A grumpy cri de coeur against sensitivity, political correctness, obesity and other hallowed American ideals.
Strausbaugh, who attained nirvanic dyspepsia with Rock ’Til You Drop: The Decline from Rebellion to Nostalgia (2001), is rapidly becoming a garden-variety curmudgeon who’s beginning to sound a lot like someone’s crotchety grandpa—or maybe Andy Rooney. “We’re not just fat, we’re not just lazy, we’re not just conformists, we’re not just narcissists . . . We’re all those things and all the others, rolled up into one big, soft, squishy ball,” he writes, cataloguing what he calls the “Perfect Storm of Sissitude.” He hastens to add, in a PC spasm, that sissy does not equal gay, though he atones at once by characterizing former President Jimmy Carter as someone who “let a bunch of Iranian college students and a bearded lunatic spank him like their bitch on the global stage. God, how humiliating. President Bottom. Nothing against submissives, but who wants one for president?” The rhetoric is about that shallow throughout, and the rest of the book trades in similar gripes against just about anyone who comes along, especially if that anyone is overweight (“Holstein People” is one of Strausbaugh’s nicer epithets). The author’s approach is to aim at the barn and see what boards rattle, and sometimes it works: For one thing, he’s on the money when he links strip clubs, “Starbucks for Sissy sex,” to a fear of sex, death, intimacy and most other realities of life, and he’s also right to consider 9/11 a genuine example of “Shock and Awe,” even if it went a far sight beyond “guerrilla theater.” Strausbaugh then moves on to the softest of targets, academia, takes potshots at all the usual-suspect politicos and sneers at suburbanites—Andy Rooney stuff, in other words, though Rooney hasn’t been heard calling “the clash of Islam versus the West . . . just a tiff between two variations of Sissy fundamentalism.”
Shrill, tedious and heavy-handed—even if occasionally funny and often right on the mark.