or worse for having read these "books?"

    Judi Half Dench

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    1. Sorry, I didn't see this earlier! Obviously I can't answer for Sue, but I have to say, I'm much improved from this endeavor. As awful as each book is in the moment, finishing it and exercising the spite and fury I feel is really a zen kind of exercise. Like a calm with pearls, it takes an irritant to make something beautiful.

      Plus, they make me feel really good about my own creative writing. There's being inspired by good writing, but it's nothing like being driven to improve literature as a whole.

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