Yes, this book was published way back in the mists of time in 1983. (Or to put it another way, when I was a senior in high school. Ahem.) So, certainYes, this book was published way back in the mists of time in 1983. (Or to put it another way, when I was a senior in high school. Ahem.) So, certain elements of this book are not at all relevant to the writing and publishing of a novel in 2013. As in, discussions about correction tape, making sure all your typewriters are using a pica rather than an elite font, and also making sure you're using heavy bond paper when you submit your manuscript to a publisher. Or, I suppose, also the author's curious declaration that anyone wearing headphones listening to music while out in public could never be an author.
But, please don't be put off by any of that. The bulk of this book is full of sensible advice regarding both the nuts and bolts of writing and the architecture of a plot. Bocca's advice on how to end a chapter, what to name your characters, and on things like the use of humor is some of the best I've ever read. And I don't see how anyone could go wrong following it. And also a great deal more.
The one issue I have with the book is also paradoxically probably one of its greatest strengths. Namely, to reference the title, Bocca does NOT suggest any sort of systematic approach to writing a novel. He does not reject using such an approach, either, but simply notes many authors who use outlines, do not use outlines, rewrite extensively, and barely edit their manuscripts after finishing them. Thus, I suppose, we're very much getting some "truth in advertising" in the title, in the sense that this work is a discussion that, "Yes, You can Write a Novel," and NOT "This is How to Write a Novel." Why I should have assumed that the latter would be prominent within the book is doubtless a false assumption on my part, but I suspect I would not be the only one to fall into that trap.
Quite thoughtful and quite funny, and for some reason oddly misnamed. You see, Professor Sutherland's book is seemingly about everything related to noQuite thoughtful and quite funny, and for some reason oddly misnamed. You see, Professor Sutherland's book is seemingly about everything related to novels EXCEPT how to read them. Or at best gives up a few squibs tangentially related to the topic, I suppose.
Having said that, I still enjoyed the book, and learned a great deal. Learned what? Well, first off, despite considering myself an inveterate reader I was horrified to discover how little I've read and both how wide and deep my ignorance of literature actually is. I suppose I have actually spent a bit too much time of my reading life penned inside various genre corrals, but I thought I'd made at least some effort to read widely. Sadly, I now must admit that I have done no such thing, neither very often nor apparently very well. And given my age any effort to undertake an even half-credible effort at such a thing would be to attempt to drink the ocean. It is simply not going to happen. I see that now.
Third, the history of the novel, especially the way titles have kind of evolved (and shortened) over the years as technology has improved and the reading public became more familiar with them.
Finally, as someone who is much more of a genre reader than not, I was quite happy that Professor Sutherland not only had no hostility to such books, he seemed to -- at least somewhat -- embrace them. I began this book with a sense that some sort of sermon on the topic was going to crop up somewhere, but it did not. Other than a few references to the whole Harry Potter phenomenon, I suppose, and there only to the weird business of stores opening at midnight and so on. And with which I'm somewhat in agreement.
Curiously, there was at least one goof in the text. He cites the decidedly apocryphal and most probably false story of Harriet Beecher Stowe meeting Abraham Lincoln, and Lincoln commenting that "You're the little lady responsible for this great war," [paraphrased] as authoritative, AFTER noting some minor error in the work of Douglas Adams. He also -- in 2006 -- pooh-poohs the likelihood of the various e-readers ever supplanting physical books, or even posing much of a credible rival to them. For better or ill, I think reality has shown book readers far more willing to move to such things than the author would ever have thought.
Still and all, quite an interesting and absorbing read....more
I'm honestly pulled in so many directions over this short book I'm unable to review it coherently. Yet I did want to say at least something so here'sI'm honestly pulled in so many directions over this short book I'm unable to review it coherently. Yet I did want to say at least something so here's my abortive attempt. I suppose the ideal approach would be to tackle each of the authors on their own, but I just don't have that in me. Some entries I thought were very well done and quite touching (Will Hadcroft) some I had no idea what they were saying, or trying to say (Donna Williams, Leith McMurray) and at least one gave what I can only consider erroneous advice (Malcolm Johnson).
Not a bad book, by any means, but I'm still unclear how ANY of the entries did or do as the subtitle suggests: "How We Use Our Autism and Asperger Traits to Shine In Life." And I'd include even Temple Grandin in that bit.
I've also got a quibble with the title: "All-Stars?" Certainly Temple Grandin falls into that category, but as to the rest? Perhaps, but I'm personally not seeing it....more
I'm going to forebear giving a rating here, since one handicap the book had -- at least as I viewed it on my kindle -- was not the author's fault. NamI'm going to forebear giving a rating here, since one handicap the book had -- at least as I viewed it on my kindle -- was not the author's fault. Namely, everything was in black and white. Duh, I suppose, but this seriously detracted from the whole reading experience. And it also isn't fair to criticize the author for brevity in certain areas, since going into the book it is made perfectly clear that that's what is aimed for.
On balance I suppose if I were to ignore the issue my now seemingly out of date Kindle caused I'd give the book at least three stars. But if I did not I'd probably think two stars a fair rating...so I skip that whole business and move on.
And, I suppose this book also wasn't exactly what I was looking for. What I'm more interested in at this point is figuring out what camera to buy, rather than getting into the nuts and bolts of photo compoosition. But, again, no false advertising or misleading statements I can complain about. So I'll happily take what I was given in that area, and shaddup and move along. (FTR, what was given seemed both balanced and in reasonable detail when he did discuss the advantages and disadvantages of different camera types.)...more
I cannot decide if the author of this work is a crackpot pushing a dubious agenda or someone who is in fact on to something about the way "Big Pharma"I cannot decide if the author of this work is a crackpot pushing a dubious agenda or someone who is in fact on to something about the way "Big Pharma" can, does and will do anything in their power to keep the current status quo regarding anti-depressants in place. And how in pursuit of this end basic science is tossed aside, the methodology for the approval of new -- and theoretically better -- medicines has been turned into something resembling a joke with a bad punchline, and even that a great many clinicians seem to have embraced the current state of psychopharmacology with what I can only think of as almost a religious fervor.
Without doubt, the biggest shock delivered to MY system was contained in the chapter "The Myth of the Chemical Imbalance." Kirsch here attacks not the "branches" of the tree of antidepressants but aims straight at the "roots." He describes the central dogma of the whole theory behind anti-depressant effectiveness, that an excess or deficiency of neurotransmitters is behind many forms of depression, has little empirical evidence in its support. And that there is at least as much -- if not more -- evidence against such a theory as in favor of it. Not only that, the history behind the theory is as dubious as anything else related to it.
There is a great deal in the book on the "placebo effect" and how it used to "prove" the effectiveness of such and such a drug. Unfortunately, Kirsch seems to think the average reader will find this whole topic both exciting and as something of a revelation. It is not that -- insofar as I can tell -- Kirsch is wrong, just that he probably spends more time on this topic than any other. And I submit that it is hardly as earth-shattering a topic as he seems to think, though admittedly the bits commingled with the topic on how clinical trials that work against a drug are deliberately buried, and trials in their favor published and re-published to make a drug appear more effective perhaps was...but that goes into areas not directly related to any placebo effect.
Still and all, a very thought provoking read. But as I noted at the outset of the review I'm a bit reluctant to jump on his bandwagon; I simply lack the scientific background to evaluate his claims. But must admit I'm intrigued that if any direct rebuttal to the work has been written, I've not seen it. It is almost as though the "true believers" want this swept under the rug in preference to offering any sort of defense....more
An excellent overview of the topic, from its history, to its empirical verification and effectiveness (so claimed)to the methodology, which I would liAn excellent overview of the topic, from its history, to its empirical verification and effectiveness (so claimed)to the methodology, which I would liken to an invading army, smashing all before its path to achieve certain tactical goals. In all probability Judith gives dear ol' Dad a smidgen more credit than he probably deserves as pioneering trailblazer, and shorts Albert Ellis and others. But so what? I'd probably do the same.
Some sections were a bit more heavy lifting than my philistine background could easily assimilate, but overall I'd say an average reader of average intelligence comes away from this survey with a very good idea of this brand of therapy does and does not offer, and of the theory behind it....more
Some interesting tidbits in this one, particularly about how to set up you desktop more efficiently. Also on using and formatting for viewing MicrosofSome interesting tidbits in this one, particularly about how to set up you desktop more efficiently. Also on using and formatting for viewing Microsoft Explorer (the folder display thingy, not the browser.)
I must admit I became hopelessly confused with anything having to do with backups and restores, possibly not Leonhard's fault since Vista offers several different software packages -- entirely different -- that do basically the same thing. But he also seemed to scramble each type of software together, I honestly see no reason he could not have presented each separately, after defining and describing the generic terms.
And since he did present a chapter on Firefox, indeed recommends it as superior to IE in most cases, I can only think the omission of the Adblock add-in as a triumph of personal self-interest over REALLY wanting to save users time. Also, for storing passwords there's LastPass, for free vs. some product I'd never heard of before that costs $50. Maybe neither existed when the book went to press?
And I freely admit I skipped all the chapters on fiddling with the registry. I just don't consider myself up to messing with stuff like that.
Extra star for the humorous tone taken throughout, and for his willingness to both praise and criticize Microsoft as he considered it appropriate. ...more