Sunday, March 29, 2015

Tiny Beautiful Things: The Accolades, the Table of Contents and the Steve Almond Introduction



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." 

He writes,

"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:

"Dear WTF,
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.

26 comments:

  1. Heh.. I read this in bed this morning, snickering quietly as to not wake my wife. Then I got to Cheryl's handjob reply to WTF and couldn't fight the impulse to yell, "Oh, GODAMMIT!"

    So, thanks for waking my wife up... :-(

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    1. Please give your wife my deepest apologies. I mean it. Tell her that I'm sorry.

      Delete
  2. P.S. I think I followed my outburst by mumbling, "That's not how recovering from sexual abuse works, Cheryl."

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    1. She really doesn't understand how anything works, does she. That's not a question.

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  3. her grand father is dead and her real father is suing her for this and claiming he beat her mom no record of any of it and if this did happen her mom did nothing about it but again life according to Cheryl and every thing she said is the word she is one sick person to attack a dead man that can not fight her lies against him

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    1. Beverly, I love that you're a part of this and can tell us all the inside information about Cheryl and her big bag of bullshit.

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  4. her older sister ( did you know there was a older sister) still talks to her real dad

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  5. So here we go. Given a column in which she was told the previous author was pretending to be a woman with a troubled past, she starts off with a story of childhood abuse which she NEVER REPEATS AGAIN ANYWHERE. Never once during he entire introspective, soul-searching, hiking "memoir" (oh fuck, just put all those words in parenthesis) did the subject of childhood sexual abuse cross her mind.

    What really pisses me off is that this lying bitch is co-opting the conversations about all of the topics she claims to have experienced. Addicted to heroin? Oh, Cheryl beat that. Have an eating disorder? Cheryl's kind of an expert at that. Did you have an abortion? No need to beat yourself up about it, Cheryl had one just before spinning class. No biggie. Have problems? Cheryl will always trump you.

    "Dear Sugar, I'm really concerned because I'm HIV positive"

    "Dear Whiner, I totes had the AIDS and leprosy at the same time. Fortunately the parts of me with the AIDS just fell off and now I'm all better. Like that Magic Johnson, except less blackish. Now go enjoy life sweet pea! Smootches!"

    Fuck you Cheryl

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    Replies
    1. Mercer, I love you. I really do. This made me laugh so hard, and I really needed to laugh.

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    2. I'm glad you understood what I meant through my misspellings and typing "parenthesis" instead of "quotes." If I get any sloppier Reese Witherspoon will option the rights to my blog posts.

      That's what I'm here for my sister from another mister, to keep laughing on the 11th day :)

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    3. Oh sweet fuck..."to keep YOU laughing"....

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    4. Oh, Mercer. All typos are forgiven because you're magnificent (and I know for a fact that at least one other reader agrees because we were talking about you today-- "...But I'll forgive him. Cuz he's awesome.")

      I appreciate you trying to keep me alive. You're the best.

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    5. I love both of you (Mercer & Erin)!

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    6. I just re-read what you wrote, Mercer. Yes, exactly! That is what nearly every one of the few people who gave this book a bad review, said. I am just so disillusioned with the human race, though. Way too many people love this stupid book and made idiotic comments like "OMG, she laid herself bare".

      Delete
  6. "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..."

    Oh no she di'nt!!! For real?? That reminds me of "but enough about me. What do YOU think of me?"

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    1. Another fucking lie. I really hate her. To me, it is like she is making light of a terrible, terrible thing that does happen to some children. I'm pretty sure that NOBODY thinks things like what Shitty Cheryl said.

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  7. I can't even wrap my mind around this load of shit! My nightmares about being molested do not include hand-to-dick size ratio or the consistency of my stroke. To lie about something this heinous just to get attention is so Cheryl. She must have been gutted by the experience. Hopefully I'll run into her around Portland sometime because lord knows I've got plenty of thoughts to share with her.

    Have you checked out her video on YouTube where she gives life advise to one of the very few people of color in Portland? Could It be more obviously fake? Now that I think of it, maybe that's why she decided to burden us with her presence. I think we've already met our quota of racist pseudo intellectual twats. You can leave, Cheryl.

    Cheryl Strayed: Embrace Your Vulnerable Side | Help Desk | Oprah Winfrey...: https://youtu.be/qs2gnIL-wco

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    1. "My nightmares about being molested do not include hand-to-dick size ratio or the consistency of my stroke."

      BAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAAAAAAAAA

      Well, clearly, you don't understand how nightmares are supposed to work. I'm pretty sure you're supposed to be very concerned with questions like, "Was I doing it right? Did my molester enjoy himself?" And your next thought should be, "I should really write him a thank-you card, and maybe send him a basket of fruit."

      That video. How fucking staged was that whole interaction. Ugh.

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    2. It WAS so staged and her "sage advice" sounds like it came from a column in Cosmopolitan. When the camera panned back, I liked seeing people stop and then quickly walk away. Nothin' to see here, folks! Aaaack.

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    3. I forgot that part of what you're calling STD -- the fake (or perhaps modified) memory of sexual abuse. I was the victim of sexual abuse twice as a child, once by a babysitter and once by a total stranger. I don't recall feeling like I was doing something wrong because my hands or body were too small. I remember thinking that what was happening was REALLY, REALLY WRONG. Cheryl Strayed is such a wacko. I can't wait to read the rest of the comments on this book. Thanks for taking it on, Erin.

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  8. Hahahahahah ! This is hilarious -- loved it. I have to remember not to drink Diet Coke or anything else when reading your blog, because I laugh so hard that the beverage gets all over my computer keyboard. You are so funny and talented ! Your writing skills are wonderful. Thank you for making us "laugh and laugh and laugh." :-) Best, from D.

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  9. Uh-Oh. I meant to add : That part about vomiting that sexual abuse story and not having any boundaries made me angry also. I agree with your response.
    She writes that as if she gets some kind of thrill at entertaining people by glibly writing horrifying anecdotes about abuse. In a way, it's creepy. - D.

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  10. It looks like I have some catching up to do! Wow, Erin! You've already managed to get through more than I could...even with just reading this shit. I am so happy to read your analyses of these horrid passages. To kill some time, before you started, I read through some reviews of the damn Dear Sugar book, all the while losing all faith in humanity. The few intelligent reader reviews which slammed this book, all talked about (1) Bad Cheryl makes it all about herself (2) constantly calling people "sweet pea" and other bullshit endearments (3) the suspicions that most of this is made up and (4) the truly terrible & repetitive writing.

    I thought it would take you a lot longer to try to wade through this. I guess it's like jumping into a really cold lake or ocean; you've just gotta do it before you lose your nerve. Thank you, Erin.

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  11. Why does she have so many fans when she is so horrible?

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  12. And really, what does calling her readers "sweet pea" remind you of? Ohhhh, the multiple airheads she supposedly ran into on the PCT, all of whom had cute names for Our Miss Cheryl - right, good lookin'? Please - she made up the Sugar column questions, just like she made up 95 percent of Wild.

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