Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Hey Joe? Blow me.

Everyone's favorite plumber is writing a book!
Most of the writers I know work every day, in obscurity and close to poverty, trying to say one thing well and true. Day in, day out, they labor to find their voice, to learn their trade, to understand nuance and pace. And then, facing a sea of rejections, they hear about something like Barbara Bush’s dog getting a book deal--from Timothy Egan's brilliant essay on Joe's endeavors for the New York Times.


B.E. Earl said...

That will be a good bathroom book. I don't mean that it will be a good book to read whilst on the toilet. I mean it will be a good book to have in the bathroom in case you run out of toilet paper.

Bill the wrenchbender said...

WTF? What....why.....aw fuck it, I'm speechless.

Zen Wizard said...

"Hey Joe/Where ya goin' with that manusrcipt in your hand..."

Now there is a classic rock song I could get behind--I am calling WNCX.

Zen Wizard said...

PS--I hope that National Enquirer dude who "assisted" Jose Canseco on his autobiographies "helps" him with this...

That dude can really write. I mean, um, ASSIST a REAL writer who REALLY all of a sudden wrote something...

Anonymous said...

No one must question the Great Obama!

Bill the Wrenchbender said...

What's that got to do with Joe the Faux Plumber?

Zen Wizard said...

Maybe he heard best-selling authors get to "lay a lot of pipe" on the promotional book tour??

Just throwin' that out. 'Cause I heard that...

Kirk Jusko said...

Come to think of it, most PLUMBERS labor in obscurity.

This Joe guy's lucked out TWICE. What the hell's his secret?

Zen Wizard said...

"Everyone came at me to write a book. They had dollar signs in their eyes. '101 Things Joe the Plumber Knows' or some stupid s--- like that. Excuse me, I am sorry," he said. "You know I will get behind something solid, but I won't get behind fluff. I won't cash in, and when people do read the book they will figure out that I didn't cash in. At least I hope they figure that out."


Well, you charged me 650-bones to put a quarter's worth of caulk on a pipe in my basement--forgive me for doubting your literary integrity.

Rory L. Aronsky said...

And then, facing a sea of rejections, they hear about something like Barbara Bush’s dog getting a book deal

That happened to me last night. Found out that the nine-year-old who "wrote" that "How to Talk to Girls" book got a movie deal:


I'm almost tempted to start writing crap, but I'd rather stick with who I am.

Anonymous said...

Well ...

Like Hillary's "It Takes a Village" was better? Give me a break.

The bottom line is most folks will do what they need to do to make a buck while the getting is good, regardless of party affiliation. Al Gore certainly did that with "An Inconvenient Truth." Dick Morris has done the same. Bill Clinton did it with "My Life." Joe the Plumber is doing the same thing. Can anyone here honestly blame him? I don't think so.

The only Republican in Vermont

Erin O'Brien said...

Here's a link for Al and anon.

Obama's book was very well done. Never read anything by either Clinton. But I'm pretty sure anything Bill or Hillary penned is better than Joe's (apparently yet to be written) efforts.

Erin O'Brien said...

It's 3 a.m. and my head is spinning, but even after a few clicks, I now see that the "Joe" book is "co-authored" by a self-published guy. So there is no book deal, probably no advance, and certainly no credibility behind this effort.

In fact, Egan probably should have done a bit more research himself. Joe's "book deal" is quite a few rungs beneath even the smarmiest celeb deals (and just browse the bargain book bin at your local Borders to get an idea of what I'm talking about).

Anonymous said...

isn't research fun when something bugs you so much it keeps you up until all hours of the night? i feel your pain. i'm just now trying to catch up on some sleep lost from an endeavor last week but i guess it's worth it when you can finally get to the bottom of something and save others the trouble.

Anonymous said...

A lot of folks who "write" books have co-authors. This is nothing new. Does that fact make what they have to say any less important or relevant? I don't think so. Not everyone is as gifted a writer as Erin is - I for one am certainly not - so they need help. One of my favorite food writers, Michael Ruhlmann (a Cleveland native and resident) has co-authored books with Thomas Keller and Eric Ripert (two of the greatest chefs in this country and possibly the world). Does that diminish what Keller and Ripert have to say about food and cooking? Not in the least in my view. These guys are chefs first, after all.

My point is that I think we shouldn't be so quick to judge what Wuerzelbacher has to say just because someone is helping him write a book. I say wait for it to come out and read it. Then form an opinion.

Thanks for the link. Looks to me like he's trying to do what all of us are - make a living. Nothing wrong with that in my book. One doesn't have to agree with him, but his pursuit of a living to support himself and his family doesn't diminish in my view what he has to say.

I haven't read anything by Obama nor the Clintons. I dont' think I need to - from their public statements and actions I think I know all I need to about them. As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words anyway.

In Liberal Hell

(S)wine said...

"trying to make a living" can be a nice little cover for doing all kinds of unethical and illegal shit. not saying Joe wants to do that (although...how 'bout them back taxes owed?). shit like this will always continue to amaze me; these half-assed nobodies with nothing much to say getting book deals from the likes of Judith Regan, but fuck it...it is the way it is. garbage and mediocre shit has always managed to sell best in this country. always!

garrett said...

Equal Time for Gary North on the topic of whether Egan's essay was "brilliant" or not (note Gary North plucked the same Egan clause you did to start making his points):


EAGAN: Most of the writers I know work every day, in obscurity and close to poverty, trying to say one thing well and true. Day in, day out, they labor to find their voice, to learn their trade, to understand nuance and pace. And then, facing a sea of rejections, they hear about something like Barbara Bush’s dog getting a book deal.

NORTH: May they all starve as the newspaper monopolies die.

EAGAN: Writing is hard, even for the best wordsmiths.

NORTH: What bunk! Think of Mencken. Or Rothbard. Or me. It's pure joy -- the more, the better.

EAGAN: Ernest Hemingway said the most frightening thing he ever encountered was "a blank sheet of paper.”

NORTH: Or an empty bottle. Paul Johnson did the number on that self-inflated fraud in Intellectuals.

EAGAN: And Winston Churchill called the act of writing a book "a horrible, exhaustive struggle, like a long bout of painful illness.”

NORTH: It was for Winnie's researcher, whom he treated like dirt.


SOURCE: http://www.lewrockwell.com/blog/lewrw/archives/024327.html


Anonymous said...

Last I heard making money by exploiting stupidity was a family value. Vote Sarah Palin 2012.

Or, in the alternative, GET A CLUE!

I know I am likely overly optimistic, but I am currently persuaded the clueless are currently in an evolutionary downward spiral to extinction.

And yes, I think I have a clue.

Proud to be an Elitist.


Erin O'Brien said...


hoosierboy said...

Erin, Would you want your kid to hear that language on the street? hahaha (private joke)

If you do not like what the guy says or stands for do not read his book. Am I to understand because the plumber has back taxes he should be excluded from trying to find a way to make money (such as writing a book or capitalizing on his fame)?

Somehow it has become lost that HE was approached by Obama. Should he get a book deal? First, get over it, life is not fair. The undeserving are often rewarded. Is his story or opinion book-worthy? That is not up to us, it is a business decision by the publisher. Again, do not buy it if you are offended.

The famous historian Barbara Tuchman once opined that research is endlessly seductive, writing is hard work. So what?, her opinion is no more valid than Hemingway's or North's. I write crap, but it is easy for me to do it. A blank sheet is not daunting to me. It is opinion folks.

I am still not sure what the hubub is about. Some shlub is trying to make a buck off his 15 minutes of fame and he gets a professional to help him. Many books are ghost or co-authored, including many by politicians or the famous. I would think we should be more upset that employees of the State of Ohio used their power to investigate a private citizen, just because they did not like his political views. That should terrify us all, regardless of our position on the political spectrum.

Kirk Jusko said...

Sorry, Erin, the first time I commented I hadn't actually clicked on and read Egan's column (I guess I was just too eager to make my point, which, in retrospect, was kind of pointless.) I have now read that column, and, you're right, it's brilliant. I just have one little quibble with him. He attacked Sarah Palin's inarticulateness. Now, I don't particularly want to defend Ms Palin, but she was talking, not writing. There's a differnce. You can re-write a sentence (as I've done with this comment about ten times, and will probably continue to do for another ten) but you can't RE-TALK a sentence.

Although that may be exactly what she was trying to do.

Erin O'Brien said...

From what I can tell about Joe's "book deal," he did not get a deal at all. He and his co-author and whomever he's working with will write the book and pay someone to print it. Usual cost is anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on paperback vs. hardcover, how many copies, etc.

This is probably why Joe and Co. are trying to raise funds now: in order to defray their publication costs. Hence, Egan's column, while I totally agree with it in concept, doesn't really apply to Joe.

This is Joe's "publisher." I've seen many self-pubbed efforts and most are horrific, although there are a few jewels among the muck. Now that I know how Joe's publishing--taking on all the risk himself and putting up the $$--let him make a million dollars.

Anybody anywhere can do what Joe's doing. They just need to bring their checkbook. A vanity press will print anything you want.

Confidential to Hoose: If Mr. North were standing in front of me, I'd introduce myself and tell him my sentiments exactly--even if my kid were listening (then I'd have to give her the "sometimes you get so mad you use rude language speech ..." Ha!)

Erin O'Brien said...

Kirk, I agree--you should see how many damn drafts I write ... It was not an apples to apples comparison.

That said, one of Palin's biggest troubles was her lack of command of verbal language. People judge you on this because they believe it is indicative of your ability to think on your feet and communicate powerfully.

Anonymous said...

First of all, Obama did not approach Joe the Fuckwad. If you watch the video, he (Joe) walked around the area and placed himself in front of Obama. Obama answered his question, even as Joe was trying to walk away (because he didn't get the answer he wanted) Obama continued to explain his tax policy.

Second, Joe is a liar, he is not a licensed plumber, and never had any intention of buying a business. I still think he was a plant by the RNC. But what do I know I am just a liberal Democrat, consiracy theortist.


VideoDude said...

It happens all the time. How many times have you walked into a local bar or night spot and the band playing was the best you ever heard? Or see a low budget and/or independent film/Video, and think, "That movie is better than most of the Hollywood efforts?

I bet ole Joe the @#$&%^!+ sell millions of copies of "his" book.
He has his own website, thanks Erin for pointing that out! We can only hope that after his "15 minutes" are up, that he returns to the obscurity he so richly deserves.


Harry Finch said...

It's time for the Amateur Editor to examine the opening paragraph of Joe's publisher's novel:

It was a bitter cold January night in the city, even for winter in the Bronx. The icy sting of the frigid night air seeped right into your bones the moment you stepped out.

(AE says: Really, how many cliches do you have to unleash to get it across that this particular Bronx night is very, very cold? And I wonder - has frigid night air ever seeped into anything?)

It had snowed some earlier and streets were covered with black ice and muddy slush.

(AE says: I don’t believe snow produces black ice. I might be wrong on this point. But I’m confident that black ice and muddy slush cannot simultaneously cover a road. It has to be one or the other.)

The roads would be especially dangerous tonight, but I had to work nonetheless. It wasn’t really a concern. Besides, the graveyard shift was always perilous for a cop.

(AE says: This is a lot of words to say, “Driving sucked but what the hell.” Graveyard shift is a useful phrase, but what a shame that no one can discover a substitute.)

I tried my hand at this same opening paragraph, which you may judge:

The Bronx night was bone-stinging cold. The prospect of driving over city streets paved with black ice wasn’t very comforting either; but then, the graveyard shift is no cop’s idea of a good time.

I don’t say my version is good; I only say it is shorter. I think the lesson for any writer is, if you are going to write bad sentences, then at least write fewer of them.

Ms OB - Thank you for letting me play this little game.

jonas said...

But HF, we'd buy your book.

So, write the damned thing.

deangc said...

How the fuck did Gary North come up?

I'm surprised that North has any credibility at all after the whole Y2K thing. But that was 8 years ago, and popular culture has a short memory.

I'm with you totally on the Joe-the-Plumber 'book deal', O'Brien. It ain't a 'book deal' in an honest usage of the phrase.

Divana said...

Joe Six Pack is next! hahaha

garrett said...


I subscribe to Gary North's website and read it every day. Following his advice has been very helpful to me the past twelve months.

Although I wasn't reading him in 2000, I have seen some of his Y2K stuff, and it seems he didn't get that one right.

But he's gotten a lot of stuff right over forty years, and he's been getting a lot of stuff right here the past few years.

(Not suggesting that he's right on the Egan article, by the way; I just shared those little gems because I thought EOB might give us a chuckle (as she did). I have no idea what it's like to be a writer; I'd guess like most jobs some people have an easier time of it than others. It wasn't charitable of me, probably, in any event. So EOB, I apologize and hope you'll forgive me.)


Anonymous said...

...And then there are the critics,Tolstoy said that the only writer that he hated more than Checkov was that hack William Shakespear.