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Home » Archives » May 2008 » Shelf Life
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05/22/2008: Shelf Life

Book news today.

First up, I now have in hand my copy of "Apocalypse How" by Daily Show writer Rob Kutner. You can order it here, or here. I suggest you do, in fact, because it's very funny. I love that it doesn't just concern itself with the details of life after, say, a crippling epidemic, ecological collapse, robot revolt or nuclear war, but also includes discussions of post-Rapture life for those of us not transported out of our clothes. The book is like a primer in one of the most important skills in joke-writing, namely finding every possible angle on a single topic. Lovely.

In the section on entertaining post-apocalypse, I particularly enjoyed this bit on party chat:
...it's always a good idea to start with topics of common interest: "Barely tolerable weather we're having, eh?" "How 'bout those hyenas?" "Anyone here managed to reach groundwater?"

It's the hyenas that get to me. It's one of those fill-in-the-blank jokes that is always fresh because it's not the form of the joke that's funny, as much as it is the magical choice of that one word. Hyenas. Punchier than "flesh-eating microbes," and less obvious than "zombies," it hits the perfect note.

At the same time my copy of Apocalypse How arrived, I also received a copy of "Half-Assed; a Weight-Loss Memoir" by Jennette Fulda along with a nice note from Jennette herself.

She says that my posts about responding to notes helped her during the editing stages of the book. Yeah? Cool! Thanks, Jennette!

If you recall, my basic advice on this topic is to listen to notes without reacting negatively in the moment and to think about the ideas underlying the notes. When you approach your rewrite, you'll find ways to supply what the reader found lacking or correct what they found out-of-tune that you will never find if you bristle and bridle when you first hear their reaction, or if you react to the "letter" of what they're saying without making sure you understand the "spirit" of it.

Lunch: avocado lettuce and tomato on olive bread


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