Friday, September 13, 2013

Snapshot Book Review: Night Terrors: Sex, Dating, Puberty, and Other Alarming Things

Night Terrors: Sex, Dating, Puberty, and Other Alarming ThingsNight Terrors: Sex, Dating, Puberty, and Other Alarming Things by Ashley Cardiff
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I hope that everyone on Goodreads knows that 2 stars means "it was ok," because if I saw a 2-star review on, say, Amazon, I would think that the reviewer didn't like the product. However, this book was literally "ok." But actually, now that I've written that, I'll change my review to 3 stars. Because I really don't think that people read the alt text when making their star rating choices.

As I read the first few chapters--which, really, are essays-- of Night Terrors, I had high expectations for the book. Cardiff's writing style (and choice of topic) reminded me very much of the books I've read by Chelsea Handler: Are You There Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea, My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One-Night Stands, etc. I was amused and horrified in due course, just as I expected to be. And throughout the book, it's fun--especially as a New Yorker--to recognize so much of what she writes as being so darned true. For example:

"We were both in New York City in our early twenties, self-obsessed and pursuing stupid dreams without ever really stopping to ask why w needed to be in New York and paying New York rents to do so, but the city has a crafty way of distracting you from ever wondering that because it's too busy throwing insane situations like this exact one in your face."

"I think people who try to punish kids for masturbating are insane, imposing no small amount of guilt on their children unnecessarily and also stupid because trying to keep kids from masturbating is like trying to play Whac-A-Mole with your hands tied behind your back."

"I don't know about you, but I have worked many shitty desk jobs in which I go into the office at nine a.m., rotely answer forty emails of varying inconsequence, plug data into multiple templates no one will ever look at, highlight dubiously relevant information in a one-hundred-and-fifty-page document no one will ever read, chew a bag lunch at my desk in a joyless bovine way, get yelled at for doing my job with suspicious competence and then spend an hour mailing things to people they may never look at."

Those sorts of "aha" moments are the gems of this book. However, Cardiff moves from writing amusing personal stories in the first half of the book to write longer and longer diatribes on various "hot button" social issues (e.g. gay tolerance, abortion, etc.). Here, she veers away from the entertainment factor that is the point of these sorts of books and spends most of her time defending herself on these issues while simultaneously chastising people who don't happen to agree with her point of view.

Nevertheless, I did enjoy at least part of this book, and I think Cardiff and Handler should hook up and work on a joint project of some sort. (And by hook up, I mean that in the least sexual way possible....)

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