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A First Review of December

A little over two years and I’ve just encounter the first review of December. It’s a single star rating with a scathing review, affirming my sense that December is the book I needed to write in order to grow (in many ways). Nevertheless, I feel I must give this review proper reflection, and give my monster some defense.

First, the  review:

“Cole stood near the pinkish arm chair.” Okay, I thought, he probably could have used an actual color instead of the word “pinkish”, but maybe this will get better. It didn’t. It only got worse.

Just don’t do this to yourself. Wading through this “innovative” piece of garbage physically caused me and my boyfriend pain. I was curious, and now I am left wondering why we hurt ourselves this way.

“Maybe there is no point in life. Maybe.” – a quote from this pile of shit.

From Goodreads.

I wish the reader would have given me more information- but I have to use what I get.  The words that really stick with me are “innovative”, “garbage”, and the phrase “pile of shit”.

My first thought after reading the review was “Where did she get the idea that this is supposed “innovative”?” Innovative implies that it’s new, groundbreaking, or something advancing literature (it’s none of these things). It’s influenced by James Joyce and Virginia Woolf, but, like a child artist copying Da Vinci, it lacks the control and education needed for full effectiveness.

My second thought had to do with “pile of shit”. “Shit,” I thought “implies waste- the left overs after digestion. If anything it’s closer to vomit- the kind that comes after food poisoning. It’s unpleasant but it cleans the system.”  In that sense, it really is a work of therapy and one should approach it like a doctor approaches vomit: with gloves and mask.

Third- “Garbage”. She found this novel utterly worthless- void of any nutrients. Arguably, and I’m no psychologist, it’s as though she was expecting roast beef but received charred cedar instead. A reasonable response. But even to this (and what a defense I’m bringing my first child), I feel inclined to say it’s “junk” not “garbage”- it’s the stuff I’ve outgrown and have placed in the attic or scrap yard.

The final thought on this matter is this: a re-assertion of my belief that December is the novel written for the sake of cleansing. It’s my mental/emotional junk designed in the style of those whose stature I aim to achieve. It’s a reminder to myself that, if I can publish and love such a weak and idle thing, then by my fourth or fifth book I will have gained adequate skill to excel.

Which brings me to my response to this disappointed reader:

Thank you for slogging through my monster of inner monologue- though I’m not sure where you got the idea that December was intended to be “innovative” (or “shit” for that matter). I never aimed at innovation (it’s heavily influenced by James Joyce and Virginia Woolf), and it is, in all reality, a mental scrapyard- it has bits and pieces that are useful, the rest gathers dust and rust. My own description of “December” is that it is the written version of banging your head against a wall: it’s repetitive, goes nowhere, solves nothing, and yet- has some soothing aspects.

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Book Blurbs (FUCK by Christopher M. Fairman)

Written in a clear (at times sarcastic) voice, reading FUCK (Word Taboo and Protecting Out First Amendment Liberties) by Christopher M. Fairman (2009) is time well spent. FUCK is a short work exploring the nature of the word fuck as a social and legal problem. Fairman starts by giving an overview of the history of fuck as a word, its usage and etymology, as well as the psycholinguistics of the word, and the inconsistent treatment of fuck in various court cases. “Fuck is taboo-” Fairman concludes, “deep-rooted and dark. For over half a millennium we’ve suppressed it. If the psycholinguists are right, we’ve done so for good reason. Fuck embodies our entire culture’s subconscious feelings about sex – about incest, being unclean, rape, sodomy, disease, Oedipal longings, and the like. The word shoulders an immense taboo burden.” (pg. 188). FUCK is a work which makes the reader think about words and why they are deemed ‘profane’, ‘inappropriate’, and the reasons we feel ashamed when we break the taboos on language. Fairman concludes by saying that liberating our language from taboos is also an approach to freedom of mind (our thoughts are limited by the words we keep), and this freedom starts with relieving fuck of its burden of taboo to expand our herds of words.

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