Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Retro Review: History of the (Whole) World



AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION PAGE: History of the (Whole) World

WEB ADDRESS: http://www.susanwisebauer.com/blog

BLOG DESCRIPTION: My progress in writing, revising, sending to my editor, re-revising, fact-checking, galley-reading, and promoting a four-volume history of the world...along with reflections on life as a writer/parent/amateur farmer.

MY REVIEW: You have to admire someone who takes on the world – writing its history up to the Knights Templar. (I assume she thinks we can take it from there!) The author is a professor at William and Mary, a mother, and has a farm outside Williamsburg. Any one of these four occupations is a fulltime job, juggling four is impressive.

She journals about writing her book and the “birthing” process of getting it published. Oh, and did I mention, she also runs a small printing press (publishing business) of her own on the side? And, she does mention sleeping.

One of her children, a son, is spending his gap year in South Africa, so you have a mother’s pride/fear of a child’s travels to add to all else going on. The author is an excellent writer. In one post, she notes that her book is now listed as #1 on the medieval bestseller list on Amazon. I’m impressed, I just got my blog on Amazon and it doesn’t have a rank. She has an interesting feature once a week where she lists her twitter feeds.

A most interesting blog – well done.

Sample paragraphs
I haven’t posted an update on my reading for a while. Actually I haven’t posted anything lengthy for a while. I’ve been submerged in researching, editing, and keeping up with daily life; tax returns had to be done; I have papers to grade; filling out all of the financial aid forms for my rising college freshman killed untold brain cells; my nine-year-old gave herself a concussion and fractured her clavicle; you get the idea.

But I still read books, no matter what else falls off my to-do list.

First up, Michael Ruhlman’s food trilogy: The Making of a Chef, The Soul of a Chef, The Reach of a Chef.

Grades: A- for the first, A for the other two.

I’ve always enjoyed food writing, and if you find that genre dead boring, you probably won’t like these books. But what I appreciate about Ruhlman is his sense of drama. He can take the preparation of a poulet saute, the reaction of a food critic to a single pasta dish, a not-too busy lunch service, and turn each one into a fully developed narrative with a beginning, middle, and end. He sketches out characters with a few strokes and makes them real. I envy his skill.

Of the three, The Making of a Chef spends the most time on kitchen minutia and the least on characters and story, so that drops it a bit on my grading scale. (Also the font in the new Holt paperback version is way annoying.) The Reach of a Chef is my favorite of the three; in it, Ruhlman traces the inevitable trajectory that afflicts professionals in every profession. Get good enough at what you do, and eventually you’ll find that you’re not doing it anymore. Instead you’re administering your own career, and there’s hardly any time to devote to the activity that created that career in the first place.

Going off the grid for a (silent) family day. #
Trying to answer interview questions by email. Making my brain hurt. #
Inside house: half-sick mom trying to nap. Outside: children w/sticks trying to find object on farm which will make most noise when struck. #
Voice half-returned, is gone again. This is getting boring. #
Need to change time of departing flight to New York. Change fee: $150. New one-way ticket: $59. How does this make sense? #
That's it. NOT watching American Idol after this year. Competition can't sing on pitch, judges apparently listening by satlink from Mars. #
YES, I watch American Idol. YOU spend YOUR working hours submerged in classical rhetoric and see what YOU want to do at the end of the day. #
Heading off the grid to write. Today's agenda: the Sultanate of Cairo and topics for middle-grade writers. (Different projects, obviously) #
Cleaning up DD9's room. How is it POSSIBLE to have this many stuffed animals? Wouldn't it give you the creeps, being so vastly outnumbered? #
Just finished Connie Willis's BLACKOUT. Yelling FOUL. Ends mid-story, conclusion in new book not out til fall. BAD DECISION, angry reader. #
At the W&M library reading. "A New Approach to English Grammar, on Semantic Principles." FUN. #
Clouds + cold + drizzle + church over = nap. #

--Twitter weekly updates
--Quick Photo update on the gap year
--Twitter weekly updates
--Medieval World sightings

Ann Currie publishes My Life a Bit South of Normalwww.abitsouthofnormal.com/
and also,
Silver Pieces: The Strange and Peculiarstrangeandpeculiarsilver.blogspot.com/

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