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June 12, 2012

Review of Meghan McCain's "America, You Sexy Bitch"

I assume that title came from Michael Ian Black, who is reasonably funny (although I can never get people to agree to that proposition). He co-authored the book.

Apparently the book consists of Meghan McCain trying to be funny and Michael Ian Black trying to be political...

[A]s the liberal half of its authorship [I think she means the "male liberal half; the other half is liberal too], [Black] offers lots of insight into what’s wrong with America. For example: “If you want to find at least one significant reason why America is polarized, this is it: because Republicans are lying to their base about science.” There’s also this little gem, in defense of Obamacare: “These days a lot of people will never get back on their feet. . . . These days a lot of people are just good and forever f***ed.”

You know what bothers me? All this blog-level writing on TV and in books. There's nothing wrong with that kind of low-skill observation on a blog; blogs are written at a fast clip, usually without an editorial hand to guide them, and the imperative is quantity, not quality.

But it always bothers me when I see this crap in an ostensibly professional medium.

Blogging is what it is. It's generally a more speed-of-thought mode, like the glorious old pulp-writer hacks would do (except they were, of course, better; they were pros).

They were getting paid very low rates, by the word, so their imperative was to churn out words.

You wouldn't confuse Doc Savage with Hemmingway.

Rejected cover for "A Farewell To Arms;"
from this site, Ernest Hemmingway: Destroyer of All Serpents

But while I'm an abuser of this sort of throwaway, toss-off sort of writing, I'd never in a million years even consider putting my blog into book format.

The format itself is more prestigious. You've gotta up your game a little bit, don't you? What is the point of a blog on paper?

Anyway, it appears that even with a book editor, and publishing house, overseeing her, Meghan McCain's laptop is still cursed:

Readers may find that McCain’s prose style — she employs turns of phrase such as “self-admittedly” and “final last days” — leaves a tad to be desired.

And then lapses into Tweeting on to a printed page:

“God for me is found everywhere; in my family, in the desert, in first kisses, in smiles, in laughter, in friendship, in cheesecake, in red wine, and above all else in love.” Or her thoughts on Little Rock, Ark.: “This place sucks.” Or on strippers: “Strippers. Strippers. Strippers. What is a proper trip to Vegas without strippers?”

Again, on Twitter, I'd just shrug and say "That's what Twitter is made for."

But a book? That I pay for?

Anyway, the combination of "funny" Meghan McCain and serious, sour political Cassandra Michael Ian Black works out as well as you might have expected.

The title is reasonably cute. Kind of derivative of the various Steven Colbert titles, but still cute.

But I've read the title, I've processed it, I've had my one-quarter smile. I don't think I'll be paying for this book.

Tell a lie, I'm ordering this book. I have to review it. I will put aside Game of Thrones for this book, but only this one.

Jonah Goldberg:

"Meghan McCain’s new book offers all you need to know about the subject, except I’m not sure we need to know even this much. Apparently the premise is that a liberal and conservative set out in search of common ground. The reality is apparently that a liberal doesn’t change his views at all and the conservative isn’t conservative in the first place but learns that she should be even more liberal."

Thanks to WalrusRex.

One trick you can use to make a book like this seem to have something going on is to claim a "personal journey and evolution" on the part of one of the authors.

You see this trick in TV all the time. The good Monk episodes would have a decent puzzle, or some good comedy, or, if they couldn't manage the last two, they'd make it a "character episode" about something Monk learned. Some of these character episodes were touching, but others were just strained, or repeated stuff Monk had already learned two seasons ago.

You could almost hear the show-runner saying, "Damn, our mystery this week is trite, there's no comedy... we've got to amp up the Personal Journey. Throw Trudy in there someplace."

I sort of wonder how much of this "Narrative Arc," as they'd call it in TV or movies, is real, and how much of it is the publisher saying, "We need some kind of through-line here, some kind of resolution, some kind of evolution. Because this manuscript, as I read it, is just a series of late-night Tweets, but with more errors in usage and grammar."

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posted by Ace at 03:56 PM

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