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Another fine mess

Reader fan critic teacher reader fan.

Currently reading

Ottessa Moshfegh
Knife Fight and Other Struggles
David Nickle
Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity
Andrew Solomon
The Good Lord Bird
James McBride
Ancillary Justice
Ann Leckie
Our Underachieving Colleges: A Candid Look at How Much Students Learn and Why They Should Be Learning More (New Edition)
Derek Bok
Dissident Gardens
Jonathan Lethem
Nightmare Movies: Horror on Screen Since the 1960s
Kim Newman
The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood
James Gleick
Complete Novels
Dashiell Hammett, Steven Marcus
How I Got Rich Writing C Papers - Andy Hueller Holy cow!

This is a sneakily brilliant overview on how to write effective essays, disguised as a compelling first-person account of ne'er-do-well Charles Remington Dremmel* as he makes a good living off of a high school paper-writing industry (i.e., a bad living), while also seeking desperately to win a NerfWar, and definitely not seeking to get the attention of Lisa Kent, and reading a bunch of great books.

Not usually my thing. My son grabbed this at the bookstore today. I'd forgotten it was out.; we know Andy**, and Max recognized the name on the cover. So we grabbed it, 'cause that's what you do. You buy your friends' books. But then the other thing you do is step around them, stick 'em on the shelf with best intentions and great trepidation. ....'Cause, you know--what if it sucks? Or even what if it's perfectly fine, quite pleasant, with prose better than a poke in the eye? You still bite your nails, anxious not to say anything that could sour the next conversation, or stick in the writer's craw. (Hell, even if you loved it, you worry: will a rave come off as insincere? A puffjob for a pal?).

So I'm a wuss about ever reading these books by friends that I always buy.

And then there's the YAness. I will dabble in books aimed at middle-grade readers, sometimes "professionally" (as a teacher, interested in what's revving up the audience), sometimes alongside the middle-grade reader in the house. But, heck, a quirky book about a plagiarist? Nah.

But tonight, stricken by insomnia, not sure what the next book should be, I thought I'd read a few pages before crashing. An hour later, I'd whipped through it. And enjoyed the heck out of it.

Not least because it's so clear and casually brilliant at strategies for smart (and mediocre, and barely passable) essays. As a writing teacher, I'm a bit dazed by how Andy cuts through the misty fog of find-your-muse Elbovian romanticism, ignores the jargony Rhetoric of academese, and captures something about the *fun* of figuring out a good argument. Hueller's got the chutzpah to write as fine a writing guide as any middle-to-high-school class might need, and to make it an entertaining pleasure they'll want to read.

So, yeah. Holy cow.

*Not his real name
**We also know Andy's brother. He's a real jerk.