Thursday, August 11, 2011

Better than Great

Arthur Plotnik, BETTER THAN GREAT: A Plenitudinous Compendium of Wallopingly Fresh Superlatives.  Berkeley: Viva Editions, 2011.

(Temporary stock image until I can get my camera card reader working again.)  New, given to me after I interviewed for the internship.

Shameless plug for the press I intern at?  No, more like shameless tie-in so I can talk about my interning experiences.  And also, I really like this book.  But let’s talk about the press first.

It’s an independent press run out of a sweet little office on Sixth Street.  In Berkeley, of course.  Its main wing is Cleis Press, which specializes in erotica, sex guides, and LGBT fiction, with some human rights thrown in.  Its imprint is Viva Editions, which specializes in lifestyles- cooking, parenting, green living- plus a few word books like this one.

This bifurcation has led to some schizophrenic days, pour moi.  Most notably, about a month ago, I spent the morning crafting a proposal for a mini-book about the G-spot, aimed at a sex toy website.  Then in the afternoon I mailed out galleys of Better Than Great to Christian magazines with a press release suggesting pastors use it to punch up their sermons.  (We omitted the Cleis part of the catalog for that mailing.)

Just yesterday, I pulled myself out of my work long enough to realize my internet browser was open to a search inquiry for “monkey rockers."  If you don’t know what those are…. that’s fine.

(Lest you think my days are filled with lurid tasks involving things like monkey rockers, I should add that the majority of my time is probably spent promoting / pitching our tamer titles.  These might actually be shameless plugs, but my favorites are The Lazy Gourmet, Fix It, Make It, Grow It, Bake It, and The Unreal Life of Sergey Nabokov [an imagining of the life of Vladimir’s forgotten gay younger brother].  And Better than Great.)

It’s a lot of fun though.  I write pitches.  I mail press releases.  I assess manuscripts.  I do a lot of marketing and a little editorial.  I’ve decided I wouldn’t at all mind a career in publishing, as long as the printed word doesn’t go the way of the rotary phone.

Speaking of words.  This book is about them.  It’s divided into chapters that list synonyms for run-of-the-mill superlatives like “great.”  But such synonyms!  It makes fantastic suggestions like “amen-astonishing,” “soul-juddering,” and “Og Gog and Magog brain-boggling.”  It has clever little quote inserts from various sources, from Philip Roth to The Wire (“Them joints is wet!” [said of plasma televisions, s.3 ep.9]).  It’s small and adorable, with colorful circus-font on the cover (if I haven’t already made it clear by this point in my Beautiful blog, a book’s cover design can be a very big part of its appeal).  And best of all, it’s clearly written by someone who is rightfully in love with language.

There’s more to say about language but I feel this is a good place to stop for now.  To be continued (a clich√©).
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  1. Awesome! Your boring days interning sound like my fun days at work. I can honestly say that I haven't come across any books about monkey rockers at the library. Hmm... Maybe time for a search.

  2. The jade monkey is itself made of a type of stone, a "rock", if you will, and therefore might be considered a monkey rocker. Yes. Yes, that sounds about right.

  3. @Paul: You will have to tell me what they are. I've already blocked it from my memory.

    @Micah: The jade monkey might be a monkey rock, but that E and R make all the difference.