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Book Wrangler

May 9, 2005

By Bob Patterson

 

For those who attended the Time Travel Convention this past weekend at MIT, we will point out that when Charles Dickens visited the colonies, he wrote up his columnist-like thoughts and published a book titled American Notes for General Circulation.  As part of his itinerary for his picaresque adventures, he stopped in Lowell Massachusetts, which would become the birthplace of Jack Kerouac.

 

Dickens notes that Lowell is the home for a journal, The Lowell Offering, that includes only articles and stories written by the women who work in that city’s factories.  Commenting on that town’s literary heritage, Dickens wrote: “Of the merits of the Lowell Offering as a literary production, I will only observe, putting entirely out of sight the fact of the articles having been written by these girls after the arduous labours of the day, that it will compare advantageously with a great many English Annuals.”

 

Books provide time travel because they are a way to see how things were in an earlier period of history.  For instance, in Present Tense - an American Editor’s Odyssey, by Norman Cousins, we learn from an article originally printed in the June 24, 1944, issue of Saturday Review, that while WWII was being fought, Congress debated about giving unemployment benefits after the war to the soldiers who returned home and were discharged from the armed services. 

 

The theme for the Time Travel Convention at MIT seems to have been: just because you couldn’t get there last weekend, doesn’t mean you can’t attend it. 

 

So as we slip slowly and inexorably into the future (and a war with Iran?) we will sprinkle this column with some plugs for books that caught our attention as May of 2005, was beginning.

 

One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way by Robert Maurer ($16.95 Workman) 

 

Should we send a copy of this book about the science of excellence to the folks at Delusions of Adequacy online magazine?

 

Speaking Freely: Trials of the First Amendment by Floyd Abrams ($25.95 Viking) 

 

Will I be thrown in jail until I reveal my source, if I write about this book?

 

Goldie: A Lotus Grows in the Mud by Goldie Hawn with Wendy Holden ($25.95 Putnam) 

 

Who wouldn’t want to read the biography of someone who became famous for saying: “Sock it to me!”

 

Promises Betrayed: Waking Up from the America Dream by Bob Herbert ($26 Times Books) 

 

You mean I won’t be getting the little house surrounded by a white picket fence?

 

Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner ($25.95 William Morrow) 

 

At first we thought this might be a book about hippie economics, but nobody calls the hippies “freaks” these days.

 

French Women Don't Get Fat: The Secret of Eating For Pleasure by Mireille Guiliano ($22 Knopf) 

 

Duh! The Stupid History of the Human Race by Bob Fenster ($10.95 paperback Andrews McMeel) 

 

Urban Legends: 666 Absolutely True Stories That Happened to a Friend...of a Friend of a Friend by Thomas J. Craughwell  ($9.95 papberback Black Dog and Leventhal)

 

Does this book actually exist or is it a figment of a very active imagination?

 

Latin Quips at your Fingertips by Rose Williams  ($4.98 Barnes & Noble) 

 

Sic transit gloria mundi, eh?

 

Sneaking Into the Flying Circus: How the Media Turn Our Presidential Campaigns into Freak Shows by Alexandra Pelosi ($25 Free Press) 

 

Wouldn’t it be ironic if this book leaves no paper trail?

 

We have some unfinished parliamentary procedures matters left over from last week (i.e. a correction.)  We mentioned Taschen Books and used the wrong link.

 

In 1914, Herbert George Wells (in The World Set Free) wrote:  “Nothing could have been more obvious to the people of the early twentieth century than the rapidity with which war was becoming impossible.  And as certainly they did not see it.  The did not see it until the atomic bombs burst in their fumbling hands.”  (Bartlett’s page 601)

 

Now, if the disk jockey will play the song 2525, we will travel into the future, where we will write next week’s column and hope to see you again. Until then, have a week that will make future generations say: “Wow!”

 

 

Copyright 2005 – Robert Patterson

 

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Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
 
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