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TL;DR: The Best of Odd Things Considered 1st Edition
"Honeysuckle Season" by Mary Ellen Taylor
From author Mary Ellen Taylor comes a story about profound loss, hard truths, and an overgrown greenhouse full of old secrets. | Learn more
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- Item Weight : 1.98 pounds
- Paperback : 618 pages
- ISBN-13 : 978-0990733577
- ISBN-10 : 0990733572
- Dimensions : 6 x 1.55 x 9 inches
- Publisher : Nine-Banded Books; 1st edition (January 15, 2018)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #592,869 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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I’ll put it this way: if every book is an invitation to think along with the author, then I don’t want to think along with Peter Sotos (an author Dalton reviews whom I had never heard of). Some of the passages she cites from his writings about serial murder left me scratching my head and thinking of Hamlet (“words, words, words”), other passages were downright prurient. Similarly, I do not want to read a book written by one of the Moors murderers. Yet, I will read Dalton's take on them any day. She is an amazingly insightful reader, and a great writer. In particular, she has voice.
In the introduction to the book, Chip Smith compares her to Pauline Kael. I think the comparison is apt. Actually, Dalton’s unapologetic directness, her muscular prose and mordant humor reminded me of Camille Paglia. In the same way that Paglia is able to move fluidly from high brow to low, Dalton is as comfortable discussing aquatic ape theory as she is Nietzsche’s master-slave morality.
Existentialism comes up a lot (by necessity when discussing the child murderer Ian Brady, whose claim to be a Nietzschean Übermensch Dalton deftly and conspicuously renders ridiculous), and her style of criticism might correctly be termed phenomenological. Narrated first-hand personal experiences mingle with the texts themselves, often to humorous effect. Though most of her reviews are cautiously positive (to her merit, she seems able to find something of value wherever she looks), there are a few hilarious hatchet jobs that would impress even Dale Peck. One review begins...
“I picked up Paul Von Ward’s 'God, Genes, and Consciousness' ready to encounter new and interesting ideas. That didn’t really happen. I read a chapter and felt restless. I played the Ramones at full volume and read another chapter. After the second chapter I wandered downstairs to find the cache of Gummi bears I keep on hand as a reward for doing foul tasks, like weeding the front yard or cleaning up cat vomit. I bribed myself with little treats, rewarding myself when I finished a new chapter.”
The review is negative, but not entirely unsympathetic. Dalton admits: “I find minds like [Ward’s] exotic and interesting, wholly foreign to all of my first impulses.” She means it sincerely.
The truth is that Dalton is genuinely intellectually curious, and her writing confirms what I have always believed: that readers are better equipped to understand people—their words, their actions, their motives. The payoff is actually double, because your reactions as a reader also tell you about yourself. Your ethics. Your metaphysics. You see this happening for Dalton on page after page in her book.
To be sure, much of "TL;DR" visits really dark places. But never gratuitously. And there are some mainstream authors discussed, as well. Nobel Prize winners Yasunari Kawabata and Knut Hamsun are reviewed, for instance, and there is even a moving eulogy for the now deceased Borders book chain. There are a couple of alternative film reviews towards the end which I might have left out of this collection (she’s at her best writing about books), but overall I found this a compulsive read.
Just as Dante had Virgil to guide him through Hell, we have Dalton. And she has a much better sense of humor than Virgil did.
Hope this review is helpful.
"TL;DR" is about odd books (and in some cases music videos, movies, the death of Borders, and books bound in human flesh). The reviews are taken from her website (and expanded upon) and cover books on everything from alien abductions to necrophilia to serial killers to some of Danzig's graphic novels. Oh, and there is more than one piece on Peter Sotos. If that didn't get you salivating, well ... enjoy your John Grisham.
Dalton's collection is, quite simply, the book of the year as far as I'm concerned. For anyone who loves books others would consider "strange," this is required reading. It isn't like reading book reviews. It's more like having a conversation with a friend who loves books as much as you. And while she may not agree with you on everything, her opinions are well-thought out and have merit.
I could go on and on about how necessary it is to read this tome. But by now you know if you want to read it. In fact, I'm betting a lot of you are already planning on ordering it. For anyone on the fence, I say do it. You won't be disappointed, and this is one of the few times I can say that and guarantee it.
Sotos. Furniture made of dogs. A child murderer. Aquatic apes. Conspiracy theories. What more are you waiting for?