My chief interest is fiction. I’m aware, however, that the reading public shows a distinct preference for nonfiction. Thus I feel duty-bound to warn readers of a few of the dreadful nonfiction books being foisted on the unsuspecting.
Recently I received, as a gift from my colleagues, a book entitled The Doctors Book of Home Remedies, authored by the 28 editors of Prevention Magazine, with contributions by Bob Diddlebock. The book is published by Rodale Press in Emmaus, Pennsylvania. Their charge, as stated on the copyright page, is to “publish books that empower people’s lives.” Adjacent to this mission statement one of my gifted colleagues—I suspect it was Arthur Unknown—had written: “To Ab—In commemoration of the forty-fifth anniversary of your unfortunate demise.”
Now, I can enjoy a prank from a piqued pack of partners as well as the next dead Russian literary critic. But the joke is on them. This gift has empowered me to write a lighthearted, scathing review of this 676-page book.
Home Remedies is arranged alphabetically, by diseases, beginning with acne and ending with yeast infections. Reading it can empower one’s life in myriads of ways. There are 2,343 methods of fending off such diseases as bad breath, bed-wetting, belching, body odor, chapped hands, constipation, dandruff, diarrhea, earwax, flatulence, foot odor, forgetfulness, hangover, hemorrhoids, hiccups, incontinence, jet lag, morning sickness, oily hair, oily skin, poor posture (it lists “20 Ways to Stand Tall”), pet problems, restless legs, snoring, stained teeth, and wrinkles. Included in this catalogue of ills are the problems of colic, diaper rash, and teething (written, no doubt, for the child prodigy).
This is an informative book. I discovered that there is an ailment called bruxism (teeth-grinding), and that there are ten ways to deal with it: (1) keep your mouth in the healthy, resting position; (2) crunch an apple; (3) apply heat to your jaws; (4) use a mouth guard at night; and (5) calm down. I will not list the other five, mainly because the authors neglected to.
The 28 editors and Mr. Diddlebock do, however, include the expert advice of a Tulsa, Oklahoma dentist, who advises his patients to break the habit of bruxism by (1) identifying the problem, (2) stating why the problem is bad, (3) stating what your course of action will be, and (4) describing how this new action will be beneficial. Our expert goes on to suggest that you use your own words to describe this habit, write them down on a piece of paper, carry that piece of paper with you until you memorize every last word, then repeat them seven times, seven times a day. If you adhere to these Four Noble Truths, vows the good dentist, success is guaranteed.
Wisely, the 29 authors of this $27.95 bargain advise that in the event of an actual illness, you see a real doctor.
A personal note. The thing I would have liked to have found in this virtual encyclopedia of medical advice is a tip on restoring my ashes to their former condition. I am not looking for 20, or even ten, ways to handle this pressing problem. I would settle for one.