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Saigoneer Bookshelf: The Instruction Manual of Phillips H92X Offers Something for Everyone

Engaging plot or strong characters? Fantastic escapism or insightful depictions of the real world? A sweeping epic across generations and nations, or a deep examination of a brief moment in time? What do you look for in a book? Well, this work has a little something for everyone.

“Congratulations and welcome to Phillips!” it begins. This warm and celebratory opening may go down with “Call me Ishmael” and “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen,” as one of the greatest first lines in literary history, and it only gets better from there. 

The Instruction Manual of Phillips H92X plunges the reader into peril and intrigue immediately with a list of more than 40 dangers, warnings and cautions, including “Do not fill the pan with oil as this may cause a fire hazard,” and “Do not fry fresh potatoes at a temperature above 180°C (to minimize the production of acrylamide).”

Its early claim that: “This Phillips appliance complies with all applicable standards and regulations regarding electromagnetic fields” does not reassure readers, but instead reminds them of the existence of electromagnetics and, by extension, the chilling truth that all humanity is a single solar flare or errant space-pulse away from annihilation. Only an author who has endured great pain and suffering would be so bold as to douse the reader with the full and unfiltered savagery of the world and in doing so, swiftly remind them of their comical fragility from the onset. 

Thankfully, the uncredited author (such modesty!) takes pity on us and shifts the focus to more positive matters. Intricate steps for cooking food follow the horrors, which seems to remind us that in the face of guaranteed agony, humanity’s only transitory escape rests in relishing the earthly pleasures of the body. One guesses the author would have included carnal acts if he or she were not aiming for an all-age audience.

But rather than just list the procedures for heating food to an edible temperature, The Instruction Manual of Phillips H92X shows them via illustration. The shift from bullet points of dangers to hand-drawn images is a genre-decimating stroke of creativity that is likely to revolutionize written works for decades to come. In fact, once we have seen the appliances plug secured in the socket, the author never returns to a written language, as if it has been transcended. Fittingly, the work ends on a simple hand pressing the power button. It is a striking image which suggests that after revealing so much harsh truth, the author still had the generosity to lift his ink-stained hand one last time and show us “off.” After all, an unlit power button awaits us all.

The Instruction Manual of Phillips H92X features no publication date, as if aiming for relevancy in any time period. Yet, it is undoubtedly a work of our current age. Beyond the advanced understanding of technical innovations so succinctly displayed, it embraces inclusivity in a way that would be unfathomable mere decades ago. For example, it is written in eight languages including Vietnamese, Arabic, Thai and Russian. Moreover, the hand shown in the illustrations contains no color at all and no gender indicators. Certainly, it is relevant for everyone regardless of race, religion, sex or background. It thus gives us hope that the world can evolve beyond our cruel discriminations.

Don’t be put off that this brilliant text is technically an instruction manual, or that one must purchase a Phillips HD92X air-fryer to get it; once you unfold the page, the pleasures are unmatched by anything you’ve read before.

Saigoneer is not affiliated with Phillips and this review was written without the company's influence.

Editor's note: Happy April Fools' Day! This article is part of Saigoneer's 2022 April Fools' Day celebration. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the writer’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner.

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