Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
These Things Ain't Gonna Smoke Themselves: A Love/Hate/Love/Hate/Love Letter to a Very Bad Habit Hardcover – August 7, 2007
All Books, All the Time
Read author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more at the Amazon Book Review. Read it now
Customers who bought this item also bought
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
“Lulu's sneaky little revelations cause shivers of black-hearted joy and spasms of caustic hilarity. Madam Flake is diabolical.” ―Kate Christensen, author of In the Drink and The Epicure's Lament on Lulu Eightball
About the Author
Emily Flake is a critically acclaimed illustrator and cartoonist, whose work has appeared in McSweeney's, the Nation, Nickelodeon Magazine, and the Wall Street Journal, among others. Her weekly strip, Lulu Eightball currently runs in ten alternative newsweeklies and was recently collected into a book, which hit number one on Entertainment Weekly's Must List.
Top customer reviews
She describes the trifecta of bourbon, prosciutto, and a cigarette as being "like angels are throwing a party in your mouth." Her artwork is especially wonderful when she details the horrors of smoking, the distorted mouth with "itty bitty lines that lipstick gets sucked up into." The sad images of women with no teeth and bloodshot eyes are tragically beautiful. Flake doesn't sugarcoat her own fears or the reality that smoking causes cancer; this is to her credit, since this truly is a love/hate/love letter. Flake's balancing act between her efforts to quit, and belief that smoking is essential to productivity and being herself is rendered wonderfully, along with a mini history of smoking "back in the day," when doctors endorsed smoking and ads read "Camels agree with your throat." Flake sums up the modern smoker by stating, "Today, we all know better. And we go ahead and do it anyway." If you're a non-smoker, like me, you'll be glad that you don't after getting through with this, and if you are, you'll appreciate all the more Flake's honesty, sometimes bloody drawings, and wit. And you just may feel a little bit guilty for hoping Flake continues smoking if it yields more work like this.
Forgive them. Cigarettes seem to be as addictive as heroin --- but they're still legal. And will be, as long as Big Tobacco can pay for lobbyists. The addicted smoker? She's come a long way, baby, but she's not going much further.
Even if cigarettes were illegal, Emily Flake wouldn't care. She's hard-core. She didn't start out that way, of course, but once you're hooked, you're hooked. And, of course, she wants to stop. And can't. So she goes through all the mental gymnastics that people go through when they are smarter than a chimp and yet toke deeply on cigarettes.
Why waste a rationalization? It can be a book. Not a big one --- at 6.1 x 4.1 x 0.5 inches, "These Things Ain't Gonna Smoke Themselves" is just slightly larger than a king-sized pack of ultra-thins. And it's not all words. It's richly spiced with comic imagery and dialogue bubbles, for Ms Flake is not just a smoker, she's the sardonic cartoonist whose "Lulu Eightball" appears in a bunch of alternative newspapers.
Ms. Flake is an ideal guide for this tortured journey. She came to the smoking party late --- she was a nerd, in no danger of hanging with the cool kids. But "one day out of pure boredom, I finally gave it a shot." And the waters parted and the promised land beckoned. I mean, it was all good.
In the back of her mind, she thought she'd quit at 29. The age was arbitrary. Once, as she was buying cigs, a lady said to her, "Quit when you're 29," and she said, "Yes, ma'am," and that was it. She was then 21; eight years was "oceans of time." But the days flew by like pages of a calendar in a 1930s movie, and, suddenly, there she was. 29. And wondering if that woman at the checkout counter was a gypsy, and if there was a curse involved somewhere.
Does this sound familiar? Not you, of course. But you surely have "a friend" who is trying to quit, wants to quit, talks about quitting, is not likely to quit any time soon.
Let me not misrepresent these 112 pages --- they're not just about Emily Flake's battle to kick the habit. Nope, her interest here is panoramic. She starts with a brisk summary of the problem ("Maybe you smoke"), serves up an eight-page history of smoking in 20th century America (what, you wanted to read more about corporate pushers and ad industry enablers?) and only then flashes back to her story ("29 is not 20, when you feel indestructible, the notion of things like an unpleasant death far from your mind").
The bulk of the book --- if a book that weighs less than a hummingbird can be said to have volume --- is about the mind game smokers play and the strategies they devise to quit. The reasoning, if we can give rationalization an upgrade and call it actual thought, is pretty tortured. For instance: "As I understand it, it also gives you cancer."
Give Emily Flake credit for fairness. There is a case to be made for cigarettes, and we all know it: Cigarettes don't kill people, people kill themselves. Well, she doesn't take that easy route. She reaches for the intellectual rationale: "Smoking gives you a minute to step back and think about your work, to breathe (ironically) deeper than you do normally, it gives you a focal point. Having to choose between productivity and health is a problem, man, I tell you."
On the evidence here, Emily Flake is Ms. Productivity.
You want to know: Yes, but at the end, does she kick? No spoilers here. But if you happen to see Ms. Flake outside an office building in the rain, I fear she may have something in her hand. As she's said: "You can't just go out there and breathe for 10 minutes. If you're not smoking, it's called `loitering.'"
Ms. Flake is exceptionally smart and sane. And so funny that smokers could almost forgive her for writing and illustrating this little book. Who will benefit from it? A friend who likes to laugh --- and just happens to smoke and want to stop. Or a friend who smokes and wants to stop and you're so sick of hearing about it that you pray for the friendship to end. Or just "a friend."