So, I have a lot of book reviews, or hike reviews that I’ve done elsewhere that aren’t on this blog. So, I’m going to start using Fridays as a way of consolidating them all into one location. So…if you’ve read one of them before, I’m sorry! Forgive me, and wait for the next post. I promise there will still be lots of good, new stuff coming.
P.S. Because they all fit in existing categories I’m not creating a new drop down menu for them specifically…you’ll just have to find them throughout the other categories…or feel free to use that little search box thingie over there <—-
And our first flash back is a book review….
When I first picked up “Books: A Memoir” by Larry McMurtry was trying to debate which category to put it in. Should it be Biographies (the way the library has it cataloged) or should it be in the about books section. Well…turns out it shouldn’t really be in either. This is defiantly a stereo-typical case of you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. This cover drew me in from the beginning…the huge shelves of books that’s pictured plus the little book quote “Still, it puzzles me how totally bookless our ranch house was.” This from Larry McMurtry who is arguably one of the best-selling Western writers in our lifetime. Sadly…the cover was probably the best part of the book.
Pages 1 through maybe 15 were engaging…told about his actual childhood and youth…at least when it comes to books.
Even it’s not very in depth but it did the trick and lured me in as a read. I wanted to know more! However, I was quickly disappointed. This book should truly be renamed “Booksellers: Gossip Column.” The book is more a who’s who in the booksellers world than it is memoir. At the back of the book, in fact, he list a ton of booksellers…not books which is what you’d assume from a book called “Books.” The few times he does actually write about the books it’ll be a very unhelpful quick little once sentence. “I didn’t like such and such book.” That’s it. No explanation. Why didn’t he like the book? Would I maybe like? Did he just not like it cause he doesn’t like the writing style or the topic? In fact, in Chapter 61 he mentions that he was a long time book reviewer…now THAT would have been interesting. Instead we get drawn out stories of people we don’t know and never will…nor would we probably want to know them. This is further exasperated by the fact that he constantly refers to people and events that the normal reading public, not intimate with the world of antiquing book selling, would never ever know. It’s like writing a book and constantly referring to your 2nd grade teacher by name and just assuming everyone would know who she (not being sexist in this…my 2nd grade teacher was in fact female) is. The author at a few points in the book even seems to be in agreement with me…”few readers are engaged by this kind of stuff, unless the writer can somehow tap deeper sentiments.” McMurtry apparently is not that writer, because there is no deeper sentiments.
I was really hoping for some inside looks at McMurtry’s life and personality…something you’d expect from a memoir. There’s not a lot of personal insight in this book…I learned more about the booksellers than I did him. “I’ve chosen, for the most part, to keep this memoir personality-free.” Goal accomplished.
Not only was the false-advertising from the cover frustrating but so was his writing. Even if I had known I was going into a book about booksellers I’d still be left frustrated. One, this is probably the most fragmented book I’ve ever read. Part of that is evidenced in the 100+ chapters in this 260 page book. He stops in the middle of stories to start a new chapter…why?? Apparently McMurtry never took English because normally in a book chapters are split up to start new topics…or at least in a place that should have a pause. A good stopping point. For the most part, none of his chapter endings made sense. A lot of times when he should have started a new chapter he just kept on going. Plus not only are the chapters fragmented but so are his topics. In chapter 33 he’s telling a story about a bookseller who sold him a huge collection of books which in then sales to Rice University, he continues to tell about how he wrote a pamphlet about the collection at that the pamphlet is now worth more than the books. Then the last 2 paragraphs of the chapter tells how the dust jacket of “Anne of Green Gables” is worth so much money…which had absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the chapter, what so ever.
As much as I did not enjoy this book (I’m giving it 2 stars outta 5), I did get some great quotes.
One of the most frustrated quotes of this book was
“C. Dorman David, Grace’s Son, was, for the first twenty-some years of his life, dyslexic. This condition was finally correctly diagnosed and cured.”
Since when is dyslexia curable? As far as I’m aware and the other millions of people that struggle with it each day would argue that it isn’t curable. In fact for many it’s a constant daily struggle…shame on Mr. McMurtry to imply otherwise! Obviously Mr. David found a way to live with his dyslexia and overcome it as a burden but that should not be used as evidence to further push myths.