Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Stretched Thin

As I grow older, I must be turning into an impatient reader or it may be how they write non-fiction these days. My experience with reading two books recently made me wonder which it was. I figured Macolm Gladwell had made his case about The Tipping Point within less than fifty pages of the eponymous book. Thereafter, it was only more detail and evidence. Likewise with Margaret Heffernan and How She Does It. Making a book out of what might have been great material for an essay spreads the content precariously too thin.

There are no ideas to introduce without returning to the few key themes that emerge within the first fifty pages or less. The average reader wants to know the answer to the question "What else do you have to say ?" and the answer seems to be "Not much else" The focus seems to be on making a case and not introducing new concepts or ideas. The reader's willingness to go along with the writer's premise is hardly a foregone conclusion. Given the way the subject matter us treated, one would think the exact opposite is true and that must make for both tedious reading and writing.

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