Dystopian Forrest’s and the Merrily Method

I’m not a great believer in self-help books… I always find them a suspicious offering. I suspect the only selves ever really helped are the ones selling the books. Which is ultimately the point of them, to make money. It follows that if the point of the ‘self-help’ book is to make money then such books need a ready made audience of people who feel they need help, and that such help as they need can be found in a competitively priced paperback…

If your goal is to sell books to people who feel the answers to there problems can be found in a competitively priced paperback, then actually having the answers to their problems in said paperback would negate your audience for your next compactivity priced paperback.

So if your goal is actually to help people through useful advice and disbursed wisdom, the kind of publishers who make a living out of self help books aren’t going to touch you with a barge pole.

Yes, I am cynical, I’m a Yorkshireman born in the nineteen-seventies, what do you expect…

Despite this I recently stumbled on a self-help book I can get behind. One that does indeed have answers and a could be a guide to leading a better life…. For example…

You need to do a lot of positive thinking to improve your life. For this, you must first do a lot of thinking. Then, try and be positive about it. You will find that a great deal of help in your life, especially with regards to making things better.

How to improve your life, the Merrily Method: Chapter one

and also

Do kind things for Badgers.

The latter, from the same chapter, is clearly sage advice, as is

Be more like the toadstool. Then you will be happy.

Which is from chapter 3. The Merrily Method is clearly the self-help book I have not been seeking all my life. Unfortunately of course, it is also entirely fictional. It is however central to a remarkable, funny, strange, thoughtful, dystopian future novel by the incomparable Nimue Brown.

When we are Vanished, is a novel set in a future not very far distant, and a past not very far behind us. In which the silicon chip world we live it has been turned off. Imagine if you will a world where computers, Mobil phones, indeed everything that relies on a silicon chip, so just about everything, suddenly stopped working. Society would, if not collapse, certainly stumble… Luckily there is the new cellulose technology, which could replace the lost silicon tech, if only they can stop it having a mind of it’s own…

Then, people start to vanish. Just here one minute, not the next… Not die, not kidnapped, not spirited away by government black baggers. Just vanish…

But luckily just before the collapse, the last book to come out of the publish on demand warehouses was:

‘How to improve your life, The Merrily Method’

Perhaps the book holds the key to what’s really going on, if only anyone could make head nor tale of it… Or why the book seems to centre around three sisters, one of which was one of the first ‘vanished’, one of whom works for the government investigating the vanished and one of whom works with cellulose tech, and their mother. Certainly the odd little cults that have sprung up around the book think it holds the answers, as unfortunately do certain government bodies…

Walk until you start to remember what you are.

Then you can go back, if only you can remember the way.

Now I could go on to talk a lot more about the plot, and the importance of been nice to badgers, not putting too much trust into trees, as they are probably up to something, and dancing in yellow dresses. But I won’t, because it is simpler and wiser to say you should read the novel yourself. It is as remarkable, odd, intriguing, funny, smart and insightful as everything else Nimue has written. It is as deep as you want it to be, which is to say only the shallow would take nothing away from it, and it will help you simply by being on your nightstand. It will make you think, and wonder, and smile, and in part possibly cry. What more self-help you you need? Well until I convince Nimue to write the whole of the Merrily Method as an actual self-help book… As it would be just as valid as most of the ones in the self-help section of Waterstones, and probably actually help…

So my advise, help yourself, get yourself a copy…

And finally a last word form the Merrily Method, and one we can all learn to live by.

Rejoice! There is time yet for compassion and it is not yet too late to learn how to be splendid.


About Mark Hayes

Writer A messy, complicated sort of entity. Quantum Pagan. Occasional weregoth Knows where his spoon is, do you? #author #steampunk http://linktr.ee/mark_hayes
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6 Responses to Dystopian Forrest’s and the Merrily Method

  1. Meredith says:

    Aaaa I remember reading this a few years ago – such an utter delight.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nimue Brown says:

    Thank you, this has caused great cheer.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Nimue Brown says:

    Reblogged this on Druid Life and commented:
    A cheering review for an old book of mine. This review is also a very amusing read in its own right.


  4. Pingback: Books of the year 2022 edition | The Passing Place

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