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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

These Books Actually Exist part 1

Welcome to today's edition of "These Books Actually Exist" where we will be highlighting books that appear to be terribly written, terribly edited or are just plain "Who in god's name paid someone to write this???"

In part one of this fun new series, I will address two stellar tomes that were recently purchased at my library. So not only do these books exist, but they are actually on our library shelves.

First we have The Albino Album by Chavisa Woods

Lemme just give you the synopsis on the back cover of this novel:

"The Albino Album, a queer epic, follows the life of a little girl who accidentally feds her mother to an albino tiger and grows up to become a domestic terrorist." 
WTF???? Seriously?  How does one "accidentally" feed one's mother to a tiger???  Just fyi, "queer" actually means "gay" in this context.  Not "strange."  Moving on...
"Emerging author Chavisa Woods has been noted for capturing a "strange, troubling vision of domestic life in the rural U.S." (Go Magazine). Here she presents a technicolored vision of rural adolescence, the story of a girl with an unpronounceable name—a fiery, unhinged, growling, big-hearted country girl in a dirty black tutu and combat boots who travels along all the bizarre yet familiar byways of human desire from the cornfields of Louisiana and the big brass sound of Mardi Gras to the heights of the Empire State Building. Turning the tradition of the southern gothic novel on its head, Woods presents a new land of contemporary misfits including fire-dancers, pseudo-Nazis who breed albino animals, Catholic workers, horse thieves, and the archangel Gabrielle."

There's a sex scene on page 368 that has the following descriptions: "...sucked at it like a hungry babe." "...her face wet with me..." "...I took her body in my hands, pulled her toward me and kissed her glistening lips so joyously it could have been a song." "It went on for hours..."

Is this a bad romance novel?  Come on now... 

Here is the Goodreads Review from user Brett Axel: 
I'm hesitant to use labels like Southern, Poverty, Punk, Lesbian, or Anarchist, because while this book is all of these, they are not treated as gimmick or novelty. Chavisa has lived in these worlds with the keen observation of a cultural anthropologist and has the writing skill to bring it to life for a reader. I put this book on the same list with Tom Robbins, Chuck Palahniuk, and Irvine Welsh. Right now I am reading it for the second time, more slowly, to savor every phrase. 
The book has also been described as a queer Moby Dick- like epic.  I love that Chavisa is likened to a cultural anthropologist.  That is beyond funny.  I now have an image of a gay terrorist author who is feeding someone to a tiger.  Ridiculous.  I admit that I have not read this book cover to cover.  But what I did read did not even come close to Robbins or Palahnuik (Palahnuik would never write such a silly love scene.  That shiz is beneath him).  

Next up, The Milf Diet by Jessica Porter

So yeah.  This actually exists.  Someone wrote it.  Some publisher paid an "author" for it and my library got multiple requests for it.  As if I needed any more proof that society has completely come unraveled.  Again, I have only flipped through this book.  I have not read it cover to cover.  But here are several issues that make me scratch my head:

1.  The title vs. the subtitle of this book.  The MILF diet implies that if you go on this diet, you will be transformed into a MILF.  Oooookay.  The subtitle says "Let the power of whole foods transform your body, mind and spirit DELICIOUSLY!"  So I am to imply that 1. MILFs love whole foods and that 2. they are delicious.  Moving on.

2.  The title of chapter 1 of this book is "What is a MILF?"  paired with a photo of a pink flower.  Um... silly choice.  Either A. that is extremely generic photo art that "appeals to women" or B. Someone really likes Georgia O'Keeffe.  In addition to this, the book uses terms such as "MILFy" as in "How Does a MILF Stay MILFy?"  For reals.  Thus far, all of this has been included in the cover and first 3 pages.

3. Chapter 2 (Your MILFification, Phase One) begins:
"Remember when Alice fell down the rabbit hole?  When Neo chose the red pill over the blue one in The Matrix? Well, this is that moment for you, Ms. MILF.  It's time for you to start your great adventure.
You need to eat whole grains.  Whole grains will help you find your inner compass and bring you to balance.  And from there your journey will simply unfold quite intuitively...
You won't feel the amazing peace, steadiness and stupid happiness of whole grains until you chew them really well." (p. 22)
This is followed by a page and a half of CHEWING INSTRUCTIONS.  Chewing instructions, people!!!  The book says that you must chew your rice 50 times per mouthful.  And once you can handle that, you should aim for 100 times!  Isn't this some stupid diet fad that was debunked in like, the 1950s?  Unless the goal here is to make your jaw ache so badly that you can't actually stuff another forkful in there... Yes, we should all eat slowly so that we know when we are full so that we don't pig out.  But really?  Really.  So MILFs like hippy-dippy peace and love as well as The Matrix.  Seems legit.  So for all of you who aspire to MILF status, ya'll need this book.  Or something.


  1. I realize that blogs are for people who can't get their opinions published elsewhere--mainly because they are too lazy to do the real work of writing and craft whole arguments that are based on diligent research--but this review of The Albino Album is beyond idiotic. Unlike you, I have read significant amounts of Woods's work. She is an accomplished, fierce and innovative poet and her prose is compared to Flannery O'Connor's because it is worthy of such a comparison.

    Do you think that being snarky and dismissive while saying nothing makes you seem smart? Because making yourself sound smart, rather than engaging in productive literary criticism is clearly the intention of this post.

    Are you actually so lazy that you think its acceptable to cite other reviews and the synopsis on the back cover to back up your opinion? Who admits that they have only read ONE PAGE of something that is over 500 pages long and then proceed to talk about it as if they had some authority?

    What exactly is your problem with this novel? That it is queer? That it is too long for you to read? Or not as easy to read as the MILF Diet (which you clearly spent more time contemplating)? And exactly where does your editorial expertise come from? Would you like to cite some of this bad editing?

    As a librarian--someone whose job it is to preserve knowledge and make wide varieties of information available to the public--this inherently anti-intellectual practice of complaining about books that you haven't read is shameful. The MILF diet, maybe, but a piece of experimental fiction by an emerging queer author? Come on...

    If you have a genuine intellectual, political, moral or aesthetic beef with The Albino Album, then please, roll it on out. But if you aren't even going to read it then keep your uninformed opinions to yourself. Its pathetic.

    Sincerely, R.H. Lossin

  2. Hello Lossin, thanks for taking the time to comment. As to the issues left at my door...

    I never, ever claimed that this was a book review. In fact, I stated several times that I had not read either of these books. Therefore, not a book review.

    I also never claimed to be smart. I would consider myself of average intelligence at best. But yes, I do enjoy being snarky on my personal blog since working in the public requires that I be nice to everyone every second of the day whether they are hitting on me, screaming at me or anything in between. Nor did I say anything about being a literary critic. I read lots of books; I work with lots of books. If I were attempting to engage in any sort of productive literary anything it wouldn't be on this blog.

    Uh, yes. Obviously I am lazy. That much is clear. Agreeing to read a book that is over 500 pages these days is, I'll admit, is quite the commitment. I have to read a lot of things and I choose books that interest me or that I have been asked to read (more on that later). I don't recall admitting to reading any specific number of pages of this work, but I can assure you it was more than page 368. Not all 500, though. And I would hope that neither Woods or you or anyone else thinks that I have any sort of authority whatsoever. But I am certainly entitled to state my first knee-jerk reaction to what I have read of this book if I so choose.

    I have no issue with the fact that this is a queer novel. In fact, I only wrote that clarification in the post because, not being familiar with Woods' work, my first thought was "Wait. 'Queer' strange or 'queer' gay? Because gay would actually be more interesting than just strange." So I do sincerely apologize if you took that to be homophobic in any way. It really was not my intention. I like "hard" books and "easy" books. Big books and little books. Red books and blue books. Never claimed to be an editor. Ever. However what I read seems extremely disjointed and I found the dialog clunky. As a reader, it did not appeal to me and perhaps those 500 pages could have been pared down a bit.

    I also never said I would not read the novel. Honestly, I simply cannot wrap my head around the fact that someone accidentally feeds their mother to a tiger. Accidentally. Accidentally fed to a tiger. However, I am not one to shirk a book suggestion. Since you are familiar with Woods’ work R.H.- may I call you R.H? What, in your opinion, is her best novel? Is it The Albino Album or do you prefer her earlier works? If you would explain which is your favorite and why I would be more than happy to read one of her novels. Again, thanks for taking the time.