House of Cards: Love, Faith, and Other Social Expressions
Book: House of Cards: Love, Faith, and Other Social Expressions , by David Ellis Dickerson, ISBN10: 1594488819, ISBN13: 9781594488818, Penguin Group (USA), October 2009, Hardcover
David Dickerson is a comic, storyteller, crossword constructor, former greeting card writer, and self-proclaimed "word nerd." He holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Arizona and a Ph.D. in American literature from Florida State University. A regular contributor to NPR's This American Life, he has written for The Atlantic Monthly and The Gettysburg Review. His puzzles have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Games magazine, and Time Out New York.
An original and hilarious memoir by an ex-greeting card writer, virgin fundamentalist, and This American Life contributor that chronicles how, in the belly of the "social expression" industry, he learned to love, thrive, and finally feel comfortable in his own skin.
David Dickerson's dream is to write greeting cards-Valentine's Day, sympathy, and holiday cards. Greeting cards offer him the chance to indulge his gifted obsession with words, puns, and humor. But when he manages to win a coveted slot at Hallmark, he soon discovers his own limited life experience has left him unprepared for sentiments he writes about in his cards: As a fundamentalist-raised, twenty-seven-year-old virgin social misfit, he knows that his world is decidedly circumscribed.
In House of Cards, Dickerson tells of his time at Hallmark and how the experience and the cast of characters he meets there open his eyes to a much larger and emotionally rich world. In comic and sometimes cringe-inducing detail, he chronicles his bumpy journey to maturity, from straitlaced evangelical Christian to (relatively) modern single guy. As Dickerson navigates supervisors and colleagues who don't understand him, he learns what it takes to connect with this new lot of personalities and how to write funny lines that resonate with the heart of America. Along the way he confronts his past, his beliefs, his relationships, even his virginity, as he ponders whether his struggle to stay true to the life he knows is worth it.
Endearing and idiosyncratic, House of Cards is the very human story of one man who, step by step, stumble by stumble, embarrassment by embarrassment, finds his place in the world.
Dickerson was a struggling 20-something with a creative writing M.F.A. when he submitted a writing portfolio to Hallmark in part because he had an idea for a novel set at a greeting card company. He takes the job of writing those cards, but what seemed like a natural outlet for his highly verbal sense of humor quickly degenerates in a profoundly alienating environment, where his self-acknowledged “ridiculously intense and enthusiastic” personality rubs almost everybody the wrong way. The tone is set early—“Oh Jesus, I just sent out a cry for help,” Dickerson thinks at his first holiday party, “and everybody heard it, and no one is coming to save me.” His personal life isn't any better, as he struggles to maintain a long-distance relationship with the only woman he's ever dated while coping with the frustration of being a 28-year-old virgin. The behind-the-scenes material is diverting (you'll never be able to read the word “special” on a card again without smirking), but it's the broader drama of the profoundly un-corporate Dickerson's doomed efforts to fit into the corporate world that gives the memoir its staying power. (Oct.)
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