Thursday, February 08, 2018

Book-A-Day 2018 #39: Sh*t My President Says by Shannon Wheeler

Sh*t My President Says has an uncredited co-author, but I'm going to try not to mention his name at all here. (It's probably visible on the book jacket anyway, in case the title didn't clue you in.)

Shannon Wheeler has taken a number of Tweets from a very prominent celebrity author -- one very fond of using that platform to insult others and declare himself such superlatives as "a very stable genius" -- and has illustrated them, puckishly or directly, to show what the author might have meant, or what he's implying. There's generally one Tweet to a page, with only an occasional string -- this author is not known for sustained, careful thought -- accompanied by Wheeler's drawing.

It's to Wheeler's credit that Sh*t My President Says isn't as soul-destroying and horrible as just reading the man's words directly: it proves that, sometimes, context really can make things that little bit better. Oh, they're still badly-informed, wrong-headed, self-aggrandizing and regularly disconnected from consensus reality -- nothing can change that. But Wheeler finds ways to make those flaws funny, as if Our Author is just some grumpy old grampa, hanging an onion on his belt and yelling at clouds.

Wheeler's buried lesson is that the old adage is exactly backwards: the universe starts with farce (like Shit My Dad Says) and then repeats as tragedy. Because this is nothing else. But a tragedy in real life can't be avoided -- so we might as well laugh at it, while we still can.

This book exists because this person is saying shit. Over and over and over again. Vile, factually-wrong shit that shows what a horrible human being he is. The very least we can do is be honest about that shit. Wheeler does us the service of that honesty, and wraps it in a little funny bow, to make some of that shit slightly less horrible.

I wish this book wasn't necessary. But it was, because shitty people decided they really wanted a massively shitty leader. Perhaps they will choke on that shit and die. Perhaps they will realize the error of their ways and turn from shittiness. Perhaps the rest of us will find a way to encapsulate their shittiness, like some kind of metaphorical septic tank, so it doesn't spew over the rest of the neighborhood. Any of those would be fine -- the shitty people can decide which they want. But we can't live with this shit forever.

(I note that Wheeler, unlike his model, is reticent to actually use the word "shit" in his title. If that gets this book shown and sold in more places, that's a reasonable trade-off. You don't need to say the word to recognize the stench.)

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