My review of Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies: On Myths, Morons, Free Speech, Football and Assorted Absurdities first appeared in Shelf Awareness earlier this week. I'm excited to reprint it here today, especially in light of the wonderful Supreme Court rulings this week. In Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies, Kluwe impresses repeatedly, "if you don't want someone to do it to you, then don't do it to them." That "it" can be anything...the Golden Rule.
Also, on an unrelated note: I never read a book because of the title until this book. That is just the greatest title in the history of titles. Read on...
First line: "I've decided to call my own mind."
The overall theme of Chris Kluwe’s debut can be summed up in a sentence from his piece called “Graduation.” He advises his audience, “Our world is only as good as we’re willing to make it, and that means treating others how we want to be treated, letting others live in freedom so they’ll let us do the same.” In the letters, essays and stories that make up Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies, Kluwe emphasizes empathy with humor, passion and even philosophy.
The collection includes some content previously posted to Kluwe’s former Out of Bounds blog on the Pioneer Press website, as well as his famous open letter to Emmett Burns with a revised version for those who took issue with his language. He employs side-splittingly funny analogies, like a comparison of toilet paper to short-term/long-term gains. When he talks to or about his family, there’s genuine warmth under his clever wit.
But he’s also vehemently frank when he addresses topics such as gay marriage, societal values or gun control. Kluwe challenges his readers to “never be afraid to stand your ground for something worth fighting for.”
The pieces are short, making the read go by seemingly quickly. And Kluwe’s unpredictability in his approach to each will keep readers curiously turning the pages all the way to his self-composed eulogy that includes a funeral drinking game and mandates cake and ice cream.
Intelligently and thought-provokingly written, Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies is relentlessly honest; Kluwe pulls no punches, spares no language and writes a rip-roaring debut.
This ends what I submitted to Shelf Awareness. Due to word limits I can't often include a lot of quotes in a Shelf review, but I did want to share a couple things that impacted me quite a bit when I read this collection:
From Welcome to the Circus:
"The world is full of complexity. This is the truth, and it's a hard one to learn. People can't be defined by labels or categories; one man's hero is another man's villain. We cannot judge people by their own claims, which they shape as they see fit, or their thoughts, which we cannot see; we can judge people only by their actions and by how those actions affect others around them."
From Echo Chamber:
"(the unspoken rule of Twitter is that the more followers you have, the more important you must be. I can attest to the inaccuracy of this belief, as I have a far larger number of followers than most of the authors whose books I read and whose views have shaped the ideas of millions.)"
"Don't think that a single chromosome gives you the right to invalidate someone else's free will, to take away anyone's choices and opportunities.
"XX, XY, XYZ and beyond--none of it makes a single bit of difference when compared to how someone acts, how someone behaves, how someone reveals his or her true identity time and time again. Man, woman, or whatever the future may hold--nothing gives you the right to enslave someone else."
I could easily give you a quote from every piece in the collection (I mean, how can you not with a book that includes "A Letter to Jesus" and starts off "Dear Jesus, Can you believe this shit?"), but I'll stop there. I said while reading it that I wished I could buy a copy of this book for every person I know...that's how much I loved it. And I've often been heard saying I'm disappointed that our youth's heroes are athletes and entertainers. Today I told my mother I'd love it if my nephew saw Chris Kluwe as a hero. He's a person worth looking up to and Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies is a book worth reading. It's available in hardcover (ISBN: 978-0316236775) from Little, Brown AND I'm hoping to get my grimy paws on the audiobook version from Hachette Audio that is narrated by Kluwe himself!
If you'd like to hear from Kluwe himself, he did this nice interview with HuffPost Live. I posted the link to the Facebook page, so if you saw it earlier this week, it's the same thing!
One itty bitty warning for readers: if you dislike profanity, beware that Kluwe isn't shy about using it. But I have never read a book that used it more appropriately or effectively than he has--believe me, I'm the first to judge on gratuitous language.