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Alas, a Disappointment
on May 2, 2010
This work is a brilliant magazine article inflated into a mediocre book. The brilliant part ends with page 26. That page, titled "The Concise Manifesto," is a summary of what conversation ought to be, and it may be worth the price of the entire book. From there on, "The Art of Conversation" uses too many devices familiar to writers with deadlines to meet and spaces to fill: short paragraphs, abundant quotations from others, recurring categories and subcategories with slangy names, lists where ordinary paragraphs would do, and subheadings every few paragraphs. In other words, typography and repetition in place of thought.
Two other observations: The author, Catherine Blyth, is as beautiful as a fashion model, judging by the photograph on the dust jacket, and perhaps for her the art of conversation is not as fraught as it is for the rest of us. Also, she is English and occasionally uses phrases that must be clear on her side of the Atlantic but that puzzle me.