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House of Cards: The True Story of How a 26-Year-Old Fundamentalist Virgin Learned about Life, Love, and Sex by Writing Greeting Cards Paperback – Bargain Price, November 2, 2010

3.5 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Dickerson was a struggling 20-something with a creative writing M.F.A. when he submitted a writing portfolio to Hallmark in part because he had an idea for a novel set at a greeting card company. He takes the job of writing those cards, but what seemed like a natural outlet for his highly verbal sense of humor quickly degenerates in a profoundly alienating environment, where his self-acknowledged ridiculously intense and enthusiastic personality rubs almost everybody the wrong way. The tone is set early—Oh Jesus, I just sent out a cry for help, Dickerson thinks at his first holiday party, and everybody heard it, and no one is coming to save me. His personal life isn't any better, as he struggles to maintain a long-distance relationship with the only woman he's ever dated while coping with the frustration of being a 28-year-old virgin. The behind-the-scenes material is diverting (you'll never be able to read the word special on a card again without smirking), but it's the broader drama of the profoundly un-corporate Dickerson's doomed efforts to fit into the corporate world that gives the memoir its staying power. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"The only thing Dave Dickerson does better than poignant, funny greeting cards is this poignant and funny first book. A wordsmith, a charmer, and a witty self- effacer, Dickerson proves himself a gifted narrator of hilarious, compassionate prose."
- Sara Barron, author of People Are Unappealing

"House of Cards is hilarious and amazing. What a marvelous relief it is to discover, at long last, that there's life on other planets, specifically Planet Dickerson in the galaxy HooBoy! It's amazingly wonderfully weird."
- Bob Shacochis, National Book Award-winning author of Easy in the Islands and The Immaculate Invasion --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Trade; Reprint edition (November 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594484864
  • ASIN: B005Q5XN62
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #639,417 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
When browsing the typical reviews for this book, it is remarkable how this author's most pronounced talent seems to be making his readers squirm. Reasons mentioned are the author's "over-sharing" of tasteless stories as well as his sexism.

I do have to agree with the squirmers. Reading this memoir is like watching a train wreck in slow motion: ugly, destructive and ultimately pointless. What he reveals about his state of mind and personal exploits bodes poorly for him as a human being as well as a writer. Even though he has earned the proper credential for a writer, and MFA, it is painfully obvious that he fundamentally lacks two basic qualities for successful writing (or living, for that matter): insight into himself as well as into others. His defining characteristic is an all-encompassing narcissism that makes either one of these impossible.

For example, he spends a great deal of time writing about other people's religious convictions. Whenever he does, he portrays all of them with the same broad brush. Not once does he allow that religious people may actually have variant beliefs. (Incidentally, the book is falsely advertised as the author is a former fundamentalist but really a Catholic during the part of his life that the story tells--but "fundamentalist virgin" may have a greater commercial appeal than "Catholic virgin?") When talking about his own beliefs, he proclaims himself liberated from his caricatured fundamentalist background. If that were so, why the rants that ultimately lead nowhere but into nasty, self-righteous religious bigotry?

Women fare equally poorly.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
For a 28-year-old man, ex-fundamentalist David Ellis Dickerson has remarkably little life experience. After getting his master's degree, he's only ever worked at one job, as a clerk at a government agency. He got engaged to the first woman he ever dated. Worst of all, he's a virgin.

What he's good at, and loves doing, is writing word puzzles and funny poems. When he gets the chance to work at the Hallmark greeting card company, he thinks he's found the perfect job. So he moves hundreds of miles away from his family and fiancee and, for the first time in his life, tries to fit in in the corporate world.

You can pretty much guess what happens next. Between his own quirkiness and the vagaries of corporate culture, David has a tough time at Hallmark. He does make some good friends. He also alienates several bosses and has an excruciatingly hard time figuring out the unwritten rules at his new workplace.

This is a well-written, cleverly observed, and very funny book. I also found it mildly disturbing, because I think Dickerson sometimes reveals more about himself than he realizes. It's still not clear to me, for instance, that he understands how deep the divide was between his own "romantic" but essentially self-centered fantasies about his relationship and his fiancee's actual needs and desires. And it takes the poor guy forever to figure out that some of his perfectly innocent habits are annoying the crap out of his patient but uncommunicative coworkers. At many points in the book, I felt simultaneously sympathetic and incredibly irritated with him.

Ultimately, though, I think Dickerson's perhaps unintentionally unsparing portrait of himself is what makes this such a good book. This was a one-day read for me; I picked it up and almost literally didn't put it down until I finished it. Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys funny memoirs about quirky people.
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Format: Hardcover
I picked up this book because I worked with David Dickerson at Hallmark and expected his memoir to be funny and well-written. Like him, I'm a former Hallmarker, and I'm certainly not an apologist for the company; it can be maddeningly "corporate" at times.

But I'm disappointed that David went out of his way to malign some really good managers, writers, and editors, all the while trying to convince the reader that they were just too uncool to recognize his sheer genius. I didn't dislike David, but he was not brilliant (or at least he didn't exhibit brilliance, if he was), and he alienated a lot of people for some really sound reasons.

I found David's admission on page 12 really telling: "I've always despaired of ever impressing anyone with my resume, and my writing so far had gotten almost no attention. But I know that in person I'm charming. It's what I've counted on my whole life to get me out of trouble for being late, or for forgetting assignments, or for all the other difficulties that my absentminded brain gets me into. People are generally receptive to my jokes and my friendly nature, as long as they aren't humorless office manager types."

This explains a lot, because David missed a fair number of meetings, writing deadlines, and other important obligations. "Charm" (and I'm being generous to use his word, although I wouldn't call him charming - just friendly) doesn't make up for that. Sometimes his jokes were really funny, and sometimes they bombed. David's book also misrepresents the creative work process at Hallmark to the point where I would characterize it as a fictional account. Maybe his lack of understanding contributed to why he struggled so much in his job? But for all you readers who think, "Oh, THIS is what it's like on the inside...
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