Friday, January 15, 2016

Book Review: How to Love Yankees with a Clear Conscience

(Reclaimed from Blogjob. Tags: 1980’scollected newspaper columns,columnist Bo Whaley,dialect in humorous writing,Georgia dialectregional accents in U.S. English,regional stereotypes in U.S. pop culture.)

Title: How to Love Yankees with a Clear Conscience 
(Click on this "copyrighted" image to buy it directly from the seller who posted the image on Amazon.)
Author: Bo Whaley
Date: 1988
Publisher: Rutledge Hill
ISBN: 0-934395-77-2
Length: 160 pages
Illustrations: cartoons by Will Owen/IDG Inc.
Quote: "We can neither hate nor love anybody with authority unless we understand them."
Bo Whaley wrote humor columns for newspapers. These columns were collected into books, and sold well during Whaley's lifetime. How to Love Yankees with a Clear Conscience was his most successful book.
How seriously should this book be taken? It is humor. Whaley exaggerates the regional stereotypes that can actually be observed in the United States in order to laugh at them. Many things he classifies as Northern are in fact found in the Southern States, and many things he classifies as Southern are found in the Northern States.
Whaley also exaggerates his confusion about where the Mason-Dixon Line is. (It is the southern border of Pennsylvania. Maryland, Delaware, Kentucky, and most of Virginia's former northern territories that are now known as Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, not to mention the Illegitimate State, are below the Mason-Dixon Line and, technically, Southern.)
In short, this is the kind of book you might expect a humorist to write if he'd left his home town, worked in big cities far from home for several years, come home to start his second career as a columnist, and heard just a few too many wisecracks about what he'd picked up in the cities. Although Whaley writes in Georgia dialect (less exaggerated, thank goodness, than dialect writers of the nineteenth century) he had married a Northerner; this book illustrates the most natural way a humorist would want to point out the bad taste of jokes like...
"[B]efore he left the boy's Daddy made him get inoculated... 'Can't be too careful,' said the boy's Daddy. 'Shoot'im with everything you got, Doc, an' then dip'im. I don't want the boy goin' off up yonder an' ketchin' somethin' then bringin' it back heah an' givin' it to my cows an' hogs."
All U.S. citizens, even in California, should find something to laugh at in this book; some of us will find more than others. If foreign readers buy this book, they should be warned that the part about understanding people in spite of their differences from you is absolutely the only part of this book you need to take seriously. The rest is mostly jokes, with some references to fashions, events, and places that existed in the early twentieth century but, if they still exist, are different now.
My father loved at least one Northerner, with a clear conscience, all his life. (It helped that Mother wanted to live even further south than Dad's corner of Virginia; she likes it warm, and has never passed up an excuse to go to Florida.) I like many Northerners, with a clear conscience, although I personally did not go so far as to marry one...one of the quirks of U.S. history is that, although Canada is even farther north, when we say "Northerners" we don't normally mean Canadians. I was travelling around between North and South at the time when this book was written, and I can assure you: it's comedy.
Although Whaley no longer has any use for the dollar he'd get if this were still a Fair Trade Book, in order to buy it from me you'll still need to send $5 per copy + $5 per package + $1 per online payment to either of the addresses in the sidebar at the bottom of the screen (below the gift certificate widget). (To send money to the e-mail address I publish, which is not the one I use on Paypal, use the Paypal "donations" button and e-mail salolianigodagewi to explain which book it's for. I don't encourage it, but you can also use the Amazon gift card widget to send our Message Squirrel an Amazon gift card.) You may find better prices elsewhere, but if you do buy it here, please add one or more Fair Trade Books to the package and help me show due respect to one or more living writers.