Thursday, December 3, 2009

From Blog To Book

Human communication is a funny thing. The written exchanges of communication in Kerry Miller’s Passive Aggressive Notes: Painfully Polite and Hilariously Hostile Writings from Shared Spaces the World Over prove how hilarious human interaction can be.

Often times when we are angry or upset with someone, we are passive-aggressive as a way to avoid confrontation, especially when it is someone we are close to. Kerry Miller’s compilation of notes between roommates, co-workers, loved ones, and even strangers, shows how people consistently write notes as a way to express these angry feelings indirectly. Patterns emerge, and humorously, it seems like everyone has had a roommate who refuses to do the dishes, or a grandma/mother that makes them feel guilty for not calling. In the workplace it’s the guy who accidentally eats your lunch, or that someone who just seems to live to annoy you.

Check out some funny examples from the book of post-its, letters, and notes people have written and received. The compilation implies that we are not all that different after all, and shows that people can be pretty funny when they are angry.

This book is interesting because it started as a blog. It began when Kerry Miller, then a student, went out on a first date. During small talk, her date described the bickering that had been going on between him and his roommate; in fact, it had gotten so bad that he had been communicating back and forth with him strictly through post it notes. Kerry also had roommates who had given her “friendly little reminders” full of sarcasm and passive aggression about doing the dishes. Indeed, her grandmother was the queen of passive aggressive quips in birthday cards and letters. This inspired Kerry to make a small Internet site where she posted a few of these notes for others to read. The feedback was incredible and spawned the blog Notes began pouring in, with commentary and back story included, adding more comedic effect. After such feedback, Kerry Miller, with the help of Harper Collins, created a book containing some personal and site fan favorites. This book demonstrates that taking the initiative to do something clever can lead to positive things. Much like Mark Zuckerberg, Kerry’s online hobby granted her worldwide success.

While not all of the notes may be labeled passive aggressive, they all provide a glimpse into the personal exchanges going on between people that one would otherwise consider strangers. The reader is given an inside look at the funny ways in which people correspond, and the unusual quirks people have.
I think that this book would be a relevant and humorous gift to give to a high school graduate getting ready to head off to college or enter the workforce. It contains notes between roommates, parents and children, and co-workers; and shows young adults that they are not alone if they are having tiffs within these relationships. It is a quick and easy read which could serve nicely as a conversation piece on a coffee table. The book is also colorful and fun to look at. In some ways it is a voyeuristic type of entertainment, which in fact is immensely popular...
There have been quite a few books with similar premises that are equally entertaining and give insight into the lives of others. I personally enjoy the Found books and magazines, which are simply a collections of notes, cards, and photos etc. that people find. An equally interesting book which I have not read, but have seen in book stores, is Mortified. This is a collection of “artifacts of adolescent expression (writing, art, media)” where “grown men and women confront their past with firsthand tales of their... first kiss, first puff, worst prom, fights with mom, life at bible camp . . . best mall job, and reasons they deserved to marry Jon Bon Jovi.” I think this book would be equally, if not more appealing to teen readers. However, Kerry Miller’s collection remains a witty insight into human emotion and relations.


Anne said...

This is hilarious!! I love stuff like this. I think students would get a kick out of this. Not to mention, hopefully it let's them know of all the irritating things people do so they won't do them in the future. LOL

Hutting said...

This is a very short book. I loved it!!Its actual photographs of letters and post its. The creativity and comments back to the posted signs, letters and postits are sometimes funnier than the originals.Issues/complaints about roommates, fellow apartment residents that steal mail and leave garbage in the hallways, many ones about the people who don't replace toilet paper, eat other's lunches, and microwave messers are all hilariously and creatively attacked in the book.Warning - there is a lot of profanity in the book. I wouldn't use it in a school, its better for a gift to a frustrated friend who needs a laugh!