Mack Hall, HSGMhall46184@aol.com
29 June 2013
Often a book is promoted as “a real page turner.” This is curious, because books do not turn pages; their readers must do that for books, even with one of those little plastic boxes that light up and flicker the pages across a little screen.
Many novels are said to be stories of redemption. But then, what story is not? From the Bible through The Divine Comedy, The Canterbury Tales, Robin Hood (and his merry persons of indeterminate gender and lifestyle choices), Huckleberry Finn, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, To Kill a Mockingbird, and beyond, almost all stories are about redemption. Does this really need to be said?
Eat, Pray, Barf – As book titles and on picture frames and posters one often sees commands, always in three: Eat, Pray, Love; Live, Laugh, Love; and, oh, Eat, Love, Barf. The truly reflective person considers the title and asks “Why the (Newark, New Jersey) should I?” And why should anyone take instructions from a picture frame sold in a store called Dried Grasses ‘n’ Stuff Express Outlet?
In the Study Helps section of the book store the titles are all about how to pass acronymic tests – ACT, SAT, LSAT MCAT, MSAT, GED, and perhaps OMG. One concludes that success in life is not predicated on knowing how to DO anything, but on passing an exam set by some state board.
Another book is said to be “gripping.” What does the book grip? Does one really want a book that might grip one at an unexpected moment?
And how about the ubiquitous “must read?” Why must one read this book? By what authority? A polite request by the publisher is more appropriate for a free society than a command.
Some reviewers claim to have been “spellbound” by a book. Must be Harry Potter and Yet Another Sequel with the Same Plot, eh?
A book can be cutting edge, bold, daring, riveting, provocative, gritty, compelling, haunting, sweeping, unflinching (is a book ever flinching?), thought provoking, inspiring, rewarding, bedazzling, enlightening, engaging, haunting, engrossing, revealing, lyrical, nuanced, epic, accessible, Kafka-esque, beautifully wrought, poignant, timely, edge-of-your-seat, passionate, dispassionate, exquisite, erudite, comprehensive, marvelous, glorious, profound, formidable, relevant, timely, and a fully realized tour de force roman a clef by a fresh new author when what the reader really wants to know is if the book features gunfire, car chases, a body in the library, a hottie named Lola, and maybe a hooded Methodist minister with glittering red eyes and a dagger bearing ancient Sanskrit symbols on the bloodstained blade.