John Dwaine McKenna
It is time, as the Lochinvar Rooster said to young Miss Mallard; It is time for something a bit different! And so, like the guy on TV who says, “I’m here, not just to entertain, but to educate you as well.” I’m going to use this week’s MBR to answer some of the questions piling up in my inbox, or asked at book club lectures and book signings.
The most often asked question is, “Why do you put all that stuff in parenthesis after the book title?”
Answer: to help the reader have a sense about the book, number of pages, cost and availability.
Q: What is an ISBN?
A: It stands for International Standard Book Number. It allows librarians and booksellers around the world to identify and locate that exact book. The numbers are now thirteen digits in length and are issued by the Library of Congress inWashington,D.C. The ISBN is the single-most important bit of information about any book, whether it’s a print, or an eBook. All have ISBN’s.
Q: Do you read every one you review?
A: Yep. Cover-to-cover.
Q: Do you review anything besides mysteries?
A: Generally, no.
Q: Why not?
A: Because it’s what I like to read. My column, my rules. I’d like to point out the column is named The Mysterious Book Report. It should have been a clue, although my wife, June says, it’s a mystery how it ever gets written. (She knows about my work habits, which are changeable.)
Q: Do you ever pan a book, write a bad review?
A: As a rule, no. I don’t for several reasons. First, I have wide latitude in my selection of reading material, and rarely, if ever, finish one I don’t like. Second, my function here is to encourage people to read, and I don’t think I could do that with a bad review. Thirdly, I don’t want to disparage someone else’s work. It’s too damn hard to sit down and commit the time and effort it takes to actually write an entire book. I admire anyone who’s done it, whether I like their work or not.
Q: Do you think mysteries and thrillers will be replaced; that readers will tire of them?
A: No I don’t. For a couple of reasons. Foremost is because the mystery and thriller genre is endlessly adaptable. It fits into any time frame or situation. The other is because humans are infinitely curious. We always want to discover the who, what, where, when and why of things. We start asking ‘why’ as soon as we learn to speak, and we never stop.
This last question is asked at every book club meeting where I’ve spoken.
Q: Are your stories anecdotal? Are the characters real people?
A: Every writer puts elements of his or her life into their work. Life experiences and events trigger the germ, or seeds of a story, but they’re not histories or biographies, and definitely not anecdotes. I will say that inspiration comes from any and all directions. The writer’s job is to put it all together in a pleasing, readable, and entertaining form. At the end however, it’s all fiction, all made up, and all a product of the writer’s imagination.
You’ll stretch your imagination at the library. It’s where you can meet the great minds of the human race, just by going and reading the books available for free, all there for the asking. You can learn about anything and everything under the sun, moon, or stars. Do yourself a favor: visit the library this week.
A special message to all the Eggberts, Filberts and Dingberts out there . . . you know who you are, the dudes and dudettes with a bag of Cheetos in one hand and an iPad in their lap . . . great news! Personally excited! All of the Mysterious Book Reports are available on my website: