Katherine Thornton is a regular Slog reader, but, insofar as I am aware, not a frequent Slog commenter. But still, she is some kind of intrepid: She has contributed a review of It Sucked and Then I Cried: How I Had a Baby, a Breakdown, and a Much [lack of hyphen (sic)] Needed Margarita for you to enjoy. I wrote about this book's poor punctuation a little while ago. Any errors should be considered a fault of the editor. I am the editor. Take it away, Katherine:
Have you ever read a 272-page blog post? I just did. It took 6 hours. In the text of It Sucked and Then I Cried, Heather Armstrong presented the concept of “crossing over that invisible line to the other side” into parenthood. In this book she chronicles her journey beyond this line and what happened in the first 9 months of her daughter's life. There are only two types of people who will read this book: parents and non-parents. I am a non-parent.
For parents Armstrong aims to delight with camaraderie and to get people to buy her book by showing that her experience is just like theirs, except much worse, but isn't she honest to share her scary story, and isn't she funny using that casual narrative tone where carefully placed emphasis is used to rev up sentences often in CAPITAL LETTERS or by use of that convention where. every. word. is. followed. by. a. period.
For non-parents Heather positions herself as a cross between a wise oracle or an intimate friend who will tell you the whole truth IN GORY DETAIL. There are several revelations that are sensibly assumed to be of the type that scare non-parents*. As a non-parent I was not scandalized by the many occasions Heather alluded to wanting to throw her child out a window (we know she's kidding!) I was not scandalized by her admission that she and her husband did not have sex for seven months after their baby was born (slow-healing episiotomy!) I was not scandalized by her descriptions of constipation during her pregnancy (a preexisting condition in her case!)
What scared me about this book is that I quickly understood that there is another name for that “invisible line” that Heather drew for us. It is the line that you cross when you are suddenly ready to do previously unthinkable things for money for the sake of your child. Like tell your story about how “I had a baby, a breakdown and a much needed margarita”. Heather Armstrong does not have an original story to tell. Heather's writing is not worth reading despite the fact that her story is unoriginal. She has the same material and tools that she had when she was a blogger. For material she has her life story and her willingness to share details that others would never reveal because those details are too personal and or too embarrassing. For a tool Heather has a firm grasp on the self-depreciating style of writing in which everything negative is exaggerated to its hyperbolic maximum MULTIPLE TIMES ON EACH PAGE. E-V-E-R-Y P-A-G-E. Did. I. mention. that. the. majority. of. her. hyperbolic. statements. are. neither. creative. nor. funny? Another tool Heather deftly makes use of is her shrewd evaluation of the market and her realization that she will make millions of dollars for this book BECAUSE SHE IS JUST SO HONEST AND SO HUMAN.
Um, ouch. You can find Armstrong's blog here. Many thanks to Katherine.