After reading a particularly good book, I’m not necessarily ready to dive straight into another. In the interest of letting the flavour linger a while, I’ll occasionally pick up a short novelty book like Sh*t My Dad Says, for example. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t and sometimes I find a gem.
Sexually, I’m More of a Switzerland by David Rose (ed) is a collection of personal ads from the London Review of Books. LRB has thrived for 30+ years in an atmosphere that doesn’t necessarily foster serious literary journalism. In the late nineties, they began running a personals column which has been populated since then by a group of brilliant, bawdy, pathetic and honest lonely-hearts.
“Although this is an advert that screams excitement, the man who placed it (historian, 54, enjoys model airplanes) is strangely subdued”.
In the introduction the editor writes that he has spoken to respondents who were somewhat confused to find the at the ads weren’t meant ironically.
“Did you just look at that other advert? Don’t lie, I saw you. Paranoid, jealous and often scary woman, 42. Do you want this marriage to work or not? You don’t know the meaning of love. London – so why does your credit card receipt say Birmingham?”
Sometimes like a tweet and sometimes like a haiku, there is a limited amount of space (composed on paper and mailed to the LRB office) to convey the essence of what you have to offer a potential mate.
“Does sex have to rear its ugly head? Physically distant, cold, unendearing woman (my age is my business), WLTM man who knows where the door is and when to use it. Sshh – I’m trying to read, and I have to be up early in the morning.”
OK, enough. Craigslist, Match.com and window shopping on eHarmony seem just a little more sad in comparison.
“Correct grammar and proper spelling can be a challenge, and their absence can be a source of gleeful humor to everyone but the victim of a bad grammar attack. How do you react to sandwich boards, road signs, laminated instructions, and other written missives that are just not exactly what their creator meant? If you’ve ever (gently) judged anyone else for their linguistic failures, if you find yourself guffawing about the frequent confusion between “incontinence” and “inconvenience,” if you’ve ever been tempted to whip out your marker to add in or cross out apostrophes, and if you’ve refused to answer e-mails in which “your” and “you’re” are used interchangeably, this book is for you. With pictures culled from the Facebook group by the same name, I Judge You When You Use Poor Grammar is a hilarious and eye-opening tour through restaurants and shops, through parking lots and along winding roads, and around the world.” – publisher