Starts great but finishes in a muddle,
This review is from: A Slap in the Face: Why Insults HurtAnd Why They Shouldn't (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Reading this book on the train was not a good idea... Going over of the examples of classic insults, I found myself laughing out loud on a number of occasions. "From the moment I picked up your book until I laid it down I was convulsed with laughter. Someday I intend reading it" in particular got me. With a start like this I was honestly looking forward to the rest of the book. It was nicely descriptive and laced with some wonderful dashings of humour
As it went on though... the spark started to fizzle out and by the end of it had the allure and charm of a damp flannel
It starts to turn about half-way through, when Prof Irvine seemed to start skimming. He stated things (such as how playful teasing between friends can act as social glue and strengthen relationships) but then went into little-to-no detail about the intricacies. In fact, by the end there seemed to be a lot of whimsical notions and little substance. On many occasions we're told "the stoics would probably suggest we do something like..." - so we're not even in facts / tried-and-tested methods now... just guess-work
My main bug-bear though, was the obsession with stoicism later on. This book feels much more like: "The Stoics Guide to Insults". Maybe the problem is that William had to cram in a condensed version of stoic philosophy into the book... But largely I felt there were a lot of holes in the ideas. Some great points for sure (noting how evolution only selected for maximum reproduction, not quality of life) but a lot of cloudy reasoning too. In citing an example of dealing with an insulting lorry driver, William mentioned doing nothing (in order not to fall into a game of superiority) and says that on mulling it over, he felt pity for the lorry driver where he had "allowed insults to turn him into a hateful individual" and cited that as the better option. Right... So instead of locking horns verbally in a bid to win the superiority war (because trying to win is bad) - It's better that we just privately feel a sense of superiority over them... hmm...
So it's a bit of a shame. There are some fantastic points and wonderful anecdotes... but it largely feels watered down and quite tepid by the end. He really could have taken a deeper and more psychological look at dealing with insults (as opposed to a more philosophical one) but didn't. Quirky reading but will likely feel dry to the more psycho-sociological readers