Publishers: O Review Reviews by Carolyn Howard-Johnson

343. Alternative READ: The New Oxford Book of Literary Anecdotes ~ Edited by John Gross

Title: The New Oxford Book of Literary Anecdotes
Author: Edited by John Gross
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Website of Publisher: http://www.oup.com/uk
Genre: Non-Fiction
Publication Date: 11th May 2006
ISBN: 9780192804686 (Hardback)
Length: 400 pages
Format: Hardcover
Series: Oxford Books of Prose

The New Oxford Book Literary Anecdotes

A Reference that Entertains as Readily as It Informs

This book, this Oxford Book of Literary Anecdotes, is a temptress.

I am tempted, to simply spew back trivia and humor about the literary denizens that populate its pages rather than give you a solid review. I am tempted to read it clear through rather than use it as a reference. Its entries tempt (and inspire!) me to write an essay, a rant, even this review!

I have a poetry mentor, Suzanne Lummis, who appreciates all things “witty.” She will love this book. Edited by critic John Gross, this book is a veritable assembly of wit from Chaucer to J. K. Rowling. I liked that it moved along in time, more or less in a direct line. That enabled me to place the clever in context with its time, both in terms of the culture at large as well as the literary peers of the person being oh, so ably, tattled upon.

Gross also manages to include much that is new (to me at least) rather than refrying the same old Churchill stories however appropriate they might be for a volume like this. He also manages to combine the nearly-straight reporting style of a journalist but, in the tradition of the writer that he is, also make the tart entries entertaining.

This book is a bit pricey at $29.95 (those of you who know me, know my own writing propounds frugality as an asset essential for starving authors). Because I see how essential this book is for writers, I strongly recommend it anyway. I also suggest you check out Amazon.com where it is discounted by 37% and also available used at a little less than that. (Click on the title above for the link to the OUP website, UK).

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Reviewed by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, award-winning author of three books of fiction and poetry and The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won’t

(Carolyn Howard-Johnson is an instructor for UCLA’s Writers’ Program. She is the author of two award-winning books, THIS IS THE PLACE and HARKENING. Her how-to book for writers, THE FRUGAL BOOK PROMOTER: HOW TO DO WHAT YOUR PUBLISHER WON’T, is the winner of USA Book News’ Best Professional Book of 2004 and the Irwin Award. Her most recent book is TRACINGS, a chapbook of poetry available at Amazon and www.finishinglinepress.com. )

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