12 reasons why I won’t be giving Mark Rayner’s new novel to my mother-in-law for Christmas

The cover of a book I will not be giving to my mother-in-law.
Mark Rayner’s new novel, Marvellous Hairy, has gotten some great reviews, and some marvellously entertaining press. It’s been published just in time for the major gift-giving holidays. The paperback comes in an attractive compact format, and it also comes in an economical ebook version. You would think this would make it an excellent gift.

In spite of this, I will most definitely NOT be giving a copy of this book to my mother-in-law. Here are the main reasons why:

The 12 Main Reasons I won’t be giving Marvellous Hairy to my mother-in-law:

  1. The novel contains “adult” language.
  2. The book uses colorful descriptive language, and I mean beyond describing a room as having been painted “belligerently pink.”
  3. I’m talking about sentences like the following:

    He had long greasy black hair that clung to his head like an octopus humping his skull, and then fell onto his his shoulders in oily post-coital exhaustion.

  4. The book has sex in it.
  5. The book has sex and monkeys in it.
  6. My mother-in-law would be fairly scandalized by something that induced me to compose a sentence including both the words “sex” and “monkeys.”
  7. My mother-in-law has probably never spent any significant amount of time contemplating what it would be like to grow a tail.
  8. It is extremely unlikely that the phrase “Release the monkeys!” would make her giggle.
  9. She wouldn’t know what to make of a playful romp of a novel that is described as “part literary fun-ride, part fabulist satire, and part slapstick comedy.”
  10. Especially one that has been called “deeply, unsettlingly weird.”
  11. She certainly would not take well to the suggestion that she get in touch with her “inner monkey.”
  12. She would probably much prefer some lavender-scented hand soap.

Disclosure: Since I’m a big fan of The Skwib, Mark Rayner’s humor blog, I was all set to buy a copy of this book. (Though not for my mother-in-law.) It was already in my Amazon shopping cart and everything. But then Mark offered to send me a copy. (For FREE! Sucker!) How could I resist? (The monkeys made me do it.)

(Monkey images from wpclipart.)

real estate ads get personal

Looking to find that special someone? It turns out that so is the house next door.

Coming soon to a classified ad section near you: the personals meet the real estate listings.

Easy living: fully furnished apartment looking for someone to get their hands in my drawers, unpack my chest, and jump right into my bed.

Open living space: Contemporary 3-bedroom home looking for a ménage-à-trois.

Airy A-Frame: Ideal for someone who likes to play around down below, without being bothered that there’s not much going on upstairs.

Cozy space: Cramped studio with no kitchen looking for individual with few belongings who enjoys long walks on the beach and eating out.

Eclectic bungalow: Colorful and heavily accessorized home looking for someone to seek hidden treasures. The carpet doesn’t match the drapes, but may be willing to strip down to genuine hardwood floor.

Cheap rent: Flat looking for relationship with a tolerant and supportive individual willing to overlook minor structural damage, occasional leaky faucets, and baggage left over from previous occupants.

Modest cottage: Frigid home seeks like-minded individual who is willing to bundle up in lots of clothing and keep your hands off my thermostat.

Penthouse Wannabe: Upper story apartment with mind in the basement desires occupants willing to make up some good stories.

Scenic views: fishbowl-style street-level apartment with large windows and no blinds seeks exhibitionist looking to entertain neighbors.

Well built: Attractive home with impressive plumbing looking for like residents who enjoy lots of hot and steamy showers.

Closet lovers dream: Cosmopolitan metropolitan loft apartment with comfortable walk-in closets looking to be shared by a pair of “roommates.” Spacious living area is ideal for a party for when you are ready come out of the closet.

Vacation rental: Seeking short-term fun with no risk of commitment.


This post was inspired by this week’s Monday Mission, which sought a meaningful relationship with posts “in the style of a sales pitch for your house, from the point of view of your house.” My house didn’t have a lot to say, it turns out. But it would appear that a few other homes did.

morning bowl of flakes

Last week, I told you about a book I have in my collection written by none other than J. H. Kellogg, a book of “plain facts” about sex which offers inadvertent amusement on nearly every page. Last week, I offered up some choice bits I’d found. And as a game, I asked for people to give me numbers so that we could look for something entertaining from those pages. We had 5 participants, who each requested 1 or 2 numbers each. Here are the results:

maverick roark requested pages 3 and 12. Page 3 is the title page, which I’ve typed out in entirety.

Plain Facts for Old and Young by J. H. Kellogg, M. D.
Member American Public Health Association, American Society for the Advancement of Science, American Society of Microscopy, Member Mich. State Board of Health, Medical Superintendent of the Battle Creek Sanitrium, Author of Numerous Works of Health, Etc.
Published by I. F. Segner, Burlington, Iowa, 1882.

Just so we know he’s qualified to say that sex should be avoided.

Page 12 gets you this bit from the table of contents:

The Social Evil.
Unchastity of the ancients–Causes of the “social evil” –Libidinous blood–Gluttony–Precocious sexuality–Man’s lewdness–Fashion…

NotSoSage requested a bit from page 323. This one is from the chapter called “Solitary Vice”:

The entrance of a single corrupt boy into a school which may have been previously pure–though such schools must be extrememy rare–will speedily corrupt almost the entire membership. The evil infection spreads more rapidly than the contagion of smallpox or yellow fever, and it is scarcely less fatal.

Mind you, we’re not actually talking about an STD or some such here, we’re talking about the spread of the “solitary vice” itself.

ericalee requested pages 46 and 72. These are from the chapter “Sex in Living Forms”, which actually does seem to contain some fairly scientific information. Page 46 is mostly about plants:

Nothing is more interesting in the natural world than the wonderful beauty, diversity, and perfect adaptaility to various conditions and functions, which we see in the sexual parts of plants.

He does get a bit excited about plant sex…

Page 72 covers male anatomy:

As the production of seminal fluid is more or less constant in man and some animals, while its discharge is intermittent, the vesiculae seminales serve as reservoirs for the fluid, preserving it until required, or allowing it to undergo absorption.

Hmm…I didn’t really find anything amusing on this page. Perhaps someone with more knowledge of anatomy would, though.

bs requested page 208, which is in the chapter “Incontinence”:

No continent man need be deterred by this apocryphal fear of atrophy of the testes, from living a chaste life. It is a device of the unchaste–a lame excuse for their own incontinence, unfounded on any physical law.

I hadn’t realized how old the expression “a lame excuse” was…

jwbates requested 69, which is also from the “Sex in Living Forms” chapter:

We have sufficient evidence of this in the fact that among barbarian women, who are generally less perverted physically than civilized women, childbirth is regarded with very little apprehension, since it occasions little pain or inconvenience.

Yes, well, you know how barbarians are…it’s amazing they notice at all when they’ve just given birth.

Okay, them’s the numbers you requested. Thank you for playing. Come play again with me soon. (Because as we learn from Kellogg, you wouldn’t want to play with yourself.) If you throw some more numbers (between 1 and 512) at me, I’ll offer up some more nuggets next week. We’ve barely scratched the surface!

crispy flakes of wisdom and crunchy nuggets of knowledge

One of the prize books in my collection is a book by none other than J. H. Kellogg, M.D. Yes, of corn flakes fame. Many have heard of this notable personage from the book The Road to Wellville by T. C. Boyle (and movie based on the same).

I stumbled across this book while browsing in a used book store in East Lansing, Michigan. (I was there for Linguistics Summer Camp.) Having heard of Kellogg, I was intrigued. And with a title like Plain Facts, and a publication date of 1882, I had to see what it was about. I opened the book to a page at random. And laughed out loud. I flipped through more pages, and laughed again. (snort, snicker…) I had to buy the book before I was thrown out.

It turns out that the “plain facts” are all about sex. As written by someone who felt that sex should be avoided whenever possible.

I don’t remember what the first passage I read was. But the beauty of this book is that nearly every page offers some piece of wisdom that I just couldn’t make up. I must share it with the world at large.

For example, we learn from page 87 that young women must not get their feet wet at certain times of the month, or they may do permanent damage:

A young lady who allows herself to get wet or chilled, or gets the feet wet, just prior to or during menstruation, runs the risk of imposing upon herself life-long injury.

Even babies may be in danger from the “stamp of vice,” as we learn from page 183:

Sometimes–rarely we hope–the helpless infant imbibes the essence of libidinous desires with its mother’s milk, and thence receives upon its forming brain the stamp of vice.

And not to leave out the dangers to men, there’s page 366, which offers this dire warning about the perils of auto-eroticism:

Many young men waste away and die of symptoms resembling consumption which are solely the result of the loathsome practice of self-abuse.

So I offer to you a game. Please give me a random (or carefully selected by whatever means you like) number between 1 and 512, and I will attempt to locate some notable nugget of wisdom for you in the vicinity of that page.

[Note: I’ll get back with the nuggets for you next Tuesday, April 10th.]