New book releases
by Hawaii authors
"The Writer's Book of Wisdom:
101 Rules For Mastering Your Craft"
By Steven Taylor Goldsberry
Writer's Digest, $19.95
How useful is this guide? It's probably a clue that, here at a newspaper where everyone is by definition a "professional writer," some staff members glanced at this book and then went right out and secured their own copies. (I'm keeping mine. Hands off!)
Goldsberry, UH writing prof and author of novels "Maui the Demigod" and "Luzon," has distilled years of teaching experience into meditative epigrams on the process. OK, writing is therapy for many, but the overall impression Goldsberry imparts is that writing is real work -- it takes craftsmanship, ability and a certain amount of "buttglue" to sit down and type, to generate sentences that have both flair and clarity. It's not automatic. One of his clearest instructions, both in methodology and philosophy, is STOP READING THIS BOOK - WRITE!
And so, Grasshopper: This will likely become a textbook for many writing courses, and deservedly so, but it is also a useful guide to anyone seeking greater focus in expression.
One of the things that will take your breath away -- and make your eyes swim and skin crawl -- is the insanely gaudy packaging of what would otherwise be straightforward advice. The book is garishly full-color throughout, with frankly bizarre graphic devices cribbed from 1960s sci-fi magazines. This way-loud marketing device screams Look at Me! Me! Me! Me! Pull Me off the Shelf! Yes, you! I suppose Writer's Digest knows what they're doing, but yikes.
"Those Who Bear the Lance"
By Ron Uehara
The book's blurb assures us that the author is a complete unknown except for some amazing letters he apparently once wrote to Honolulu newspapers. This painfully thin, allegorical "novel" won't change that status. Those hoping for the insights of a easy-to-read "Message to Garcia" will find vague ponderings instead.