Sunday, February 23, 2014

Taking My Victories Where I Can

First, a confession: I just now (well, yesterday), finished reading Jenny Lawson's Let's Pretend This Never Happened. Because I'm cheap and I waited for someone to buy it for me. And also because I could only read a chapter or two at a time before hyperventilating and being overcome by feelings of inferiority and depression and having to put it aside for a while. Because this is the book I always wanted to write and felt I could (except for the part about the dead-squirrel puppet), and the Bloggess has written it.

So it took a while to get through it, is what I'm saying.

But I cheered up a lot when I got to the end. I read the bonus chapter (you high-class early adopters who bought the hardback edition didn't get that, neener-neener), and the I read the acknowledgements, which were sweet and funny. And then I came to the Reader's Guide.

The freaking Reader's Guide.

Let's talk about book clubs.

I don't understand book clubs in the least. Regular readers likely have gleaned that I am not a joiner. I subscribe to Groucho Marx' credo of not wanting to belong to any club that would have me as a member. Also, the last time I volunteered for anything at my kid's school - as the result of a blatant dare by Precocious Daughter - God Himself sent an ice storm to North Texas so that the event for which I had volunteered to participate would be canceled.

God totally has my back. Thanks, God.
I really love the idea of sitting around and debating whatever book, movie, TV show, or current event I've recently been exposed to with friends and then getting bored and moving on to other things when I get bored (like work or taking care of my child). I hate the idea of a bunch of people who tangentially know each other setting a strict date and time to discuss a book that everyone has been assigned to read as if we were all still in high school so that we can feel both "social" and "intellectual."

Because why not take something organic and enjoyable and turn it into a forced learning experience?

Book clubs, along with houses like this, are very popular
in Plano, Texas.
Don't give me that bullcrap about how - really - book clubs are just an excuse to sit around and gossip and drink. I don't need an excuse to sit around and gossip and drink, and don't ruin my love of reading by using it to justify your shallow pursuit of pseudo-intellectual legitimacy.

Also: Yes, I have issues.
Getting back to Jenny Lawson's book. I felt a rush of petty and evil superiority when I saw that Let's Pretend This Never Happened concludes with, of all things, a Reader's Guide - a list of suggested "discussion topics" for people who aren't smart or creative enough to actually discuss the freaking book they claim to just finished reading. Wine-guzzling suburban poseurs: If you enjoyed the book, you should be able to talk about it without Cliff's Notes. If you didn't enjoy it, you should have enough confidence in the integrity of your own opinions to state why. If you're really only at the meeting to drink and look smart, go home and binge-watch "Real Housewives of Wherethefuckever," which clearly is where your heart lies.

I may get some hate mail, but I don't want to live in a world
where I'm expected to know who these people are.
I read through every single "discussion topic" in the Reader's Guide, thinking that at some point, the vapid questions would give way to humorous satirical entries - you know, like the closing credits in Airplane!  But no. Somewhere along the line, some editor decided that a funny, profane, irreverent book like Let's Pretend This Never Happened was crying out for a series of vapid talking points to make the dumbest of its readers feel empowered.

Smarter than 94.8% of book club members.
Here are some actual entries from the Reader's Guide from the Bloggess' book (which I can only assume were added without her knowledge while she was drunk or fighting off vultures):

Lawson describes her hometown as “violently rural” and struggles to find a point to its existence. In your opinion, did growing up in this town help or hinder her?

Chuck's Answer: She's a world-famous blogger and bestselling author. What the fuck do you think, suburban housewife whose husband works in finance and probably has three mistresses?

Lawson wrote about her OCD, phobias, and other mental struggles. Did this make her more or less relatable to you? Have you or has someone you know had a phobia or mental illness so severe that it affected your life?

Chuck's Answer: Don't ever admit you might have human frailties, but surely you know some piece of human garbage who is less than perfect. Talk about them in a condescending manner here.

Lawson made the decision to infuse humor into even her most traumatic stories of dealing with infertility, loss, and arthritis. What do you think of this choice? Have you ever used humor for healing?

Chuck's Answer: "Healing" is the word upper-middle-class automatons use when the rest of us mean "finding some damn way to survive." What embarrassing problems have you found socially acceptable euphemisms for in order to marginalize them in your social circle?

Lawson made the decision to infuse humor into even her most traumatic stories of dealing with infertility, loss, and arthritis. What do you think of this choice? Have you ever used humor for healing?

Chuck's Answer: "Humor" is what some people call to the emotion you refer to as "I make fun of what I don't understand." Do you understand that your life in the bubble is not normal?

What do you think Lawson was looking for in her life? Do you think she has found it?

Chuck's Answer: You have no fucking right to tender an opinion on this. Mote, meet beam. Drink some more wine and flirt with the Starbucks barista, you overly-Botoxed bitch.

Seriously, I'm disappointed that Jenny Lawson even allowed a Reader's Guide to be appended to her book. Drunkards, I promise you now:  When/if my book gets published, the only discussion questions tacked on to the end will be penned by yours truly and will mostly address your opinion of monkeys, squirrels, and politicians with great big hair.

And my book will be the better for it. I promise.

1 comment:

  1. I have a confession to make. I work in the library of a large and respected academic institution, and I abused my privilege by asking the library to buy a copy of Jenny Lawson's book because I was too cheap to buy it. Okay, I was really planning to buy it because in spite of my connections I expected the library to turn it down. Instead someone said, "Yeah, we totally need this on the shelf next to George Carlin's When Will Jesus Bring The Pork Chops*?"

    Your book, on the other hand, I'll probably buy, and I'll make the library get a copy, and they'll probably put it on the shelf right next to Ellen DeGeneres's My point--and I do have one*.

    I have another confession: I used to be a member of a book club. It met at a bookstore, back when those were still legal. Talking about Flannery O'Connor was really secondary to me. I thought it would be a fun way to meet other people who were interested in reading. The books we read, I naively thought, would just be a jumping-off point and that some of us might get to know each other. I should have known that most readers aren't big talkers, so the meetings were hijacked by people like the woman who came solely to promote her musical comedy adaptation of As I Lay Dying**. So I quit. I've found bars are a much better place to meet interesting people.

    *The library of a large and respected academic institution really does have these books. Who says higher learning can't be fun?

    **I swear I'm not making that up.


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