Author 'Nathan Burgoine posted this simple, direct method of not getting paralyzed by the prospect of having to write reviews. The Three-Sentence Review is, as he notes, very helpful and also simple to achieve. I get completely unmanned at the idea of saying something trenchant about each book I read, when there often just isn't that much to say...now I can use this structure to say what I think is the most important idea I took away from the read and not try to dig for more.
Think about using it yourselves!
$3.99 Kindle edition, $12.99 mass-market paperback, available now
Rating: 4.75* of 5
The Publisher Says: After his husband dies from a Tantalus-3 addiction in 2079, David Greenbaum pulls himself out of despair with an outrageous plan. He couldn’t save Ramon, but he might make a difference in other lives cut short. He hijacks his brother Nate’s time machine, the SlingShot, and jumps to 1934 to save George Gershwim from the brain tumor that killed him at age thirty-eight.
That’s just the start of David’s “Broadway Revival Project.” Gershwin wasn’t the only one who died too young. How much influence can one actor-songwriter have on the Great White Way, armed with a suitcase of modern medicine and advance knowledge of nearly 150 years of musical theatre history?
But David’s actions are causing changes to the timeline that have the Rippers—the international time travel research consortium—very worried. So Nate climbs into the SlingShot, determined to track down his brother in 1930s New York, whatever the consequences.
I RECEIVED THIS GIFT FROM THE YOUNG GENTLEMAN CALLER. THANK YOU, MY LOVE...YOU'RE THE BEST.
My Review: That's one in the "get revenge" column against Author Laura Frankos. I read this book because I saw Harry Turtledove (her husband) tweet about it not winning a Sidewise Award. The subject, the provenance, the main character and his grief at losing the love of his life to preventable cause... well what the hell else does an old theater fag need to drop a lousy $4 of his boyfriend's money on an alternative history that features exactly no damned majgickq and no fucking aliens either (sorry Dr. Turtledove)?
I didn't count on being kept in agonizing suspense while the easy, crummy ending I was dreading seemed to get closer and closer... while I dreamt about the music and lyrics that the goddesses never granted us... while I raced through the last 15% praying I wasn't going to be furious...and then ending with the very things I most wanted to see happening only through bucket of tears.
Embarrassing ones, too, the kind you can't explain to the civilians around you, who don't know or care what you have invested in the narrative or the conceit. The dining room will be interesting tomorrow... I expect a lot of side-eye.
I expect I know why this excellent story didn't win the Sidewise Award... the subject is way too weird for the WWII-obsessed field to accept its merits and the audience wouldn't know that there were actual changes to our timeline made. But if imagination and execution were the only sort criteria, this story would've won hands down.
I'm old and cynical and unwilling to give the hoi polloi a fair shake, but I think anyone who bothers to read my book reviews will like this story of a grief-addled survivor of a love cut short by addiction... twice!... will resonate to this love letter to Love, creativity, and the incredible power of focus, and should go spend the few bucks to experience Author Frankos ripping their heart to shreds. But in a good way.
This space is dedicated to Nancy Pearl's Rule of 50, or "the Pearl Rule" as I've always called it. After realizing five times in December 2021 alone that I'd already Pearl-Ruled a book I picked up on a whim, I realized how close my Half-heimer's is getting to the full-on article. Hence my decision to track my Pearls!
As she says:
People frequently ask me how many pages they should give a book before they give up on it. In response to that question, I came up with my “rule of fifty,” which is based on the shortness of time and the immensity of the world of books. If you’re fifty years of age or younger, give a book fifty pages before you decide to commit to reading it or give it up. If you’re over fifty, which is when time gets even shorter, subtract your age from 100—the result is the number of pages you should read before making your decision to stay with it or quit.
So this space will be each month's listing of Pearl-Ruled books. Earlier Pearl-Rule posts will be linked below the current month's crop.
I'd Rather Not: Essays by Robert Skinner
PEARL RULE @ 52%
Rating: 3* of five, because I laughed out loud several times
The Publisher Says: An endlessly entertaining collection of wayward autobiographical tales about a search for a richer life thwarted at every turn by beagles, bureaucrats, and ill-advised love affairs
The unlikely story of how a failed dishwasher, tour guide, cabinet maker, bus driver, bookseller and literary journal publisher became one of Australia's hottest humor essayists
Perfect for fans of humorous, thought-provoking authors like Sloane Crosley, Jenny Lawson, Samantha Irby, and David Sedaris
This wryly subversive book of adventures (and misadventures) offers an original and utterly hilarious take on work, escape, and that something more we all need.
Robert Skinner arrives in the city, searching for a richer life. Things begin badly and then, surprisingly, get slightly worse. Pretty soon he's sleeping rough and trying to run a literary magazine out of a dog park. His quest for meaning keeps being thwarted, by gainful employment, house parties, ill-advised love affairs, camel trips, and bureaucratic entanglements.
The book's 14 essays/stories can be savored one at a time, or binged.
I RECEIVED A DRC FROM THE PUBLISHER VIA EDELWEISS+. THANK YOU.
My Review: "Robert's distinctive voice possesses uncommon immediacy, at once humorous and soulful, self-effacing and wise. Perhaps most important of all, he is endlessly entertaining." --thus spake the Publisher with Forkèd Tongue
A read that proved, after some initial good laughs, to be an Aussie manchild whinging about how he hates masks and lockdowns because he can't go out a-hunting anymore. ::eyeroll:: Being a male is embarrassing sometimes, increasingly often in fact.
The overwhelming impression I got, the longer I read, was that Robert's friends needed to stage an intervention and smack some sense into him...nit because he chased the dream of being A Force in le monde littéraire, but for doing so without any kind or sort of financial support. As I get older, I see things like this differently from the "let's see what happens" 'tude of youth. There are service providers whose budgets are torpedoed by your failure; there are creatives whose livelihoods (seldom monetary, more in terms of exposure and credibility) you're gaming the system with; and none of them desrve to pay the price for your lack of foresight.
Had this collection aimed its various barbs at the craptastic record of capitalism vis-a-vis the Arts, and/or making it a sugar-coated case for the desperate need for Universal Basic Income, instead of playing it for the "humor" inherent in a grown man sleeping outdoors, trying to get unemployment without seeking work, then whinging about how much he hates lockdown and masking up in a fucking pandemic I'd be smilingly recommending it to you as a browsing book. I don't think humor is best consumed in a binge. As it is, consume at your own risk of overdosing on one young guy's offended sense of his own privilege shockingly not generating wide public support.
The estimable house of Steerforth Press brought this out; seek its pleasures on their site, if so inclined.