Friday, February 10, 2012

Bird by Bird. Not Quite a Review.

     I read Bird by Bird years ago. I think it was 2005; my life was changing in weird ways and a friend gave it to me, insisting it was good advice for writing and for life. And that's what I remember best about it. I remember the anecdote that inspired the title, and I remember the story about what inspired the book itself. Seven years later though, I doubt I could really tell you what it was about, except to say "well, it's a guide to writing and life."
     I'm not much of a re-reader. I recognize that I've read the sentences before, and then I skim over them, in search for something new. I've kept Bird by Bird next to my bed for reference for a while though. I often intend on re-reading, but it of course never happens. However, sometimes I feel like just flipping through it can retransmit the good advice it contained through me, through osmosis.
     I remember that I really liked Bird by Bird. I've recommended it to many friends. I also use it as an answer to interview questions. Some people like to hear that you can multi-task, but I believe the research that posits multi-tasking produces substandard work, and therefore I tackle my work bird by bird--one task at a time. Also, multi-tasking can mean different things to different people, and the right kind of person appreciates the bird by bird approach to multiple tasks.
     I remember that Bird by Bird was sad and funny. In 2005, I was also sad and funny, so it was right up my alley. The friend who gave it to me was neither sad nor funny, and it was up his alley too, so I think it's safe to say it can speak to anyone. It had good advice for being a writer. It also had good advice for running power plants and making movies, things I continue to waft between.
     It's a National Bestseller and it's not very long, so I recommend it. It gets five stars (out of five) in my mind. It's also a book I know a lot of my friends have. I've accused them of stealing my copy. Apparently all of us aspiring writers, moviemakers, and power plant runners read the same book--that must be how it became a bestseller. Also, multi-tasking is not always a virtue. Sometimes it produces shitty work. Just think about it.

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