Making Book, Teresa Nielsen Hayden
This is a collection of TNH's fannish writing, mostly from fanzines. From my standpoint, some of the essays are inaccessible, because they refer to things (mostly fannish in nature) I don't understand and don't have the context for.
The opening essay, "God and I," is the story of her excommunication from the Mormon Church. It's really interesting, and there were some aspects of Mormon theology discussed that I'd never really heard before. Like, apparently, it's easy to disprove half of the Book of Mormon with archaeological evidence.
The next few are some more personal reminiscences, musings on how much Rockefeller spent on a desk (three hundred years' wages for her at the time), growing up in the Cold War, and being a bureaucrat. The Disneyland story is also interesting.
Then it gets stuck in the land of "what is she talking about, and who are these people?" (I assume if you know who Claude Degler is, it's funny) with the exception of "The Big Z," in which she describes her severe narcolepsy and her struggle to get a diagnosis.
"Over Rough Terrain" is pieced together from scraps of personal correspondence that accumulated during her initial stage of narcolepsy. Parts of it are interesting, personal essays; parts are confusing fannish references (the Iguanacon rant? Huh?). The letter in which she describes aphasia for the word "mercenary" but not related things (like condottieri and soldier for pay) is interesting.
Then there's an essay for a con program book, which I assume makes sense if you know who Fred is. I don't get the joke, though.
"On Copyediting" is interesting. It grew out of Tor's copyediting manual. I learned some things, and some day they may be useful. The essay that follows is a review of American Psycho, the novel, which is a detailed critique of what is wrong with the book (basically everything). The final essay is "The Pastafazool Cycle," which discusses why "woo-woo" research on historical sources is bad. (To sum up: shoddy research published by a university press may make an unwitting young proto-scholar think it's good research.)
I'd say the book is worth buying for the first half dozen essays, plus "On Copyediting" and parts of "Over Rough Terrain." Reading it spawned some thoughts, which will be in tomorrow's blog post. (Since I forgot to post Friday, I'm making up for it.)