This past weekend, in an op-ed column for the New York Times, Timothy Egan wrote of the karmic unfairness of Joe the Plumber’s impending book release this month. “The Plumber”, in actuality Samuel J. Wurzelbacher, the mongoloid, unlicensed pipefitter who badgered Barack Obama on the campaign trail in Ohio, has managed to write a 192-page book and get it published, albeit by a suspiciously self-promoting publishing house (Joe’s publisher, PearlGate, has 2 books: Joe’s and his co-author’s).
“The idea that someone who stumbled into a sound bite can be published, and charge $24.95 for said words, makes so many real writers think the world is unfair.”
True enough Mr. Egan – there is something intrinsically WRONG about someone like Wurzelbacher getting a book published before someone who’s toiled over their work for years, only to be rejected time and again by publishers everywhere. In this case, he stumbled into his 15 minutes and has managed to drag us all into it for a half an hour by convincing some doofus to publish his inane drivel – all under the ruse that this is what “The People” want. Hell, his website (yes, he has a website) is called Secure Our Dream.com (whatever that means) where for $19.95 you can sign up to be a Freedom Member and “become an integral part of an American movement to preserve our American Dream”. Man, when does that 15 minutes end?
“For…you friends of celebrities penning cookbooks, you train wrecks just out of rehab, you politicians with an agent but no talent — stop soaking up precious advance money.”
Even worse than Joe the Bummer, however, is this: How to Talk to Girls by Alec Greven, a nine-year old boy from Colorado – available at self-loathing bookstores everywhere. Nine, dude! This kid is nine years old! Seriously, what could he possibly have to tell anyone about women? He has never kissed a girl, gone on a date, seen a woman naked, other than his mom, or possibly grandma. I understand that this most likely started out as a sappy, cute, jokey book, and it’s part of my hard-hearted nature (see My Life with George) to hate things like this, but HarperCollins has signed him to at least three more books – How to Talk to Dads and How to Talk to Moms, among them, both due out in 2009. And, 20th Century Fox (a subsidiary of News Corp, as is Harper) has optioned the rights to the film. The film! Did I mention he’s nine? Alec began writing his book when he was 8 (last year) as a writing project for his third grade class! AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!
It’s all just wrong. I know life is unfair, but this is ridiculous. What is it about the buying public that makes them crave such utter garbage while there are writers out there – even ones with book deals and published works – who can’t seem to get anyone to read their brilliant books. Sorry Alec, I’m sure you’re a very nice boy, but I simply resent you. You and Joe the Plumber have wandered into a world that has brainwashed everyone into thinking that your junk is what they want to read. What happened to literature? Which magnificent books got passed over by HarperCollins this year so that they could make room in their catalog for your little book? How can that be fair? In actuality, Alec, you’re being exploited by Harper and Fox – although I’m sure you’ve gotten a pretty sweet deal on all this – who’re just trying to capitalize on your naive musings on the opposite sex, of which you can’t possibly know anything about. Believe me, I was a nine year-old boy once. And man, kids in college are going to make fun of you – I know I would – once you’re a decade or so beyond this, you’re never going to be able to live it down. “Yo Grevan, tell me again how to talk to your mom?”
“…publishers say they print garbage so that real literature, which seldom makes any money, can find its way into print. True, to a point. But some of them print garbage so they can buy more garbage.”
I’m sure that there’s a place for Alec Grevan out there, but it’s just hard to swallow, knowing that there are brilliant novels out there that will never be published, because publishers like Harper have us convinced that we need How to Talk to Girls instead. Yeah, I’m a bitter, hate-filled man, but what are you gonna do?