Not The Target Market

Monthly Archive: February 2020

Aunt Jane of Kentucky by Eliza Calvert Hall

Aunt Jane of Kentucky by Eliza Calvert Hall, published in 1907, is the second book in this Not the Bestseller List series.

Aunt Jane of Kentucky is a collection of nine short stories in which a young, unnamed visitor describes her visits with Aunt Jane, an elderly widow.  During each visit Aunt Jane reminisces about family, friends and times past.  I would guess the visits happen about 1890, with Aunt Jane’s stories taking place in perhaps the 1840s and 1850s. (more…)

Acyrologia: Out of the Backwaters and into the Mainstream

I have been pondering the definition of a backwater, and I have decided that a backwater is a place where the local TV stations have supposedly college educated kids (who all look about 12 years old) reading the news and weather.

When they have the script in front of them, these kids cannot pronounce even simple words properly, nor can they use common words correctly when they (mistakenly) go off script.  In addition, they have no sense of rhythm.  Rather than allowing the meaning of the text to guide their pauses, they decide that a pause every fourth or fifth word will do.  I won’t mention the giggles, the uptalk (ending every sentence with rising intonation) or the vocal fry (the rough, popping sounds coming out of the speaker’s vocal cords – think Kardashian speech.) (more…)

The White Guard by Mikhail Bulgakov

Ukraine has been much in the news recently; so, I thought I would be as trendy as I know how in this first Not Today’s Bestseller List and pick a novel that’s set there:  The White Guard by Mikhail Bulgakov.  In order to explain what this violent and at times disturbing book is doing on my shelf, I have to give a little background.

About 25 years ago I decided I would write a novel that took place in Ukraine.  I ended up writing two and they were both very bad, as first novels usually are.  For one thing, I really knew nothing about the physical landscape of the areas I was writing about (Ukraine and St. Petersburg Russia) and so had to do my best from reading other accounts.  Another reason was that I had no knowledge of Ukrainian and my Russian was extremely basic, so that limited my research to only books that had been translated and were available through inter-library loan (this was in the days before the internet.)  A third reason was that I was going to have to include quite a lot of evil in the stories and I am no good with evil.  I hate reading about it, especially when it is glorified, as it was during the time I proposed to set my story, and I certainly couldn’t do justice to it in my writing.  So, in the end, I produced two very bad novels. (more…)

Not Today’s Bestseller List

A severely edited book collection

Something I’ve been wondering about:   What if I promise to write a (weekly) series here on books.  Will this promise poke and prod me to post more to avoid embarrassment?  I honestly don’t know the answer to this.  I’m pretty good at ignoring what seems like a lot of work.  I vividly remember being appalled in freshmen college lit at the 3 essays a week requirement.  I couldn’t imagine anyone once free of that lit class requirement, actually signing up for something that required even a single weekly essay – like, say, a priest with a Sunday homily. (more…)

The Goat

When he is in the truck, The Hunter almost always has on Sports Talk Radio.  Over the years I have acquired quite the database of facts, trivia, stats and schedules.  Listening to my cocktail chatter, you would almost think I am a sports fan.

Here in New England, for much of the year, the talk is all about the Patriots.  Right now, as the Pats are not, most unusually for them, playing in the Super Bowl, the talk is all on the soon-to-be free agent Tom Brady:  Will he stay? Will he go?  The word is that he feels undervalued and under loved and wants a lot more money (more…)