How to catch a really bad book

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As per usual, I’m sitting here slogging through the manuscript. I am refusing to entertain questions about how much progress I’ve made—I’d like to keep that to myself until I see a complete draft, thanks for asking—but you may rest assured that progress of some sort is happening, if only by virtue of the sheer number of hours I spend starting at this here computer screen.

It can be tedious at times, especially when I have to write about books that hold absolutely no interest for me. I do not, and I say this with no slight intended toward the many fine women entrepreneurs out there, I do not give a shit about starting my own business. And the work is tedious when I have to write about books that I would not be caught dead reading.

For instance:

Chicken Soup for the Mother & Daughter Soul: Stories to Warm the Heart and Honor the Relationship

I love my mom. My mom loves me. But given the choice between jumping from a skyscraper or reading this book, I would take the skyscraper. I rather suspect that Mom would be plummeting right along with me.

Or:

Men Are Like Fish: What Every Woman Needs to Know About Catching a Man

This is the sort of title that makes me want to carry a cyanide capsule, just in case. One could argue, very convincingly, that I could benefit from some education in the “catching a man” arena; one could further argue that I could benefit from education in the “catching a woman” arena, too. I can offer no defense as to these criticisms. But I stubbornly refuse to have any truck with that sort of drivel.

How do I know it’s drivel if I haven’t read it? Well, see, Amazon has this handy “search inside” feature, which permits me to sample enough of the book to get a really good feel for it. Consider this quote from the introduction:

“It is more the woman than the man who holds the power in a love relationship. Women accomplish this by driving men crazy with desire, keeping them emotionally hooked (with her womanliness, sweetness, peacefulness, warmth, charm, maternal wisdom, honesty, spontaneity, elegance, and human ideals), and moving their hearts toward the spiritual fulfillment of true love.”

Ignore, for the moment, the heterosexist assumption that a love relationship takes places between a man and a woman. Let’s scrutinize this, shall we?:

“It is more the woman than the man who holds the power.” Goodness me, I thought every relationship was different! Here I was thinking that power was shared by both people, that either partner was capable of wielding more power. Next time I meet a battered woman, I’ll be sure to criticize her for having let the man beat her; it was a silly decision on her part, considering that she held more power in the first place.

“Driving men crazy with desire.”
And if she doesn’t, I guess it’s a failed relationship. Any couple that is not sleeping together daily must be doing something wrong.

“Keeping them emotionally hooked.” Great metaphor, really empowering. Women have to what, snare men? Nice use of violent, manipulative imagery. I can really get behind that.

“Her womanliness.” Guess I need to stop laughing at fart jokes.

“Sweetness.” I’ll just keep all my cynicism and wittiness and verve to myself—nevermind that those are the qualities that make me, you know, me.

“Peacefulness.” Fantastic. I am capable of peacefulness, but… he isn’t? I guess all men really ARE aggressive macho louts.

“Warmth.”
I kept the windows open while it snowed the other night. Whoops.

“Charm.” Oddly—and this is a complete puzzle to me—no one finds my puns to be charming. “Nauseating” would be a more accurate choice.

“Maternal wisdom.” Ah haha haha ahhahha haha haha ha ha ha ha.

“Honesty.” It always backfires when I try to be honest. “I have a really low libido”—that one reels ‘em in, you betcha. “I don’t like to watch movies. Or television.” Guaranteed to land me a date.

“Spontaneity.”
You’re asking the list-making, detail-oriented, three-calendar-keeping, lifelong obsessive-compulsive to be spontaneous?

“Elegance.” Right now I am wearing a ratty old t-shirt, no bra, and pajama pants with holes in them. My hair is a rat’s nest. I have four, count’em four, beverage containers on my desk here, all of them dirty. There are cat toys strewn about the house; there is stray cat litter lurking on every horizontal surface, and possibly some of the vertical ones; I have only dusted once in my life, as an experiment—turns out I didn’t like it. All this, and you expect elegance?

“Human ideals.” I’ve got some fine human ideals, if I do say so myself. Which means that I would never, ever, ever get involved with someone who did not share those human ideals. Why should human ideals be a selling point for me, but not for him?

“Moving their hearts toward the spiritual fulfillment of true love.” The purple prose, it is killing me.

Okay, so I just took rather a lot of time to explain why I dislike certain aspects of working on my manuscript, though it was a remarkably satisfying exercise, for me at least.

That said: I’m starting to really get into this Women’s Nonfiction thing. Some of the books are wretched, but some of them are really enjoyable, or educational, or both.

And it dawned on me the other day that, golly, I’m becoming an expert. I am on my way to becoming a leading scholar of Women’s Nonfiction. Take that with a grain of salt, now. It’s easy to be a leading scholar when there are no competitors. Still though, I’m developing a nice little niche. Combine this unusual area of study with my propensity for puns and my complete inability to keep a clean house, and you have the epitome of the charming, elegant, spontaneous woman. Who has a keen maternal instinct.

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2 responses »

  1. elemosenary archivist

    Amen to editin as an optomist seekin remuneration & deliveration from havin ever,ever, ever, again to wade through reams of printed matter to find a fact or say an appropriate word widdout slanderin,slurrin or otherwise demurrin to blurt out a genuine Anglo-saxon blankety blank opinionated sentence. But hang in there Madame, Spring HAS arrived, open windows with snow fallin is a sure sign that daffodils are not far behind Hope my 04:00 blurr is not obfuscatin the afternoon post gotta go,ma’am, m’chauffer’s acomin for ta carry me home. Have a good one,Jess.out-4-now

    Reply
  2. It’s a shame that those books like the one you dissected seem to be mainly written and marketed just for the pure "hey, this’ll make money!" aspect. Don’tcha think?

    Reply

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