Battle Hymn of the Humorless Mother

Amy Chua, better known as the Tiger Mom, praises the virtues of her “immigrant upbringing” and blames America’s fear of parenting and fear of China for the explosive negativity directed toward her and her book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.  Well, that’s a load of bovine excrement.

In a recent video clip posted on AOL Chua blamed the Wall Street Journal for taking her book too seriously and kick starting a brouhaha that would never have happened if the title had been, say, Battle Hymn of the Italian Mother (no, that’s a whole different and even less flattering stereotype).  After all, according to Chua, the book is intended to be humorous. Okay, now I get it. In spite of all her academic dedication and professional achievements, Chua is a horrible writer of humor.

When my oldest son was in first grade we actively explained to him that humor that had to be clarified wasn’t funny. Someone needs to deliver a similar message to Ms. Chua. I wouldn’t have thought that this was necessary since by her own frequent declaration Chua is a highly intelligent Ivy League educated attorney and law professor, not a six-year-old whose understanding of social cues is hindered by an autistic spectrum disorder. But even if that’s the case, wasn’t there an editor over at Penguin who could have mentioned something about it? “Um, Ms. Chua, is it possible for you to give your readers a ‘Bazinga’ every now and then?” Or did everyone involved in the publication of this book just fail to understand that writing humor isn’t easy?

A friend and former classmate of mine is a serious student of humor writing, exceptional writer in his own right as well as editor of Kugelmass: A Journal of Literary Humor. Check it out! Issue 2 is hot off the presses. He has fostered in me an appreciation for the art of humor writing and its creation. Before getting to know him and his writing I thought that being a writer of humor and a humorous writer were one and the same. They aren’t. I can honestly say that while I can, at times, be a humorous (and sarcastic) writer a humor writer I am not.  But Amy Chua is neither.

So ever the optimist I can give her the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she’s not as much horrible mother as terrible writer. Maybe…

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