Man Claims Right Wing Book Caused PTSD

-Park Slope, NYC

Evan Fein-Epstein received his first manuscript from Tonkler and Huff Publishing last Wednesday morning after completing the company’s in-house certification as a Sensitivity Reader.  Late Thursday morning, after attending an organic pet potpourri-mixing seminar and an impromptu Resist Trump Chant Circle at The Learning Annex, he was ready to begin reviewing Jack McNulty’s latest novel in the wildly popular Storm Hardcastle Thriller series: Option Zero.  By three o’clock Evan Fein-Epstein was suffering from PTSD.

“The passages that contained the AK assault guns made me feel like I was in Iraq or

Bad Star ships on the Wrong Side of the Law and Gay Robots

something,”  said Evan while both hands held a slightly shaking cup of Mystical Bliss during our first interview.  “Those guns should be banned.  They shoot thousands of rounds per second.”

Evan is part of a new program being standardized by major publishers to help vet tomorrow’s blockbuster reads and protect readers from harmful material.  Sensitivity Readers scan finished manuscripts for harmful content that might offend certain readers.  Themes such as gender, sexuality, and race are scrutinized to prevent a dwindling reader base from being exposed to dangerous or patriarchal ideas.

“This… this… Storm Hardcastle secret agent was constantly “mansplaining” over female characters.  My wife would never allow me to treat her this way.  She wears the pants and we’ve both agreed on that. In one scene, a gender-identified woman is talked over when she proposes a sensible plan to negotiate with the terrorists who want to blow up Manhattan. The whole novel was rife with testosterone, big guns, and white privilege.  In fact, the President wasn’t even a woman!”

Amish in Space!

Evan found it difficult to go on as the vetting progressed.  He called his contact at Tonkler and Huff and asked if he might make some editorial suggestions to improve the diversity of the novel directly to the author.  “There weren’t enough gender-questioning characters on the SEAL team that tries to rescue the diplomat from inside Iran.  It felt wrong.  Everything I learned in my Creative Writing courses at Hunter College told me the entire narrative was patently false.  But they wouldn’t listen at Tonkler and Huff. I couldn’t get through to the editor!”

After spending the afternoon listening to All Things Considered and being calmed, somewhat, by the reassuring Nina Totenburg, Evan was ready to return to McNulty’s world of violence, danger, and espionage.  “I made a cold-brewed Kombucha and promised myself a reward if I could just get through another chapter. A bottle of chardonnay and an evening of Transparent with Jeffrey Tambor was definitely on tap. I felt like I’d been to hell and back.  I’d earned my war medal.”

But by six o’clock Evan was once again in tears.  He phoned his wife Abby Epstein, a housing lawyer for the city, hoping for consolation, inspiration, and validation.  But she was at a business meeting over drinks with someone named Lars, according to her secretary.

At this point Evan descended into a world of violence, unable to distinguished between what was real and what was fiction.  “It was like George Bush was telling me to waterboard my neighbor Mrs. Koppleman.  As I read further and further into the manuscript… I felt like I was on a journey… going up river on a “Kill Mission” for the NSA… like that revival with Brando that Abby and I saw a few years back at the Twinplex.”  Evan curled into a fetal position within the family Safe Space and tried to focus on an Indigo Girls CD to calm his nerves.  “The pronouns!  He used pronouns like they were weapons.  It was like he was trying to rape me.  Trying to turn me into a killer.”

A long night passed as Evan fought to hold on to his shattered sanity.  A sanity shattered by a writer spewing forth male, macho fantasies that threatened Evan’s carefully-crafted metro-sexuality.

Weird, huh?

“I like bow ties.  What can I say?”

Abby’s meeting with Lars went late and Evan was finally able to take enough Ambien to drift off into a tortured sleep.  The next morning he appeared at the offices of Tonkler and Huff to report on what he’d found in McNulty’s manuscript.

“It was a propaganda film for the Patriarchy!” he declared.

Janice Bummueller-Wagg, the head editor at Tonkler and Huff reacted immediately.  She ordered the junior editor in charge of McNulty’s contract to immediately remove it from the publication schedule.  Cimmaron Skye, a gender-studies graduate of Oberlin with a minor in publishing suddenly found herself caught up in her first big publishing scandal.  After informing McNulty’s agent that there were “problems “with the manuscript she immediately issued a series of vague-tweets about “shutting down the machine” and “my rape” all hashtagged #Resist

“We can’t thank Evan enough,” says Janice Bummueller-Wagg.  “Honestly, we want to publish more fiction like Lavender and Croquet, or even nonfiction like Underwater Hijab: A Muslim Girl’s Quest to Swim in the Olympics at Tonkler and Huff. We don’t need McNulty’s bestselling drek here.  Sure it sells big.  But we were suspicious once we got a look at the legions of fans showing up at the signings.  They’d line up for hours wearing their MAGA trucker hats just to get him to sign a copy of his latest book.  We’ll take the hit financially… it’s the right thing to silence something you know is a danger to free speech.”

“I felt whole again,” recounts a calm, yet haunted Evan during our final interview.  “I felt like I’d done something noble by pointing out how dangerous and offensive this writer is.  He should be forced to enter some kind of rehab, or a reeducation camp, before he’s allowed to write again.”

Evan and I sit in a coffee shop.  We’re drinking honey bark tea.  He’s wearing a scarf.  Abby has been on a business trip to Europe with Lars since the day after this all began.  He misses her.

“I miss her.  But I know that’s wrong.  It’s Patriarchal.  I just wish I could share this with her.  I wish she could hold me right now.”

 

Nick Cole was once suspected of murder by the NYPD, but it was a misunderstanding. He also wrote a book called “Ctrl Alt Revolt!” that made a bunch of people mad.  Ironically, it won the Dragon Award in 2016.  His website is currently blackballed by The Department of Defense.  He also does satire.  Here’s some…

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About Nick Cole

Nick Cole is a working actor living in Southern California. When he is not auditioning for commercials, going out for sitcoms or being shot, kicked, stabbed or beaten by the students of various film schools for their projects, he can often be found as a guard for King Phillip the Second of Spain in the Opera Don Carlo at Los Angeles Opera or some similar role. Nick Cole has been writing for most of his life and acting in Hollywood after serving in the U.S. Army. You can also find him on Twitter.

6 Responses to Man Claims Right Wing Book Caused PTSD

  1. I take it this is a work of fiction-commentary about how Sensitivity Readers are now being employed to have to screen books that might otherwise be seen as insensitive to the general public.

    “Why, I am So Deeply OFFENDED! I have PTSD and that is just RUDE and CRUDE and HORRID of you!”
    – That’s what I feel about sensitivity screening books before they are published. It’s a joke, a big ridiculous joke. –

    I DO have PTSD and if people are getting PTSD from reading a dang-gum work of fiction they need to stop reading. My Vet has PTSD and we read ALL the time, and not one bit of it triggers us… but maybe we’re a bit tougher then some folks?

    If people are becoming upset from FICTION they need to put down that book and get another one… they also should turn off the TV, for that matter, because it has a Lot worse stuff on it than you can find in most books. I have been ‘triggered’ by movies, but not books. I’m not saying it can’t happen, I am just saying it’s easy to avoid – put the book down, for gosh sakes, and pick up another one. Or here’s a novel idea – Read the synopsis before buying the book!

    You know – not too long ago I joked around while giving a review for a Really horrid book. Yes, although I rarely do it, I gave a book a really low score – I rarely do it because I rarely open lousy books, I guess, but that night I saw it free and looked at it because I was feeling down and I thought maybe I’d get a pick-me-up. To me it was a horrid little book that failed on multiple levels – it was trying to say that the road to feeling good about yourself – As A Person – is in how you look/dress and in getting a mate – period – and had very little to do with anything else. I read the whole dang thing in less than an hour and it was, to me at least, really BOGUS. But instead of nit-picking it to the extreme I made light about it and joked about it – and gave it a bad score too.

    I guess the non-fiction little eBook was real to the writer and her friends because five or so of her best buds then attacked me in comments – saying such things as: the parts of the book I had commented directly on weren’t in the book (they were); that I had some sort of agenda against the author (whom I have never met nor will I – had never even heard of her until I saw that book for free-promo); that I am a slithering snake and to not listen to me, and so on. No kidding. I said five or so but a few of them commented more than once, really trying to get me to come back so they could have a witch hunt online and attack me some more for leaving a lousy review. Those friends who commented also had said they had used the author’s methods and feel better about themselves – except for the one man – he said nothing turns him on more than seeing a pretty woman in a cute little sun dress. I watched the comments roll in for a week, then they stopped, and around the tenth day I went back and told them what-for. I told them exactly how I judged the book bad and I apologized to the author for not having done so to begin with. I said that I like to use HUMOR to feel good sometimes and that I sure hadn’t gotten any sort of a pick-me-up out of her book, so I left a humorous review. I then went on and gave her suggestions – and I SUGGESTED SHE GET SENSITIVITY READERS and redo her book. No kidding. I figured if her friends are so sensitive to a bad review, she needs to get hers checked, for their sake. I didn’t say it that way, but that is what I meant… and I did suggest she hire one. As of one day a week or so ago my review had four likes and four dislikes, and no one else had reviewed it except her friends (who all have hired her to help them redo their closets or in some other fashion adjust their wardrobe and by proxy – their lives, by the way), and that one ‘bad’ review up there… mine. The fact is that her book is ill conceived… or it is in my view. I am just one person but I have the right to say what I want to so long as I am not hurting anyone on purpose. That’s why I apologized to that author – in case I’d hurt her feelings – because the very first comment MIGHT have been from her – and the question was posed to me, the reviewer – did I not feel the book had any merit at all.

    And, that is how I figure sensitivity reading SHOULD be done. Sensitivity readers should read it for the AUTHOR, so that when the reviews roll in the author won’t be upset by them if they get bad reviews. 😉

    My Vet called and since I didn’t make a cake yet he’s picking up ice cream on his way back from town. He’ll be in in about another hour – Lucky me. Now I have to go heat dinner – I cooked taco meat & made salsa earlier. Good Food, Good Times – may censored books NEVER Ever cross our threshold. We’re READERS – we don’t even own a TV. We are far from the ‘norm’ – but we’ve been readers our whole lives and we know right from wrong. It’s just flat WRONG to censor books. Or people, for that matter. I don’t believe in cruelty, but I don’t believe in censorship either.
    Write-On I take it this is a work of fiction-commentary about how Sensitivity Readers are now being employed to have to screen books that might otherwise be seen as insensitive to the general public.

    “Why, I am So Deeply OFFENDED! I have PTSD and that is just RUDE and CRUDE and HORRID of you!”
    – That’s what I feel about sensitivity screening books before they are published. It’s a joke, a big ridiculous joke. –

    I DO have PTSD and if people are getting PTSD from reading a dang-gum work of fiction they need to stop reading. My Vet has PTSD and we read ALL the time, and not one bit of it triggers us… but maybe we’re a bit tougher then some folks?

    If people are becoming upset from FICTION they need to put down that book and get another one… they also should turn off the TV, for that matter, because it has a Lot worse stuff on it than you can find in most books. I have been ‘triggered’ by movies, but not books. I’m not saying it can’t happen, I am just saying it’s easy to avoid – put the book down, for gosh sakes, and pick up another one. Or here’s a novel idea – Read the synopsis before buying the book!

    You know – not too long ago I joked around while giving a review for a Really horrid book. Yes, although I rarely do it, I gave a book a really low score – I rarely do it because I rarely open lousy books, I guess, but that night I saw it free and looked at it because I was feeling down and I thought maybe I’d get a pick-me-up. To me it was a horrid little book that failed on multiple levels – it was trying to say that the road to feeling good about yourself – As A Person – is in how you look/dress and in getting a mate – period – and had very little to do with anything else. I read the whole dang thing in less than an hour and it was, to me at least, really BOGUS. But instead of nit-picking it to the extreme I made light about it and joked about it – and gave it a bad score too.

    I guess the non-fiction little eBook was real to the writer and her friends because five or so of her best buds then attacked me in comments – saying such things as: the parts of the book I had commented directly on weren’t in the book (they were); that I had some sort of agenda against the author (whom I have never met nor will I – had never even heard of her until I saw that book for free-promo); that I am a slithering snake and to not listen to me, and so on. No kidding. I said five or so but a few of them commented more than once, really trying to get me to come back so they could have a witch hunt online and attack me some more for leaving a lousy review. Those friends who commented also had said they had used the author’s methods and feel better about themselves – except for the one man – he said nothing turns him on more than seeing a pretty woman in a cute little sun dress. I watched the comments roll in for a week, then they stopped, and around the tenth day I went back and told them what-for. I told them exactly how I judged the book bad and I apologized to the author for not having done so to begin with. I said that I like to use HUMOR to feel good sometimes and that I sure hadn’t gotten any sort of a pick-me-up out of her book, so I left a humorous review. I then went on and gave her suggestions – and I SUGGESTED SHE GET SENSITIVITY READERS and redo her book. No kidding. I figured if her friends are so sensitive to a bad review, she needs to get hers checked, for their sake. I didn’t say it that way, but that is what I meant… and I did suggest she hire one. As of one day a week or so ago my review had four likes and four dislikes, and no one else had reviewed it except her friends (who all have hired her to help them redo their closets or in some other fashion adjust their wardrobe and by proxy – their lives, by the way), and that one ‘bad’ review up there… mine. The fact is that her book is ill conceived… or it is in my view. I am just one person but I have the right to say what I want to so long as I am not hurting anyone on purpose. That’s why I apologized to that author – in case I’d hurt her feelings – because the very first comment MIGHT have been from her – and the question was posed to me, the reviewer – did I not feel the book had any merit at all.

    And, that is how I figure sensitivity reading SHOULD be done. Sensitivity readers should read it for the AUTHOR, so that when the reviews roll in the author won’t be upset by them if they get bad reviews. 😉

    My Vet called and since I didn’t make a cake yet he’s picking up ice cream on his way back from town. He’ll be in in about another hour – Lucky me. Now I have to go heat dinner – I cooked taco meat & made salsa earlier. Good Food, Good Times – may censored books NEVER Ever cross our threshold. We’re READERS – we don’t even own a TV. We are far from the ‘norm’ – but we’ve been readers our whole lives and we know right from wrong. It’s just flat WRONG to censor books. Or people, for that matter. I don’t believe in cruelty, but I don’t believe in censorship either.
    ✌ Write-On ✌

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