If your pet peeve is selecting a book based on its title only to find it fails to deliver, then The First Book of Tasteless Fortune Cookie Fortunes will certainly not disappoint. In it, author and fortune cookie script writer Joe Wang provides a list of messages that were composed by writers (yes, this is a real job) and rejected by the “Fortune Approval Committee” (again, a job) at the company where he worked. While it is perfectly clear why the listed fortunes were rejected, one cannot help but wonder how the inclusion of such messages would impact the Chinese-food-eating-and-fortune-cookie-reading experience as we know it.
The brief introduction actually provides some insight into the fortunes stuffed into cookies around the country, explaining that neither their origin, presence or creation has anything to do with China. Interestingly enough, Mr. Wang acknowledges the almost universal inclination to “spice up” the fortune cookie messages, with the pervasive game of inserting words such as “in bed” at the end of the warm wishes when reading them allowed. (I have to say, I always thought that my siblings and I were the ones who created that ritual).
Mr. Wang certainly takes his craft seriously, as the book presents the messages in miniature chapters, actually organizing them into categories such as love & marriage, money, home & family, your health, pets & animals, work and, of course, Joe’s Favorite Fortunes. Some are funny (that isn’t heartburn), some are depressing (the recognition you deserve will go to someone else), some will make you nervous (it’s pointed at you right now) and others will continue to bring a smile to my face well after I’ve penned this review (don’t eat this cookie). Of course, there are those that are sick (the tumor is growing) and even twisted (the only thing you will feel will be the cold catheter), but what they all have in common is the potential to spice up even a mundane chicken and broccoli meal.
As a result of reading this review you will receive some great news (mine), but it is too bad your best years of work are behind you (Mr. Wang’s).