Oh, dear friends, it’s been a while since we last entered these hallowed halls of plunging mediocrity. So long that there is dust on How To Avoid Huge Ships. Cobwebs on Dildo Cay. Mold on Microwave for One. Some other sign of disuse on Moon People. But back into the Worst Book Ever Castle we must go, because there is a new book to add to the gallery. We must do our duty and place it where it belongs, for the circle must be closed.
What Are These Strawberries Doing on My Nipples? … I Need Them for the Fruit Salad! isn’t just notable because it has both an exclamation point and a question mark in it–what you’ll discover upon digging deeper within it is a tale of vast sadness and infinite strangeness.
It all begins with Vanessa Feltz, the book’s author and owner of one of the oddest Wikipedia pages you’ll ever see. In case you don’t want to spend the time reading it, here’s a brief chronology:
-She is educated at Cambridge.
-In the 80s and 90s, she writes for The Jewish Chronicle and the Daily Mirror. Nothing weird so far.
-In 1995, she writes a book called What Are These Strawberries Doing on My Nipples? … I Need Them for the Fruit Salad! This is where things get weird. Henceforth, the book will be referred to as Strawberries, and also as The Fulcrum of Weirdness.
-Feltz begins doing a segment for the U.K.’s Channel 4 morning TV show The Big Breakfast, in which she interviews celebrities while lying on a bed.
-In 1998, she gets a daytime TV show called The Vanessa Show on the BBC for a lot of money. In 1999, the show gets bad publicity and is ultimately cancelled when some of the guests were alleged to have been actors. You can almost hear the Fulcrum creaking.
-The bulk of the rest of her Wikipedia page (2000-today) focuses on her various comebacks and appearances on TV, including The Weakest Link and Celebrity Big Brother.
-Neat fact, just because: she lives in the house that was once occupied by John Hugh Smyth-Piggot, a clergyman “whose Clapton congregation declared him to be Christ, a compliment he accepted.”
What you learn upon reading Feltz’s biography is that she’s something of a national punchline, though no one can specify why. What you also learn is that she’s nothing if not tenacious, consistently attempting to secure her place in the media: The Guardian has called her “officially the hardest working woman in broadcasting.” So the vitriol is a bit puzzling. She’s won £150,000 for a cancer charity and an additional £10,000 for Cancer Care. She was named Speech Radio Personality of the Year at the Sony Radio Academy Awards in 2009.
What we’re trying to say is that having no prior knowledge of her, Vanessa Feltz seems like a pretty decent person, so if nothing else The Fulcrum of Weirdness lives up to its name–it serves as a gateway into a study of curious public figure that an entire nation doesn’t like (getting voted 93rd in the “100 Worst Britons” polls seems somehow more hurtful than making the top 10), but doesn’t know why.
But back to Strawberries. Purportedly a book of “intimacy” tips for women, Strawberries is an enigma because if you try to figure out what’s inside, you just end up finding a bunch of baffled people all over the internet who doubt its existence, and can’t even begin to comprehend that it actually has writing on its pages.
And it’s not only Strawberries insiders that are confounded by the book: “what are” is a very common beginning to a Google search for basically anything. What this means is that someone going to Google to find out everything from “what are the best fondue recipes” to “what are these horrible spots on my body” will possibly find “what are these strawberries doing on my nipples i need them for the fruit salad” as a result. Don’t believe me? Evidence here, here, here, and here.
Because we are curious creatures, what then happens, of course, is that we investigate what exactly is the deal. This leads to more and more people becoming Strawberries insiders and sharing their knowledge, to the point where Strawberries is now somewhat of an underground joke, even becoming a meme. The book’s title turns up 18,000 results on Google.
(Quick side note before we move on: There is an alternate cover, but we prefer the grainy bright pink cover pictured above, with Feltz presumably looking down at some strawberries. There’s something appealing about a book cover that’s so grainy it prevents you from reading half its text.)
Editions of the book are scarce–which is why we’re going to turn to our most reliable outlet of criticism: Amazon customer reviews. These are the preservers of our planet’s culture. This is what they had to say about What Are These Strawberries Doing on My Nipples? … I Need Them for the Fruit Salad!:
review by rm:
Speaking as a strawberry that has for a number of years attached to the nipple of a human being i found this book a handy guide on how to detach myself from the nipple and go back the garden
review by M. Thompson
I had been trying to figure out how the strawberries got there after my frequent blackouts, and this book answered that question for me AND told me where to hide the bodies. Thanks Vanessa!
It would have been a five star rating, but it fails to explain the smell of brimstone whenever I open this book, or the man in clown makeup tied up in my basement. (Was the makeup there before I tied him up, or did I apply it? This question keeps me up at night) Still: if you have similar problems, this book is for you.
review by A Dog “Woof”:
My friend recommended this book to me due to the fact I had a kiwi stapled to my left foot. To my surprise and horror, this is NOT a book about having various fruits stuck on your body, and the subsequent consequences. I was disappointed by this, as I was looking forward to having kiwi for dinner (despite its malodorous nature).
review by C. Jenkins “anexanhume”
First of all, a warning. This book is packed with such useful and POWERFUL information, it should be approached with caution. Amazon has not provided a synopsis, and rightly so. I attempted to download a summary to my computer and my monitor EXPLODED. Normally, I would complain to the author and demand a refund, but the mere opportunity to witness this miracle of written word is payment for my loss ten times over.
In addition to the eternal question “What are these strawberries doing on my nipples?”, you’ll also learn life saving information, such as answers to questions like “Should I be concerned that an as of yet unidentified rodent species has taken up residence in my colon?” Additionally, you’ll find instructions including battle tactics, suggested weaponry and equipment, and other fun facts for assailing the lost city of Atlantis to wrest control from the resident Merlords, giving you an access to a rare element that is known to give chewing gum viagra-like properties (for Asians and Serbs only, unfortunately). I save further examples for fear of your safety.
The only negative I can give about this book is the fact that reaching the end of it will give you an intense sadness. The only parallel I can construct for the amount of sorrow this will cause is to beseech you to imagine yourself as a T-rex in a room full of T-ball poles and large soapy bubbles. Your stubby arms would render the pleasure-power of this room woefully out of reach. Only the strong-willed should undertake reading this book.
review by John C. Reilly:
This book is awful. It tries, it truly does, but the author can never quite escape the deficit of plot provided by the strawberries. Sure they’re on her nipples, but what else is there. The subtext is simplistic, at best. You can glean more life lessons from “The Cat in the Hat”, such is the paucity of structured narrative devices implemented by the author. And it’s obvious that the fruit salad represents the long-ago departed Mother the author implies was absent in her life. In fact it is this “fruit salad” that permeates the text and debases the higher narrative forms the author references throughout. Yet the fact remains: the strawberries are on her nipples.
If only she delved further into the representational obermeichtergfunden, delineated by the strawberries, the plot would work somewhat better. Since this is not the case, I must in good conscious give this book 1 star.
review by M. Houston
This was a good read. Very informative. However I would also like to know what the honeybaked ham is doing on my navel.
review by ThisGuy
I purchased this book hoping on instructions on how to make a good fruit salad. Alas, no recipe. It makes no sense. Who would buy a book that doesn’t teach them how to make fruit salad? I wrote a letter to the publisher for a refund based on the fact that it is false advertisement. He then sent me my refund with his great grandmother’s recipe for fruit salad, only by the time I received it strawberries were out of season and impossible to find. I take this as his sick attempt at humor.
review by Oh Captain Awesomeface “My Captain Awesomeface”
This surprisingly heartfelt and touching take on one of Shakespeare’s lesser known plays, “Her Majesty’s Giddy Buxom Salads or Thine Fruited Cusps,” is nothing if not inspirational. Ms. Feltz delivers the sweet bounty of opulent imagery well known to those weaned on The Bard, however it is her beguiling use of prose that makes this modern take so robust. Each character is well rounded with a clearly identifiable center that allows them to stand out from many of the flat offerings common in modern literature. Their stories never sag while their intrigues are kept plump and juicy. Particularly titillating is the chasm between our two bold nobles. They seem as though they are always yearning to touch, yet fated never to meet. While Shakespeare’s original is quite frilly as a scantily disguised critique of Elizabethan courtly maneuvers, Ms. Feltz’s update is somewhat stripped down and easier to grasp for the modern bibliophile. Huzzah to “Strawberries,” and may your fruit salads be abundant!
review by Charles J. Guiteau
It was the summer of 1993 when I met Akando, a Native American in his mid-50′s from the Appache tribe, at a truck stop somewhere in the American Southwest. I had recently set out on a cross country journey from my home town of Albany, where I had been ridden out of town for a seductive new dance I called “The Seduction”, also for arson. I took to hitchhiking my way from town to town, doing odd jobs in exchange for room and board. Carpenter in Maryland, wet nurse in Atlanta, astronaut in Cape Canaveral… I did what I had to do to survive. My ultimate goal was sunny Portland, land of hope and city of dreams.
Starting a new life always seems like a good idea at the time, especially for convicted arsonists… no more trials, no more stares at the Piggly Wiggly from Old Man Jennings who thinks he’s better than you because he didn’t burn down the library, no more libraries calling out your name in the middle of the night screaming at you to grab your arson kit and once again feel the power of almighty flame, but starting over isn’t that easy. Not with the better part of the U.S. Marshal’s office hunting you down, always one step behind you.
Hiding in plain sight, I thought, would be my best option and the Wichita school board needed a new chairman. Little did I know how corrupt and drug-crazed local school boards can be. Jeremy, my new lover, tried to warn me to no avail. No one told me how easy it would be to take money intended for a new gymnasium and turn it into a mountain of cocaine and my own Russian sex slave Annia. But Jeremy would have none of that and both wound up dead in an apparent murder-suicide. That was when I knew it was time to resign my post in the Wichita school board.
The next several months are a blur… from what I understand from police reports and my personal correspondence with my dear uncle Vernon, I wound up in New Mexico. That is where I discovered Akando, eating a Denver omelette at the dirtiest truck stop in the dirtiest city I had ever seen, Alburquerque. Akando brought me to his tribe’s sweat lodge and we discussed the plight of his people. He then took me on horseback to a fire in the middle of the desert and introduced me to a drug known as peyote. I will never forget my experience with the psychoactive cactus, for when I awakened in a different state (Oregon), in a different city (Portland), wearing different pants (khakis), there lay a novel next to me: What Are These Strawberries Doing on My Nipples?: I Need Them For The Fruit Salad! The novel described in great detail my experience while on peyote, I had evidently taken a job as a day laborer in a small strawberry patch somewhere in Northern California and was known to my co-workers as “The King of All Fruit Salad”. I later learned that one of my co-workers at Phil’s Berries was none other than Vanessa Feltz and after reading her book I discovered that it is a word for word copy of my novel of the same title. One day I will find Ms. Feltz and vengeance will surely be mine.
Indeed, these reviews only add to the mystique of Strawberries. What does this all mean? We’ll let you know if we ever figure it out.