It started with the stupid DVD "extra features" thing. Hey, were you moved by the film? Don't miss the bloopers reel!
Similarly, writers these days aren't allowed to publish a book and leave it at that. To give the publisher "news" with which to sell future editions, writers are required to contribute "Insights, Interviews & More" in the form of appendices. Any gratuitous thing will do: bad endings the writer thought about putting on the book, riffs from the cutting-room floor, and tales from their book tours.
In the case of Waiter Rant, the best-seller I just read about waiting tables in New York, the book-tour yarns actually ruined the otherwise decent book and made me seriously doubt whether the author will ever write another book worth reading.
I bought the book for my waiter nephew, but when he growled, "Do you think football players read Paper Lion on their days off?" I decided to amortize the cost by reading it myself. And I was glad I did: Compiled from a popular blog of the same name by an anonymous "cynical waiter," Waiter Rant is sold on food-spitting anecdotes, but the cynicism is tempered with heavy-duty candor about how it feels to be 39 years old and smart and waiting tables for a living.
Now outed as the writer and happily out of the restaurant business, Steve Dublanica is less convincing as he talks about his new career. In fact, he's a disgrace.
In the appendix on the book tour, Dublanica writes that when he learned he was going to be on the Today show, "I realized I had never been so excited and afraid in all my life."
Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!
When Thursday morning came, I had to get up at the crack of dawn to take a limousine over to the NBC studios. That wasn't fun—but meeting Matt Lauer and the crew of the Today show was a blast. They were such professionals they put me immediately to ease. … A few minutes into the interview, I realized why this guy is paid the big bucks. (And man, is he a snappy dresser.) …
After the interview, Matt came over and said, "Thanks, Steve. That interview was fun!
"Thanks for having me!" I replied.
"One thing, though," Matt said, suddenly looking serious.
"The cameraman told me that he spat on your seat just before you sat down!"
I've heard Matt's a big kidder. Now I know.
In a dozen pages on the book tour, we also learn that Dublanica was "touched by all the attention Kaite Stover and her staff lavished on me" at a stop at the Kansas City library. "And let me tell you, while the Today show was great, nothing beats the greenroom at Oprah's studio. They had cookies, fruit, bagels, candies, cake, soda, and bottled water everywhere. Other than needing to pee a few times, I was remarkably calm as I waited with Rachel in the greenroom …."
Dublanica might have written a whole new book on Greenrooms in America, if he'd had enough time. Alas, "As I write this last paragraph, I'm on a plane and the flight attendant is telling me it's time to shut down my laptop. Within a few minutes, I'll be landing in sunny Las Vegas. I'm spending seven days in Sin City [interviewing people for his next book, on tipping] … I know, writing a book's hard, hard work. But don't worry about me. I'm a professional. I'll be fine …."
I know what you're thinking: How could such a horse's ass have written a decent book? Believe me, he did.* Is he capable of another? Let's just say I hope he made a lot off the first one.
* I'm holding out hope that Dublanica's publicist ghostwrote the account of the book tour.**
** That hope is on the wane since Dublanica just replied to my e-mail notifying him of this post by saying, "Everyone's a critic :)" and then thanking me for my feedback.