This week we have still more evidence that I am not smart enough for the magazine The Believer, or for the people who write it. Recently in my library catalog I came across this title: You're a Horrible Person, But I Like You, which of course I had to request immediately. The problem was the subtitle: "The Believer Book of Advice."
The entire book is a collection of humorists' pieces giving advice, but every chapter is written in the format of advice letters written to the contributors, which they then answer. Let me give you an example, from the chapter written by Paul Feig*:
"Dear Paul: For years I have tried to make my Hungarian grandmother's cucumber salad. She improvises her recipe, so she wrote down the steps for me to follow. But try as I might, mine never tastes as good as hers. What am I doing wrong? --Linda Nagy, Fort Wayne, IN.
Dear Lisa: You're trying to crash your grandmother's party, that's what you're doing. Did you ever stop and think that maybe your grandmother isn't giving you the exact recipe because she wants your salad to be worse than hers? What's next? You going to try on her clothes? Steal her boyfriend? Pretend you're from Hungary, too? My advice is to let your grandmother be the master of her cucumber recipe. Tell her she's the only one who can make it, then take a bowl of it to a lab and have it analyzed. Then you can make the exact recipe in the privacy of your home and she'll still believe she's the queen of cucumbers. --Paul." (p. 67.)
Now, taken alone, I guess that's kind of funny. But a whole book of chapters like that? It's too much. Even with contributors like Feig, Aasif Mandvi, Amy Sedaris, Sarah Silverman, and Sarah Vowell, I just couldn't sustain the interest. Plus, I'm just too literal to enjoy things like this. Did they write the letters themselves? Or did they actually come from somewhere?
*I love, love, LOVE Paul Feig, author of the memoirs Kick Me and Superstud.