I had such high hopes for Confessions of a Part-Time Sorceress. But instead of a fun, cheeky look at the world of D&D through the eyes of a girl, I got an appalling mess of tacky stereotypes paraded out as ‘humor.’
I tried to quell my misgivings; I hate to give up on a book I’ve anticipated reading for a long time. So, despite the fact that the book opened with her whining that her gamer boyfriend didn’t bail on his friends to spend an hour or two in rush-hour traffic to come change her tire (and, like, OMG, didn’t he understand she was wearing WHITE PANTS!!1!one), because apparently the fairer sex can neither operate a tire iron nor figure out how to call AAA, I kept plodding along.
My misgivings increased as she described her job at Wizards of the Coast, and complained that there was no one to “commiserate with” about how weird and nerdy everything was, and how she had to “endure” her coworkers talking about aspects of gaming (Side note: Who in the sphincter of hell is in charge of hiring at Wizards of the Coast?). Ugh, a guy came to work dressed up as a Stormtrooper, and nobody else wanted to talk about what a weirdo he was. Poor her.
Not content to confine the offensive attitude to her own beliefs, she included a questionnaire answered by her five closest friends, where they proceeded to espouse how creepy and sad they thought D&D players were. Beating a dead horse seems to be the author’s strong point, because she couldn’t seem to quickly address stereotypes about D&D players and move on to, you know, the game she was supposedly writing about. Instead she chose focus on how much the world looks down on the lil’ cave-dwelling, neck-bearded, grimy losers before eventually tossing in a few condescending acknowledgements that they’re not all like that.
In the middle of her tolerance speech about how people should embrace stereotypical gamers instead of trying to change them (generous of her, I guess…?), she refers to nerds as “socially retarded.” That’s the part of the book where she’s trying really hard to encourage people not to look down on gamers. Her attempt to wear a Dungeons & Dragons shirt in public ends with her getting embarrassed after less than an hour (like, ew, people think I’m one of those creepy basement dwellers!) and asking to borrow a friend’s sweater.
Then there are the nonsensical ramblings about shoes and lipstick that leave the reader scratching their head and wondering what it all has to do with the game. Her explanation on gearing up a character is derailed by a discussion about how her character is buying Jimmy Choos at Nordstrom while everyone else is buying weapons.
But I think it would be best if I gave you examples of the content, and let you judge for yourself if this book seems like it would help you learn to play Dungeons & Dragons:
“Sorry, ladies, there are no bonus points for being able to walk in heels over cobblestones or remembering the anniversary of the day your best friend’s divorce was final. There are no deductions for clumpy mascara or visible panty lines. Come to think of it, maybe there should be.”
“Prior to my first game, I spent some quality time with Teddy creating my character. By “creating my character,” I mean using my mechanical pencil to twist my hair into an updo and building some Stonehenge-like creations with twenty-sided dice, while Teddy filled out my character sheet.”
“Picture a star who could remove her toenail polish with hundred dollar bills if she were someone who actually took care of her own toes. This person hates to see nurses and lunch ladies go without cashmere hoodies and MP3 players. If she’s feeling frisky, she might buy you and 349 of your neighbors a brand new Pontiac. But watch it–if she’s feeling wronged, she won’t think twice about outing you on national television. Don’t mess with a Lawful Good celeb.”
“Poor Ursula had a hard time finding scale armor. Yuck. That stuff is so unflattering and it’s almost impossible to find scale mail leggins in her size. Nobody makes a decent pair with a twenty-two inch inseam. I gave her the name of my seamstress.”
Here’s the thing. I know lots of lady geeks who manage to blend geeky and “girly” in a way that doesn’t insult anyone’s intelligence or completely detract from the subject they’re writing about. Shelly Mazzanoble is not one of these ladies. She took an idea that could have worked if it was handled a bit better and just flailed around creating an unreadable mess. At every turn the actual subject matter (the game) was preempted and shoved to the background to make room for yet another joke about lipstick, handbags, and designer shoes.
If the goal of Wizards of the Coast was to make this girl throw up her hands in defeat and buy a book on playing Warcraft instead of Dungeons & Dragons, they succeeded.