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The third review (in Booklist)

The third review is now out, and also very good. The previous two (the one in Publishers Weekly  and the one in Kirkus Reviews) were perhaps a bit more gushy.

It appears in Booklist, which, as my publisher tells me, is a publication for the American Library Association — in other words, something that influences what librarians buy and stock. That makes it, like the other two, a “pre-pub” review. (I am learning a lot of jargon in this process. Pre-pub reviews when I lived in London meant checking your breath and hair before heading out to the … pub.)

Unfortunately, you need a subscription, and I don’t have one, to get the link. But I was sent a transcript, and here are excerpts (emphasis mine):

Here’s an intriguing premise: show, through the life and career of the Carthaginian military genius Hannibal (and other history-makers), how the line between success and failure can sometimes be blurry, not to mention how success can turn into failure when least expected, and vice versa. … Kluth’s main thesis seems to be that triumph and tragedy, success and failure, are merely points on a line, and that we make our way in life by cultivating the ability to turn failure into success and recognizing that success can breed failure, if we’re not careful. This isn’t the first book to tackle this subject, but its historical perspective, drawing on the life of a warrior who lived more than two millennia ago, gives it fresh appeal.

“Points on a line”. I don’t believe I used that metaphor anywhere in the book. I like it!

See? I’m already learning from my reviewers.

11 Comments Post a comment
  1. Tom Foster #

    Very impressive. Succinct but definitely positive (even if not gushing).

    As for “Points on a line”, (great way of describing it),

    “So we all walk straight
    on our seperate curves;
    at odd points we meet.”

    Or something like that.

    Congrats again,

    Tom

    December 2, 2011
    • Thanks, Tom!

      (Is that a famous poem? I’m known for not recognizing famous poems. Picturing Venn diagrams though. ;))

      December 3, 2011
    • Tom Foster #

      Sadly, (or perhaps justly) it’s not a famous poem. Just a bit of drivel I wrote years ago.

      For some reason though the image seems to have stuck with me. From our own point of view, we are each walking straight. From the point of view of the people around us we’re veering all over the place and bumping into things a lot.

      I liked your conversation with Douglas (below). Having a profoundly western point of view I like the notion of life as a linear journey in which any point of failure on the line contains the potential for the line to proceed on to success, and vice-versa. In other words success contains failure only by virtue of *time* which allows things to happen in sequence.

      At the same time I appreciate the more eastern notion of success and yin to failure’s yang, with each counterposed to and yet containing the other at the same point in time.

      December 3, 2011
  2. Mr. Crotchety #

    That settles it. You shouldn’t even bother disseminating this book. Unless you want to be a “success,” and have people “like you,” and “write checks that can be cashed,” and buy “new” underwear. (take it from me, bro, it is a heavy, heavy mantle).

    What’s more, I don’t want to read it if everyone else is going to. I’ll be hanging out at the Sartorialist, watching cat videos or playing Contre Jour on my iPad.

    December 2, 2011
    • who are u?!?!? :)

      December 2, 2011
    • I always knew there was a risk of losing Mr Crotchety if and when the Messrs and Mmes Sunny and Cheery and Uppy and Cool and In joined the party.

      Personally, I always wrote just for the extended Crotcheties (that is, for the extended clan, whether or not any individual member was extended, which I don’t encourage, btw). But they, the Crotcheties, in insufficient are number to interest the publishers.

      Rock and hard place.

      I’ll be doing extra work here for Mr Crotchety to make it up to him (her/it).

      December 3, 2011
  3. If I may interpret that review from the Dark Side?

    “Mr. Kluth has written a book about a subject that’s been done many times before, hiding it behind an historical perspective, thereby not telling us anything new but dressing it up in a different tunic. If you know who Hannibal was, you might find it interesting.”

    I detected a bit of disdain in the review. It was not a pan but it was not a glowing review either. I thought you saw success and failure as being mixed things and easily confused. That in success may lay the seeds of failure and in failure may exist the path to (or impetus for) success. To me, the notion that success and failure are points on a line is a limited one, a simplistic view.

    December 3, 2011
    • Well, your second point is spot on, Douglas. Success is hiding inside failure, and vice versa. So thank you for being so perceptive.

      That said, you’re been around here long enough to pick up those subtleties. I’m guessing a reviewer trying to put it in one simple phrase is not so worried about these nuances.

      I don’t know. It could be disdainful. Or it could not. I could be killing myself if I worried too much about these things. Remember: Sooner or later, one or more reviewers is sure to slam the book, just for being contrarian.

      And, as I’ve said before, I’ll be blogging that one just as prominently as the good ones.

      In that spirit, I’d say, after three reviews, “so far so good”.

      Because in the end, the only reviewer that will matter to Douglas is …. Douglas. And Douglas, if and when the time comes, will probably flatter me by giving it to me straight.

      December 3, 2011
    • I don’t know. It could be disdainful. Or it could not.

      Exactly, there was a nuance in the tone, as I saw it. Others may not see that, it helps to be a bit paranoid (or have a history of it). Don’t get me wrong, though, I saw it as a positive in general and that it would be seen that way by most readers of it (the review).

      I can be brutally honest (that helped end my first marriage) but I can also be tactful (lessons of life). I always try to be objective (which did not help that first marriage either). Depends upon what the listener wants.

      You know me well, I do not select things based solely on reviews.

      December 3, 2011
  4. Looks like the book reviewers are helping you to fine tune your 30 seconds pitch of the book. :) By the way, you mentioned the Booklist is a publication for the American Library Association. Well, I want to mention our Calgary Public Library has already pre-ordered multiple copies of your book few weeks ago.

    December 3, 2011

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