Category Archives: Satire

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 5-1-17 #IMWAYR

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Happy Monday and Happy May Day! I was #saturdaylibrarian this week, but on my Friday off I read a whole book. It was very short. I read it because I’m trying to…

Well, you can tell by the title, can’t you? Get Your Sh*t Together by Sarah Knight is a humorous self-help book that follows the author’s best-selling satire (which I haven’t read) of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (which I listened to on audio):

According to the author, people can be divided up into three categories, as far as getting their sh*t together goes. Never mind “introvert” or “extrovert”. After reading this book, you will identify as either an Alvin, a Theodore, or a Simon. (For an explanation of these categories, click here.) Unfortunately, despite being a pretty good imitation of a Simon at work, (planning and staying on top of things), I’m probably more of an Alvin when I’m at home. (I married a Simon, though, so, collectively speaking, our sh*t is together.)

I was jealous of everyone who participated in Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon this weekend, but it looked like everyone had fun! I did more dancing than reading this weekend, but doing a Dewey’s Readathon is something that would be on my Book Blogger Bucket List if I were more of a Simon and HAD a Book Blogger Bucket List.

On a serious note, I finished reading Disaster Falls, a memoir about a family tragedy by Stephane Gerson, this morning and plan to write a separate post about it.

At work I’m reading The Hate U Give, the best-selling young adult novel by Angie Thomas, inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. The title comes from Tupac Shakur’s definition of the meaning of “THUG LIFE”: The Hate U Give Little Infants F–ks Everybody. Very good and I may need to bring it home to finish it because it’s getting pretty heavy for lunchtime reading.

This week I also expect to finish reading This Is Not Over by Holly Brown –a Girl on the Train-ish type of psychological thriller – which will be good to recommend to readers who are addicted to these first-person narratives of privileged white women and their self-destructive behavior, but I’m getting impatient to have it be over.

On audio, I’m listening to Long Live the King by Fay Weldon, the second in the Habits of the House trilogy, which I accidentally am listening to out of order (#3, #1, and now #2). This trilogy about English gentry and their servants and relatives who do not inherit would be great to recommend to anyone who is still suffering from Downton Abbey withdrawal.

Now I need to hurry or I won’t be early to work today and will fail at one of my New Year’s Resolutions.

Check out the other posts linked up at Book Date for more reading updates, and please tell me something you’re reading this week in the comments!

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (#IMWAYR) is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It’s a place to meet up and share what you have been, are, and about to be reading over the week. It’s a great post to organize yourself. It’s an opportunity to visit and comment, and er… add to that ever-growing TBR pile! This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at Book Date.



It’s Humor, Folks!: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

cover image of audiobookThere were so many excerpts from Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother audiobook by Amy Chua that I wanted someone else to listen to, that I was sorry I didn’t listen to this when it came out (in 2011) and everyone else was reading and talking about it. If I had known it was funny, I would have tried to get to it sooner. Whether it was marketing that pushed it as a parenting book, reviewers who got the wrong end of the stick, or just my being misled by the shocked uproar over this book, but I didn’t know it was intended to be humorous.

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is a memoir of parenting, but in the way that essays by David Sedaris are memoirs about his own experiences. Pretty nearly everything is exaggerated to the extreme for effect. So, even though readers know 1.) that Amy Chua’s two girls never called Child Services on her; 2.) that the author is a highly respected lawyer married to a highly respected law professor; and 3.) that many arguments can be hugely funny later even though seemingly serious at the time – there were still so many readers posting catty commentary like “What was Jed Rubenfeld doing while wife Amy Chua was calling their children garbage and threatening to burn their stuffed animals?” (Daily Beast) or readers worried about the mental well-being of the two daughters, that I thought the book was intended to be a serious espousal of strict parenting. (From what I can tell, BTW, the two daughters are more than able to handle their mother. And, anyway, she’s given away her parenting secrets now.)

If you have trouble seeing the humor in, for example, The Grinch who Stole Christmas TV show because you feel so sorry for Max the dog even though you know that in the end all will be well, the Grinch’s heart grows several sizes, and, after the story ends, the Grinch might even publish a best-selling book about his personal growth as a dog-owner and Who-advocate – then this book with its epic, knock-down-drag-out battles between mother Amy and daughter Lulu over violin practice and older daughter Sophia’s scorned efforts at peacemaking is not for you. Like the original Grinch TV show, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is a sharply worded, cleverly constructed cartoon.

The author narrates the audiobook, which lends it authenticity, and she does an excellent job of it, although you may notice her being extra careful to enunciate at times, something that isn’t usually obvious with professional audiobook narrators. Listen to an excerpt from Penguin Audio here.

For a balanced take on the distinctions between “Western” parenting and “Asian” parenting made in Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, I like this Telegraph article, The Discipline of a Chinese Mother from UK novelist Allison Pearson, author of I Don’t Know How She Does It.

Here’s one infamous scene from one of Lulu’s refusals to practice her violin, described in Chapter 11:
She punched, kicked. She grabbed the music score and tore it to shreds. I taped the score back together and encased it in a plastic shield so that it could never be destroyed again. Then I hauled Lulu’s dollhouse to the car and told her I’d donate it to the Salvation Army piece by piece if she didn’t have The Little White Donkey perfect by the next day. When Lulu said, “I thought you were going to the Salvation Army. Why are you still here?” I threatened her with no lunch, no dinner, no Christmas or Hanukkah presents, no birthday parties for two, three, four years. When she still kept playing it wrong I told her she was purposely working herself into a frenzy because she was secretly afraid she couldn’t do it. I told her to stop being lazy, cowardly, self-indulgent, and pathetic.
Jed took me aside. He told me to stop insulting Lulu – which I wasn’t even doing, I was just motivating her…

The book had a little too much about music practice for me (Amy Chua is clearly a classical music lover.) and a little too much about the family pet Samoyed, but I thoroughly enjoyed the author’s journey through a hellish period of motherhood to come out the other side a little older, wiser, and not so over-confident.

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother
Chua, Amy, author & narrator
Penguin Audio, 2011
6 hours, 5 CDs

Disclosure: I borrowed this audiobook through my public library system.

Sound Bytes badgeSound Bytes is a weekly link-up of audiobook reviews hosted by Jen at Devourer of Books.


Fast Times in Navel, Utah: Yikes! Another Quirky Audio Book by Adele Park

cover image of Yikes!For Yikes! Another Quirky Audio Book, a send-up of reality shows, bestselling authors, sex addict editors, and potheads (among other things), longtime radio personality and writer Adele Park, writer and producer of Jitters: A Quirky Little Audio Book, returns to Navel, Utah – home to aromatic orange groves and insular natives who discourage unwholesome outsiders with the ten miles of bumpy dirt road that is the only way into Navel through the desert.

But in this companion book to Jitters, the peace and quiet isolationism of Navel is shattered once again. This time by an invasion of coffee-drinking, marijuana-smoking, scantily clad, exhibitionist performance artists from loose-living places like New York City and Boulder, Colorado.

With backstories straight out of National Enquirer or Soap Opera Digest, the main characters of Yikes! are Blue McKenna, a pot-growing, publicity-shy, bestselling author; her plastic-surgery-addicted sister, Moon; Chet Waterhouse, a sex-addicted NYC book editor who’s jumping ship to television; and Chet’s voyeuristic teenage son, Anthony; who are all involved in taping a pilot reality TV show called Yikes! about performance artists competing to win the prize of exhibiting themselves in a New York gallery. Along with the main characters, the contestants on the show take turns giving their own takes on the producers, the other cast members, and the events of the story.

Full-cast audiobook productions are a different experience than listening to a traditional audiobook. With a traditional audiobook, one or maybe two narrators essentially read a book aloud (often with great skill) but full-cast audio is more like listening to a radio show, minus the sound effects. On the one hand, a badly voiced character can be a problem in a full-cast audio. (In this case, for me, it was the voice of Anthony; it sounded too old and too much like the actor was reading from a script, carefully enunciating each word with a put-on Brooklyn accent.) On the other hand, the voice that bothered me is only one of many, so it doesn’t spoil the whole experience the way a solo narrator who gets on a listener’s nerves would.

There’s an occasional reference to events from Jitters (the first book set in the fictional town of Navel from Adele Park and Straight to Audio Productions) but Yikes! stands on its own and has almost completely new characters. As with Jitters, there is absolutely nothing enriching, educational, or heartwarming about Yikes!. It’s entertainment for adult audiobook listeners who enjoy the broad, occasionally offensive humor of Saturday Night Live or The Onion. Its satirical humor might make you think briefly about your own views on social issues such as reality TV, gay rights, or marijuana legalization, but a moment later, the crazy plot takes over and you’re off on another wild tangent. As Adele Park says herself in a guest post at Life Between Pages:

Using satire, I explore issues ranging from gay rights to freedom of religion.  By exploiting the absurd, I try to illustrate the effect certain attitudes and acts of discrimination have on society.  But mostly, I’m just going for the grins and giggles.

Be sure to enter the giveaway to win a copy of Yikes! on MP3-CD. (U.S. only)

Disclosure: I received several copies of Yikes! on MP3-CD from the author for review, to give away, and for the public library.

Other Opinions (all good)
Audiobook Fans