Friday, February 13, 2009

This gives new meaning to "Kidz Bop"

These days, it's difficult for me to enter a library or bookstore. Why? Because I'm bitter. I want to write a book, have it published and watch it rocket up the best-seller lists. And not for vanity's sake, but because a book is one of the few products left that can actually contribute to the betterment of societal intellect. Despite falling sales (or maybe because of it), it seems easier than ever to bleed at the double-edged sword that is today's publishing world.

And that's precisely what irks me. Bookshelves are straining from the weight of books based on blogs. Many of them are great - as broke as I am, I recently bought the Huffington Post Guide to Blogging. Great book, by the way. Very functional, practical and, as you'd expect from the HuffPo, compelling. So compelling, in fact, that I can cheerfully overlook that my own blog already had several hundred posts before the Huffington Post ever went online.

What's less forgivable are the multimillion-dollar deals going to the one-note blogs that started last Friday. On one recent trip to Borders, I saw Stuff White People Like sandwiched next to Obama is My Bicycle. These books are cultural phenomena, and both were the results of absolute larks on their respective creators' parts. In a struggling economy where print media is groping to stay alive, these books are powerful testaments to the new direction of social satire and commentary.


Don't get me wrong; I like Stuff White People Like. The reflexive property at work, kids. I laughed my ass off when I discovered that blog, even if by "white" he clearly means, "Brooklyn hipster." If that guy really wanted to capture the true essence of white people, he'd throw some southerners in there. But I'm not here to inspire Stuff Jena White People Like or any myriad of Stuff spinoffs poised to take all 10 spots in the New York Times best-seller list for the next 20 years. As it is, I'm perturbed that most of the best blogging books now are based on ridiculously simple premises. Premises similar to those I rejected when creating this blog because I thought they'd be too pointless.

Anyway. On to a real point.

Now making waves in the ocean of ink is a new dating book...written by a nine-year-old. Alec Greven says he's too young to date, but his book How to Talk to Girls is a New York Times best-seller. My immediate impression upon seeing this was to grab the nearest beer bottle, funnel its contents, smash the bottle and slash my wrists with the shards. It hurt. (Then I realized a kid wrote it...ZING!)

But after bandaging the wounds, I realized the book actually redeems my faith in humanity. After all, most dating books are written by those who have become jaded and embittered by the experience (in other words, they've dated). This kid hasn't, which is why his tome springs from a much purer place. While dating gets harder to decipher with every passing year, the basic principles you learn when you're young never go out of style. Be a gentleman. Be charming. Treat her like she's special, because she is. Get circle-circle-dot-dot germ shots to protect against pesky STDs. Because most men never escape being nine years old anyway, we should all rush out and buy this book. But take your woman with you, lest Alec Greven makes a move on her while you're out. You know he will, and that you won't stand a chance! Act now!

Another reason Greven's success gets me excited is because I have PILES of scrawl I wrote as a kid on subjects I didn't know the first thing about. Like the manual on boxing I wrote when I was about eight, based entirely on the Atari "Boxing" game and Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! (Sample tip: "If you can't land with your hands, try punching with your head.") Or the primer on bowling I wrote in second grade just before I hit the lanes for the first time ("A strike is bad, because that's not scoring"). Or the story about cooking cornbread ("She put the stove to six degrees"). Or the love songs I wrote pre-puberty ("Dating is Fun and Not Torture").

Should be a gold mine. Someone fetch me a canary!

2 comments: said...

Great post.


Chris said...

How to Talk to Girls has changed my life.