Dear reader, life is too short for crap books.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

How To Write a Left Wing Manifesto

I realize that, as a good leftie, I am the target audience for the glut of Bush-bashing books on the market. I'm supposed to love them, but I don't.

Why? Because most of them are hysterical, smug, and crappily written. It might seem nit-picky to dismiss a lot of these books over their execution when I support the politics. However, I'm not going to make excuses for bad books that make progressives look as wacky and unstable as Ann Coulter.

Plus, it doesn't have to be this way. If progressive writers would follow a few simple guidelines, they could write meaningful, influential books that reach a wider audience than the choir.

1. Stop trying to be funny if you're not (Dude, Where's My Country anyone?). Simmer down, Michael Moore, and stick to the facts. You're extremely good at certain things, but you're not as clever as you think you are. Also, you're not Jesus. The cover of this book makes me want to hork.

2. We understand that you might like to make some money off of this whole thing, but for the love of God, don't be so damn obvious about it. Books that seem like they were written in two weeks and researched entirely on the internet are just whorish.

3. While I don't care for him much either, I like books that give their readers a little more credit for appreciating subtlety and formulating complex opinions. I do not like books that envision their readers as left-wing automatons, running around in circles, frothing at the mouth, and shouting, "Bush is the devil" at regular intervals.

Some of these books are very very good, however. Two in particular are widely reviled in my household because they are the reason we do not eat meat. Bushwhacked by Molly Ivins and Lou Dubose and Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser are well-researched and well-written books. They blend hard facts and numbers with in-depth investigative research that finds a human angle. And Bushwhacked in particular is charming and funny. This is how good activist writing is done.

I haven't read any similar books from the right (though I probably should), so I don't know if there are any good ones. Does such a thing exist, or is it all O'Reilly and Hannity-esque hacks and nutjobs? If you can think of any, let me know.

1 comment:

Gwen said...

P.J. O'Rourke is at least amusing while he's bashing liberals, so I'll give him some credit there.

But I totally agree with you on this one. Michael Moore's and Al Franken's books often just seem like cheap shots to me--like, it feels good for a second to just be spiteful and obvious and mean, but it's ultimately not very fulfilling.