Crap books and good books (was Re: Best Books of 2004)

minnow at minnow at
Thu Jan 20 07:14:57 EST 2005

Margaret wrote:

>I developed a system for commenting on gift books: Know how it starts,
>know how it comes out, and think of something nice to say about the
>middle. That usuallly satisfies all but the true leeches, who want to
>know *exactly* how you reacted to Christianella's rejection of the Lord
>Primary of Astellar in Chapter 13. Anybody got a solution for that?

That's like being called on to comment on somebody's new baby, when you are
not all that interested.  There is one thing one can safely say, which will
give no offence; almost anything said about that particular baby may be the
wrong thing, but the words

(pay attention at the back, this is *useful*)

"I *say*!  That *is* a baby!"

spoken with reasonable enthusiasm, cover all bases, are obviously true, and
do not require you to add anything more.

The equivalent for a scene in a book is "Well, you know, I thought 'That
really is writing'."

You may need to rehearse in order to get the right balance of impressed and
unable to express oneself in the presence of genius, but it does get you
off the hook in most cases.


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