Judging Books By Their Covers

Black-crowned Night-Heron Photo

A Black-crowned Night-Heron waits impatiently for the latest shipment of new books to be opened

The new David Mitchell, whose accolades precede him, has arrived.  If this Mitchell was a general, his coat would appear, from a distance, to be encrusted.  The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet looks promising and, judging from a gloss of the opening, takes a cue from Graham Green, who shared his fondness for describing the calls of fauna as “detonations”.   I’m always a little fascinated by the hype machines surrounding “it” books, and, not to detract from the authors’ obvious talents, wonder what it would be like if each book was left to stand for itself.  Not that you asked, but other peeves include pages near the front cover about “the writing of this book.”  Isn’t this a bit like a magician opening up his or her show with an explanation of the making of the following magic tricks?

Pete Dunne, founder of the World Series of Birding brings us Bayshore Summer, on the natural history, wildlife and conservation of “the Joisey Shaw”.  Beyond being well-written, highly entertaining and informative, this book further endears itself to me by featuring on its cover, a Black Crowned Night Heron [Nycticorax nycticorax], a bird I have of late enjoyed seeing on the Mill Creek Green Space portion of my morning commute.

Allegra Goodman (heralded on the cover as “a modern-day Jane Austen” (here we go again with the pre-read beating over the pate with the authorial laurels–I really think Goodman is swell–I went so far as to make my sister read Intuition, but wouldn’t it be more exciting to finish a book and think to oneself: holy %$#@!  She’s like a modern-day Jane Austen! Obviously, Publishers are simply attempting to sell you a product that can’t be, to borrow from Heinlein whose Stranger in a Strange Land, turns fifty next year, and about whom a two volume bio is coming out, “Grocked”. The Cookbook Collector is a novel about opposites: a silicon valley CEO and an employee of an antiquarian book store–“a novel about getting and spending, and about the substitutions we make when we can’t find what we’re looking for: reading cookbooks instead of cooking, speculating instead of creating, collecting instead of living.”

Local author Jane Heimlich, known in the medical community as “Mrs. Maneuver”, has published a family memoir about being, among other things, the daughter of Ballroom Dancing impresario Arthur Murray.

Obviously I could go on and on.  Other items of note include life-long motorcycle lover Wayne Johnson’s Live to Ride–the rumbling, roaring world of speed, escape, and adventure on two wheels, and Laurence Gonzales’ Lucy, about a primatologist who inadvertently rescues a “humanzee”–half human, half chimpanzee.

I could go on and on, but there are too many new arrivals for me to go on and on about.  You’re just going to have to come down and judge our books by their covers yourself.

-Ed Scripsi

Published in: on July 8, 2010 at 1:18 pm  Leave a Comment  

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