David's Reviews > Bertha Venation: And Hundreds of Other Funny Names of Real People

Bertha Venation by Larry Ashmead
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's review
Mar 20, 2008

did not like it
bookshelves: words-and-language, read-in-2008, embarrassed-to-own, intellectual-con-artist-at-work, mind-numbingly-boring, utter-dreck
Read in March, 2008

I hope that Larry Ashmead puts more effort into his job as an editor than he bothered to put into this disappointing, totally shameless excuse for a book.

Here is page 2, almost in its entirety:

here's a recent list of babies born in Upstate New York.

Caiden Lee
Tyler Ryan
carly Morgan
Jeremiah James Jr.
Sarafia Frances
Brianna Darcie
Hayles Tasha
Sabryn Maura
Bethanyann Busta
Kai Nolan
Autumn Elizabeth
Ashlwyn Zoe
Trinity Jade

Bette Harrison, who keeps an eye on new arrivals at O' Grady Hospital in Atlanta, spotted Vaseline Glass.

If you find this kind of thing riveting, then you'll enjoy this book.

Ashmead has to be one of the laziest writers on the planet. Incredibly, he stoops to the same device again on page 9 of the book, which consists entirely of names given to babies "born in Upstate New York". Most of the names listed are unremarkable in a multicultural society, leaving one with the distinct impression, not dispelled anywhere else in the book, that Ashmead is inviting us to join him in finding such names as 'Nayraha Dmarye, Tajae Nylei, Nyeerah Oqay-lyn, Kobe, Anief, and Kody Ryan' - well, what exactly? Insufficiently WASP-y? Too foreign? Hard to be sure, since he just lists them without comment and moves on.

NEWSFLASH: The phone directory is a veritable treasure trove of names, and it's free.

But then this is an author so self-absorbed that he devotes nearly two pages of the book's introduction to the fact that his employee badge misspelled his name on his first job. Fear not - his next employers managed to get it right. Hilariously, the moron provides pictures of both ID badges, presumably to eliminate any further worries you might have on the matter.

Ashmead's shamelessness doesn't stop at reproducing lists of names gleaned from birth announcements. Fully six pages of the chapter devoted to pets' names are a verbatim reproduction of a (not particularly interesting) newspaper article about Queen Victoria and her dogs. Then there are the interminably meandering, pointless anecdotes from, or about, various acquaintances of his. Introductions like this one are typical: "Mary Tobin Adams Hedges was a dear friend in the late 1960s and '70s when I owned a beach house in Sagaponack, a small town in the Hamptons."

I have my own name for lazy, shameless authors who produce books as appallingly dreadful as "Bertha Venation":

Larry Ashmead is a complete and utter ASSMARMOT
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Jennifer (JC-S) Thank you, David.

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