Book reviews, generally. All kinds of books are reviewed here, though since my library is so large, I cannot get to all of them, nor do I have the time to write extensive, detailed reviews. Most of the reviews here are a paragraph or two in size: all I have time for. Others, for books I liked very much, will be longer.

Books are embalmed minds, as Pope once said (er, I believe it was him who said it: if not, he should have). They are therefore to be feared by the tyrants of the world. Print a book, and ones' body becomes obsolete: ones' ideas, opinions, hopes, and dreams may then exist while the mortal body turns to dust.

Or they may not. It takes a good book to outlive its creator (ignoring the crappy books published by fanatics, cults, lunaticks, kooks, etc.). But what makes a good book?

What makes a good book depends in part, obviously, upon what the reader considers a good book. One can be a damn fine writer, and produce a damn fine book, but if no one is interested in what it has to say, I wouldn't call it a good book. That is not to say that popularity of itself makes a good bood, but it is one sign that a book is good.

To be a good book, the creation must be entertaining, if the intent of the author is to entertain; informative, if the author's intent was to inform; instructive; enlightening; provocative. A good book must achieve what the author intended: all too often I have read books that achieved nothing--- they start from nowhere, wander aimlessly for 185 pages or so, wind up nowhere (or worse, somewhere predictable since page three), and invokes nothing in the reader. What a goddamned waste of the reader's time!

Once, in a fit of unbridled angst, I took one chapter of a very, very crappy book and rewrote it the way it should have been written (I was arrogant in my youth). The original was filled with strained metaphor, hacked prose, bludgeoned literary devices, fatal incomplete sentences, and deceased, still-born simile. I then sent the improved version to the author. Naturally, I didn't hear from him (nor his lawer, thank the gods), but one can hope he got the message. The bastard. It was one of the few books I've ever thrown away, deemed unfit for human consumption.

I like a lean book. It must say what it has to say, and only what it has to say. Most authors have far too many great ideas for one book, so they try to cram them in (the "See How Clever And Creative I Am?" syndrome) when and where they do not belong. I want to take them by the throat and scream at them "Write one book at a time, damn you! Don't put six or seven in a blender and pour out one!" The book Friday by Robert Heinlein is one prime example: so is Job, by the same author. (Or so it is claimed he wrote them: I have my doubts.)

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