7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Maybe I'm over sensitive, but...,
By A Customer
This review is from: Don't Read This Book If You're Stupid (Paperback)
It's been said here before, but Tibor Fischer is a writer of some talent whose previous work ( especially Under the Frog ) deserves to be read by anyone who appreciates deep, original and blackly funny work. I've been a huge fan of his since his debut and have read and enjoyed all of his stuff thusfar. Fair enough. So you can understand that I approached 'stupid' with some measure of anticipation, expecting (especially from the blurb on the jacket ) more quality writing, with a bleak and edgy slant on things. And for the most part, that's what I got. I wasn't a fan of the first story, the rest of the book was patchy in places but the last one was fantastic and generally, I was impressed, even though the overall tone was a just a tad too despairing to endear itself to me. Ok. No problem. So far so good.
It's just this one thing that grates, and I'm wondering if I am alone in feeling this, or if I am being oversensitive, or whatever, but in practically every story ( I could go back and check, provide quotations and whatever, but I can't be bothered) if there is a minor background character, a bit player or whatever, who is required to be drunken, thieving and/violent, that character is prefaced with the word 'Irish'. Now I'm not unused to the occasional racial stereotype which sticks in the throat a little bit, but I am prepared to admit that in every stereotype there may be a grain of truth. I am also prepared to admit that for narrative purposes, or just for no reason whatsoever ( the author writing 'in character must necessarily write with the predjudices of that character)or for whatever reason... yes, a drunken violent Irishman may make an appearance in a book I'm reading. Like I said, fair enough. Water. Duck's back. Etc. I'm a man of the world and a mature reader and I can see that this is necessary at times. No problem.
But when I'm reading a book where for no reason whatsoever that I can attribute to plot or character development, in nearly every single bloody story the kind of stereotype that gets seriously under my skin makes a seemingly uncalled-for appearance... ok like I said, the first time I don't even notice, the second time I raise my eyebrows, the third time I clear my throat... and by the sixth or seventh time I can't help being a little bit angry, and very sure that I'm not imagining things anymore.
Which begs the question... why? You could argue that every nationality comes off as badly here.. we are talking about a book lazily littered with mean Scots, fantastically rude French, shady looking types who are assumed to be Turks, Russian gangsters ( male ) and rent-a-brides (female); the list goes one. So perhaps you could argue that Fischer doesn't have a thing about needlessly reinforcing Irish stereotypes, because he does it with everybody... so that's alright then. Yes. I would naturally not jump to the conclusion that Fischer actually may have a problem, the kind of problem that if he weren't the educated author type but were merely a guy on a bus, we might call racism... No, I wouldn't want to jump to that conclusion or make that kind of easy accusation or anything like that. But in the marked absence of any other explanation, it seems to be the shortest distance between two points. Or maybe, since Fischer is a 'funny' writer, it's all a big joke.
In that case, chortle. And indeed, guffaw.