Disclaimer: The publisher sent me a copy of this book.
If you had asked me who Roger Rosenblatt was before I read this book, I would have responded, “Do you mean Ron?” So that is how ignorant I am.
But now, I want to read all of Roger Rosenblatt’s books because these bits and bobs about writing and reading are so great.
The book is a collection of essays as well as excerpts from novels and memoirs about writing. He makes observations about writing – how it is like plastering – but also about the right type of dog to have while reading Russian literature.
There are two extremely funny essays in the collection – “May I Kill You” and “Spark’s Other Notes”. “May I Kill” is a conversation between an author and an editor/publisher. It includes wonderful comments on Proust among other things. It is hard to disagree with what Rosenblatt writes about Hamlet in the Sparks Notes section. He is also right about Goldilocks. Seriously, it is an essay that speaks to both teachers and students.
And there are several essays that speak to teachers, like the plastering bit, and the struggle that we sometimes have to convey and teach something that we know, even if we are somewhat unsure about how we ourselves learned it. It is those essays, as well as the ones where he mentions his daughter that are the most moving.
And the one about Dickens’ Christmas Carol. It is impossible to argue with his reading of that classic text.
In many ways, this collection is like sitting with someone, perhaps Joyce, drinking a few pints and talking about writing, life, and reading. There is something both comforting and fascinating in such a reading. At once peaceful and stimulating. It’s strange, but the beauty and, at times, insecurity but hopefulness is a wonderful mix.