Seriously Guys, We Need You To Read This F*cking Book

In theory, we were going to have Autostraddle Read A F*cking Book Club Meeting #2 on Wednesday. I had really high hopes of that happening on time. But 2/3 of the editorial team had still not obtained copies of The IHOP Papers and according to our Amazon affiliate statistics only like three of you have bought it, and also we are all deeply flawed human beings who frequently find ourselves completely paralyzed by our own inadequacy.

So! We’re having a quick little chat instead, just so everyone is up to speed. Think of it like when you were in like tenth grade and you had a really hot English teacher and you only wrote like a page and a half for your five page paper on The Old Man and the Sea because you were up too late having feelings and you walk into class thinking you’re fucked but then Hot English Teacher is like “Surprise! I’m actually going to collect these on Friday, and today in class we’ll go over the major themes of the book so you guys will feel better about writing this paper.” Did you ever have an English teacher like that? I really sincerely hope you did.

ANYWAYS. Here is an excerpt from this book. Doesn’t it make you want to read it RIGHT NOW?

It’s a pain in the ass to get soup, salad, or hot tea for a customer. You have to assemble a meal instead of just picking a plate up from under the heat lamp. Putting a doily on top of a plate and then setting a spoon next to it, or getting a lemon wedge and coaster for a customer, is psychologically exhausting. But nothing is as bad as making an ice-cream sundae. The ice cream is so old and hard, it’s like trying to scoop a sundae from a headstone and the whipped cream cans are usually flat because Tim and Kirsten suck the gas out of them to get high. I forget my coworkers are primarily drug addicts until it’s too late and I end up spraying flat whipped cream on a sundae. It’s a disgusting sight, runny cream dripping over the ice cream. Then you have to make the sundae all over again, the whole time hating Tim or Kirsten or whatever graveyard Goth employee who couldn’t afford real drugs sucked the whipped cream cans dry…

“Make sure the soup’s hot. If it’s not hot I’ll send it back,” the really pregnant woman threatened.

“Touché,” I said, walking away.

I love when people say to make sure the soup is hot because then I can put it in the microwave until it bubbles up into a boiling, festering sore.

“It’s microwave time,” I said to Molly, ladling the soup into a white bowl.

It takes nothing to get Molly excited about ruining other people’s lives. She smiled evilly, grabbed the bowl from my hand, put it in the microwave, and punched in three minutes. After thirty seconds, a bowl of soup is steaming. A minute passed and it bubbled  and boiled over the edge of the white bowl.

“I hope it burns her frickin’ windpipe and goes straight into the womb and scalds her little fetus’s forehead,” Molly said.

My brain flashed on images of graphic anti-abortion posters, but I couldn’t help but laugh.

“She’s a frickin’ bitch. We’ll make her frickin’ soup hot,” Molly ranted.

The bowl turned in circles inside the microwave. I was beginning to feel scared by the bubbling volcanic mess. When the timer went off, I reached for the microwave door but Molly blocked my way, punching in another three minutes.

“Jesus, Molly.”

She crossed her arms and stood in front of me, daring me to try and stop her.

“Molly. God. Take it out. She’ll never eat that.”

There was practically no soup left in the bowl, it had bubbled over the paper coaster and the bottom of the microwave, gurgling up like a broken drain.

“Go get crackers and a spoon,” Molly ordered.

Am I revealing too much about myself if I say “Everyone can relate to that, right?” I like this passage because it touches on a lot of major/my favorite themes about this book:  menial food service jobs, the feeling of constant humiliation and resentment that comes from being young and queer and female and poor, the way that we take care of each other and also the ways we hurt each other and how sometimes the line between those two is weirdly blurred.

Really, what’s not to love.

ALTHOUGH actually speaking of things not to love, it has been pointed out to me now that the editorial team has started reading instead of just vaguely remembering this book that a lot of it is probably super triggering? Or at the least upsetting? Basically, we feel we should let you know that this book contains frequent explicit references to alcoholism and cutting, and if those things are going to be triggering or harmful or detrimental to you in any way, please don’t read it! We’re sorry! We will pick something less divisive next time!

Also, here’s what Eileen Myles had to say about it. Which is really all you need to know.

Like who hasn’t waitressed? And had nightmares every night like feeling kept back in school. The good news is there’s definitely a renaissance going on in female writing – for instance, a deadpan writer named Francesca arrives on the evening shift in a filthy punked out IHOP uniform exactly like the poet Ali Liebegott who makes us almost want to go work for cold pancakes and lousy tips she makes us laugh so hard at how profoundly sad and awful everything is. With even swiftness Liebegott makes the darkness grow and then it starts to get really light at least. Oh, just pick up the check and read it. That’s no waitress, that’s a poet.

So you see, even if you don’t listen to me, when Eileen Myles tells you do read something, then girl you head right over to our Amazon affiliate link and you do it. We are reconvening on February 7th, which should be more than enough time for you to get this done, in my opinion. Did you know that if you give Amazon a student email address, ANY student email address, it will give you a year of Amazon Prime aka free shipping. Just saying. I love you. I wanna read this book with you. I will hold your hand during the sad parts. Okay? Okay. See you in three weeks.

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Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy." You can follow her on twitter and instagram.

Rachel has written 1142 articles for us.


  1. I read the book in december for you guys.I was wondering if you forgot about it.Well see you in three weeks then.

    • Don’t feel alone, I read the book in December and thinking that it was forgotten about, as well.

  2. I read it and will be here, waiting for the book club!
    I have very strong feelings about it, you better get that book club thing up soon! ;)

  3. This book has been sitting in my Amazon cart for a month since you announced it. I just got the money to buy it. It’s on its way now! Plenty of time to have it read by Feb 7th.

  4. Seeming as I apparently have enough spare money to buy a Sharky and George t-shirt I think I have enough to buy this book, also somehow I’ve had free Amazon Prime membership for like 2 years?

  5. I read it too. It actually started me on a LGBT fiction kick that includes The ihop papers, the well of loneliness and stone butch blues. I need some hard core scifi now because i’m tired of feeling like I want to cry all the time. :(

    • Nicola Griffith’s other books are really good, too. “Ammonite” is sci-fi and I really enjoyed it – sort of a future dystopia.

      Also, Elizabeth Moon’s science fiction (space operas) frequently feature lesbian characters, as well as Octavia Butler’s and Elizabeth Bear’s.

      *turns off librarian button* :)
      but I’ll always be a book nerd

      • oh man I love elizabeth moon, I got to meet her at world con a very long time ago and she is amazing. thanks for the list!

          • Yeah I read those. I also read the Serrano series, I dont remember the name of them. I never got around to reading the collaboration is did with Anne Mccaffrey though. Did you?

          • No, I haven’t read those. I have no good excuse. :) Love Anne McCaffrey’s ‘Brainship’ series, though.

            …if you like space-based sci-fi, I suggest the Honor Harrington series by David Weber. No queer characters to speak of, but it’s solid space opera with reality based science (also, some of the ship battle sequences are supposedly based on the Napoleonic Wars). The first one is called “On Basilisk Station.”

            I’ll have to go back and give that collaboration a second look. I don’t know why I never got into it.

      • Dude! I *love* Nicola Griffith–her scifi and non-scifi stuff alike. And Octavia Butler’s Kindred is a fucking awesome book.

        Other recommendations: Sharon Lee and Steve Miller’s Korval universe pretty much assumes everyone’s bi. Melissa Scott’s cyberpunk books feature gay characters, but some of her stuff is a little meh. Also, Jacqueline “Kushiel’s Noun” Carey’s Santa Olivia is a surprisingly good scifi-dystopian story with a nonwhite queer protagonist who’s a female boxer!

  6. I just ordered it. Hope I have time to read it. Does anyone else attempt to read many books at once?

    Also, I am ridiculous and ordered it before I read that sentence about free shipping. D’oh!

    • Um yes, I have five books I’m reading right now, it takes me forever to read them. This book is one of the five.

      This is the book I read between shifts at work (waitress, holla!) because it expresses my feelings w/r/t serving so well!

    • I’m in the same boat concerning money. Thank goodness for libraries. Though after reading this, I’ll probably never eat in a restaurant again.

  7. “Surprise! I’m actually going to collect these on Friday, and today in class we’ll go over the major themes of the book so you guys will feel better about writing this paper.”

    What the teacher actually means is, “Surprise! I’m actually going to collect these on Friday, and today in class we’ll go over the major themes of the book cos I have a hot date tonight which is much more important than your English papers”

  8. I’ve never waitressed, but this book seems amusing so perhaps I’ll purchase and read it.

    Because Eileen Myles said so.

  9. i’m actually about to start reading ‘inferno’. i will get back to you with my feelings re: ‘the ihop papers’ in ~1-2 years.

  10. I actually read this one, yay for winter break. I was sad to miss Inferno, but I’m still going to catch it, eventually. That was in the middle of the fall quarter from academic hell, so pleasure reading (or…like, pleasure anything) wasn’t happening.

  11. I bought it! Unfortunately haven’t started reading it yet. Seems like it will be a fun, light, quick read though. Probably pick it up and finish it this weekend when I go out of town for a bridal party (so while the other girls joke about dicks I will bury my head in a book)

  12. I have no $$$ to buy the book, but behold! my university’s library has it! This makes me feel better about the obnoxious amount of money I spend of my otherwise mediocre education.

  13. I immediately bought and read said f*cking book in December and if I don’t talk about it soon it’s going to become part of the mushy mass of book plots and characters that’s currently fermenting in my brains!

    • Mon gave me her copy of the book when she was finished and so I’m in the process of reading it.

  14. OK OK EVERYONE HAS READ IT I’M SORRY. You are all very patient and forgiving and put up with all of our collective failures as people/a team, and I appreciate that about you, and I want to talk to you about this asap, especially the part about where she keeps her tips, because something about that I still just love so much. You know what I mean. I love you all.

    I actually do like reading but sometimes I am not good at finishing books, but I will try to finish it in time!

  16. I read it too! It was good and now I want to read it a second time even though I don’t have any time now that Spring semester has started. College is time consuming.

  17. I don’t want to be mean and I’m probably a dissenting opinion here and I usually love autostraddle and your book recomendations, but honestly, I’m just really not into this book.

    Can I wait it out until next book club? :'(

  18. I read it in one day over the course of an all day trip from Boston to Los Angeles. I read it on the plane, waiting for the plane, and during layovers in a restaurant by myself. Interestingly, a few men asked me what the book was about and I was hesitant to say “It’s about a young depressed lesbian who cuts herself for the attention of other crazy lesbians.” So instead, I told them it was about a self-deprecating IHOP waitress.

    Anyways, I liked it. A lot.

  19. i just got my copy! i will be ready! i have a feeling this one will be like pancakes compared to the last one.

    • yes! the post is in wordpress, idk what riese is doing with it. soon, children. go reread your favorite part again and then write me a poem about it.

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