Microviews Vol. 7: Yet More Books I Swore I'd Never Read

on Friday, February 26, 2010
Well, it looks like I left the best two until last. The month of February draws to a close and I give you the last reviews in my "Books I Swore I'd Never Read" challenge. March is next. Prepare for some closing reflections on what I learnt this month (particularly if you want to become a massive international best-selling author of absolutely no substance), as well as a new, arguably even more embarrassing challenge. Oh the lengths to which I will go for your amusement...

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
Great, just what the world needs. A mormon who knows how to get into your house and shove their dogma down your throat without having to knock at your door. This tribute to teen abstinence and female disempowerment is so tedious that, if you will pardon the pun, it positively sucks the life out of the whole vampire genre. Well done to Meyer (I hate writing her first name - it seems intentionally misspelt to appeal to annoying emo zombies) for getting an entire generation to swallow this codswallop. She even convinced publishers to put out a new edition of Wuthering Heights with Twilight inspired cover art. I, however, am perplexed. Where is the appeal? I've read plenty of horror novels. I've read romances. I've read books aimed at teen girls. I get why many of them are popular. Twilight, however, is just lame. I didn't hate it. It just bored me. I mean, consider the plot. Awkward city girl comes to town and wants in with the popular crowd. She falls under the spell of the mysterious, rebellious loner who causes her to reconsider her aspirations for popularity and gets her to wreak revenge on her tormentors. Oh, wait on. That was the plot of the cool 80's film Heathers with Christian Slater and Winona Ryder. This one is about some clumsy, try-hard goth girl who falls in love with an Efron-esque vampire and realises that she cannot live without him. Literally. She wants to be bitten (read: have sex). He would love to bite her (read: have sex). Indeed, as a vampire (read: man), he is physically wired to need to bite her (read: have lots of sex). But because he loves her so much, he refrains, even when lying next to her in a state of semi-undress. No biteys. Not even with some sort of latex capping on his teeth. In the meantime, they all play happy Addams Family. Some rubbish happens with baseball. And then good vampire Eddie must save poor, powerless Bella from a bad vampire. Very scary. And let's not forget the positive lifestyle undercurrent. Meyer wields her religious message like a sledgehammer, even going so far as to endorse Creationism in a particularly odious passage. She sets back women's liberation and emancipation at least fifty years, suggesting that the fairer sex literally can't survive without a powerful man, and even if she could she would not want to. Hell, I suspect this book is printed with the ashes of all those bras that were burnt in the sixties. Hmmm... Zombie bras... Now there's an idea for Meyer's next series.

Review in Haiku: Teen idol with fangs/ Resists great desires because /Emos taste like crap

I actually put this one out to some friends for their haiku reviews. The results were much better than mine!

Hannah's Haiku: As long as they shine/ Stalking creeps are real hot stuff/ Dexter needs glitter
Rachel's Haiku: Goodbye Dracula/ Vamps die when Edward glitters/ Horney wolf should win
And last, but not least, CJ's Haiku: Twilight makes me sad/ Twilight is completely shit/ Twilight gave me AIDS

The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
P.T. Barnum might have wittily lampooned the idiocy of the majority, but I suspect even he would have been in awe of Rhonda Byrne. The Secret is the most distasteful, deceitful and downright dangerous piece of solipsist wankerism that has ever polluted the Earth. By now you all know the rub: If you want it, and believe it, just ask for it and feel the good vibes and presto(!!!!) it is yours. That's The Secret. Wealth, health, love, a cup of coffee. Only your ingrained fear and negativity are preventing you from having them all. Indeed, it is you - centre of the Universe - who brings about all that is good and invites anything bad that happens to you. Like cancer, for instance. You got it 'cos you asked for it. If you lose the battle, it is because you didn't really want to survive. Poverty. You deserve it. This is victim blaming at its most vile. The solutions are equally offensive. "Food cannot cause you to put on weight unless you think it can". That's a choral symphony for all those middle-American fatsos who want an excuse to eat that extra piece of cake. Or the whole cake. Wow, I can't imagine why Oprah waddled onto this bandwagon. "You cannot catch anything unless you think you can". Great advice in a world of AIDS epidemics and other such health crises. Byrne is either an idiot or a criminally dangerous manipulator. She pretty much ignores anything related to science or common sense, and instead impliedly advocates unsafe sex, suggests that parents need not immunise their children and says that you can use The Secret's methods to cure yourself of 'incurable' diseases. She offers the example of a breast cancer survivor who healed herself in just three months without chemo, radio or any other medical intervention. She just pictured herself healthy and the Universe provided. I went to school with a girl who had the same approach to her Type 1 Diabetes. Guess what? She's dead. Seriously, even purveyors of alternative medicine recommend that their wares be used in conjunction with conventional methods. Byrne suggests ignoring both. Her irresponsibility is truly staggering and I hope that anyone whose health suffers as a result (or the families of those who die) sues her ass off. If the message wasn't horrid enough, Byrne's method is equally suspect. She gives quacks high falootin' titles, invokes (and quotes out of context) great thinkers like Plato, Shakespeare and Einstein, and even carts out the Bible (though only the sequel) to provide doctrinal support for her message. Lest I be accused of unfounded scepticism, I am currently visualising a big mansion with a sexy library and several winning lottery tickets. Plus a world free of poverty, hunger and disease. While I'm waiting for it all to materialise, I'll let you in on a few Secrets of my own. This book is spectacularly bad. It ignores perfectly rational explanations for everyday 'miracles' and forces believers to recast ordinary experiences as extraordinary. It claims a wishy-washy theory - The Law of Attraction - to have the same scientific veracity as real theories like the Law of Gravity. It mentions 'quantum physics' an awful lot to make you think it is smart and scientific. It even paraphrases a Mariah Carey song ("There can be miracles when you believe"). But here's the big Secret Rhonda Byrne doesn't want you to know. She is a bully who will resort to all kinds of negative activity to protect her interests. She diddled co-creators of the original DVD out of millions of dollars. Indeed, she stole the company and moved it offshore. When they tried to sue her for the money, she launched countersuits in weird jurisdictions that judges have labelled "vexatious" and "harassing". She has fallen out with a bunch of the 'gurus' she championed in the book. Some of the others have themselves been the subject of malpractice suits. Everything about and around this book positively stinks, although it does speak volumes about the power of viral marketing (it is probably the greatest example thus far, even bigger than Oprah's other great cause, the Free Hugs campaign). If you still believe in this book, please come speak to me. I have some swamp land in New Jersey that you might be interested in buying. Apparently the waters are regenerative. It will change your life!

The Review in Haiku: Crappy TV hack/ Rehashes worst kept Secret/ That Barnum was right


Post a Comment