Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Always look on the bright side of things...

The Friday Project have published a book by a chappie called Steve Stack entitled It is just You, Everything's not Shit and the opening paragraph of the introduction reads:

In recent years there have been a number of popular books moaning about life and how crap it is. Whether it be grumpy old men, miserable old women, or people asking 'Is it just me or is everything shit?' I am OK with that, I accept that the world can be a crappy place sometimes, but do we have to be so bloody pessimistic?

Well, with an opener like that, I just had to read it and have him on as a guest on the blog, didn't I?

I'm delighted I did because it's a fun book, the sort of book you'd keep in your powder room and read in snippets. In segments that begin with the letters of the alphabet, the author lets us know about a few things in the world we should be happy about. There's 'Amuse Bouche'--a small appetizer given for free in good restaurants, similar to what's called 'lagniappe' in New Orleans. Some of his picks are naturally very Brit and will appeal to Anglophiles--Bacon sandwiches, The Pudding Club and A Quarter of (various candies sold in the UK corner sweet shops), but others are universal including honey (pots of it were found in King Tut's tomb still edible), unexpected encounters with wildlife--the description was so on point--and Dr. Seuss.

Anyway, here's the interview.

Should you be interested in Steve's book which isn't published in the US, he informs me you can order it directly from The Friday Project at half price as part of their Christmas offerings and they'll even mail it to you for free.

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DMN: Steve, you conceived this book as a sort of humorous antidote to people who are always complaining or whining about stuff? How did you go about deciding what you wanted to include and what you were going to discard?

SS: It really was as simple as sitting down and making a list of things that I liked. That naturally makes it quite a personal list but I think that there will be a core of entries that are universal. Also, part of the fun of the book is disagreeing with it. I know people who violently disapprove of some of the entries and others who claim I have made terrible errors of omission. They are all correct, of course, but the point of the book is not to be a definitive list but to prompt people into a more optimistic frame of mind.

DMN: I was interested to see 'It's a Wonderful Life' made the cut. Is there a British film you could recommend as a close second?

SS: I am a big fan of Hollywood movies and It's A Wonderful Life is such an amazing and life-affirming film so not much comes close for me, although I think an honourable mention could go to the Michael Powell movie A Matter Of Life & Death with David Niven. Great stuff.

DMN: Your Pudding Club entry appealed to me because I'm a lover of puddings, especially Sticky Toffee and Syrup Sponge. They even sell these in ex-pat shops here in the US. Any club in Britain like that that's dedicated to appreciation of fine beer and ales?

I am not a big drinker but I hear lots of good words spoken about CAMRA (the Campaign For Real Ale). They have a website and shop at www.camra.org.uk.

DMN: When you gave the pyramids the nod, what did you compare them to? Did you consider the Aztec and Mayan temples. I mention these only because I had an opportunity to visit them and was bowled away by the engineering as well.

SS: I would guess that if I had also visited those amazing places they would have made the list too. I must confess that part of the reason for including the pyramids was that it made for a neat joke alongside the pyramid tea bags entry.

DMN: Tell us a little about the interesting artwork on your book's cover. What's the significance of the rabbits, lambs and ducks?

SS: Well my book is a response to another book called Is It Just Me Or Is Everything Shit? which had a road sign on the front. We thought it would be fun to parody that and surround it with lots of fluffy bunnies and cute animals.

DMN: Are you working on another project and, if so, can you give us a hint?

SS: I think I can possibly give you a world exclusive on this one. My next book, scheduled for Christmas 2008, is called 21st Century Dodos and is an affectionate look at the everyday objects and experiences that are rapidly becoming extinct - milk bottles, cassette tapes, that sort of thing.

DMN: I just have to ask this because everyone's dying to know....Tell us about something that bugs you.

I am not overly fond of dogs, it must be said. They slobber everywhere and smell.

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