I thought this might be an interesting book about what it is like to write greeting cards for a living. While there is a bit of that here (working for Hallmark in the mid-1990's was both more prosaic and more weird than you'd expect), mostly this is just about Dave.
And Dave's problems. He's a relapsed evangelical Christian. He's been engaged to his girlfriend for six years, and they remain faithful even though for three of those years she's been away working on her PhD and they see each other once or twice per year. He's an over-educated over-thinking geek with an MFA degree who is struggling financially. He struggles with understanding and applying the social graces; reading between the lines of his own autobiographical writing, he really creeps a lot of people out at Hallmark, but doesn't know or know why when he does find out.
And quite frankly, judging from the stories he tells on himself, he is creepy, He describes an episode of voyeurism, walking across a lawn to peer into a house like a common peeping tom. He wonders through a department story perfume section staring at women's breasts. He prowls the halls of Hallmark looking for empty conference rooms, sleeping under a conference room table, then bursting out as a meeting is about to begin. He hires an "escort" (with a wordy explanation to his fiance and her tentative approval) to provide sexual favors his fiance refuses to provide. His career goal when he realizes that Hallmark is not it is to return to college for his PhD, and one of his major motivators as a 30-year-old is to celebrate his new-found sexual liberation with willing and as near-to-naked-as-possible coeds at Florida State University (chosen over two other universities because of the nearness-to-nakedness factor).
He attributes this career and life change to his freedom from years of fundamentalist guilt over sex. I attribute it to his creepiness. Dave has serious issues. I have two daughters aged 20 and 25, and I would not want him near them, and frankly I think they would instinctively and wisely steer well clear of him if he were at their school.
OK, so why would anyone read House of Cards? Well, despite or perhaps because of his issues Dave is a smart and funny writer, and tells a good story. The insight (when he gives it) of working at Hallmark is interesting.
In fact, I wonder if the story is too good sometimes. He tells us that before going to work for Hallmark he had a story idea and outline of a novel about . . . working at a greeting card company. When he tells us this, along with the prefatory note that the character names are changed and some are composites and some events have been compressed or modified, I wonder how much of his memoir is true, and how much of is a "non-fictionalized" version of his novel.
Picture yourself choosing a birthday card. Imagine that you're roaming the racks and picking up one card after another. You browse the humor section, the religious section; you see photos, cartoons, all sorts of cards. Some make noise or have moving parts, or are die-cut. But on this imagined shopping trip, what if they all had the same sentiment inside? Reading House of Cards: Love, Faith, and Other Social Expressions was a bit like that for me. Some parts made me reach out … more
David Ellis Dickerson is one heck of a writer. Why? He managed to make a book about himself- an incredibly annoying, clueless, and self-centered guy (he does *mean* well, though. I think...)- incredibly engrossing and readable. In the hands of a less capable author, Dickerson's experiences at Hallmark, and personal observations, would have been unreadable. But he makes them funny, interesting, and even a little shocking. So despite my dislike of Dickerson … more
I love reading and writing about what I have read, making the connections and marking the comparisons and contrasts. God has given man the amazing power to invent language and the means to record it which … more
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