Don’t Bother to Bring Your Skis

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It is 1938. You are young, single and have a successful career as a stock broker in London.

You are making plans to take a much-deserved skiing vacation in Switzerland when you get a phone call from an old friend. You friend is in Czechoslovakia, aiding refugees who are trying to emigrate and escape the Nazi occupation of that country.

The friend urges you to come out to Prague and help out. “Don’t bother to bring your skis,” he says.

Nicholas Winton decided to take his friend up on that offer. Because he did, 669 mostly Jewish children were able to escape Czechoslovakia and almost certain death in the concentration camps. Some of those kids went on to accomplish great things, and many of them are still alive today. Winton died earlier this week at the age of 106. His life story, and the incredibly daring escape he led in the days leading up to World War II, have been documented by The New York Times, and several films.

All of which would not have happened if Winton had decided to take that ski vacation instead of going to Prague and helping his friend. I wonder what I would have done if faced with that decision? I fear that I would have taken the easy path, and let someone else worry about world affairs.

“Why did I do it? Why do people do different things?” Winton told the Times in 2001. “Some people revel in taking risks, and some go through life taking no risks at all.”

What would you have done if you had been Nicholas Winton? Would you have taken the risk?

Book Review: Soil

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Many of us are taught from an early age that, with a little hard work and ingenuity, we can have it all. We can have a beautiful, loving family, make lots of money, achieve our professional goals and, along the way, possibly change the world. Follow your dreams, we are told by everyone from Disney princesses to the commencement speaker at college graduation.

Jay Mize has a gorgeous wife, a young son, and a cozy little bungalow in town. That’s not enough for him. Jay has a dream – to till some land, develop a new way of growing crops and, in the process, change how life is sustained on earth. The dream gnaws at Jay until he decides to pursue it, and the results are disastrous. Within a year, the river has flooded his farm, his wife and son have left, and Jay is slowly starving to death. What he finds one day floating on his ruined land adds a macabre twist to Jay’s struggle, and sets up the central dilemma of Jamie Kornegay’s excellent first novel, Soil.

Set in a Mississippi town, written in wry prose, and populated with remarkably defective characters, Soil is reminiscent of the darkly comic works of writers likes Clyde Edgerton, James Wilcox, and others. Crazy shenanigans in a Southern town are not exactly unplowed literary ground, but Soil offers a contemporary perspective on an old lesson: be careful what you wish for. Jay’s isolated quest for greatness, fueled by cable news conspiracy theories and doomsday scenarios, drive him to madness. That madness leads to some stunningly bad decisions that get Jay into a heap of trouble. Kornegay writes about this descent with sharp, vivid passages that are sometimes harrowing enough to make your stomach spin. The descriptions of the ramshackle house and devastated crops on Jay’s property are equally powerful. It’s clear that the writer has an intimate appreciation for the natural forces that make the Delta such a strange, tormented place.

Other characters resonate in Soil. Danny Shoals is a hot-rodding deputy with a keen eye on replacing his uncle as county sheriff. Unfortunately, Danny’s eye for every short skirt in town, along with an urge to peep under other folks’ window shades at night, threaten to destroy his plans. Sandy Mize is Jay’s pretty but long-suffering wife. Her inner conflict over whether or not to save her marriage make Sandy a sympathetic character, but not a helpless one. Her sparring sessions with the delusional Jay contain some of the book’s strongest dialogue.

It’s natural to categorize this novel as Southern fiction because of its locale and storytelling style. But the weaknesses that most of the main characters carry – grand ambitions, flawed logic, extreme narcissism – know no geographic boundaries, at least in this country. Soil is a cautionary but entertaining tale about what can go wrong when we want something just a little too much.

Stephen Roth is the author of the novel, A Plot for Pridemore.

Be sure to “like” his author fan page at https://www.facebook.com/StephenRothWriter

What to do with All These Books?

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A year ago, when the first copies of my novel arrived, it was exhilarating to open that cardboard box and hold the hard-bound product of several years’ hard work in my hands.

Since that time, I have sold more than 100 copies of A Plot for Pridemore from my personal inventory. I still have another 25 copies sitting in a basement closet, just waiting to be read.

So here’s the deal: if you are looking for a good summer read, or a possible Father’s Day gift for a friend or loved one who enjoys fiction, send me a quick message with your mailing address. For $15, I will mail you a signed copy of my book.

It has been a blast promoting and sharing my book with readers over the past year, but I really need to find a home for these copies of Pridemore, and free up some extra closet space while I’m at it. Send me a comment (I will not post it publicly) if you’re interested. Thanks!

Interview with the Southern Literary Review

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A few weeks ago, Allen Mendendhall posted a view nice interview with me on the Southern Literary Review‘s website. I thought he asked some great questions that really got me to think about why I wrote things a certain way in A Plot for Pridemore. What follows is the the conversation in its entirety:

AM: Pridemore, Missouri—the setting for your novel, A Plot for Pridemore. Why this place in particular?

SR: Missouri has been my home for the past 26 years, so it made sense to write about a part of the country that was very familiar to me. I also felt that basing Pridemore in Missouri would allow me to start the story with something of a clean slate. Readers have preconceptions and expectations when you write about events that happen in places like Florida, Texas or Alabama. Few people living outside of the Show-Me State have a strong opinion about Missouri. I felt that could work to my advantage in portraying Pridemore as kind of a struggling Anytown, USA.
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AM: A Plot for Pridemore is your first novel. What did you find most challenging about writing the book?

SR: I think the biggest challenge for a first-time author is the lingering fear that what you are producing is not quality work. While working on Pridemore, I felt that I had a compelling topic, and I enjoyed writing it, but I didn’t know if it was any good until people starting reading the manuscript. It was very important to me that I selected a handful of professional writers to read my first draft, in addition to the usual collection of family and friends. When my writing colleagues reported back (some with surprised looks on their faces) that they thought my book was pretty good, I was genuinely relieved. Their feedback gave me the resolve to continue improving the manuscript and to seek a publisher.

AM: I can think of characters from history and literature who seem similar to Mayor Tolliver. I’m assuming this figure didn’t spring fully formed in your mind in a single moment of creative genius. How did he come about?

SR: I would have to say that Roe Tolliver is a composite of a few different people I have known over the years. I was a newspaper reporter for much of my 20s and 30s, and I was blessed to meet a wide range of scoundrels, blowhards, narcissists, and all-around colorful characters while covering city politics and business. I also came to know many fine, capable public servants and business leaders. However, I leaned on some of the more outlandish characters from my reporting days to create Mayor Tolliver. Of course, a lot of his quirks and motivations came from my imagination as well.

Incidentally, I believe that reporting is a wonderful education on how the world operates when you are a young adult. The pay and career track aren’t so great, but reporting is an excellent way to learn how to write, and what to write about. You also meet an incredible array of people. Neil Young once said that he would rather travel in the ditch than in the middle of the road because he “saw more interesting people there.” The same could be said of newspaper reporting.

AM: Tell us about your decision to divide the book not only into chapters but into parts. Is there any subtle significance to that decision?

SR: Since the book covers a full year, I thought it would be helpful to the reader to break the text into the three seasons when most of the action takes place: Summer, Spring, and Summer again. I have no idea if this approach added any value to Pridemore. You are the first person to mention the parts of the book to me.

AM: Where did you grow up?

SR: My father was involved in textiles, so we split our time between Georgia and South Carolina when I was growing up. Most of my boyhood took place in LaGrange, Georgia, which I consider to be my hometown.

AM: I lived in West Virginia for several years and came to know several “Pridemores.” It’s sad and sometimes eerie but also, in a way, strangely beautiful to behold once-thriving cities and towns that are now decaying, their buildings and roads in disrepair, their downtowns now ghost towns. How does this make you feel? Is this something you’re passionate about? Were you making any kind of political statement in your novel by focusing on Pridemore?

SR: I did not set out to make a political statement. However, I know Pridemore’s problems are shared by many American towns as the country continues its shift from a rural to an urban society. It’s a very topical issue, and you don’t have to look very hard to find a feature story in The New York Times or Wall Street Journal about some spunky town in the middle of nowhere that is trying to get its act together, even though there may no longer be an economic reason for it to exist. I think those stories about people pulling together to save their towns are beautiful and inspiring. Hopefully, none of those towns go to the drastic lengths that Pridemore does to revive their fortunes.

I have always loved the intimacy of the small town. The ability to get from one place to the next in just a couple of minutes, and to run into someone you know everywhere you go, are things you take for granted until you live in a city. If the evening news is any indication, those places on the map where you can leave your front door unlocked or let your kids walk alone to a friend’s house are rapidly disappearing. In Pridemore, Missouri, I tried to create a place with that small-town intimacy that readers could believe and visualize. I’ve been told by a handful of readers that Pridemore reminds them of the towns they knew growing up. I love hearing that.

AM: It’s unusual to ask an author about his publisher, but I want to do so only because Mercer University Press seems to be coming out with several books, like yours, that readers of contemporary Southern literature will appreciate and enjoy. What caused you to submit to Mercer?

SR: A few years ago, I started sending out query letters to agents and publishers, but I had not considered pitching A Plot for Pridemore to a university press. Then, in 2011, I attended the Chattahoochee Valley Writers Conference in Columbus, Georgia, where I met Marc Jolley, who is director of Mercer University Press. He encouraged me to enter my manuscript in Mercer’s annual contest for the Ferrol Sams Fiction Award. I submitted Pridemore and, a few months later, received an email from Dr. Jolley asking me to call him. Lo and behold, my book won, and part of the award was a publishing contract. I feel very fortunate to have run into Dr. Jolley in Columbus.

Mercer University Press does produce an impressive number of books, both fiction and non-fiction, that any lover of Southern culture would enjoy. You can check out all of their titles at http://www.mupress.org.

AM: Just a couple more questions. First, A Plot for Pridemore features an interesting relationship between Pete and Angela. What motivated this part of the book?

SR: One of my goals in the book was to give each of the main characters a dark side that would lend them more authenticity. There are no white knights arriving to save the day in A Plot for Pridemore. Pete Schaefer is the newspaper reporter for the Pridemore Evening Headlight whose job it is to unravel the mayor’s devious plan to save the town. I could have drawn Pete as a bona fide good guy, but that just didn’t seem right. His relationship with Angela reveals a different layer to Pete’s personality that even he finds to be a little unsettling.

AM: You were born in LaGrange, Georgia, and now live in Kansas City. Do you feel that Southern authors are under-appreciated at the national and even international level?

SR: Everyone has their own opinion of the South, much of it having to do with politics. I believe that many Americans have an appreciation for the rich cultural gifts the South has given us, from music to cuisine to literature. I don’t think that Southern authors as a whole are under-appreciated. I do think that some of the South’s finest literary writers, from Ron Rash to Charles Portis to Terry Kay, have not received the public acclaim they deserve, but that’s probably true of any genre of fiction.

Bound for the Razorback State

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The Arkansas Literary Festival is among the finest gatherings of writers and readers in the South, and I’m excited to be a part of the 2015 edition. On Saturday, April 25, I will be on a panel that includes fiction writers Jay Ruud and John Vanderslice. We’ll be fielding questions about the use of history, mystery and humor in fiction. Of course, I will also attempt to work in a few plugs for my novel, A Plot for Pridemore.

Looking forward to taking my act on the road again.

Looking forward to taking my act on the road again.

If you happen to be near Little Rock the weekend of April 23-26, you might consider stopping by the festival, which has an impressive lineup of speakers including John Waters, Rick Bragg, and Rebecca Wells. Here’s a link to the entire festival schedule. Most events are free and open to the public. It should be a fun weekend.

I have only been to Arkansas a handful of times, mostly to canoe on some of the lovely rivers in the northern part of the state. I did have one experience in the Razorback State that indirectly influenced A Plot for Pridemore. In the summer of 1993, I interviewed for a reporting job at the Daily Press, a weekly newspaper in Paragould, Arkansas. I didn’t get the job, but the name ‘Paragould’ stuck with me. In the initial drafts of my novel, the fictional town where the action takes place was called Paragould, Missouri. I later changed the town’s name to “Pridemore” in order to avoid any confusion with the real town of Paragould in western Arkansas.

It has been a few months since my last book appearance. I’m looking forward to meeting some cool folks and finding the best barbecue restaurant in Little Rock. Let me know if you have any suggestions!

Want More Readers? Write Something Negative.

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I have been blogging for more than two years now. I have written about a wide range of topics, from pop culture to politics to parenthood. Most of my posts garner a handful of views, a couple of “likes,” and are then forgotten. I’m good with that. The Internet provides us with a seemingly infinite number of new reading options every day, and I am grateful to the people who take a couple of minutes to read my work.

There is one post I have written, however, that continues to draw more and more readers, even though it was published seven months ago. The post is titled “10 Amazing Reasons Why Facebook Sucks.” Last year, the post had 1,512 views (by comparison, my second most popular post had 187 views). This year, just a little more than two months into 2015, my screed about the annoying facets of Facebook has already been viewed a whopping 2,518 times. On average, more than 40 people find “10 Amazing Reasons Why Facebook Sucks” and click on it every day.
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Why is this particular essay so much more popular than all the others? Good question. The main reason is a little something called search engine optimization. If you go to Google’s search engine and type the words, “Facebook sucks,” or “why Facebook sucks,” my post is the second article that appears on the first search page you see (a much more crass article on Cracked.com titled, “Why Facebook Sucks” appears at the top of the page).

Apparently, a lot of people around the world conduct Google searches with the words “Facebook sucks” every day. Some of these people click on my post, glance at it and, in most cases, immediately leave my blog. Today, according to WordPress, my post has been visited by people in India, Germany, Romania, Slovenia and Singapore. The Internet is a wonderful thing, bringing all of us together to share in our universal frustration – and obsession – with social media.

So, if you’re a new blogger who is struggling to write that one post that will generate thousands of views (and exactly $0.00 in revenue), my advice would be to write something that has a title with the word “suck” in it. “Why the Yankees Suck,” “What Sucks About 50 Shades of Grey,” “Winter Sucks.” The topic does not really matter, as long as it’s about something for which a large swath of the population shares a deep, abiding distaste.

Sad to say, but these are the cynical, snarky Internet times we live in. A lot of the posts I write are positive. Okay, some of the posts I write are positive. Not long ago, I wrote a loving little essay about our dog on her 10th birthday. People love dogs, right? That post earned 52 views last year. Exactly one person clicked on it in 2015. Again, I’m fine with that, but maybe I should have included more photos of the dog, particularly when she was a puppy?

I’m going to try to be a more positive, upbeat blogger in 2015, but please don’t fault me if a certain four-letter word that begins with an “s” and ends with a “k” works its way into my prose.

Gotta try to keep my numbers up.

Stephen Roth is the author of the humorous novel, A Plot for Pridemore.

Be sure to “like” his author fan page at https://www.facebook.com/StephenRothWriter

St. Patrick’s Day with Alice

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Re-posting because: 1.) It’s almost St. Patrick’s Day, 2.) I really like this post, and, 3.) Someone needs to keep the memory of “Alice” alive.

Originally posted on A Place for My Stuff:

Painting the street green is apparently another St. Paddy's tradition in Rolla, Mo. Painting the street green is apparently another St. Paddy’s tradition in Rolla, Mo.
St. Patrick’s Day at the University of Missouri at Rolla, we were told, was a really big deal. The town celebrated with a massive parade. There were keg parties all over campus. For one wild weekend in March, we were told, everyone in the state descended upon tiny Rolla for a raucous green-beer celebration.

“And you won’t believe the women,” said our friend Bennett, who had studied a semester at UM-Rolla before transferring to Mizzou. “There’ll be beautiful women everywhere.”

It didn’t dawn on our college freshmen minds that there were plenty of parties and beautiful (read: unattainable) women where we currently studied in Columbia. St. Patrick’s Day in Rolla, we believed after weeks of hearing about it from Bennett, was on a whole different level. The 1990 celebration would be the biggest one yet. So…

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What They’re Saying on Amazon

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Each Friday, I visit Amazon.com to see how my book is doing. Amazon and Nielsen have a nifty application that can tell authors, roughly, how many books they sold over the past week. Some weeks the results are disappointing. Other weeks they are encouraging. Today, I learned that I sold four paperback copies of A Plot for Pridemore between February 23 and March 1. That’s a pretty encouraging week by my standards.

I also learned today that A Plot for Pridemore racked up its 23rd customer review on Amazon.com. So far, the reviewers have been amazingly kind. Twenty of them have rewarded the book with five stars, while three gave it four stars. Some of the reviewers are, of course, friends and relatives, but many are people I don’t know who managed to stumble across the book and read it cover-to-cover. I am humbled and amazed at how generous they have been to a first-time novelist. Here’s what one reader from Venice, Florida, wrote this week about A Plot for Pridemore:

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I enjoyed the book very much. It started out on the slow side but got to the point where I couldn’t put it down. Stephen was very inventive to come up with this plot.

Customer reviews on Amazon.com are very important, I am told. Potential buyers look to these reviews to help them decide if they want to buy your book. Having a lot of reviews–even if they are not all positive reviews–shows that your book is generating “buzz.” That draws the attention of the Amazon people, who may decide to give your work preferential placement in their online bookstore, helping it stand out among the millions and millions of published and self-published books that are sold on Amazon.

There is a lot of content on the Internet about how to get more customer reviews, including stories about how some authors who have tried to bilk the system. It’s my understanding that you need at least 50 customer reviews for your book to get Amazon’s attention, but that might just one of those online rumors. At any rate, it’s a hot topic among newbie authors like me.

Which leads me to my plea: if you have an interest in purchasing and reading my book. I would love it if you would take a few minutes to review it on Amazon. The process is simple and easy. Even if you find that A Plot for Pridemore is not exactly your cup of tea, I would still greatly appreciate any feedback you could provide in the form of a customer review.

If you enjoy reading fiction at all, however, I’m willing to bet that you will like A Plot for Pridemore. After all, the customer reviews have given it an average of five stars on Amazon.

Stephen Roth is the author of the humorous novel, A Plot for Pridemore.

Be sure to “like” his author fan page at https://www.facebook.com/StephenRothWriter

The Pain Factory that is Mizzou Basketball

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Something sad is happening this winter in Columbia, Missouri.

University of Missouri basketball has never been great, but it is usually pretty good. Most seasons, the Tigers will knock off a couple of highly ranked teams and contend for a berth in the NCAA Tournament.

Kim Anderson doesn't have much to smile about these days.

Kim Anderson doesn’t have much to smile about these days.

This year, Mizzou basketball is terrible. The Tigers stand 7-20, having lost 13 straight games in the mediocre Southeastern Conference. Some of those losses have been heartbreakers, but most of them have been by double-digits. The team has looked overmatched against mighty Kentucky, and overmatched against less-than-mighty Alabama, Vanderbilt, and Mississippi State. The only suspense left to this season–Missouri’s worst in almost 50 years–is whether or not the Tigers will manage to chalk up another win. That scenario is starting to seem more and more like a childish fantasy.

This is the first season for Tigers coach Kim Anderson, a former Mizzou big man from the 1970s whose first game leading the team in Columbia was a humiliating 69-61 loss to a directional school, the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Everyone expected 2014-15 to be a tough season for Anderson. Previous coach Frank Haith left very few experienced players before bolting for the Tulsa job last April. Still, the roster has a few freshmen and sophomores who were top-50 recruits. There was reason to expect a young, energetic, competitive team.

That hasn’t happened. Some games, the Tigers play hard but make a ton of mistakes. Other games, they seem lethargic and make even more mistakes. Anderson has benched players and suspended players. He has lectured them about sitting up straight and looking people in the eye during post-game press conferences. He has talked about gutting the program in order to build it back up. Hopefully, these tactics will work, but it will take some time. Most people expect some players to transfer out of the program at season’s end. Next season could be just as bad as this one.

For long-time fans of Tigers basketball, it is just another chapter in a long story that even a Russian novelist would find too depressing to believe. When Missouri fans complain about the pain and anguish of being Missouri fans, they are mostly talking about hoops. Mizzou football has had a couple of famously devastating defeats, but the gridiron Tigers have been reliably good for more than 10 years. Tiger basketball, meanwhile, has been as volatile as a tech start-up’s stock price on the NASDAQ.

Norm Stewart's teams were good, but not great.

Norm Stewart’s teams were good, but not great.

I don’t want to bore you with too many details, but here’s what has basically happened with Mizzou basketball over the past 15 or so years:

1999

Athletic Director Mike Alden mishandles the firing of legendary Tigers coach Norm Stewart. Missouri hires Duke assistant and all-around pretty boy Quin Snyder.

2000-2003

Snyder takes the Tigers to four straight NCAA Tournament appearances, including an Elite Eight run in 2002.

2003

The arrest of point guard Ricky Clemons and subsequent jailhouse tapes of him divulging some dirty laundry eventually lands the Tigers on probation for a couple of years. The program goes into decline.

2004

Missouri’s new basketball palace opens and is named Paige Arena after the daughter of “anonymous” booster and Walmart beneficiary Bill Laurie. The building’s name is changed to Mizzou Arena a few days later, after news breaks of a college cheating scandal that involved Paige Laurie.

2006

Athletic Director Mike Alden botches the firing of Snyder. Missouri hires Mike Anderson from UAB.

2006-2011

Anderson leads the Tigers to three straight NCAA Tournament appearances, including an Elite Eight run in 2009. He then bolts for the head coaching job at Arkansas.

2011-2014

Under new coach Frank Haith, the Tigers shock everyone by going 30-4 and winning the Big 12 tournament. They shock everyone again by losing a first-round game in the NCAAs to 15th seed Norfolk State. Haith sticks around for the Tigers’ first two seasons in the SEC, then bolts for Tulsa.

Which brings us to 2015 and the Tigers’ second Coach Anderson in less than four years. When Kim Anderson took the job, many fans had hopes of him returning Missouri to the glory days of Norm Stewart, when they recall the Tigers always playing hard and beating Kansas on a regular basis.

The thing is, even Stewart, over the course of 30 years, could not lead the Missouri Tigers to greatness. His teams won a few Big Eight championships and gave Kansas some headaches, but Stewart also lost a lot of first-round games in the Big Dance, He never reached a Final Four. His teams were talented but often suffered the same confounding lapses that have marked all Missouri basketball teams.

Throughout their history, the Tigers have never quite been tough enough, deep enough or big enough to achieve true college basketball greatness. George Mason, Virginia Commonwealth, Western Kentucky, Indiana State, Seton Hall, and the University of North Carolina-Charlotte have all been to a Final Four. The Missouri Tigers have not.

Yeah, this happened, too.

Yeah, this happened, too.

Maybe they will get there someday. Maybe 2014-15 is Kim Anderson’s Valley Forge, and he will go on to have a long, storied career in Columbia.

I have my doubts, though. The Tigers just posted another dumpster fire of a loss this afternoon, this time to a feeble, inexperienced but well-coached Vanderbilt squad.

It’s just another low for a program that has had too many of them over the past several years.

Stephen Roth is the author of the humorous novel, A Plot for Pridemore.

Be sure to “like” his author fan page at https://www.facebook.com/StephenRothWriter

The Sadness of the Selfie

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Me, in my car today.

Me, in my car today.

There once was a time not too long ago when taking pictures of yourself could only mean that you didn’t have anyone in your life to take your picture for you.

Nobody took selfies, not even with Polaroid cameras. To do so would admit to the world that you were either a pathetic, lonely loser, or someone who was extremely egotistical. A self-taken picture was sad and embarrassing, like a teen-aged boy caught playing alone with a football and making his own crowd noise in the backyard.

Times have changed.

Anyone with a smartphone knows that selfies are now an accepted, and frequent, form of social expression. Even the President takes them. If you missed the BuzzFeed video from a week ago of the Commander-in-Chief mugging around with a Selfie Stick, here it is.

Obama took a lot of flack for it, just as he does for everything else. I feel for the guy, but I have to admit that there’s something embarrassing about the Most Powerful Man in the World, the one responsible for our foreign policy and all our troops oversees, staring self-consciously and making faces at his phone like an eighth-grader. The message of the video seems to be, “Hey, the President is a regular guy, just like you.” That is not a sentiment that fills me with a rush of confidence.

It would be easy for me to plant a flag in the ground and say, “Hey, we weren’t taking pictures of ourselves back in the 1980s and 90s.” The reality is that we probably would have been if the technology were around to make it so easy to do. Selfies are not making us more narcissistic. We have always been narcissistic. Selfies just make our narcissism more obvious to the outside world. Maybe that is a form of public service.

I don’t take selfies very often. One reason is that I have short arms, and I only learned about the existence of the Selfie Stick about a week ago. Another reason is I don’t think very many people are interested in viewing self-generated photos of me. A third reason is plain old sheepishness: a selfie posted on Facebook or Twitter seems squeamishly revealing, like inviting someone I don’t know very well to come over to my house and watch me make faces in the bathroom mirror.

I should just get over myself. The selfie is here to stay. Neil Patrick Harris is already bragging about how his selfie at the upcoming Oscars is going to top Ellen’s selfie from last year’s Oscars! What can you say? People love it! We selfie, therefore we are, or however that old saying goes.

In a way, selfies may be the most honest form of expression, and may reveal more about ourselves than we intend. I’m going to try to remember that the next time I take a photo of my feet in front of a swimming pool.

Stephen Roth is the author of the humorous novel, A Plot for Pridemore. Be sure to “like” his author fan page at https://www.facebook.com/StephenRothWriter

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