I don’t get much in the ol’ bookfraud.com e-mailbag. In fact, I almost never check the box.
On Thu, Aug 4, 2011 at 11:43 PM, <XXXXX@sohu.com> wrote:
Good afternoon to you from the People’s Republic of China! I am Mr. D_______ from Office of Information Maintenance at Ministry of Foreign Affairs (IMMFA).
I am writing to you on behalf of the People’s Republic of China in response to your unfair and malicious remarks at:
Specifically, you criticized the children’s television program “Ni Hao, Kai-lan”, your child’s favorite television show that they cannot get enough of.
“Ni Hao, Kai-lan” is not “propaganda”, though we understand that you have made this mistake because you are a product of your country’s poor education system. It is The People’s Republic of China’s attempt to help the struggling American Empire in the coming days. As your poor and backwards nation owes ours 95 trillian dollars in debt, it is obvious that when your child is an adult they will need to speak Chinese well to perform their duties in our clean and modern factories. It is also our hope that through this children’s program we can share some of China’s superior culture and history with the children of America, a country with no culture of its own. So, as you plainly see, “Ni Hao, Kai-lan” is a form of humanitarian aid.
You will notice many reports in your biased American news programs of Chinese hackers penetrating the Pentagon. They do not work for our government. They are just children in their homes performing a hobby. In their way, they are so anxious to serve their beloved nation! Of course we do not encourage this. But if Chinese hackers can do such things in their homes, imagine how technologically advanced our government must be! Probably you cannot imagine it. The reason is because you having nothing to compare it to in America.
We hope you have learned many things from our kind e-mail to you. If you have any questions, please direct them to your area’s local Consulate General of China or Chinese Embassy. They are used to answering many questions to clear up the ignorance of misinformed Americans. Furthermore, each employee speaks fluent English in addition to other languages, as we are aware that America is decades behind the rest of the developed world in language education. Finally, we are aware that due to poor diet and exercise habits Americans have difficulty in climbing stairs, so our embassy offices have elevators for your convenience. As you can see, we have arranged for your every need to be fulfilled in helping you better understand “Ni Hao, Kai-lan” so that you are no longer confused and intimidated by this child’s cartoon show.
Kindest regards to you,
Office of Information Maintenance
Ministry of Foreign Affairs People’s Republic of China
This actually came over the transom, though it’s obviously a joke, and borderline racist to both Americans and Chinese. I suggest the letter writer spend his or her time looking for a better job, if he or she has one.
Thought I sorta like jokes about bad schools and diet. Kinda funny, for a douchebag.
As Mr. James takes his act from the cold warrens of Cleveland to South Beach, and Cavaliers fans are burning his jersey in effigy, the literary world takes little notice. Perhaps we should, as this episode reminded me of nothing save for Saul Bellow. You must obviously see the connection. . . . → Read More: LeBron James, Saul Bellow, and the Siren Call
Before we start, let’s get a few things straight. First of all, I’m not going to be your buddy, I’m not going to hang out with you, and most of all, I’m not going to help your whale-turd of a novel get published. . . . → Read More: Let’s Get a Few Things Straight
What is it about addiction memoirs that the publishing industry finds so addictive? . . . → Read More: Memoirs of Addiction, Addiction to Memoirs
Recently seen on the citizens review board of Amazon.com, regarding three different volumes:
The popularity of this book stupifies me—do people like it because they think they are supposed to?
This book was a peice [sic] o’… you know and wasn’t worth the time or effort to read.
Classic or not, I don’t care for this book.
These reviews are for major, major bestsellers, and so perhaps you were thinking they refered to the latest Tom Clancy, James Patterson, Nora Roberts, or Harold Robbins, even though the old cokehead died a few years ago.
But no. These (real) reviews are for Goodnight Moon, Harold and the Purple Crayon, and Babar, respectively. Yes, classic children’s books. These reviewer-parents say the books are of inferior literary quality and are not appropriate for our nation’s youth—I kid you not.
Things only get better from there. Curious George is panned because it promotes cruelty to animals. Other experts slam The Very Hungry Caterpillar because it teaches children to overeat and telling kids that butterflies emerge from cocoons (as opposed to moths) teaches bad science.
Worst of all, my all-time favorite children’s book is taken to the woodshed because it 1) promotes anarchy; 2) will scare children because animals in the book talk and are human-sized; and 3) isn’t about promoting imagination or literacy but is instead a subtle examination of id versus superego and the dynamism of the ego.
I’m sure you realize I’m talking about The Cat in the Hat.
I chanced upon this gems of critical insight after searching for a training potty for Baby-Tot, being that he keeps saying things like "made a poo-poo" and "I’ve got a wee-wee! I’ve got a wee-wee!" Modern parent and writer that I am, I also bought several "how-to" books on helping kids learn how to take a proper dump, and ultimately landed upon the reviews mentioned above.
What is perhaps more odd than the reviews themselves—hating Dr. Seuss is like hating ice cream—is why anyone would bother. Does one really think their review will stop people from buying (and their children loving) Cars and Trucks and Things That Go? In my earlier, feckless days of youth (I was in my mid-thirties), I would post an occasional review on Amazon, mostly of music and movies. I once slammed a well-known music album that I likened to the vomitus that emerges after doing battle with a bad batch of raw seafood.
This is your id on drugs
Why did I embark on this endeavor of nastiness, full well knowing that it would not make one iota of difference in the greater artistic consciousness of the world? I can’t say for sure, but I remember feeling a distinct sense of self-righteousness when considering the work in question: These people love a total piece of donkey dung! They are deluded! They are wrong! I am right! But at least I had reasons for these (admittedly) juvenile criticisms.
The beauty of the Internet is that it gives a voice to all, and the horror of the Internet is that it gives a voice to all. You don’t have to go farther than the comments section of most news Web sites to see the bile; if you really want to feel the hate, go to a sports Web site, scroll the . . . → Read More: Everybody’s a Critic
[The reader] is motivated to throw the volume across the living room, where it inevitably will strike an expensive piece of porcelain passed down 10 generations of your wife’s family. . . . → Read More: Book Review: The Brief History of the Dead, or I Want a Recount
I had avoided being tagged for lo these many years, probably because most bloggers find me an irritating, ingratiating, and generally masturbating presence on their sites . . . → Read More: The Memeing of Life
I’ve just heard back from the editor of a literary journal, and she actually liked the book review I wrote for them. Unless the editor has been inhaling at a Phish concert or is less honest than the Bush Administration, this is all very good. It also is a great burden off my chest, more symbolic than physical.
Because while I was flattered to be asked to write a book review, I was also terrified — terrified that I wouldn’t have anything to say, or what I turned in was about as profound as a Coors Light commercial.
(It was also fortunate that the editor, after giving me the assignment, didn’t wake up the next morning and say, "You know, I really want to read that Bookfraud to see what kind of writer he really is.")
It’s not that I lacked the discipline, talent, or intellectual bones to complete the assignment. It’s not that I couldn’t be bothered while Baby’s diapers were soiled. Nor is it that I was scared I’d make a fool out of myself — I’ve done that plenty of times already, and will have ample opportunity to humiliate my son by the mere fact of being myself.
It’s that I dreaded I won’t have anything original to say.
Kentucky Fried Critic
I didn’t have much trouble coming up with an angle for my review, but I feared it would come across as lightweight, or, much worse, banal. The book in question has gotten tons of publicity already, and I figured my thoughts would be as interesting as what adventures awaited me at my local KFC.
I was asked in part because of my background, and the nature of the book I’m reviewing falls squarely into the territory (figuratively and literally) that I’ve written about in my fiction. And in working on the review, I noticed how much I actually drew upon my experience as a "novelist" to inform what I wrote.
So, unlike real life, things actually went to plan. I have to credit the journal’s editors, who only made two demands of my work: 1)keep it under 1,500 words; and 2) no plot summary. The former removed my wont for verbal logorrhea, while the latter removed my wont to be lazy.
Not to imply that most book reviewers are lazy, but plot summary makes up about 87 percent of all the verbiage in The New York Times Book Review, for example. I used to think that TNYTBR (as us aficionados call it) was the pinnacle of American literary criticism — the weekly magazine representing the most prominent voices in literature — but now I know better.
In TNYTBR, friends review friends’ books, while enemies settle scores. People are incendiary to establish a reputation; others kiss ass to make contacts. It’s not that there isn’t objective and perceptive criticism in the Times, but you gotta take much of what’s written there with a grain of salt (which is why, despite her many shortcomings, Michiko Kakutani sets such a high standard — she doesn’t do the literary crowd thing and doesn’t befriend writers. Smart woman that way.)
There was no danger of a conflict of interest in the review I wrote, which was of a novel by a writer living high in the fiction stratosphere. No, yours truly has not . . . → Read More: Review of a Review of a Review