Mayhem and Malcontents

In the book business, galleys are advanced copies of books in near final form distributed to booksellers to drum up advance buzz.

Rita, the proprietor of Booktowne, periodically invites me to take home a galley or two to read and give her my impressions.  The first one I took on Friday was The Atomic Weight of Love by Elizabeth Church, scheduled to go on sale in May.  I haven’t read it yet but a perusal drew me to the first line of her Acknowledgements:  “Writing is an intensely solitary endeavor, but a story isn’t truly heard until many hands have held it.”  Pulling out the cover letter from Algonquin Books to Booksellers tucked inside its front back cover, I was amused by the signator’s title:  Craig Popelars, Director of Marketing & Mayhem.  Now there is a guy who seems to thoroughly love his job.

A book that I took but paid for (it being well beyond the galley stage), was The Geography of Genius by Eric Weiner.

What captured my wallet on this one was his self-appellation in the Bio strip on the inside back flap:  “Eric Weiner is a philosophical traveler and recovering malcontent.”  Now there’s something to which we can all aspire.

About Leonard J. Press, O.D., FAAO, FCOVD

Developmental Optometry is my passion as well as occupation. Blogging allows me to share thoughts in a unique visual style.
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4 Responses to Mayhem and Malcontents

  1. doctuhdon says:

    “Geography of genius” sounds like a fun read, but I wonder about the author’s definition of “genius”. It appears that he is focusing primarily on originality and creativity, rather than prodigious intellectual ability.

  2. Haven’t read it yet, so can’t comment fully. But on partial comment I’m wondering where one draws the line between creativity and intellectual ability. It isn’t a stretch to speak of “creative genius” – let’s say someone who is a gifted choreographer of dance or a gifted artist, recognized as a giant in one’s field, yet not find in thought or conversation that this individual has “prodigious intellectual ability” that generalizes beyond his domain of genius (your term leans toward a universal form of intellect). So would we be confounding multiple intellgences (e.g. Gardner) or dosing disservice to the notion of a continuum?

    • doctuhdon says:

      It appears that the term “genius” is applied almost exclusively to those with creativity and innovative breakthroughs, even if the “genius” is otherwise shallow intellectually. No doubt Einstein was a genius in the world of physics, but his writings on politics are rife with naïve idealism and sentimentality. I liked this insight into the genius of Steve Jobs:
      “Was [Steve Jobs] smart? No, not exceptionally. Instead, he was a genius. His imaginative leaps were instinctive, unexpected, and at times magical. […] Like a pathfinder, he could absorb information, sniff the winds, and sense what lay ahead. Steve Jobs thus became the greatest business executive of our era, the one most certain to be remembered a century from now. History will place him in the pantheon right next to Edison and Ford. More than anyone else of his time, he made products that were completely innovative, combining the power of poetry and processors. With a ferocity that could make working with him as unsettling as it was inspiring, he also built the world’s most creative company. And he was able to infuse into its DNA the design sensibilities, perfectionism, and imagination that make it likely to be, even decades from now, the company that thrives best at the intersection of artistry and technology.”
      ― Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs

  3. Will chew on that, and follow up in a week or two after I’ve read the book. Thanks as always for sharing your perspective.

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