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Curiosities of literature
Sutherland, John
Adult Nonfiction PN43 .S78 2009

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Author and literature professor Sutherland collects a sundry list of literary fact and trivia into a chaotic assortment of narratives. Organized under a stream-of-consciousness list of themes ("Literary Baked Meats," "Better Than Sex, Some Say," "Mammon and the Book Trade"), Sutherland has set few boundaries for himself regarding subject matter: irritable bowel syndrome, the wedding night, and Rose of Sharon's absurdly generous gift in the conclusion of The Grapes of Wrath all come into play. Though he might be self-indulgent, Sutherland delves into the minutiae with grace and good British wit, bringing humor and appeal to even the most (seemingly) dull subjects. Average readers don't need to worry about comparative illiteracy; Sutherland is so thorough that prior knowledge isn't necessary. A lively read for anyone who wants to learn more about their favorite classics, and a lively cheat sheet for those who want to impress their friends in the lit crowd. (Apr.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

From Library Journal:

Sutherland (English, Univ. Coll., London) presents a collection of little-known facts and literary trivia that should appeal to fans of Jeopardy!, Trivial Pursuit, and the like. Categories include writers' gastronomic preferences, oddities of body parts and illnesses (e.g., brain size and the relationship of asthma to genius), who really wrote what, and the recent practice of "product placement" (i.e., naming actual brands of merchandise) in literary works. The section on reading preferences of U.S. presidents is of particular interest-for instance, we learn that Reagan enjoyed the techno-thrillers of Tom Clancy, while Eisenhower read westerns by Zane Grey. Although the concept of this book is appealing, it is not well suited to American readers since it contains many references to obscure British concepts, writers, and works. In addition, topical references will limit its shelf life, and occasionally convoluted sentences make sections difficult to read. The main problem is that the book is too academic for most public libraries but not scholarly enough for academics. Buy if needed.-Denise J. Stankovics, Rockville P.L., Vernon, CT (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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