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Jamie reviews Dispatches From Hell

Tofu Hound Press recently released Dispatches From Hell: A Vegan’s Guide to Love, Sex, Relationships, and Other Suicidal Tendencies by Vulgar Vegan advice columnist Daniel Peyser. Two of our SuperVegans gave it a look. For another take, see Roseann Marulli’s review.

Those who know me are well aware that the likelihood of my reading a self-help book about dating of my own volition is just about nil. However, throw in a little vegan-ness and a request of my own opinion of the book and perhaps we may have a deal. Enter Dispatches from Hell, by Daniel Peyser.

Hooray. Vegans publishing stuff. All well and good and while I realize that vegans need a bigger, louder voice in a world where many know nothing of the wonders of veganism, I’m not of the opinion that this then means anything published by vegans about veganism is then quality and should be praised as such. All press, IMHO, is not good press.

I’ll now quote from the final chapter of the book:

“Actually, “Ah, fuck,” sums up my feelings as I finish pounding out this whole sad megillah. I honestly have no idea if this book was any good. I’m of the mind that, regardless of whether or not it gave you some Q.T. with the shitter, it probably wasn’t very useful. Frankly, I don’t think any relationship advice-oriented books are. That’s because they’re all bullshit. Most of the “advice” out there sucks, and even if it were useful, it’s unlikely you’d follow it anyway.”

We agree on this. Much of what Peyser writes on the other hand, I do not agree with. (The L Word for example, is leaps and bounds better than Queer as Folk.) Speaking of which, Peyser doesn’t venture into the dating world of those Vegans who happen to be gay. Considering I know a fair amount of gay vegans, that seems to be a glaring omission. Additionally, a huge oversight by Peyser – who makes it clear that the book is written from a male perspective – is the fact that women finding males to date in the animal rights/vegan world is way harder! In my experience, far more women than men are involved in animal rights. While I hope that this is changing, at present it’s the reality I’ve seen and heard.

The book contains six chapters, the first addressing the life of a single vegan, second addressing vegan dating, third addressing vegan love, fourth addressing vegan long term relationships, fifth addressing vegan sex and the final serving as a conclusion. Of all the chapters, the only that I found to contain much in the way of valuable information would be the sex chapter, considering our society doesn’t tend to talk about sex in any real way. While the information provided is in my view Sex 101 (maybe102), it’s probably fair to assume there are people who aren’t aware of some of the information therein. Perhaps the least helpful of the chapters may be the long term relationship chapter in which the author recommends playing into whatever role your partner’s parents may desire you to be rather than being genuine. Not my style, but perhaps someone will find that advice helpful.

One has to wonder who exactly Peyser is marketing his book to when he makes such comments as, “I’m not really that into Foucault, patchouli, cocaine, white water rafting, hiking and camping, pacifism, Zion or Zionism, the Green Party, Gandhi, knitting circles, yoga, realigning my chakras, going to that sand mandala showing downtown or freeing Tibet (i.e., I’m not quite that “down” with feudal theocracies.) Sorry.” Not that one has to agree with the author of a book in order to read or enjoy the material but really, why is it necessary to ostracize yourself from those who might’ve actually picked up your book over knitting circles and yoga?

My recommendation for those considering this book would be to take a glance at Peyser’s blog. This way you’ll be able to get a better sense as to whether you enjoy his personality, something very prevalent throughout this self-help guide. If nothing else, you can see some cute pictures of his pet rats.

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