Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Self-Help Books

The newly-formed Pyrrhic Book Company has begun releasing self-help manuals for all kinds of activities in the home, workplace or garden. With titles covering design, hobbies, computing skills and general personal growth, the books all share one common attribute: they are, without exception, completely useless. I decided to take a look at some of the upcoming titles in the manner of someone who needed improving in some way. Here are my findings.

Firstly, the jewel in Pyrrhic’s crown is the mammoth two volume set, How to Piss Yourself. Exquisitely bound in brown leather with gold leaf edging, the two books would look handsome on any shelving unit or coffee table. The contents, meanwhile, are quite substantial, with the first volume dealing with self-urination for absolute beginners, while the second contains essays and papers by many well known self-confessed pantstain-afflicted writers.

The first volume covers so much ground in its 800-plus pages, it’s difficult to summarise here. From the best imbibes for the job to the effect pissing oneself has on different trouser materials, there’s very little missing here. The history of ‘little accidents’ is informative and interesting, and the illustrations are both grisly and gripping. In the second volume, Paul Theroux’s essay on pissing himself across Europe and Umberto Eco’s Public Urination and Postmodernism are both highly readable. Germaine Greer’s feministic history of pissing oneself is also eye opening. But on the whole, as someone who likes to wait until confronted by a porcelain receptacle when evacuating the old aqua vita, this book was not exactly what I would call ‘handy’. I look forward to Pyrrhic’s forthcoming three volume sequel, How to Not Piss Yourself.

How to Make Love to a Handful of Soil is part of the Pyrrhic Boudoir Collection, which contains books of a more romantic nature. This publication was to be a companion piece to the more explicit How to Fuck a Handful of Soil, but since the latter broke enough indecency laws to become banned, …Make Love… is a standalone book.

I found How to Make Love to a Handful of Soil a difficult book to get into, not least because the soil in my garden is more of a sandy consistency than the ideal type given by the authors. The diagrams were, quite frankly, bemusing, and the index only contains words beginning with ‘F’. If a little more attention had been paid to this book, it could have been useful, but as it is, it’s rubbish.

Slightly more promising is the next home renovation-themed book from Pyrrhic, How to Interior Decorate a Potato. The techniques used are self-explanatory and the language is not off-putting, as the authors have kept it simple for us beginners. My main problem with the book was that I was unable to see the fruits of my labours, as cutting into the potato to see my handiwork meant that it was now on the exterior, and I had to start again. But for those who are not put off by this lack of satisfaction from the interior decoration of root vegetables, the book comes with a free scalpel, salt cellar and two potatoes.

Tripecraft is the hot new craft from Eastern Europe, and it’s also the name of the last Pyrrhic book that I’ll be reviewing today. This remarkable publication shows you how to make beautiful things in a variety of methods using only tripe. From tripe crocheted blankets to tripe sculpture, this book has everything for both the beginner and the advanced rejected meat artist. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you could adorn your living room with the tripe tapestry (or ‘tripestry’)!

This book contains everything you’d need to know about tripecraft, from acquiring, handling and dyeing the tripe, through to dealing with the smell and preventing maggot infestations in your artworks. This was the best book out of this group, as the fruits of my labours attracted a great many stray dogs to my house, so I won’t be going hungry for a while.

Pyrrhic books are available from the Internet today and Publishers’ Book Clearance Stores soon.


Falwless said...

Hahahaha, what's with the sudden Tek-Tips tag love?

I don't really like things like "reading," so I usually stay away from books. But How To Fuck a Handful of Soil, I gotta admit, was really good. Quick read. Some of the examples were a little hard to follow, though.

ÄsK AliCë said...

I thouroughly enjoyed interior decorating my potato. I got upset when my dog tried to eat it and threw it out the window in a fit of rage, thus never really truly being able to appreciate the intricacies. Next time.

The Imaginary Reviewer said...

Fal: Someone on Tek-Tips has linked to me twice now. My daily page viewings went up to about three thousand or so, before going back down to the usual 20-30. Sniff.

Alice: I believe How to Caulk a Carrot will be released next year. I can't tell whether the title is literal or euphemistic.

Bitterly Indifferent said...

Tripecraft is my new favorite hobby.