Saturday, July 05, 2008

Cla$$ism for Dimwits

Cla$$ism for Dimwits
by Jacqueline S. Homan

(Elf Books / 0-981-56791-6 / 978-0-981-56791-4 / February 2008 / 488 pages / $21.95 / Amazon $17.78)

Jacqueline S. Homan is acutely disturbed by poverty in America, her own as well as everybody else’s. What differentiates her book from most of those that delve deeply into the same subject matter is that she is talking about lower class white poverty. Although Ms. Homan recognizes the obvious issue of race as it pertains to poverty in America, that particular element is clearly not the subject of her obsession. That subject, as implied by the title as it is written, Cla$$ism for Dimwits, is just plain money, cash, moohlah, the stuff with which you pay the bills. Those bills are the most basic you can imagine, from rent to gasoline to electricity to the phone bill. Cla$$ism for Dimwits is about the everyday struggles of the poor in America, how they fell into a financial hole and why they are unable to dig themselves out.

The author states her case beginning with her own personal life history as an orphaned two-year-old raised by her grandmother. She was thrown into the street when her grandmother died eleven years later, but she eventually moved in with her older half-sister. The two sisters retained a minimalist subsistence by utilizing multiple low-wage jobs for a number of years. She moved up the income ladder a bit by entering the construction industry at age 22, but an auto accident less than two years later prematurely destroyed her burgeoning career in the trade. Many years later she would graduate from college with a BA at age 34, in spite of the detrimental effects of mild dyslexia and severe poverty.

Cla$$ism for Dimwits is a difficult book to rate for readers because its supremely significant message is marred by technical foibles and amateurish presentation. Although you could make a case that I am being overly critical, I would say that many potential readers will promptly feel the slap from being called dimwits before they even open the cover. They might also be put off by the 3D WordArt graphic on the cover that is barely readable. Oversized margins and 1.5 line spacing turn what should have been a 200-page book into 480 pages. The author has told me that others advised her to publish the book this way because the text would be easier to read, but as soon as the average reader opens the book, he will see that the author was misled. The book is also full of the usual proofreading errors indigenous to self-published books these days. Far too many of the points made by the author are repeated throughout the text, most using the same or similar phrasing or terminology. Last, but not least, there are numerous missed opportunities in which supporting references to key points of data are not included, either within the text, as footnotes, or in the bibliography.
Ms. Homan is to be congratulated for both her personal climb out of the educational and poverty hole enough to compose and publish this book, and for her guts to face down her accusers in such a blatant manner. Most of what she says in Cla$$ism for Dimwits is most certainly true, whether she is describing labor riots of several decades ago, the rise to power of a Howdy Doody-like President on the backs of unfortunate Americans, or the final destruction of our middle class safety net by the current administration. My opinion in the final analysis is to give Jacqueline Homan an A for effort, but a C in execution. That leaves Cla$$ism for Dimwits with a four-star average. I loudly applaud her choice of subject matter, the personal approach to it, and the energy and resources she fired into the project; however, certain elements lacking professionalism drag the book down to a somewhat lower level.

See Also: The B&N Review
Jacqueline Homan's Blog
The Blogger News Network review
Review of Jacqueline Homan's Eyes of a Monster
Divine Right: The Truth is a Lie

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