I am interrupting normal transmission to bring you an important update, you know how easily I get side tracked by the daily shitstorm moment. What is the latest shitstorm? Pushcart Prize plagiarised poetry? (See the alliteration I used there, nice work Tony) A female journalist removed from the Australian Parliament because her sleeves were too short? Not at all, Fernando Sdrigotti has just released, through Open Pen in London, a new novelette, ‘Shitstorm’, and getting my hands on a signed, numbered first edition has been the highlight of my week. Don’t worry, I’ll forget the excitement soon enough, I’ve read it now.
My copy of the book came with an instruction document, a list of Do’s and Do Not’s for example; “Do feel the need to respond to the above on social media. Especially when you violently disagree with the opinions vented in the aforementioned Opinion Piece TM.” Or “Do Not pass up any opportunity to have an opinion on any given topic, regardless of your respective understanding.” The instruction document in the vein of Sdrigotti’s hilarious tweets like how to get published everywhere (you can read the full list here).
‘Shitstorm’ is a very short book, marketed as a novelette, which can be read in one sitting, although the wallowing is deeper than the actual word count. Essentially this is a dark fable, reflecting on the world of keyboard warriors, those going into fight for justice using their handheld devices and their furrowed brows. It starts with the story of Doctor Walter Turner, a dentist, who became known as Cecil the Lion’s killer after he hunted the famous beast in Zimbabwe with a bow and arrow, and the subsequent social media fury.
It gives us something to talk about, a reason to keep marvelling at the evil of other human beings. (p26)
The fallout of this event is the catalyst to present and discuss various shitstorms, involving cult celebrity, far-right views, transphobia, conspiracy theories, and of course the United States President.
While everyone debates whether processed meat is racist or not. (p46)
Sdrigotti has his tongue firmly in his cheek as he leads us through the outrage that we witness daily on our Twitter feeds.
In the days that follow the new North Korean missile launch many develop a sudden expertise regarding all things nuclear, ballistic, and strategic. The New Missile Crisis is followed live on television, bogs on newspapers, Twitter moments, hashtags, comments on Facebook. The whole world is watching, waiting for the smallest thing to ne be announced. But instead of novelties we are fed repetition – the same opinion is remixed several times, turned into a cubist opinion: eaten, chewed, swallowed, excreted and eaten again. But we can’t stop watching, reading, consuming, despairing about the state of the world. (p46-47)
Although satirical, this book contains its fair share of home truths. Leading from actual events, that most of us would recall, to the imagined future of the dentist Dr Walter Turner and this is where the dark fable element comes to the fore. I was reminded of the Brothers Grimm tale “Mother Trudy” where a disobedient child goes to visit a witch;
And with that, she turned the girl into a block of wood and threw it on the fire. And when it was blazing, she sat down beside it, warmed herself up, and said: “Now that really does give off a nice bright light.” (p402 ‘The Bicentennial Edition The Annotated Brothers Grimm’ translated by Maria Tatar)
Unlike many fairy tales where good triumphs over evil, this tale resonates with me as the witch triumphs, a disobedient child is defeated!!
Sdrigotti’s novelette contains many satirical truths, speaking against the unwritten rules of outrage;
Travelling is about immersing yourself in a foreign culture, even if you can’t make sense of it, and even if you immerse yourself and all your previously conceived ideas remain unchallenged. It’s about the immersion, really. Watching the local telly. Eating the local food even if you hate it. Drinking the local drink. Shooting the local animals. (p70)
A highly entertaining book that does jolt you out of the day to day monotony, forcing you to reflect on the depth of your outrage. It contains a dark, but brutally honest, message so isn’t simply social commentary.
I suggest you buy a copy, not that Fernando Sdrigotti needs the extra income from his writing, those royalty cheques must be huge. And if you buy quickly it should arrive before Christmas. I purchased my copy here, it came with a sachet of baking yeast, “its use will become clear after your reading Shitstorm TM” (as advised in the covering letter).
You can follow Fernando Sdrigotti on Twitter using the handle @f_sd