Shame, Envy, Otters

A very merry Monday to you all, and I do hope your weekend was full of autumnal good cheer. First up: a hearty thank you to all the lovely people who stopped by our table at the Texas Book Festival—it was great to meet you, and we trust you’ll enjoy reading and sniffing your spiffy new books.

Coping with EmotionsAnd now let’s get the week off to a sunny and self-improving start with Dina Del Bucchia’s Coping with Emotions and Otters. A poetic piss-take on the self-help genre, Coping offers a wry and surprisingly poignant guide to identifying and managing our pesky emotions. Sadness, for instance, should never be underestimated: “Pay the guy / in the basement of the mall / to engrave your dreams /  in black metal bound to semigloss cherry.” And if you’re experiencing a little jealously, it might help to undermine the object of your envy:

Take a friend’s mother out
to lunch at that place
she always pines for—
rustic bread, sharp dill,
clotted spreads. Talk
about things she loves—
weekends away, popular 
news anchors, other people’s
problems. Pretend your friend
is the one who forgot to feed the fish,
forgot to vote, forgot
to mail a birthday card
to her own grandmother.
Use your friend’s name
only in reference
to recent sex

Other emotions discussed include anger (“Cure cancer and keep it to yourself / Don’t spread a word of it. Walk / through hospital wards beaming”) and shame (“become friends with preteens / who share your interests”). And there are also paths to happiness (an emotion accurately defined as “soft lighting, WiFi connection, rat poison”):

Wear bare legs
in the cold.
Stand against
weather, moisture.
Carouse in
rush of chill.
Red welts
badges of honor.

Coping is funny, smart, and satirical without being snarky. If you’re keen to better manage your pathetic sadness and rage while also learning about the lifestyles of celebrity otters—and I think we can all agree the world needs more Mustelidaen verse—you should stop by Malvern Books and pick up a copy of Coping. And speaking of important otters, here’s a little scholarly discourse for you.