Everyone except authors enjoys wit in a book review. A Publishers Weekly reviewer wrote, “[The author] tries to fill this quart-size romance with a pint-size plot.” And authors need to be careful what they title their novels. Joseph Heller’s We Bombed in New Haven was judged by Saturday Review to be “a dud of the first magnitude.” Library Journal said of John Gardner’s The Wreckage of Agathon, “Wreckage is appropriate . . . more hysterical than historical.” Personally, I’d avoid using the word “boring,” not only in the title but anywhere in the book.
Coleridge defined poetry as “the best words in the best order.” Billy Collins, a U.S. and New York State Poet Laureate, knows how to pick words up and lay them down so that readers “get” it. His latest collection, Aimless Love, is available at the library. In a poem titled “Envoy,” he urges “this little book” to “stay out as late as you like / don’t bother to call or write / and talk to as many strangers as you can.”
Terry Pratchett, whose humorous fantasy has entertained millions for decades, has a new book out – nonfiction this time – A Slip of the Keyboard, also available at our wonderful library. But you may want to buy your own copy, so that you can highlight such perfect observations as this: “There was a pond; the fish probably had to get out to turn around.” And this: “I make no apology for having enjoyed [science fiction]. We live in a science fiction world; two miles down there you’d fry and two miles up there you’d gasp for breath, and there is a small but significant chance that in the next thousand years a large comet or asteroid will smack into the planet. Finding this out when you’re thirteen or so is a bit of an eye-opener. It puts acne in its place for a start.”
*Written by Carol Cail — Read more from Carol at carolcail.com
*Originally published in May/June 2015