Train Tracks

by Carrie



                               

I probably should have clued in that Train Tracks: Family Stories for the Holidays was written by someone with a familiar sounding name. But I did not really take note of the author so much as the subtitle and description of the book. It’s ticketed as being “a celebration of home, family and tradition” and, being a sucker for a good Christmas story, I thought I would give this one a go.

The New York Times touts Michael Savage as being “a marvelous storyteller.” Who am I to disagree with the New York Times? And yet – I do. I opened up this book without realizing who the author was. I didn’t research it because I rather like picking up books and not knowing very much about them. It lends an air of mystery to open a book “blind” to its contents. Of course, once I decided to stop reading it (about half way through) I did some research via Google and lightbulbs went off in my head. Michael Savage, for anyone who is unfamiliar with the name, is a conservative talk show host with very firm opinions who likes to make a splash, shall we say? While I might even agree with some of his politics (withhold the tomatoes, please) I did not care for his writing style or storytelling (if you can call it that) one little bit. In truth, I would not call him a good story teller at all.

Within the first few pages I was groaning at the writing style. I was particularly put off by the way he addressed the reader, as if in a personal conversation, only to shift gears the next sentence and return to a story for the reader to listen to. I got the feeling that he likes to talk but doesn’t much care to listen to others from the way this book is written. I also found his “scatter brained” style of throwing together bits and pieces of any variety of individual stories and subjects together, to be difficult to track with. But what ultimately turned me off of this book was the foul language scattered liberally about and the way he described women and the treatment of them by scumbags that he knew growing up. From reading this book, not knowing of anything else that Savage has ever said or done (beyond my Google researching post-read), I would – and do – walk away with the impression that Savage is a low-life who has complete disrespect for females. Normally I would withhold my opinion in a case such as this, where I just do not connect with the book. However, I found his manner of explaining how this fellow he knew growing up used to “take” unsuspecting women, and his description of women’s body parts, was so violently offensive to me that I feel compelled to label this book as “trash.” For I do believe it is that.

This is not a cozy Christmas tale, so I would caution the reader not to assume it based on the cover art or marketing surrounding it. Savage is relating a hodgepodge of memories from his childhood. He tells us about his neighborhood, his cousins, what he thought of families who owned dogs (he liked them), etc. I question why we really need to hear his stories. He does point out in the Introduction that these stories are not extraodinary, but their ordinary nature makes them interesting. That may be true and might make some inclined to read this but as it comes across as a whole lot of dirty dribble, I’m not at all inclined to listen. For those of you who know me well as a reviewer, you know I’m not the type to get too hyped up about the discussion of women’s roles but I flat out detest the way that Savage describes women as mere meat for male consumption. He ought to be frightfully ashamed of himself – as should the publisher who agreed to publish this book. I’m not remotely amused. Or charmed. I’ll definitely be looking elsewhere for a little Christmas cheer.

I was sent this book by William Morrow in exchange for my honest opinion. You got it!

Carrie blogs about books she likes and some she dislikes (though more infrequently) over at Reading to Know.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Cassandra November 29, 2012 at 12:49 am

Wow. You really did post your honest opinion. ;) Too bad the cover doesn’t match up with the contents. It IS a rather nice cover!

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2 Barb: 1SentenceDiary November 29, 2012 at 12:12 pm

I really appreciate your honesty. It would have been easy to just ignore this book without posting any review, but instead you gave us your actual opinion. Thank you so much for that.

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3 Michelle M. November 29, 2012 at 7:27 pm

“Family stories for the holidays” to me is a book we can sit and read a chapter of a night. This sounds SO far from it that… I’m not quite sure what to say. Yikes.
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4 Dawn November 29, 2012 at 8:43 pm

Well, I’m not familiar with Michael Savage, but I’m going to assume that I would not likely agree with much of anything he says. After reading your assessment of his book, I clicked over to Amazon to look at the reviews there, and it seems like everyone LOVES or HATES him based on his other stuff, and some folks mention that this book is filled with great stories and good lessons. Your descriptions here lead me to believe that those people must have missed some pretty big stuff!
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5 bekahcubed November 30, 2012 at 3:25 pm

Ugh! That sounds absolutely insufferable. Thanks for sharing your negative opinion here – I’ll be avoiding this one.
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6 Charles Kramer December 1, 2012 at 11:35 am

This is not a review as much as an attempt at character assaination. You obviously knew who Michael Savage was before reading this book and just didn’t like his politics. I will agree that his writing style is not for everyone, but your small minded jabs at his being anti-woman are simply false. People of your ilk never discuss anything fairly or honestly because they fear true freedom of speech. I noticed all other comments here are from women and they are too eager to buy into your one-sided view of Dr. Savage…….sounds like a “War on Men” to me.

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7 Carrie, Reading to Know December 1, 2012 at 8:22 pm

Just to be clear about who I am and what I believe – I’m a Republican. (I come from a long line of Southern Baptist Republicans.) I have Tax Payer Party leanings. I really didn’t know who Savage was when I started reading. I still don’t claim to know in full, and didn’t attempt to say that I did.

As far as women’s issues . . . I consider myself a complementarian, believing that men and women have different roles to play, but are created equal and are equally worthy of respect and decency. I don’t believe Savage treated women decently in his description in this book – specifically as relates to telling us of a guy in his neighborhood who repeatedly raped women. It wasn’t a funny story to me and I doubt it would be to other women.

For the record, it would also be found in incredibly bad taste by all of the men that I know who do respect females. They also would not have failed to call Savage on the carpet for this had they been reading and reviewing the book.

I don’t expect the world to necessarily agree with my opinion of the book. However, be angry with me for the right reasons. I’m about as conservative as they come these days. And I found this book distasteful.

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8 Charles Kramer December 3, 2012 at 10:58 am

Carrie, sorry if I jumped to some wrong conclusions about your review. I was probably not in the best of moods the day I made these comments. I must admit from the start that I have not read Train Tracks yet and couldn’t argue about it’s contents. I have, however, read just about everything else written by Michael Savage. Savage is an old fashioned thinker in many ways, but he is intelligent, and in the reading I have done he has never made light of Rape. As a matter of fact, he became so angry one day on his radio show, while relaying the story of a gang rape, that I worried he was gonna have a heart attack right there on the air. He usually is violently opposed to acts of violence including rape. I also know from reading his books, and listening to his show, that he loves and respects the women in his life to an almost excessive degree. His daughter Rebecca, and his wife of 40 years, are both well educated and highly successful women. His Mother, who died several years back, was the object of his almost obsessional love and respect. Of coarse I also know that Savage has a strange sense of humor and is known to make statements that don’t always fit with what he had said previously. In closing, I’ll just say that while I know he is proned to make outlandish remarks – he is not anti-woman. Sorry if my comments were harsh – I like your reviews and will keep an eye on your stuff in the future. Have a very merry Christmas, and or, Happy holidasy season.

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9 Carrie, Reading to Know December 3, 2012 at 6:28 pm

Hey!

Thank you for your response. If you do read it, do come back and share your thoughts! If you feel I misrepresented, let me know.

I was really surprised when I looked to see who he was – (and also, for the record, my husband said, “I can’t believe you didn’t know who Michael Savage was.” ;) – because I would think Savage and I would be more inline than out, so to speak. And he wasn’t relaying the story in a “haha!” sort of way but a “hey, this is what this guy did and he was a kook. Let me tell you what he would say….” The problem here might be that his thoughts are *sooo* disjointed that his descriptions just come across as, “This is an interesting memory I have that I am going to relive for you all here on these pages in a breezy way.” And that comes off as careless and crass. I think it is the MANNER in which he decided to share the story that just flopped. (Based on this book alone, I could never call him a good storyteller! He’s lost me!)

But it is also true that I have never listened to him and I know nothing else about him. Obviously we have similar voting habits so I’m going to guess that on certain social issues we likely agree very much.

Anyway, thanks again for taking the time to respond! I really do appreciate that.
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10 Shonya December 6, 2012 at 9:26 am

Chuckle, as usual I enjoy your occasional “negative” review for your fire and well-thought out criticisms.

And I didn’t recognize the name either.
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