Apr 15, 2008

Blue Pencil #7: Adios, Xlibris

This was a pretty frustrating column to cobble together, considering how many 404s and timeouts the Xlibris site seems to be giving me. If I didn't know better, I'd think they had started blocking me or something. Unfortunately, I do know better, and I rather doubt they know I exist. Their site just sucks. I'll be looking for a different source for these articles in the future. So, here, straight from Hell's Heart, is my last stab at Xlibris:

In the past, I have been guilty of cherry-picking truly goofy works from the obscure corners of Xlibris.com's bookstore. I have steadfastly ignored the link to the top ten royalty earning books of the quarter, since I figured they'd either be books about Jesus or cat calendars, and thus, need no effort to make them seem ludicrous.

Feeling a bit guilty (and having failed to find much humor in a book about UFOs that was merely stupid rather than breathtakingly idiotic as I'd hoped), I decided to at least take a look at the top ten this time. If you think something here is worth a review, let me know, but I kinda doubt it.

1 Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse, by James Wesley, Rawles

I'm not sure why there's a comma after Wesley, but I'm not fucking with a survivalist screed. Anyway, the excerpt is dull as dishwater.

2 I/T Architecture in Action, by Richard J. Reese

This was far too boring to read an excerpt of, though what I did manage to read told me that Mr. Reese isn't very good at math. He seems to think that 20 percent of 500 million is 10 million, which does not bode well for his treatise on managing costs.

3 Quilt Stories from Stadel Mountain, by Gloria Driscoll and Carol Gendle

These women don't screw around about quilts. Not only do they use the word "quilt" in every single sentence, but they also apparently lecture on quilts, are featured in quilt magazines, and, one would assume, quilt in their spare time. I couldn't get the excerpt to load, as it is a huge PDF file, which I have a funny feeling includes pictures of quilts in it.

4 The Legend of Fireball Fleming, by Pete Gagan

No synopsis, just a black and white picture of a guy on a motorcycle wearing a leather pilot's cap and goggles. It cannot possibly live up to that name/picture combo.

5 Healing the Harm Done, by Jennifer Y. Levy

A manual for helping parents of children who have been sexually abused. You try to make a joke. I can't think of one. Particularly when I can't even look up the author's page without a site failure.

6 Here Shall I Die Ashore, by Caleb Johnson

A biography of an actual historical figure (Stephen Hopkins).
By the time he turned forty, he had already survived a hurricane, been shipwrecked in the Bermuda Triangle, been written into a Shakespearean play, witnessed the famine and abandonment of Jamestown Colony, and participated in the marriage of Pocahontas.
Despite how unlikely it sounds, this is apparently an accurate description of his life. Those wacky non-Puritan Mayflower passengers!

7 Technology and Watch Design

No synopsis again. Damn the luck. This could be a comedy goldmine.

8 Norte ... Siempre Norte Novela, by Carlos Angulo Rivas

I'm assuming that this is a novel whose title is North ... Always North, which is a decent title, I guess. Since I don't speak Spanish beyond asking for my yellow pencil, I had to use Babelfish to translate the synopsis:
North... always to the north the uncertainty to reach profits common in the daily life - familiar well-being is narrated in episodes worthy to be analyzed and commented. The main personages of this suggestive story, one, sergeant major of the Peruvian army and, the other, Guatemalan farmer of high plateaus, converge in his I journey by Canada and the United States of outlandish and humorous, improbable and docile way, where the looked for happiness is hallucinating. The text describes of simple way the human soul, the greed and the loosening, in the vortex of integration to societies.
Goddamn you, Babelfish.

9 Stop Crying and Listen to the Music, by Gary Tannus Nassif

The first line of this autobiography speaks for itself:
This is the story of a wonderful, talented, normal American-Lebanese boy who became a flawed and dysfunctional individual who thought nothing of himself.
If only he had the courage to write about his experiences, maybe we, the readers, could become wonderful and talented, too.

Cuban Bread Crumbs, by Jack Espinosa

A memoir of growing up as a son of Spanish immigrants in Florida during World War II. No serious grammar errors and no obvious signs of insanity in the synopsis, so it's really a no-win scenario.

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