News & Politics

Advice Books You Shouldn’t Give as Gifts: Is He Straight? and Losing Your Job Could Be a Blessing in Disguise


Each Thursday, your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from basements, thrift stores, estate sales and flea markets. I do this for one reason: Knowledge is power.

Is He Straight? The Checklist for Women Who Wonder

Author: Bonnie Kaye, M.Ed
Date: 2004
Publisher: iUniverse
Representative Quote:

“If your husband spends excessive time on the internet viewing gay websites or porno, or if he watches gay porno at home, you have reason to be concerned.” (page 40)

“When gay men are looking to excuse those homosexual urges, they may use the ‘Abuse Excuse’ when discussing the situation.” (page 48)

This week your Crap Archivist examines human tragedy. What happens when a passionate woman like Is He Straight? author Bonnie Kaye puts all of her heart and potential into one impossible dream? When she offers every last feeling she has and hopes against hope that things somehow work out?

In short: what happens when authors like Kaye shell out a couple grand to iUniverse, the vanity publishing house whose name the Google search box pairs up with “scam” before you’ve even typed out to five letters?

Like a Xanga you pay for and have to distribute by mail, iUniverse spares authors the troubling distraction of editors, critics, and readers. Kaye’s time was not wasted by fact checkers, who might have queried her contention that 25% percent of gay men are married to straight women. And her integrity remains uncompromised by public relations folks who might have proposed she not close the book by insisting that she and homosexuals have a “difference in moral values” or observing, “I came to believe that gay people find it easier to lie than straight people.”

Kaye writes at length of her own failed marriage to a man she didn’t know was gay, so the book is often sad. And pissy, considering that marriage ended in ’84. A typical barb: “Gay men do not have to feel attracted to a man to have sexual relations with him.”

I feel for her. But when Kaye attempts to build her personal experiences — and those of women she has counseled — into a practical checklist designed to ferret out gayness, she descends into witch-hunt goofiness.

She lists eleven “behavior patterns” that she considers “cause for alarm.” The first four all concern the husband’s utter disinterest in sex with his wife, which I agree is a bad thing in marriages. Sometimes she’s a little on-the-nose about it, as in checklist item four:

4. Disgust over normal sex functions:

“If your husband is turned-off by the thought of touching your vaginal area or performing oral sex on you, this could be a sign of a problem.”

Other kind of obvious warning signs: if he enjoys gay porn (#7) and if he always hangs out in gay bars (#9).

Other checklist items suggest she believes sexuality is absolutely rigid:

5. Admission to past gay enocunters

“If your husband does confess about past sexual encounters with men — buyer, beware.”

So, youthful experimentation is to husbands what an accident history is to used cars?

6. The word ‘bi-curious’ or ‘bi-sexual’ comes up in conversation

“If a man is telling you that he tried it but didn’t like it, be aware that he may try it at a later time and LIKE IT.”

I think this means your husband is gay if he “likes” gay sex on Facebook.

And woe to the woman whose husband works in the theater:

8. Gay friends

“If your mate’s closest friend(s) is gay, this indicates a problem. The gay world is entirely different than the straight one, and even though straight people do have gay friends, it is rare for a straight man to have a close relationship with a gay man.”

Still, there’s one I agree with:

10. Homophobic comments

“If you find your husband out of proportion comments about gay people, gay bars, gay sex, etc., even in a critical way, you may have a problem.”

You know who she just implicated as a bad husband? Every guy from my junior high!

Anyway, I can’t take more of the hurt and rage boiling beneath — and poisoning –Kaye’s every line. Instead, let’s move on to something lighter from the great slush-pile that is self-published advice books. How about another pink-and-blude covered iUniverse tragedy with a title guaranteed to offend ten per cent of the population?

Losing Your Job Could Be a Blessing in Disguise

Author: Marty Morris
Date: 2008
Publisher: iUniverse
Reason This Book Does Not Inspire Confidence: Nobody bothered to proofread the cover’s haloed pink slip:

Here’s to your great fure, John (Johnny) F. Doe!

As all of Michigan can tell you, getting laid off is the best thing that ever happens to families. I mean, how else do average Americans ever get their stories told by political candidates? Still, some Americans have not yet gotten the message, especially those still paid to show up at Rent-a-Center and CashAmerica, this country’s last businesses, Unfortunately, this slapdash book won’t help. Despite the title, Marty Morris never gets around to defining exactly why unemployment is a blessing.

In fact, Morris wanders offtrack by the second page of his preface, musing about how the world has changed since “the 9/11 Event” and asking, for no clear reason but with impressive circumlocution,

“Do you look at or treat someone in a grocery, drug or convenience store aisle with a different skin color, or a different religious, political belief or dress style than your own like you did previously?”

My solemn promise: I will mail a copy of this book to the first person to diagram that sentence.

Immediately after that, Morris rattles off a couple other tragedies that also might have inspired such soul searching:

Yes, the assignations of those three touched all our families.

Mostly, Morris peddles shopworn recommendations familiar from most other self-help books and that woman who read my aura in Sedona that one time: write a bucket list. Perform a self-assessment. Avoid nay-sayers.

He marries business self-help fluff (quotes from Vince Lombardi, paens to the importance of listening) with practical advice, much of it amusingly obvious:

“If your husband, wife or significant other works full time, you might consider listing yourself on their health insurance coverage.”

Or outdated:

Save time at work by “writing your own memos on the office word processor, instead of depending on the steno pool.”

That one comes from a thirty-page chunk about being a more efficient worker at the job you no longer have.

The assumptions Morris makes about his readers fascinate me. He presumes you have had sufficient clout to make demands of a steno pool but also that you’re a hobo who hates being made to dress like the fat cats at Sears:

“If you need a ‘model’ to help you in choosing a dress style, look at business clothing ads in your local newspaper, particularly the Sunday newspaper. They set the pace, whether you like their style choices or not.”

The greatest lessons he has to share concern the perils of self-publishing. With no dedicated editorial staff to help him out, his book suffers mightily, from proofreading right down to pagination. Here’s my favorite chapter end:


Maybe you’re supposed to draw it?

And just three pages later:

Counting on self-motivation to fill those pages? That’s the iUniverse difference!

Here’s the publisher’s prices, by the way. For just $799, they will publicize your book through social media, and for $999 they’ll announce your book to the world through e-mail, which is a new and useful tool!

No word on how much they’ll charge to save River City, Iowa, with a new boys’ band.


Morris pads his book out with instructions for journaling, listening exercises, and a list of web-sites that might be helpful (of he writes “It could be a cattle call. You tell me.”)

Best of all is his eleven page list of “Action Verbs for Writing Achievements/ Accomplishments.” Just like your resume, it starts with abolished and ends with zipped.

Others guaranteed to make your work history sparkle:


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