When I was a wee pretentious lass (as opposed to a pretentious woman who needs to lose ten pounds) I decided to see how much I could communicate by speaking in Simpsons quotes and Radiohead lyrics. It was precisely as awful as it sounds, and I want reach through the fabric of space time to smack teenage Octothorp upside the head.
This reads QUITE a bit like that, but with lots of bible stuff in between, so it’s more or less the exact worst book for me. Of course this is the one amazon would send me a duplicate of. It’s the Anti-thorp text. I could not with this one.
Which is really disappointing, because I love Daniel Ortberg (now Lavery – mazel tov on the nuptials!). I love him as Dear Prudence. This article made me laugh so hard I couldn’t read it aloud to my spousal unit (who was grateful as he hates being read to): https://the-toast.net/2015/03/24/the-revenge-based-sequel-to-cast-away-that-tom-hanks-so-richly-deserves/. I love reference-dense works.
I didn’t love this.
At one point Ortberg writes about calling young men “young sir” or “young squire” and makes a tossed off aside about buying them a drum set. I got that joke. I got the reference. I’ve seen That Thing You Do and I love it. But that’s a damn obscure and oblique reference to make without any payoff – it’s not funny, it’s just a shibboleth to see if you’ve seen the same movies Ortberg has. (Thus ending the one biblical reference I’m capable of making). There’s a lot of this, and whether it was intended to or not, it feels like cultural gatekeeping.
The parts of this that DO work tend to be the ones that engage most with Ortberg’s transition; the later passages moreso than the earlier ones, in my opinion. The bits about deadnaming were hilarious and relatable, being forced to make a bathroom decision mid-transition by his wife pushing him into a door were likewise. And the act of writing that sentence made me realize that what makes Ortberg so wonderfully readable as Dear Prudence and on The Toast is his relatability. That Cast Away piece? Works because it engages with how someone would ACTUALLY feel if their significant other remarried and had a baby remarkably quickly after your disappearance. There just wasn’t enough here for me to connect to, except for the non-oblique discussion of transitioning.
I feel bad that my worst-reviewed book of CBR bingo is the one written by a trans individual, but I heartily recommend Ortberg’s writing as a whole. Just not this book.