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The Paranoid's Pocket Guide Hardcover – June 1, 1997
All Books, All the Time
Read author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more at the Amazon Book Review. Read it now
Eccentrically organized, Cameron Tuttle's The Paranoid's Pocket Guide is a cautionary guidebook to take you into the millennium or, at the very least, put your worst fears in perspective. "Fright Bites!" ("In 1996, the Centers for Disease Control reported that it does not have a large enough budget to research all of the emerging pathogens") burst in on thematically arranged sections such as "Militias," "At Home," "Hypochondriac's Alert," and "At The Gym." Do you know that "every year, close to 200 exercisers fall victim to metal seat posts when the seats on their stationary bikes collapse?" More pointedly, do you need to? Lightning, in Tuttle's total scheme, glitters through the book as a significant leitmotif. It's entertaining, but probably not the best book to read on a long airplane ride.
The New York Times Magazine
From: The New York Times Magazine
Questions for Cameron Tuttle, the author of The Paranoid's Pocket Guide
You recommend "niche worrying." What is it?
A: Niche worrying is a means of conveniently organizing one's paranoia. It's concentrating at an appropriate time, like focussing on getting Legionnaires' disease from inhaling steam containing Legionella pneumophila bacteria while taking a shower at the gym.
Q: What are your sources?
A: Television, newspaper and the Centers for Disease Control. And ads -- like those for the Club, possibly the world's most paranoid product. Advertising, after all, preys off our collective paranoia to sell "cures" and "protection."
Q: Is paranoia healthy?
A: I believe so. Think about what adds up to paranoia: information plus imagination. In my book, I include a factoid on insurance policies offering coverage for destruction by satellite. Only an active and alert mind will draw the conclusion that their property is in actual danger. Paranoia is proof that one is aware.
By Jack Harris
A gimmick book, "to help you worry more efficiently." If you have a propensity to worry a lot, this collection of factoids might lend some credence to your condition. It is arranged in short paragraphs and lists with comments in the margins. "The IRS has more employees than the FBI or any other law enforcement agency" then "What are they really doing?" as an aside. A good question, one that has occurred to most of us without the benefit of this guide.
Along the bottom of each page is a sort of first person worry-wart stream of consciousness rant running a spectrum of concerns from the mundane (did I leave the iron on?) to the exotic (there's a tapeworm inside of me) the truly paranoid (angry adolescent spitting in my fast-food) to the self-fulfilling prophesy (I'll be left at the altar). With this attitude, you will lose sleep (the paranoids are out to get me).
Some of the blurbs are eye-opening. "According to the Federal Aviation Administration, 13% of the commercial airline pilots tested positive for alcohol or drugs while on duty," Others are obvious, "Thirty-four percent of hunting deaths and injuries are self-inflicted." Nowhere in this book are the sources documented or footnoted which is what dooms it to the novelty category.
It might go well if the person could flip through a few pages for a baffled grin. One with slower bowels could conceivably push through the whole book in a sitting, with the caution: "One in 6,500 Americans will be injured by a toilet seat during their lifetime. Most will be men."
Top customer reviews
Cameron Tuttle has assembled 135 pages describing things out there in the world that are trying to hurt us. There are a lot of them. Heed his warning and worry about each and every one. Some of the more frightening ones:
- Rats multiply so quickly than in 18 months two rats could have over a million descendants.
- Bathroom sinks cause over 45,000 injuries every year.
- Some people suffer from genuphobia, the fear of knees.
- The chance of contracting an infection during a stay in the hospital is 1 in 15.
- Over 30,000 people are seriously injured each year by exercise equipment.
- "Heading" a soccer ball more than 10 times in a game causes mild neuropsychological damage and lowers IQ.
- One in 6,500 Americans will be injured by a toilet seat during their lifetime. Most will be men.
What really concerns me is the ones that the author left out because they didn't seem interesting enough, were too similar to others, or contained words he didn't know how to spell. We need to know about them, too. And the author won't answer any of my letters, emails or phone calls asking about them.
Buy this book. You dare not ignore it. Don't let your enemies have a better chance of survival because they are warned about these things and you are not. And help me get the full story from the author. He can't duck all of us.
The pages of the book are multi-dimensional... it is designed to "trip you out." The little factoids come in fonts of multiple sizes, which is not really similar to ransom notes clipped from newspapers but elicits the same type of feeling. One of the best things about the book are the photos... even everyday objects like sponges and treadmills are made to look like fearsome devices of evil... and the captions to the pictures help. Offset well below the image as if to stand it's distance, the caption speaks out as if to whisper the name of the object in the simplest possible way: [ A SPONGE ]. Heh.
There is also what appears to be the ramblings of a hyper-paranoid person scrawled along the bottom of the pages. You have to read the book twice... once to follow that rambling from cover to cover, and once to read all the factoids. But when you are reading the factoids, you sometimes get a glimpse of the rambling. The oddness of it adds to the whole creepiness of the book.
The atmosphere of the book is similar in some respects to what a crazed private-eye type, or government agent type, would write.