How To Ensure Half Your Readers Isolate Themselves From Your Books

1 Mar

Tom Robbins has a strong voice. He also uses very colorful language throughout the book, Jitterbug Perfume. Unfortunately, not all of it was impressive to me. Just when I was starting to enjoy his original use of language, (the only redeeming quality, in my opinion) he would throw in a completely juvenile and offensive turn of phrase. I couldn’t get into the story. I felt like I was reading the diary of a thirteen year old boy, or a really perverted old man. I did not care for about half of the descriptions, which made me put the book down. Actually, I may have thrown it out of frustration.

I’ve only had a handful of books that I haven’t finished, and it’s a shame that I had to add this one to the pile. I’m sure that there is a plot, although by the reviews I read on Amazon prior to purchasing it, even that is debatable. The author has been described by some as sounding arrogant and pretentious (I know they are similar terms, but I feel that this accentuates the truth) and I found this to be the case in the 100+ pages that I did read. Oftentimes, I would be trying to follow the story, and then — BAM! — here comes the author, inserting himself throughout the narration in a way that was annoying and forced.

Out of four sets of oddball characters, the ancient king was the only one I found entertaining. I wish he wasn’t so obsessed with his anatomy and the functions of it, but Alobar was the most relatable of all, in my opinion. I found myself skimming ahead just to follow his adventures.

Robbins should not try to write women. They are pitiful, undeveloped characters, and seem to exist in this story for the sole purpose of sexual references. Being a woman, I can tell that Robbins doesn’t care in the least what goes on in a woman’s head. I felt alienated from the story right away.

I would quote the book for examples, but instead of passing along the absurdity and crudeness of Robbins’ writing, here is a “How-To” list, which has only a pinch of sarcasm.

How To Ensure Half Your Readers Isolate Themselves From Your Books

Jitterbug Perfume
Image via Wikipedia

1. Include an obscure reference to a vegetable, preferably even before the story actually begins.

2. Introduce several sets of characters, and move so quickly between them that your reader immediately feels disorientated and therefore does not notice that they are all unbelievable and flat.

3. Complete # 2 within the first 20 pages.

4. Use crude sexual references whenever you feel your reader’s shock value might have worn off.

5. Use twice as many sexual references as that.

6. Don’t make any of your women characters of above average intelligence, since your goal is to offend half of your readers, and women are, like, half the population.

7. Do make your women characters only good for one thing: serving up sex like afternoon tea. Oh, and make them unbelievably eager to perform oral sex. Often.

8. Do force your opinions in throughout the story, but make sure all of the characters think the same way. There can be no arguing back from your creations! Also make sure that readers know there is only one “logical” answer and anyone who disagrees is a complete moron. Or, even worse, a person of faith. The horror!

9. Do imply that your book is the best thing that could ever happen to your reader.


So I have to admit, this book is adored by many people. I don’t understand why, but this book has sold, and has even earned the title of “National Bestseller.” My belief is that it could have been so much better. Who knows? Maybe it wouldn’t have sold as many copies and I’m in the minority.

One last thought: I used to like beets.

What books have you abandoned or struggled to get through?


14 Responses to “How To Ensure Half Your Readers Isolate Themselves From Your Books”

  1. Christopher Chik August 13, 2012 at 1:19 am #

    I didn’t read just one book ever. It was by Chuck Klosterman and called Killing Yourself to Live. He was a lot like this guy, but replace sexual women references with drugs or hipster doofus wants to be Kerouac nonsense. I read 30 pages before realizing it was never going to actually be a book about why rock stars kill themselves to live, and slammed my head into a drawer, and exchanged it for a book without a misleading title I’d read all the way.

    Consequently, when a woman writes something like this, they call it Dead Until Dark and make an HBO series about it. She does all those things, but subjugating men instead. Funny stuff. :)

  2. Krista Michelle Breen August 12, 2012 at 3:48 pm #

    Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet!

    All of the characters just seemed to exist for crappy things to happen to them. A really long book of waiting for someone, anyone to do the right thing.

  3. literatureloony March 8, 2012 at 9:54 pm #

    I like your post Jen! Your checklist was awesome…I will say, I have struggled to get through a book Joseph Conrad’s — The Heart of Darkness. I just couldn’t do it. I got through a good portion of it, but…yeah.
    And yes, some men should *not* write women, but then again, some women should *not* write men hehe.

  4. Rebel Sowellr March 5, 2012 at 10:56 am #

    Great post. I read Robbins The Fan Club many years ago when I was very young and enjoyed trash. My tastes have grown since then, thank God, and I will never read another one of his books again.

  5. Natalie Kenney March 2, 2012 at 9:00 pm #

    Great post, Jen. Sometimes I find it so much easier to write about a book I didn’t enjoy because there’s much to pick apart about it. I love the checklist!

  6. Kelly Gamble March 2, 2012 at 12:06 am #

    Didn’t we just have a Tom Robbins talk? LOL. This was great, Jen, and it’s true, some men have no business writing woman, and I’m sure, v-a-v.

  7. Suzi Shumaker March 1, 2012 at 11:24 pm #

    So, how do you really feel about this book? :) Great idea for responding to a book you despise.Just my opinion, but from the men I know, I would guess that women make up far more than half of the potential readers in this genre.

    • jboissonneault March 9, 2012 at 11:25 am #

      Haha, yes, but some women have actually liked this book. Based on the reviews on, it seems that there were quite a few people who enjoyed this “book.” LOL

  8. Novel Girl March 1, 2012 at 8:29 pm #

    I loved this post so much! All those points you raise about frustrating and annoying the reader are good aspects to be aware of for writers. I’ve only read a few books that irritated me this much but I definitely get what you are saying! Urgh!

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