XYZ by William Knight: A Grouchy Computer Programmer Struggles to Find his Place

XYZ

XYZ: One Man, Two Kids, Ten Devices and an Internet-Sized Generation Gap

by William Knight

Kindle Edition, 216pg.
2019

Read: October 11, 2019

I’m one of the original computer geeks…

I was in the first intake for Computer Science O Level at my local college, and I signed up for a computer programming degree when the rest of the world was still using slide rules and copying documents in purple ink…

I was part of a small wave of silicon-brained cool kids that was destined to become a tsunami. My generation was going to make the world a better place and in record time. We had ideas of perfect information, total transparency, evidence-based-government and university for all. We were the builders of Utopia and the founders of global prosperity…

I hadn’t then realised the destiny for which I was headed. It was nothing more than fun. Fun to spend 10p on a video game and bash the console into submission. Fun to program pretty patterns on a screen and load games from a floppy disk, and fun to be part of the BBC’s Micro Live phenomenon, when the broadcaster sponsored its own computer as part of its remit to educate the masses.

And it remained fun until it became a trap, when computers ceased to be the promise of progress and instead became the terrorists of truth. Somewhere along the way, I turned from God of Silicon to an anorak-wearing dweeb, and from dweeb to a lonely fifty-five-year-old bastard. One at the end of his career, hopelessly out of touch, and unable to operate his own phone.

WTF happened?

What becomes of someone who saw himself as one of those who’d bring in a technological utopia and finds themselves trying to survive in the era of smart phone-ubiquity and social media dumpster fire? Well, judging by our protagonist, Jack Cooper—you get (at best) a curmudgeon who feels alienated in the industry he helped establish, estranged from your family, and hoping to remain relevant and productive (and employed!) long enough to retire.

We meet Jack on his first day at a new employer—a personal finance app corporation. He’s had a number of first days at various corporations lately, and his daughter is concerned that if he’s not careful this could be the last one. Despite his wide-ranging experience lately, he’s still in for a giant dose of culture shock and unclear expectations when he gets to work. Even after a period of acclimation, he’s still feeling like a fish out of water amidst these young people more focused on the internal chat program, employee fulfillment/empowerment, and lack of accountability than they are on actually producing something useful and on-time.

In other words, things aren’t going well for him. But at least he can go home and drink to excess at the pub across the street, right?

Meanwhile, he and his wife are separated (he’s still paying the mortgage on their home, in addition to the rent on his flat), he’s not speaking to his son (Jack can’t accept his life as a furry), and his relationship with his daughter is on the precipice of disaster. Which makes that drinking to excess a lot more tantalizing.

Then, while in a meeting with his superior about his job performance, he finds himself telling her how attracted to her he is. Jack’s last chance is looking pretty slim indeed.

This is a novel clearly in the vein of Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss/A Man Called Ove, where a grumpy older man clashes with a world that’s changing faster than he’s ready for it. Yes, that’s right, Gen Xers are now old enough to get our own books like this, which is depressing enough to suck the fun out of this book. Typically, these books are written from a Third-Person POV, but XYZ is a First-Person Narrator. This puts the reader firmly in his cantankerous, drunken, obstinate, and angry head. Honestly, it’s a little easier to have any sympathy for these types of characters when you’re not drowning in their anger (or at least steeping in it), but seeing it from the outside.

Still, there is plenty of fun to be had in this book. A lot of it is fun at Jack’s expense—laughter is the best way to react to his cringe-worthy behavior, otherwise, you’d end up being pretty censorious. Although you won’t be able to avoid judging Jack a little bit. There are times (the Prologue is a great example) when Jack’s loathing of the cultural moment (particularly in tech corporations) comes through stronger than the humor and it’s hard to take (and I agree with Jack in almost every bit of his counter-cultural thinking).

But, as with Ove/Chandra and the rest of the type, Jack manages to find a measure of acceptance for those around him, and is even able to do some work on repairing familial relationships (I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say either of those things, that’s sort of how this kind of book works). As this happens, the book is at it’s strongest and easiest to enjoy/relate to. I do wonder if that portion of the novel is a bit rushed—we get plenty of time to watch Jack make a train-wreck of his professional and personal lives (which weren’t in great shape before he makes it worse), it’d be nice if we could see him get his feet back under him a bit more clearly.

On the whole, it’s a fun book—a great combination of humor, heart, and growth. Sure, some of the edges could be a bit smoother, but on the whole, this is an entertaining read. It can be easily read by a wide-range of readers—those of us who played Space Invaders when it was near the cutting-edge of technology, as well as those who can’t get over its primitive design and game-play. It’s charming, it’ll make you smile, it’ll give you a feel or two (to use a phrase Jack would hate). Recommended.


3 Stars


My thanks to Love Books Group for the invitation to participate in this tour and the materials (including the book) they provided.

Love Books Group

BOOK SPOTLIGHT: XYZ by William Knight

Today I welcome the Book Tour for William Knight’s XYZ. We’ll kick it off with this spotlight post and then I’ll be giving my take on the novel here in a bit. But like I said, let’s start by learning a little about this here book, okay?


Book Details:

Book Title: XYZ: One Man, Two Kids, Ten Devices and an Internet-Sized Generation Gap by William Knight
Release date: July 13, 2019
Format: Ebook/Paperback
Length: 216 pages

Book Blurb:

From a former Guardian and BBC writer, and author of The Donated, comes a hilarious story of mid-life crisis, family, technology, and coping with the modern workplace.

Jack Cooper is a depressed, analogue throwback; a cynical, alcoholic Gen-Xer whose glory days are behind him. He’s unemployed, his marriage has broken down, he’s addicted to internet hook-ups, and is deeply ashamed of his son Geronimo, who lives life dressed as a bear.

When Jack’s daughter engineers a job for him at totally-lit tech firm Sweet, he’s confronted by a Millennial and Zoomer culture he can’t relate to. He loathes every detail – every IM, gif and emoji – apart from Freya, twenty years his junior and addicted to broadcasting her life on social media.

Can Jack evolve to fit in at Sweet, or will he remain a dinosaur stuck in the 1980s? And will he halt his slide into loneliness and repair his family relationships?

About William Knight:

William KnightWilliam Knight has written for the Guardian, the Financial Times and the BBC, among many other publishers. He is a journalist and technologist currently living and working in Wellington, New Zealand.

A graduate engineer, he’s chased a varying career starting in acting, progressing to music, enjoyed a brief flirtation with handbag design, and was eventually wired into technology in 1989.

By 2003 his non-fiction was being regularly published in Computing newspaper in the UK, and he has since written about the many successes and failings of high-technology

The Donated (formerly, Generation), his first novel, was conceived from a New Scientist article in 2001 and was ten years in development. Subsequent novels, XYZ, Foretold, The Fractured, will be available, he says, “Sometime in the future. Hopefully not as long as ten years.”

William Knight’s Social Media:

Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Website



My thanks to Love Books Group for the invitation to participate in this tour and the materials (including the book) they provided.

Love Books Group

System Failure by Joe Zieja: The Epic Failure Trilogy Concludes with a Big Success

System Failure

System Failure

by Joe Zieja
Series: Epic Failure, #3

Paperback, 417 pg.
Saga Press, 2019

Read: October 1-2, 2019

“You are literally placing the fate of the galaxy in my hands.” [Rogers] thought for a moment. “Again. You need to stop doing this.”

Every author closing out a series—a trilogy or something longer running—has a daunting task (not that stand-alones or duology’s aren’t daunting themselves, but it seems easier to me). They have to tell a self-contained story; weaving in the character and story arcs that have been percolating since the first book; resolve the new and old arcs; leave the characters in a place that readers will find satisfying; and provide some sort of ending to all of that to leave everyone in a place where you can move onto the next thing. For writers like Joe Zieja there’s an additional challenge—you have to make the whole thing funny.

Thankfully, Zieja does all of that very, very well.

Rogers’ fleet (including the Thelicosans) arrive at the home base for the Free Systems to meet with their High Command. Fully aware that the only military commander that’s had any kind of success with this new enemy is Captain Rogers, he’s named the head of the Joint Force tasked with preventing Snaggardirs from destroying the galaxy.

They also realize that the only way Rogers has had any kind of success is by throwing out all the rule books—including The Art of War II: Now In Space by Sun Tzu Jr. So they tell him to do just that. They don’t care how ridiculous or uneducated his plans are, as long as they get the job done. Snaggardirs has given the Free Systems a very limited time to acquiesce or face the destruction of the galaxy. And they seem to be able to pull that off.

So with help from a very unexpected source, Rogers reaches out to the same space pirates we haven’t seen since the disastrous opening to Mechanical Failure and also is forced to accept help from a Thelicosan practitioner of something that’s a combination of horoscopes and astrophysics (you’ll have to read the book to understand it). These, um, unconventional tools are added to the rag-tag bunch that has come to help Rogers in a last-ditch effort to save reality as we know it.

As usual, Rogers is the focus. He’s been on a journey of personal growth since we first met him—despite his best intentions, it should be stressed. He really comes a long way just in these pages and it’s pretty cool to see.

Of course, I can’t go without talking about Deet—the droid that Rogers assembled from junk. He’s also on a journey of personal growth—just a different kind. In addition to trying to understand how to justify and explain his existence, he’s trying to learn to empathize, as well as lie convincingly (or at all), and he continues to improve his [EXPLETIVE] swearing. He does get better at it and made me laugh out loud several times (both in his successes and failures). There was one misstep that he made, and I re-read that sentence a few times to figure out what he may be trying to say. Naturally, after I gave up and moved on, I learned that no one understood what he was going for.

I should add a little something about Tunger. I found him amusing in Mechanical Failure, but I thought he was overused (and became a little annoying). In Communication Failure, I stopped finding him all that entertaining, mostly trying. Which is how he started in System Failure. But he soon became a very cool character and one of the real strengths of the book. He really might be the best thing that Zieja did throughout the series.

It seems like a bonus to me—not at all the kind of thing one expects from a book like this—we’re given an antagonist that the reader can almost sympathize with. Yes, their methods and strategies are wrong and harmful to innocents. But you can’t help but understand why a people would set off in this direction. I can’t imagine anyone reading about their plight will start hoping for a failure for Rogers and the rest, don’t get me wrong. But you just might see where the Jupiterians are coming from.

There’s a key acronym in the book that a. is fitting, b. is funny, c. took me far too long to get. Once I stopped feeling stupid, I realized it was a great example of this being one of those books where even if you don’t get the jokes, the book holds up as a story well enough that you won’t even notice there are jokes you don’t get until later.

There’s one figure with access to the top of Snaggardirs who isn’t on board with their destroying the galaxy plan. So they set out to sabotage it by helping Rogers. Their scheme was pretty clever, but with one giant flaw. Which made their sacrifice sad—and their attempts at success very funny. It’s a good mix for the reader (a pathetic one for the character).

I’m not sure it’s entirely fair (and I don’t mean to disparage any of the books I’m about to mention in any way), but while reading this, I couldn’t help but compare this to two other humorous series and their conclusions. I hate to compare any comedic SF to The Hitchhiker’s Trilogy, but how do you not? This series never got as funny as the best of Hitchhiker’s (maybe a couple of times it got pretty close, though), but it was a cohesive and believable story, populated with better characters and a solid ending — unlike Adams repeated attempts at a conclusion that never really felt satisfying. Similarly, Epic Failure trilogy went out strong, with its strongest material still working, unlike The Tales of Pell which went a little off-course in the final volume and didn’t stick the landing the way that System Failure managed to do.

Zieja successfully called back to elements of the first book (some I’d forgotten about, some I thought had fully served their purpose) and built on the developments of the second to give this volume a bit more heft and greater stakes. Then he added a great story new to this novel and wrapped up everything in a satisfying and definitive way. All while making me chortle, chuckle, grin and occasionally laugh. Who can ask for [EXPLETIVE] more? I don’t know what Zieja has planned next, but sign me up for whatever it is.


4 Stars
Humor Reading Challenge 2019

A Couple of Thoughts on the 40th Anniversary of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

The first Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy book was published 40 years ago on October 12, 1979.

Just a couple of thoughts in response to this…I don’t want to blather on. (if you want to see me blather on about the series, click here).

bullet 40 Years? Wow. Sure, a lot of it is dated, but most of it feels so fresh that he could’ve written it within the last year or two.
bullet Yeah, that’s the original cover—that’s a long way from the smiling planet logo I’m used to seeing (and have tattooed on my arm).
bullet On a related note, someone—multiple someones, actually—thought that cover was a good idea.
bullet 40 years later, it’s still the benchmark. How many works from that era are still that important? (maybe some cinema)
bullet Okay, that’s actually all I’ve got—it’s just cool to note big anniversaries like this. So, now we have.

Have you read this series? Got any thoughts/memories to share?

I’m Sorry…Love, Your Husband (Audiobook) by Clint Edwards, Joe Hempel: Would-be Humorous Essays on Marriage, Parenting, and Family

I'm Sorry...Love, Your Husband

I’m Sorry…Love, Your Husband: Honest, Hilarious Stories From a Father of Three Who Made All the Mistakes (and Made up for Them)

by Clint Edwards, Joe Hempel (Narrator)

Unabridged Audiobook, 4 hrs., 42 mins.
Tantor Audio, 2018

Read: September 23, 2019

The “Short Synopsis” for the book is:

In this inspiring and unconventional book of essays, Clint Edwards sheds light on the darker yet hilarious side of domestic life.

Which sounds pretty good, and is what led to my checking this book out. In the same vein, my “Short Response” is: nope.

The “Full Synopsis” is:

Marriage and Kids are No Joke

He may not win Father of the Year, but Clint Edwards has won the hearts of thousands—including the New York Times, Scary Mommy, and Good Morning America—thanks to his candor and irreverence when it comes to raising kids, being married, and learning from his mistakes.

Clint has three children: Tristan (the know it all), Norah (the snarky princess), and Aspen (the worst roommate ever). He describes parenting as “a million different gears turning in a million different directions, all of them covered in sour milk.” In this inspiring and unconventional book of essays, he sheds light on the darker yet hilarious side of domestic life.

Owning up to all his mishaps and dumbassery, Edwards shares essays on just about every topic fellow spouses and parents can appreciate, including: stupid things he’s said to his pregnant wife, the trauma of taking a toddler shopping, revelations on buying a minivan, and the struggle to not fight the nosy neighbor (who is five years old).

Clint’s funny, heartwarming account of the terrifying yet completely rewarding life of a parent is a breath of fresh air. Each essay in I’m Sorry . . . Love, Your Husband will have you thinking finally, someone gets it.

Which brings me to a “Fuller Response” (I’ll keep my “Full Response” up my sleeve). Those of you who are too young to remember the 1991–1999 Prime Time hit, Home Improvement, may not appreciate this, but I kept thinking of it as I listened to this book. In almost every episode, Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor does something that exasperates and/or disappoints his wife, messes things up with his kids or coworkers in the first act (generally it’s family, but occasionally it’s friends/colleagues). Things get worse during Act Two, leading Tim to get some advice from his wise neighbor, Wilson, and then implement this advice to patch things up with whoever he’s in trouble with and become a better father/husband/friend/colleague. Along the way, America laughed at Tim’s foibles and follies—and at some good comedic moments that had nothing to do with the main plot—and then had their hearts warmed by the ending. That equation worked well for 203 episodes (eh, probably 170 or so, really).

Every essay in this collection reminded me of that outline—except for the comedy. There’s no fictional Tool Time TV show to entertain, there are no actual laughs (maybe 3 bits that made me grin in the 4.75 hours), just frequently preachy lessons about how to become a better man/husband/father (most of which are repeated at least 3 times in the book, almost word-for-word).

The descriptions of his three kids that show up in the synopsis are repeated throughout the book, which is good—because otherwise, I wouldn’t have known this about them. He doesn’t show this at all in his essays.

Hempel does a fine job with this. My problems with this aren’t about him, it’s the content. I can’t say his narration is great, but it might have been. Everything’s colored by the content.

The amount of mild and casual profanity from someone who mentions church as often as he does was a little incongruous. Maybe today’s Mormons are just different from the ones I grew up surrounded by. This isn’t what led to my low rating, it’s just something that chafed a little while I listened to this (and really, it’s the only thing that stuck out to me about the book as a whole). My objection along these lines is that the phrase, “it was a d*$# move” gets tired as a constant evaluation/summary of his actions. If that’s all he can say, maybe he should focus a bit more on the writing and a little less on the self-improvement.

In the end, it wasn’t the triteness, it wasn’t the preachiness, it wasn’t the redundancy of these essays that turned me off (although none of that helped). It was that there was nothing in the essays to make me interested. It was just dull. I didn’t laugh, I didn’t get inspired, I wasn’t entertained. It just was. The only thing that got me through the book was a lack of options that day and a need for something to listen to at work. I’m sure Edwards is a nice guy and a swell father, but he’s just not funny or insightful. Or if he is, he’s left it outside this book.


2 Stars

2019 Library Love Challenge

Humor Reading Challenge 2019

Gluten Is My Bitch: Rants, Recipes, and Ridiculousness for the Gluten-Free (Audiobook) by April Peveteaux: Laughing through the Pain of Gluten Deprivation

Gluten Is My Bitch

Gluten Is My Bitch: Rants, Recipes, and Ridiculousness for the Gluten-Free

by April Peveteaux

Unabridged Audiobook, 3 hrs., 44 min.
Tantor Media, 2017

Read: September 6-9, 2019

Here’s the thing about going gluten-free, whether you’ve been given a celiac disease diagnosis or just know you feel better when you’re not enjoying cinnamon rolls for breakfast, flatbread pizza for lunch, and a pile of spaghetti Bolognese for dinner: It’s f******g hard. I won’t sugarcoat that for you . . . Smiling through the pain of watching your friends enjoy unlimited breadsticks while your plate sits empty does not change the intensity of our shared gluten-free torment. Let’s own that pain and complain about it until we’re asked to leave the party. It’s not all about wallowing in self-pity, though plenty of that is certainly in order. You are giving up chocolate croissants, after all.

This was a fun, fun, book that I’m glad I gave a shot to. I stumbled onto it while browsing my library’s audiobook collection. I don’t have Celiac disease or gluten intolerance or anything beyond a strong tendency to over-indulge, but I do have a child who was recently diagnosed with Celiac disease—and she has not enjoyed the last 10 months at all because of it. I thought I’d try the book to see if I could find any tips for her.

What I found was a laugh-out-loud (multiple times) funny book about the trials and tribulations—plus the occasional triumph—of having Celiac disease or a gluten intolerance, or in her words:

a little guidance, maybe some crazy delicious recipes, and a whole lot of poop jokes.

We haven’t had the chance to use the supplement, “Recipes for the Downtrodden (AKA The Gluten Free)” but they look good. But I can say she takes care of the other two goals just fine.

Starting with talking about her own diagnosis, and some signs that others might look out for, as a way of establishing that she’s coming at this from someone who needs to be gluten-free and understands the plight of her readers, Peveteaux then moves on into the life of the gluten-free eater. She covers a lot of the changes that people have to make—including ones that are not obvious—the struggles to eat at a restaurant or a friend’s/relative’s house, where gluten can hide (on ingredient lists as well as the kitchen), how to raise a gluten-free kid (whether or not the parent is), travel tips (largely based on her own trip to Paris, I can’t imagine trying that), and a look at some of the treatments that are being worked on by medical researchers (and some loons). She closes with some thoughts on gluten-free resources/foods/sources, to help the reader out.

One of the chapters I enjoyed the most was where she discussed the overlap between the gluten-free crowd and Vegan, Crossfit and Paleo eaters (if the book was written now, she’d also include Keto, I think). She manages to poke fun at the groups as well as embrace them as allies and co-belligerents in the restrictive eating trenches. The other thing I appreciated was the encouragement to advocate to yourself without being obnoxious (or realize you’re coming across as obnoxious and at least be aware of it to diminish its impact) in various spheres of life—when it comes to something as vital as the food you put in your mouth, and the ubiquity of gluten, you’ve got to.

Peveteaux is serious about the disease/intolerance, but not about anything else. She makes fun of herself, her inclinations and suffering—helping her readers to do the same for their struggles. The book is a great mix of advice and laughs, guidance and goofiness.

It’s read by the author, and she does a great job with it (as is so often the case). She comes across as the friendly guide to the life sentence that is a gluten-free life from someone walking the same path, so she knows where the potholes are as well as where the best views can be found.

Yeah, it’s a bit dated—thankfully, there are more options in the market now than there were at publication (conversely, there’s a lot more hidden gluten sources, too)—and once or twice it steps over the tasteful line (and does the cha-cha down it most of the time), which makes it hard for Dad to hand to his daughter (who probably hears worse multiple times before her first class starts, but is wise enough not to tell her Old Man). But, I am going to buy a copy of this and put it in her hand. I think she’ll like the approach to the subject, the voice, and tips, but most of all just knowing that she’s not alone in her suffering—but seeing that you can laugh at it, too. I know I did.


3.5 Stars

2019 Library Love ChallengeHumor Reading Challenge 2019

Gilmore Girls: A Cultural History by Lara C. Stache and Rachel Davidson: Oy with the Poodles Already

Of course that headline doesn’t say anything about the book, I’ve just never had an excuse to use that line, and this is as close as I’m going to get.

Gilmore Girls: A Cultural HistoryGilmore Girls: A Cultural History

by Lara C. Stache and Rachel D. Davidson

Series:
The Cultural History of Television

eARC, 248 pg.
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2019
Read: August 16 – 23, 2019

I’m a huge fan of the show Gilmore Girls, and am a bigger fan of Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino. So when I saw this title, I had to jump on it. A cultural history of the show? 200+ pages about the show in more than just a raving-fan mode? Sign me up! The authors are big fans of the show, it must be said, but they can be critical of it, which makes all the difference. This book is an examination of both the show’s reflection of the culture around it as well as what impact it had on the culture—the medium of TV, the casual viewers, and the fans. For a show that depends so heavily on pop culture, the former is easy to demonstrate (it’s more of a question of how to focus the examination and when to stop), but the latter is just as important.

In Part I of the book, the authors look at the various relationships depicted in the show—mothers and daughters; fathers/father-figures and children; romance (with mother/daughter relationships, this is obligatory for the show); and friendship. I thought they were spot-on when it came to mothers and fathers. The romantic relationships they concentrated, and the points they raised about them, were what anyone picking up the book expected (although there was a stronger anti-Logan/pro-Jess bias than one might expect)—I did like the way that Dean and Luke were paralleled, and didn’t appreciate the way that Christopher and Logan were (mostly because I think they were right, and I had to lower my regard for Logan if he’s Rory’s Christopher-equivalent). I thought the looks at Lorelai/Sookie and Rory/Lane and what they said about female friendships was just fantastic.

In Part II the authors switch to themes addressed in the show—feminism, class, pop culture and small-town life. I’ll talk more about the chapter on feminism in a moment, but I thought it was exceptional. The Pop Culture chapter was fun and insightful. I appreciated the Class/Wealth examination, but thought they could’ve done more with it. This is part of the book that you probably can’t find much of in discussions about the show—you can’t swing a LOLcat* online without finding someone talking about Luke and Lorelai or Dean and Rory, but thoughtful takes on the greater cultural themes are rarer (not impossible to find, but harder.) The book doesn’t shine as brightly as it could in this Part, but it handles the subjects deftly.

* I feel like I should apologize to Babette for using this expression.

The chapter examining the show’s depiction of feminism features an extended look at Episode 1.14, “That Damn Donna Reed.” This is at the same time the best and worst part of the book. Let me explain: the authors examine this episode and the main storylines in detail and while reflecting about what those stories say about the feminism of Gilmore Girls and the contemporary American culture (and our contemporary culture). I was entertained and satisfied with the book, but when they hit this high point*—and didn’t accomplish anything like it in following chapters—I was disappointed. If we’d gotten that kind of examination of popular culture and class as shown in particular episodes, I’d have probably rated this book higher. I may have rated it higher if that chapter didn’t have the 1.14 section, too—it just made everything else seem a little more shallow.

* I’m not saying I agreed with all of the analysis, but I appreciated what they did.

Chapter 8, “Small-Town Livin’,” is—like most of this book—a look at the depiction of something and a celebration of it. In this case, it’s Stars Hollow as an ideal small town. We’re shown many examples of the peculiarities of Stars Hollow (taken in every sense of the word)—notably some of the characters, the way the community acts as a large family, how it supports (and doesn’t support) each member, and so on. Then the authors talk about how it represents something in our contemporary culture that many, many feel is missing from our communities and how we yearn for it. I don’t know what it was about this chapter precisely that struck me the way it did—but I didn’t expect it, and the sentiments expressed really resonated with me. Perhaps it’s because the rest of the book focuses (as it should) on Lorelai, Rory, Richard, Emily, Luke, etc., and it’s only here that we focus on everyone else that made this show delightful.

My main complaint is that the authors depend on the same handful of examples too often. Luke did X, or Emily said Y are each trotted out to support 5 or 6 (or a dozen) points rather than finding 5 or 6 (or a dozen) other examples to show the same kind of thing. Luke didn’t just act in a certain manner one time in one episode to cite repeatedly, he does repeated things along certain lines that could be used in a variety of contexts. I don’t want to get bogged down in the details on this, so I’m keeping it vague, but it often felt like I could sing along with Stache and Davidson when they started to illustrate a point with one of the frequently used points. I can understand that it’s easier to keep going back to the same well so that they don’t have to explain the citations as much each time, but it got a bit tired.

There’s an appendix (of sorts) wrapping up this book that is worth the purchase price—”The Episodes: An Opinionated Compendium.” The compendium lists every episode, with a one-paragraph synopses (some are short, some aren’t) and a Best Line (except for in Season 7, which almost doesn’t count for the authors as a real season—like the mythical second and third Matrix movies, the fourth Indiana Jones, or third X-Men). I don’t recommend reading that straight through, you’ll burn out—but it’s a great way to revisit the episodes and refresh your memory. I don’t know the page count on this section, but it’s not inconsequential—it’s 27% of my eARC. Any fan will appreciate this part, even if they’re unimpressed with the main text (and I doubt many fans will be unimpressed with anything in these pages).

This is a fun read, a thought-provoking read, and a comfort-read. It’s like spending a couple of hours talking with some pretty intelligent friends about a TV show you all really like. It’s impossible to watch the show without thinking about it in the terms the authors choose to focus on—relationships, feminism, wealth, community, family—but most fans probably haven’t focused on it to the extent this volume does. I wanted more, but not much more. Not only is this a good book and a good way to examine a beloved show, it’s a great introduction to this series of books. I know I’ll be picking up more of them.

Disclaimer: I received this eARC from Rowman & Littlefield via NetGalley in exchange for this post—thanks to both for this opportunity, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

—–

3.5 Stars