What they knew and when

12 May

As a statistically-significant friend pointed out, this week’s unfortunate victim* should have seen it coming. The ominously-named “The Eskimos Knew” conjures up images of native people smugly stockpiling weapons and canned goods while waiting for the zombies/nuclear war/Apocalypse/next Bush president than the educational romp through the lives of  cold climate dwellers. It’s a weird book, for so many reasons, not least of all that it was illustrated by the delightful Ezra Jack Keats before he hit it big with another book about snow.

So, check this out while I eat another expensive cookie from Whole Foods.

...that nothing flatters quite like fluffy hoods and wrap-around shades.

Okay, so we are looking a tad cranky and Blade Runnerish here. But I’m digging the totally mod cover page. Still, the title makes one feel as if SOMETHING is looming behind those innocent pointed hoods.

So, basically sushi but without the pretentious Los Angeles a-hole sitting next to you loudly talking about the time he ate real sushi in Tokyo?

So, I had to Google “Eskimo stereotypes” to get riled up and prepare for this one.  It’s not that this book is totally bad even though these sexually-ambigious people look like the Five Chinese Brothers doing sick things, it’s just weird.

So basically, this sounds like the equivilent of third-graders making fun of each other on the playground and someone getting stuck with “Pee-Pee Pants” or “Vomit Boy” or “Glenn Beck” as their nickname until high school.


I need to take a cold shower. No pun intended.

Wow, I think they ripped this straight from D.H. Lawrence.

Did YOU know that penchants for kinky sex are an Eskimo stereotype? Me neither, but that is totally bitchin’… in a really hurtful way that affects how people see them as individuals. I mean, dang, my people got money-grubbers, frigid, big noses and penis-cutting.
(Read this paragraph slowly to your lover with the smooth sounds of Barry White in the background and see if you don’t get a surprise nine months later…or an itch and redness a few days later depending on your lover.)

Why is this whole book written in what appears to be blank verse?

 I just want to point out that you are supposed to ask your mother for help here. And that the language is so stilted that I cannot make a joke about it without offending so many people that I will let you make your own inappropriate analogy…

I wrote this about my soul. Oh, no wait, my soul is black like the hallows of hell.

I prefer to think of this as the authors’ attempt to hash out their unhappy (in my mind) marriage by using food as a metaphor for feelings.  So it’s like their love is frozen in order to keep it from spoiling totally but sometimes they let themselves thaw out (like maybe when they write “What the Africans Knew” next) in the warmth of home, here represented by an igloo (which is both shelter, but one constructed of cold materials). And their hearts are the cold storerooms of emotion. Then Eskimos metaphorically eat their emotions, which loses me there. And makes me think of that Damien Rice song about Eskimos, which then makes me wonder if these people hate him for stereotyping Eskimos through sexy music. Hmmm, Damien Rice…

"Mommy, look at the bloody, cruel and unnecessary exploitation of animals! Let's go protest the diamond trade at Tiffany's next!"**

You and Mother will do this after Mother’s three-martini lunch. And if the furrier offers to show you how he sews skins together, leave, call the police immediately and check into the Plaza until he’s in full custody. They already know Mother there because of her “meetings” with her and Father’s “accountant.”

(**I really hope this is what my hypothetical daughter and I do someday after we go to a cheap Korean place for mani/pedis.)

Do you *have* to look menacing when chewing on animal skins, do ya think?

 Hey, stop spreading the stereotype that Eskimo women have strong teeth! What about the ones with gum disease or tartar? How do you think it makes them…oh sorry, got distracted thinking of little leather boots for dogs!
I will totally make my kids do this to make shoes for the family. And they’d better be damn cute, too. (Not the kids, the shoes. G-d don’t make no ugly.)

This is what life would have been like if they got to keep the money from drilling.


“Wheeeeee! We’re all so free and happy thanks to Sarah Palin!”

*Special thanks to Melody Murray for sending us this book.  We will give her a rose-scented sponge bath and feed her honey-soaked figs to say thanks at a later date and time.


3 Responses to “What they knew and when”

  1. Devin May 13, 2010 at 10:17 am #

    This is another one I read in my Catholic elementary school. Quit drudging up the past! I was chubby and had glasses and the other kids didn’t hang out with me and I just read these horrible books to numb the existential pain and… uh…
    On the cover, the smirking dad-skimo looks like he *knows* some pretty messed up stuff. He’s seen some things from behind those blue Oakleys, some things that have changed him. I wouldn’t stay in his igloo.

  2. Erik Tou May 15, 2010 at 3:27 pm #

    It’s like the last page is saying, “Yeah, Eskimos are still weird, tribal people, but don’t worry, they’re becoming more like white people every day!”

  3. Paul Lambert February 24, 2016 at 2:36 pm #

    I guess I have to be the boy to shout that the emperor wears no clothes: There was nothing humourous at all in this. This book was written for children and at a child’s level, sure, but it was a serious book.

    The comments added after each excerpt are totally disjointed. The book is about my soul? Animal cruelty? Sarah Palin?

    In fairness, I know that humour is very different from one country to another. Perhaps I am simply experiencing a culture clash.

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