I realized almost immediately upon taking notes that I was going to get very tired of typing out "Tiny Beautiful Things" during this review. I tried to abbreviate it to TBT, but apparently "Throwback Thursday" is a thing-- thus ruining my plans with the prospect of possible confusion-- and so, in the spirit of Cheryl Strayed's seemingly pathological habit of abusing a thesaurus, I have decided to rename this book "Small Tantalizing Doohickies" or, from now on, "STD" for short.
It seemed apt.
Let's start in on STD's accolades.
Somebody at Salon says some stuff that I can't even deal with.
Somebody at The New Yorker pretty much goes down on Cheryl's pudendum.
Somebody who wrote a book with a really dumb title tries to convince us that we all need to carry this book around with us 24/7, like it's a Siri for our souls, and goddamnit, now I need to go get a rag to clean the vomit off of my laptop.
Somebody else says something that, depending on how you interpret it, could be taken positively or negatively and we're just suppose to assume GOOD.
Someone who apparently works in the CIA Torture and Propaganda Department says,
"Sugar's columns are easily the most beautiful thing I've read all year. They should be taught in schools and put on little slips of paper and dropped from airplanes, for all to read."
I'm sorry for you already, North Korea.
Some desperate idiot who apparently just escaped from a cult says,
"Dear Sugar will save your soul. I belong to the Church of Sugar."
And finally, someone with no people-reading abilities whatsoever says,
"...Sugar shines out amid the sea of fakeness."
Oh, fuck me. WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE.
Son of a bitch. Let's get on with it.
The Table on Contents is broken down into five parts that are in no way titled in such a manner that would cause me to contemplate drilling a hole into my skull, except the opposite of that.
Part I: IT WAS ALWAYS ONLY US
Part II: WHATEVER MYSTERIOUS STARLIGHT THAT GUIDED YOU THIS FAR
Part III: CARRY THE WATER YOURSELF
Part IV: YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE BROKEN FOR ME
Part V: PUT IT IN A BOX AND WAIT
I'm not having a caps attack; I'm just writing it the way it's printed.
There are-- OH MY FUCKING GOD, THERE ARE FIFTY-SIX FUCKING LETTERS IN THIS BOOK AND YES, THIS IS NOW A CAPS ATTACK.
I am genuinely whimpering right now. 56. What have I done.
While I endure the 10-day waiting period for a firearm purchase in order to compassionately kill myself, I guess I should just keep writing because, meh, still alive. Let's see how far I can get in ten days.
Let's explore Steve Almond's introduction and then call it quits for today, shall we?
Almond tells us a lovely tale about a man named Stephen Elliott who came up with an idea for a website "to build an online community around literature," and Almond says that it sounded "pretty awful." GOOD START. Stephen called upon all of his impoverished writer buddies to write for the website for free and BLAM, behold the creation of "The Rumpus."
Almond decided to contribute to the website by authoring an advice column which he had originally suggested be called "Dear Sugar Butt," due to "the endearment Stephan and I had taken to using in our email correspondence," and then he admits that this was totes gay and not a good idea. Thus, the advice column's name was shortened to "Dear Sugar."
"Handing yourself a job as an advice columnist is a pretty arrogant thing to do, which is par for my particular course."
Why do I suddenly hate everyone in the writing community?
Anyway, Almond tells us that in order to write this advice column, he created a persona named Sugar, whom he describes as, "a woman with a troubled past and a slightly reckless tongue," and already I am disgusted by the whole thing. I have a distaste for dishonesty and manipulation, so the fact that a man who wanted to go by the name of "Sugar Butt" created an advice column under the guise of being a troubled woman... just, fuck everyone. How did this become a thing.
Anyway, Almond wrote his bullshit advice column for a short while--
"...more often I faked it, making do with wit where my heart failed me. After a year of dashing off columns, I quit."
--and that should have been the end of that bullshit, but NO. Almond decided to ask Cheryl Fucking Strayed to take over as Dear Sugar because--
"Cheryl had written the one and only fan letter I'd received as Sugar."
WELL, FUCK ME RIGHT IN THE FACE, LET'S PASS THE NARCISSISTIC BATON FROM ONE ASSHOLE TO ANOTHER.
Motherfucker. I'm so disgusted. I'm actually proud to say that I'm not a writer at this moment just because I will be able to distance myself from these assholes.
Okay, it only gets worse. Brace yourselves.
Someone-- "a presumably young man"-- wrote, "WTF, WTF, WTF? I'm asking this question as it applies to everything every day."
First of all, why should we assume that this was a young man? That was the entirety of the question. It didn't end with, "...because my penis doesn't work." I'm already irritated. And Cheryl's response makes me wish that California didn't have a 10-day waiting period for firearm purchases. Get ready for what I tried to warn you about. Please go back and read the reader's question again, and then get a fucking load of Cheryl's response:
My father's father made me jack him off when I was three or four or five. I wasn't any good at it. My hands were too small and I couldn't get the rhythm right and I didn't understand what I was doing..."
WHAT THE FUCKING HELL KIND OF RESPONSE WAS THAT TO--
I'm so angry right now. YOU DO NOT--
I can't even. NOBODY ASKED, NOBODY WANTS TO KNOW-- BOUNDARIES, Cheryl. IT'S A THING. You save that shit for people you trust. You save that for people who love you. You save that shit, at the very least, for the therapist. You don't just word-vomit that kind of information for no particular reason whatsoever, unprompted, like you're proud of it. For so many reasons, I hate you so fucking much right now, and for those same reasons, I don't believe one fucking word coming out of your dumb fucking mouth.
Fuck this woman right in the face. No one says that. No one who has experienced sexual trauma volunteers that information. NO ONE. FUCKING LIAR.
Almond doesn't know any better, though, so he falls to his knees and worships Cheryl for her awesomeness and concludes by saying,
"She was a real human being laying herself bare, fearlessly, that we might come to understand the nature of our own predicaments."
I can't even finish the introduction. It's a bunch of ass-kissing bullshit that makes me want to destroy things, and not in the playful "I want to slam my face into a doorknob" kind of way. This pisses me off. Just know that Almond goes Full Cheryl in explaining how amazing Bad Cheryl is and ends the whole mess with,
"Run toward the darkness, sweet peas, and shine."
I suddenly wish I lived in Alaska. They don't require permits to purchase firearms. I guess this is good news for all of you.