A year-or-two ago, I was asked to review the upcoming book of author, thinker, conversationalist and expert Scrabble-player, Uri Bram, seemingly only for the pleasure of only his most bosom fans. (My personal blog is syndicated about as frequently as original Thundercats reruns). But, due to my overwhelming commitment to being self-involved with my apparently overwhelming commitments, I never got around to it. And I regret that because, let's face it, the chap has stunning teeth and, I've heard, occasionally wears two belts. He's daring.
And given that it's far too late to review his at-the-time unreleased book, of which I received an advanced copy, I'm going to have to go down a different track. Namely, I'm going to have to review his at-this-time unreleased book. One that I haven't read.
So, please, indulge me as I hitherto invent a new genre of literary criticism and thrust it upon your unwitting and uninterested eyes. I call it a "pre-review review". I hear your teeth grind as you call me a "wally" and slap the back of your own neck in the hope you'll hit that "off-button" sweet-spot. Why not simply call it a "preview", like a sensible person?
Well, the reason, my little chick-a-dee chum, should be apparent. It isn't a preview because I have no idea what the book says. Vis-à-vis, I have no content to "view", let alone "pre" or comment on. It's a pre-review review because I'm literally going to review what I think my future-review will be able to review after the book is released. So, bear with me, whilst I pack a post out with probably-incorrect assumptions and very low-quality, likely-distorting words of pre-response- such is my life. Get it? Good. Here we go.
So, here's the first one. Bram's been reading Orwell. And, no, I don't mean all that stuff about totalitarian regimes and, as far as I know, something about the finer details of mixing pig-slops. He's been reading one of his littler works - one called Politics and the English Language, which basically tells people how to write vividly, clearly and how to avoid committing errors for which any reputable writer's guild would call for your immediate removal from any long-list of a Pulitzer-Prize which, I imagine, involves presenting writers with a new pair of golden, curly-toed slippers so we can feel all fancy when we peer around the laptop monitor.
And, basically, what Orwell is getting at in his eight-page tirade against the contemptible use of dead-metaphors and not knowing that the little dot above the "i" is called a "tittle", is that all writers should avoid-at-all-costs ever sounding like me.
Now, I should say that I tend to agree with Orwell in that particular one of his little quibbles with the world (I hear he had a few). But I've always been a bit niggled myself that the essay doesn't seem to follow the rules he sets out. And, quite frankly, that pissed me off to no end until I realised, after reading some science, that my only saving-grace in this life is that a molecule which once was inside Orwell's bladder may, one day, pass through my own in a shared moment of urinary union, thus augmenting my life with a modicum of meaning. And I cried - we all did. But I still couldn't shake my initial worry down the toilet.
Bram also - to compare him uncompromisingly with George - seems to enjoy writing clearly. So clearly, in fact, that his style enabled a turnip-mind like mine to absorb enough of that "learn-stuff" about statistics and probability, to the point where I now work on it in, like, academic contexts 'n that. (I KNOW RIGHT?!)
But, in this book, Uri-boy promises, not to teach you a particular skill (i.e. "knowledge-that" something). He's going to teach you some of that all-important "knowledge-how". And it's namely knowledge of how to get some of your own knowledge, wring it out of that wet-sponge inside your head, and then reconfigure it in short, clear, vivid, lucid sentences which plug it into your readers' heads. Like this one. Not like the one before it. Or any of the others in this post.
However, in all seriousness, if you're serious about improving your non-fiction writing for wide audiences, I really can't think of many better writers from which to learn. With little bundles of fried-gold like Thinking Statistically, Bram's already proven that he can unpack a concept like a baggage handler with a vibrating suitcase. Now, with his upcoming title Write Harder, he promises to show you how to show others how to do it too. It's meta. And, given the wonderful examples of his non-fiction texts that currently plushly furnish my own brand of popular e-book reader, I'm certain that Bram can make good on his promises.
If you wish to do so, you may follow its progress HERE