Lately I've been seeing a lot of new book releases that have me thinking, "God, I hate [insert author name here] and I wish we could set up an Author Boycott." I've actually been thinking of listing those authors I consider boycottable in the sidebar, sans links to their books, but then I thought, do I really want to be reminded of all the authors that annoy me on a daily basis? Not so much. So I've decided to work out all my crank* here, today, in a special Fall 2009 edition of "Authors I Dislike on Principle, Even Though That's Not Very Open-Minded of Me."
1. Mitch Albom. Albom is the male equivalent of Jodi Picoult, and reading him is making our nation dumber by the minute. This fall he has come out with another book supposedly designed to instill quasi-religious self-discovery in his readers (Have a Little Faith), but which is really produced and sold only to make Mitch Albom yet another bucketful of money, since evidently he didn't invest the bucketful of money he's already made from Tuesdays with Morrie wisely. Albom is also noteworthy for getting in trouble for reporting on a basketball game as though he was there (which he wasn't) when he was a sports reporter. What did Morrie have to say about the ethics of that one, Mitch?
2. The Freakonomics guys have come out with Superfreakonomics, which is actually subtitled "Global cooling, patriotic prostitutes, and why suicide bombers should buy life insurance," but which might as well be titled "hey, our first shitty book, wherein we just made stuff up and tied it to economics and statistical theory with the most tenuous of links, sold really well, mainly because we wrote about all shocking and provocative topics and stuff." Other researchers have pointed out how their oh-so-controversial (by book-selling design) "abortion has lowered crime" conclusion** from their first book is based on flawed research; I'm sure, given a little time, similar articles could (and hopefully will?) be written debunking each chapter in this new piece of pseudoscientific trash. In his defense, Levitt got it completely right when he was interviewed on The Daily Show and pointed out that he's no scientist. I couldn't agree more, sir. Anyone who accepts this book as acceptable "nonfiction" never gets to complain about the lack of facts and/or "truth" in the nonfiction publishing sector, ever again.
3. Jonathan Safran Foer, whose appeal as a novelist I have never understood, has written a book about his newly minted vegetarianism titled Eating Animals. Thankfully, I don't have to pick on this one; Jessa Crispin over at Bookslut has already done that for me. Here's what she had to say: "I am trying so hard to be nice to Jonathan Safran Foer, by which I mean I am trying to forget he exists on this planet. His book Eating Animals, however, is making this goal very, very difficult. It was bad enough when he was writing shitty novels, but now he's indulging in my least favorite form of nonfiction: the 'I have never thought about this thing before until now, and despite the fact that other people have thought about this for years and wrestle daily with the implications, I think my brand new thoughts should be shared with the world.'" Amen, sister. Also? I don't like anyone who picks on Anthony Bourdain. Don't pick on Bourdain, dude. You're going to lose. He's smarter than you AND he has a sense of humor.
4. Any author whose book is being sold for $10 this week, and I'm looking at you, Barbara Kingsolver and John Grisham. I don't know if you had any say in that, but if you could've said no to that and didn't, I'll be very unhappy with you. Like it isn't hard enough for new authors to break into the system, now you're using your fame to offer your books at half the prices of theirs? What is the point of that?
5. Traveling with Pomegranates: A Mother-Daughter Story, by Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor. Woman power, life changes, midlife crises, will marriage consume me?, blah blah blah. I know. As the cynical daughter of a no-nonsense farm woman, I have no business even looking at a Sue Monk Kidd book. But I can never help myself, particularly when she helps her daughter to get in on the publishing bounty of schmaltzy womanly topics (another master of this is Jeffrey Zaslow: see The Girls from Ames). Consider Sue's story about getting her own wedding dress: "It was the first wedding dress I tried on. I fell in love with it at first sight, but when I noticed the price, my heart sank. Six hundred dollars, a fortune.*** I tried to be stoic about it, and Mother and I kept looking, trudging from shop to shop, until finally she proclaimed she didn't care what the dress cost, we were going back to get it. 'It's only money,' she said, as if steeling herself." (p. 150.) Now THAT is the proper way to go into a marriage, caring only that you get what is perfect for yourself, no matter how much your loved ones have to scrimp and save to get it for you. That's beautiful, man.
Okay, I think that's it. Thanks for letting me vent, especially going into the weekend--I feel a lot better! Have a nice one, all.
*Well, a lot of my crank, anyway. I've got crank to spare so expecting to dump it all in one day's worth of posting is probably unrealistic.
**Full disclosure: I am in fact anti-abortion so that conclusion particularly annoyed me, especially in light of how the authors massaged their data to arrive at it. It's only fair you know of my bias; but I think even without that I would think the Freakonomics books are poor examples of "nonfiction." They are, however, good examples of a tenet I believe in, which is that you can make numbers and statistics prove anything you want them to prove.
***Please note: that's 600 dollars in 1968 money. Anybody know what that amounts to today? Oh wait, I do, thanks to The Inflation Calculator: "What cost $600 in 1968 would cost $3673.94 in 2008."