karen's Reviews > The Mole People: Life in the Tunnels Beneath New York City

The Mole People by Jennifer Toth
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's review
Dec 13, 2009

it was ok
bookshelves: books-everyone-loves-but-me, nonfictions

oh, jennifer toth, you annoy the shit out of me.

how can you take a topic about the homeless of new york city, the fascinating subject of ingenuity and survival skills and people living in highly-organized communities off the grid underground and somehow make the story all about you?? you!! some sheltered white girl who uses (and defines -DEFINES!)the word "dissed" like a new toy, traipsing underground like some little red riding hood into the big scary tunnels and chirping about these "almost attractive" people and somehow writing (and getting published) a sorority girl's take on what are actual life or death concerns for a whole lot of people?? can we get a real journalist in here? someone who is not going to talk about themselves the whole time when there are real people with real stories that should maybe be more spotlit?

jesus christ, it would be like someone writing a book review and using all the space to talk about what happened to them at thanksg- oh. ohhhhhh wait. nonono i take this all back. what a marvelous writer.what an incisive - oh, i give up.
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Comments (showing 1-50 of 58) (58 new)

message 1: by Greg (new)

Greg I personally I have always been more concerned with what role the homeless play in the life of entitled fashionista's than with the homeless themselves. I haven't read this book yet, but from your review all I can say is bravo Jennifer Toth, bravo! I like to think that all the money she makes off of the constant sales of this book goes towards the most awesome shoe collection in the world, we need more brave journalists like her out there!!

karen when i said "real journalist", i of course meant candace bushnell.

message 3: by Greg (new)

Greg That should be her next book. A whiny rich girl who works in publishing just wants to buy a Birken bag, and she befriends a homeless man who has the ability to sniff out where to find one, or maybe he has one in his shopping cart full of shit, and she must overcome her aversion to the man's smell and obvious lack of personal fashion sense in order to capitalize on his unique ability of finding the most sought after cute fashion accessories... she ends up seducing him, in the hopes of a) fear of her biological clock going off and leaving her a lonely self-centered hag with only a closet full of shoes and a vibrator for company, and b) that her totally awesome and beautiful DNA will mix with the DNA of the groudy homeless man that enables him to sniff out the best fashion items for each season to give birth to a super-fashionista!!

This book will end with her miscarrying after another homeless person punches her in the stomach when she is going back into the tunnels to seek the original homeless man's help in finding the best and biggest SUV-esque baby stroller the city has to offer.

karen hey, greg, wanna book?

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio There are multiple Upright Citizens Brigade sketches that are relevant here. No links though. Sorry, folks.

karen i never thought i would see the day when mfso was linkless.

message 7: by Jen (new)

Jen Me either!

Which UCB would be best, MFSO? I'm coming up empty-handed.

message 8: by Courtney (new)

Courtney I had to have those kind of people as roommates in college. Horrible experience.

message 9: by Joshua Nomen-Mutatio (last edited Dec 13, 2009 11:21AM) (new)

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio There are two episodes in the third season that came to mind. The first is the one with a subway-dwelling moleman whose thoughts are made audible to the audience. There's a hilarious scene with Amy Poehler as his girlfriend trying to get him to stay with her.

The other was one where dressing up as a mole person became a trend in high fashion. It was called Deralique, or something like that. The advertising campaign involved crude graffiti drawn all over the model.

message 10: by Moira (new)

Moira Russell Greg wrote: "That should be her next book. A whiny rich girl who works in publishing just wants to buy a Birken bag, and she befriends a homeless man who has the ability to sniff out where to find one, or mayb..."

Greg, we have Sonny Mehta on the line for you.

message 11: by Jasmine (new)

Jasmine I could have warned you not to read this book.

karen i read it before i even knew you; i sometimes write reviews for old books to procrastinate doing schoolwork.

message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

karen, Jennifer Toth said you annoy the shit out of her to the second power.

karen good, i hope i do. self-important little twat.

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio Fierce Karen attack!

karen it's because she reminds me of these bitches, and i have to deal with bitches like these all day long and i hate.


karen http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30...

oh god, there's more! look - it's "sassy". doubt it.

message 18: by Joshua Nomen-Mutatio (last edited Dec 14, 2009 12:16PM) (new)

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio "Friends Show You How to Bake, Broil, and Bond"

Good-BuddhaMuhammedChristVishnu on crutches-grief!

karen you should read their little testimonials inside - they are so smug. i want to go to one of their parties and pollock all their food.

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio karen wrote: "pollock all their food."

Does that mean to do action painting with it?

karen sorry, no, it's just my favorite scene in the ed harris movie, when he flips the thanksgiving table. it's the only thing i ever talk about, and i forget not everyone knows my shorthand.

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio Oh yeah! Deja vu? Or has this been discussed between us before?

I think you should also start splatter painting with it on the walls and when finished scream "At least one work of art came from this material you call food!!"

karen yeah, i swear i am forever talking about it. it comes up. i don't know why; i have no interest in pollock (unless he is being played by handsome ed harris)but it makes me laugh. that, and the number of times he says "cunt".

message 24: by Joshua Nomen-Mutatio (last edited Dec 14, 2009 12:37PM) (new)

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio I'm the same way about Pollock. I got a big kick outta that movie and thought Harris was great.

karen so i just finished watching "children underground", which is a fucking horrifying documentary about children living in subway stations in romania. that is exactly what this book should have been like - no narrator, just letting the lives of the children speak for themselves. check this out, if you want. it's pretty bleak, but fascinating. anyone seen it?

message 26: by Sandy (new)

Sandy If she were really gonna do it right, she would have gone, uh, underground and actually lived with these folks for a few months. But as we all know, les viennes del trennes es muy peligrosa, or something like that....

karen she is lazy.

message 28: by Ruby (new)

Ruby  Tombstone [With A Vengeance] Oh FFS. I couldn't even make it through that godawful synopsis. "The so-called Mole People"?! Who calls them that?!

message 29: by Mary (new)

Mary I've purposely avoided this book - nothing worse than yet another journalist in a lame attempt to be a sociologist (and make a load of cash).

message 30: by Katya (last edited Jun 01, 2012 12:03AM) (new)

Katya Vinogradova jesus christ, it would be like someone writing a book review and using all the space to talk about what happened to them at thanksg- oh. ohhhhhh wait.

yep, you walked right into this one!

however, there's a difference between a reviewer who veers off-topic in a review that's written for free and for fun, and a writer who veers off-topic in a book that's written for a certain amount of money as part of their job.

message 31: by Joe (new)

Joe There's also an extremely unsatisfying documentary about this topic, but I can't remember for the life of me what it was called.

So I'll avoid this one, too.

message 32: by Rod (new)

Rod This reminds me that I own Sidewalk by Mitchell Duneier and that I need to read it. He spent five years hanging out with homeless street vendors and peddlers in Greenwich Village and then wrote a book about it.

karen did you see children underground??

message 34: by Richard (new)

Richard G beings that make it all about their bad ass selves make me tired;
yawn so i relate to your pain. proceed straight to another concert and collect 2 rock musicians as trophies for whatever file you want them for.

message 35: by Jessica (new)

Jessica Whoa. I'm glad your review pops up first! I won't be wasting my time with this one...thanks Karen!

karen no problem! i like to warn people...

message 37: by Robin (new)

Robin Thanks for the warning... I'll be checking out the documentary "Children Underground" instead.

message 38: by julio (new)

julio *snort*

and kudos—for both the smart dismissal of this horseshit book's yuppieporn premise, and the clever joke at the end.

karen yuppieporn!! now there's a branch of monsterotica i have not yet explored...

message 40: by julio (new)

julio ...yet

karen 2014, here i come!

message 42: by Alison (new)

Alison I lurk your reviews a lot, but this one was so damn enjoyable, I just had to tell you.

karen ha! whee! thank you!

message 44: by Michelle (new)

Michelle i thought this book was mostly bullshit?

the documentary was called "dark days", as i recall it, it wasn't bad.

"children underground" was absolutely horrible - the saddest thing i've ever seen and i've seen a lot of sad. i don't think i could watch it again. it hurt.

message 45: by David (new)

David Lentz So a young working man donates a laptop to a homeless man who teaches himself code and invents a new app:

message 46: by David (new)

David Lentz Wants to understand what it means to be a homeless genius and live on the streets of Chicago in winter?

karen wow, that is amazing. i would read that book

karen oh, i meant i would read about the computer guy in message 45. and then - lo - a book in message 46. slow down, karen

message 49: by Gregsamsa (last edited Dec 21, 2013 03:57PM) (new)

Gregsamsa Hilarious review about infuriating writertype. Let me guess: she went to a prestigious writer's program (or Columbia or Brown) but got a book deal through her own talent and perseverance.

karen Born in 1967 in London, she studied history, political science and philosophy in London, New York and St. Louis. After a 1987-8 internship at Gateway Heritage (now called simply Gateway), the periodical of the Missouri Historical Society, she graduated with a MA in journalism from Columbia University. From 1990-2 she worked as a journalist for the Los Angeles Times in Washington, D. C. and New York, and afterwards for the Raleigh News & Observer.[1] Toth is married[2] to Craig Whitlock, a journalist and national-security correspondent for The Washington Post.[3]

exactly right, friend!

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