chestnuts

Meeting Gilbert Ohanian, author of Chestnuts

This week I’d like to introduce you all to Gilbert Ohanian who shared, not only his best ever review, but the worst in all its gory detail. Gilbert is the author of the author of “Chestnuts:  A True Story About Being Bullied.”  The book is about his experiences being bullied as a child and now the experiences of his son.  More importantly, it sheds light on what bullying is and how parents can combat the crisis.

The Gilbert Ohanian Interview

What is one thing that no-one would usually know about you?

That’s a tough question, however it’s very personal, but I will share my deepest secret, that know one is aware of and that is, I have never masturbated.

What did the best review you ever had say about you and your work

“Gilbert Ohanian does a wonderful job dissecting the experience of bullying, not only from the child’s perspective but from the parent’s and teacher’s viewpoints as well. In his book, Chestnuts: A True Story About Being Bullied, he shares his personal story of how he was bullied, the impact it had on him and how he came to recognize that his son was being bullied many years later. Ohanian shares key points that can help others recognize signs of bullying as well, but even more he shares how to discover the root causes of bullying and how those that are suffering from bullying can overcome the mindset and behavior of being a “victim”. Ohanian knows first hand how much deeper bullying goes than just being teased, and often authority figures either try to sweep things under the carpet or do not believe it is a severe issue.

If you want to understand bullying in a much deeper way and discover a number of methods to deal with the bullying, Chestnuts: A True Story About Being Bullied is an excellent book for you. I was also really pleased to see how Ohanian shared that bullying is not just an experience that takes place during one’s childhood years. It can extend into adulthood. This is not just about the horrific life-long impact that childhood bullying can have, but how bullies show up in our adult lives too. As an adult who was emotionally bullied as a child, I found Chestnuts to be filled with powerful wisdom on how to move forward from the trauma of bullying. I highly recommend this book to anyone – especially parents, whether they think their child experiences bullying or not.

What did the worst review you ever had say about you and your work 

“I feel I should start by saying that I only read this book because the author asked me to review it. I don’t know why as I don’t know him and am not well-known myself, but for whatever reason he sent me a free copy, so I read it. And the fact that I’d agreed to review it is the only reason I even finished it. This book is garbage.

The book is basically made up of two parts, although it switches back and forth between the two seemingly on a whim. The first is advice for those being bullied and their parents, the second is the narrative about the author’s own childhood experiences.

The advice is probably the worst thing about the book, as it’s completely without value at best, but probably actually harmful in fact. A mixture of common knowledge, stereotypes and misinformation. Ohanian repeats outdated ideas about the causes and nature of bullying and presents a very myopic view of bullies. He states repeatedly that bullies bully because they enjoy making others suffer, that bullies lack empathy, that bullies grow up to be psychopaths, etc. and sharply divides everyone into the distinct groups of bullies, victims, and everyone else. There is no complexity or nuance to this world-view at all.

He’s also very repetitive, saying the same things over and over again, often pretty much the same words. And when he’s not repeating himself he’s contradicting himself or just writing meaningless nonsense like “assimilating refers to the state of being assimilated”. I found myself having to skim read a lot because it was just so tedious and dumb.

The other part of the book is Ohanian’s autobiography, and he really doesn’t come across well at all. His tendency to identify people as bullies, victims or others, and his placing of himself into the victim group seems to make him classify any kind of conflict as bullying, and therefore anyone he has any kind of conflict with as a bully and a psychopath. Reading between the lines, I would classify Ohanian himself as a bully, and I’m glad he lives on a different continent to me because he’d probably beat the s*** out of me for writing this.

That said, the narrative side of the book is somewhat interesting, and could make for an OK book, but probably only if it were written with a bit more self-awareness. Ohanian’s insistence that he is the victim and it’s everyone else who is always causing him trouble makes for a character that’s impossible to sympathise with, and makes me suspect that if we were to ask his schoolmates what they remember about him they’d describe him as “that angry kid who was always getting into fights and going off at people for no reason”.

The other problem with the narrative is that it meanders and jumps about a lot; He dwells on certain things for a while without making any real point and then suddenly jumps to some unrelated event, and often brings up facts and anecdotes that don’t seem to be relevant to anything else in the book. The whole book has a very stream-of-consciousness feel to it and seems like it would really benefit from some drastic editing. But even if it were better written it would still be full of nonsense and bad advice. There’s really no saving it.”

How did you choose a title for your book

The name of title of my book was given because, “Chestnuts,” was the name of the game. While I was at a boarding school in England, I got introduced to a game called “Conkers,” a traditional British game for kids. Anyway, the object of the game is to break your opponents chestnut: The game is played by two players, each with a conker threaded onto a piece of string: they take turns striking eachother’s conker until one breaks. Needless to say, chestnuts were used to throw at me while I was asleep middle of the night. This was one of the tactics used by the bullies to intimidate me.

Do you have any hints or tips for aspiring writers

Yes, I do have hints and tips for aspiring writers. I believe every writer has a story to tell, whether, it be fiction or non-fiction, as long as there is imagination, creativity, patience, time, and the most important element of your attributes should be the will to put your thoughts into a tangible item for readers to enjoy.

Are you jealous of other writers

Am I jealous of other writers. Absolutely not, I don’t understand that term because by nature I am not a jealous person. In fact, I really admire good writers and there is a slight chance that I may be envious of other writers, but that’s the interesting part because every good writer has their strengths in their stories and I know I have mine.

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Where can I find out more about Gilbert and his book?

You can find Chestnuts in Kindle and paperback format here:

and can meet Gilbert on Goodreads.

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Why ‘The Thursday Throng’?

These posts are called The Thursday Throng in honour of the throng that waits eagerly outside the book store when a new author is doing a book signing event or appearance. On this website it takes the form of a ‘Meet the Author‘ online event with some information about our author’s latest book and an interview. If you would like to take part in the Thursday Throng then why not visit Thursday Throng Author Interview Guidelines to find out more.

If you would like to see all the Authors who have been featured on The Thursday Throng you can click here: womanontheedgeofreality.com/2012/06/17/the-thursday-throng/.

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