Archive for July, 2013

“You had me at hello” – 713,000 search results on Google
“You had me at hola” – 32,400 results
“You had me at yo” – 77 results
“You had me at howdy” – 76 results
“You had me at what’s up” – 46 results
“You had me at konnichiwa” – 34 results
“You had me at salutations” – 5 results
“You had me at zdravstvuyte” – zero results

“in front of the enemy lines” – 16,500,000 search results on Google
“behind the enemy lines” – 13,600,000 search results
“under the enemy lines” – 68,700 search results
“above the enemy lines” – 48 search results
“parallel to the enemy lines” – 20 search results
“opposite the enemy lines” – 12 search results
“beside the enemy lines” – 6 search results
“perpendicular to the enemy lines” – 5 search results
“kitty-corner from the enemy lines” – 0 search results

Quite a few people write for a living. Some writers write about writing. In “Grub,” Elise Blackwell takes it one step further and writes about writers who write about writing. (And yes, I’m well aware of the irony of writing a review about a writer who writes about writers who write about writing.)

“Grub” follows the lives of four young writers over a period of five years. Their approaches and personalities differ wildly, from a starving writer who risks his life to save a manuscript, to a business-oriented writer who is in it for the money and fame. The novel switches between the characters’ points of view, but they’re easy to keep track of. Blackwell fleshes out their personalities well enough to avoid having two-dimensional cardboard cutouts some writers end up with when they try to tackle this style.

In addition to the main characters, there are quite a few writers, critics and editors in the background, each with their own storyline. Some of them end up living happily ever after; others, not so much.

This book doesn’t have exciting action scenes or the trendy elements of suspense and intrigue. Instead, it talks about writing: the many different styles, the way authors find (or lose) inspiration, the excruciating process of finding an agent and getting your book published, the devastating impact of bad reviews, etc. Above all, it’s a book about writers themselves: what makes them tick and how one’s success (or failure) can alienate one’s friends.

If you’re at all curious about writing – or writers in general – grab “Grub” and give it a shot. You may very well end up loving it as much as I did.

“The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” – 135,000,000 results on Google
“The Girl With The Butterfly Tattoo” – 249,000 results
“The Girl With The Unicorn Tattoo” – 84 results
“The Girl With The Octopus Tattoo” – 29 results
“The Girl With The Panda Tattoo” – 27 results
“The Girl With The Giraffe Tattoo” – 22 results
“The Girl With The Cockroach Tattoo” – 3 results
“The Girl With The Human Tattoo” – 3 results
“The Girl With The T-Rex Tattoo” – 1 result
“The Girl With The Platypus Tattoo” – zero results

Year 11

Yesterday was the 10th anniversary of my arrival in the United States of America. It was a pretty tumultuous 3,653 days. I feel a bit bad that it had taken me most of that decade to figure things out and get my head on straight, but oh well… I missed out on quite a few opportunities and adventures, but the things I didn’t miss out on were pretty damn awesome: I was briefly stalked by the Secret Service, I almost got killed by an angry mob at a charity raffle, I lost $10,000 for saying “thank you” and then came this close to winning another $10,000 by throwing a basketball 200′ across a river. (It was a matter of inches!) I’ve survived the Mayan apocalypse of 2012 and both terms of the Bush Jr presidency. I’ve gone from sounding like Borat to being interviewed by New York Times about one of my e-books. I’ve gone from being an immigrant with $42 in his pocket to getting paid $10,000 by a Fortune-50 company just for moving to one of their new facilities. I’ve done things that are illegal in some parts of the South and witnessed the sort of breathtaking beauty that most people would be lucky to glimpse in their dreams. I did pretty well, if I do say so myself.

Now on to year 11, the second decade, the next chapter.