Monday, February 20, 2012

Shoes and Ships and Ceiling Wax

Or was that Sealing wax?

So I just finished reading the Best Book Ever!  Many years ago I had the opportunity to listen to CABBAGES AND KINGS by O'Henry.  It was funny, clever, and it had an ending that I NEVER saw coming (there's a reason they call it the O'Henry Twist).  As I've said in the past, audio books are great, and depending on how they're done, they can make a decent book better, a boring book entertaining, and sometimes they can even make a masterpiece boring.  I wanted to see what happened with this book, and I was not disappointed!

Sure, the book wasn't as phenomenal as I remembered, but that's not a bad thing.  It made a fantastic first impression on me, and the reread had a lot to live up to, especially since I barely remembered the story itself.  But the more I read, the more I liked the book.

It's the story of a Banana Republic in the midst of change.  Many characters come and go, and they all play a part in transforming the landscape of the little town in which they live, which in turn changes the country.  Romance afflicts two or three of the gentlemen, getting them to take risks they otherwise would never have taken.  Government corruption feeds the pockets of greedy men, and conscience only plays a role for a brief amount of time.

This book is filled with many of the basics of high-quality writing, and in my opinion, it is the one novel every writer should read.  Since it was originally written in 1904, it does have a few of the "don'ts" of modern writing, but they're so clear that they make an easy learning tool, and they never detract from the story.

Go down to your library and pick up this book.  Or download it for your Kindle or iPad.  The statute of limitations ran out years ago, making the work public domain, so the download is free.  You may get some issues with a free version, and if you do, there are copies as cheap as 99 cents.


  1. I haven't read this one--thanks for the rec!

  2. That book title would probably throw me off. But, after having watched The Last King of Scotland some time ago, I've come to realize titles can carry so many other meanings.