Official Review: Extraordinary Stories From Everyday Peop...

Please use this sub-forum to discuss any fiction books or series that do not fit into one of the other categories. If the fiction book fits into one the other categories, please use that category instead.
Forum rules
While in the forum's younger and less active days this used to be the one and only forum for "reviews and discussions about specific books", this is now just the subforum "other fiction" in a more well-organized "reviews and discussions about specific books" section with subforums for each genre. Check it out! :) Remember, the forums in the reviews section (including this forum) are for posting about a single book or series in topic, and the topic title should include the book's title. If you are creating a new topic, please try to post it in one of the other genres rather than posting it here in the "other fiction" section. This is only for books that do not fit in any of the other genre categories we have listed.
Post Reply
User avatar
Dael Reader
Posts: 681
Joined: 05 May 2018, 08:39
Currently Reading: The Story of Arthur Truluv
Bookshelf Size: 53
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-dael-reader.html
Latest Review: Extraordinary Stories From Everyday People (and me) by Les Clark
Reading Device: 1400697484

Official Review: Extraordinary Stories From Everyday Peop...

Post by Dael Reader » 19 Nov 2018, 10:54

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Extraordinary Stories From Everyday People (and me)" by Les Clark.]
Book Cover
2 out of 4 stars
Share This Review


Extraordinary Stories From Everyday People (and me): Rants, Raves and Reflections, by Les Clark, is a difficult book to describe. The title led me to believe this would be a collection of short stories and personal essays. While there are a few entires that fall under these categories, there are also many entries that don’t. There are snippets of conversations and short descriptions of people and places. There are notes from interviews with ordinary people and witty anecdotes about the author’s everyday life. There are bits of humorous observations and poignant reflections. There is no single theme to tie it all together, but Clark’s grandson, Anthony, shows up in many conversations. Clark also makes many references to his service in the Air Force and introduces readers to a few fellow veterans.

I was taught that whenever you give constructive criticism you should always start with the good. With that in mind, I’d have to say the best thing about this book is the author’s wit. Clark describes himself as a failed stand-up comic, but I think he would have eventually enjoyed at least a moderate amount of success if he kept at it long enough. Some of the anecdotes and snippets of conversation in this book read as if they were originally delivered as part of a stand-up routine. The causal tone and comedic timing are just as evident in writing as they would be in an oral presentation. Clark also seems to have a knack for accepting the humor in both ordinary and unusual situations, which is often the hallmark of a good comedian.

As the title of the book suggests, Clark also has a knack for recognizing the unique stories in the lives of ordinary people. This shows up in the sections titled “Interviews” and “Veteran Vignettes.” A couple of the entries in “Interviews” are based on conversations with people he has met only once, such as Christina and Scott, a couple who sat at the table next to him at a doughnut shop one day. Others involve people he seems to have known for a while, such as Doris, a 99-year-old woman to whom he delivers meals. The “Veteran Vignettes” introduce readers to several U.S. veterans. If I had to choose, I would say these sections were the best parts of the book. I was drawn to them because I believe that everyone has an extraordinary story to tell. You just have to be willing to ask and listen to learn their secrets.

Unfortunately, the entries in the “Veteran Vignettes” are also examples of what I consider to be the greatest shortfall of the book—a lack of development. Some of the vignettes are only two or three paragraphs long and contain only the type of information you could probably find with an advanced Internet search. The shortest entries seem like notes that the author jotted down as an outline. Then he forgot to go back and fill in the blanks with a full essay. I had the same feeling while reading some of the other entries in the book. Some of them seemed to lack focus or intent and were underdeveloped, as if the author lost interest in the topic. Or maybe he thought he was running out of time and had to wrap up his thought and step away from the microphone.

My frustration increased as I read through the book. Then I got to “The Backword.” In this penultimate chapter, Clark reveals his purpose for the book by stating, “I wrote this because I had scraps of notes and stories I banged out on my old Royal portable, things I concocted, found interesting or foolishly entered chase-my-tail conversations with others.”

I think my hunch was right. This book is—more or less—a random series of scraps of notes and stories that the author decided to publish as a finished work. His admission made me feel even more disappointed, because there are good ideas in this writer’s notebook that could be turned into a good book with a little more work. For instance, a collection of biographical essays about veterans of all ages and branches of the military could be a wonderful read with wide-reaching appeal. But each entry would have to include more than just a list of vital statistics. Each one needs something personal, something that helps readers connect to each veteran on a deeper level.

Likewise, while random anecdotes and snippets of conversation are nice for a comedy routine or a joke book, they don’t work well in a collection of stories and reflections unless you provide additional development. For example, the snippets of conversations with his grandson, Anthony, are cute. But they would be much more meaningful if they were incorporated into a larger story about how and why Clark and his wife were raising him and how challenging and rewarding it can be to parent your grandchild.

Now, I know that some readers will think I’m being overly harsh in this review by commenting on what the book could have been instead of simply focusing on what it is. But I expected a book of stories to have more complete stories, not bits and pieces. Publishing a book of random notes and stories without sufficient development is like giving the reader a bag of chocolate chips and saying, “If you want cookies, you’ll have to make them yourself.” Those chips might be nice by themselves, but the cookies would have been better.

Additionally, I suspect this book was not professionally edited. There were well over 10 punctuation and style errors. Most of these involved missing commas and hyphens and an uncertain and inconsistent use of various styles. For instance, the titles of newspapers should be italicized, but the names of pets should be in normal text.

Overall, I give this book a rank of 2 out of 4 stars. I went directly back to the guidelines to make this decision. According to the explanation of rankings, “If you give it a 3 or a 4 you are recommending others read it . . . if you give it a 2 . . . obviously you didn't like it that much but maybe others will.” There are some entires in this book that I thought were very good, but the collection as a whole is not one I can wholeheartedly recommend.

******
Extraordinary Stories From Everyday People (and me)
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon

Like Dael Reader's review? Post a comment saying so!

charmperit
Posts: 65
Joined: 25 Sep 2018, 06:29
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 14
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-charmperit.html
Latest Review: Pastoring is not what you think by Elijah Oladimeji

Post by charmperit » 23 Nov 2018, 09:02

The title of the book is captivating - feels like a collection of inspiring stories. It's unfortunate that the book is not well-structured

User avatar
KristyKhem
Posts: 324
Joined: 20 Feb 2018, 13:22
2018 Reading Goal: 75
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 113
Favorite Book: Carmela
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 86
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-kristykhem.html
Latest Review: 126 ways of joy by Paris Hackman

Post by KristyKhem » 23 Nov 2018, 22:37

"Publishing a book of random notes and stories without sufficient development is like giving the reader a bag of chocolate chips and saying, “If you want cookies, you’ll have to make them yourself.” Those chips might be nice by themselves, but the cookies would have been better." - I really like how you phrased this. I totally agree with you. Thanks for reviewing this book honestly.

User avatar
Alicia09
Posts: 153
Joined: 10 Jul 2018, 12:29
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 44
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-alicia09.html
Latest Review: If Life Stinks, Get Your Head Outta Your But's by Mark L. Wdowiak

Post by Alicia09 » 24 Nov 2018, 18:23

I think it can be hard to give a lower rating on a book, especially if it is filled with true stories of experiences the author had. Yet I am glad you were honest enough to rate this truthfully, because now at least readers will have some idea of what to expect if they decide to read this book. I also love your analogy of the bag of chocolate chips, because while the stories can be good, they need more to be a complete work. I appreciate your honest review. Thanks!

User avatar
topdan30
Posts: 301
Joined: 26 Jul 2018, 10:12
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 59
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-topdan30.html
Latest Review: Escape by Mark Kingston Levin, PhD

Post by topdan30 » 25 Nov 2018, 08:19

Good you were able to give it a rating. Maybe if the book was well structured it could have benn a good read. great review.

User avatar
Cecilia_L
Posts: 1490
Joined: 08 Jun 2018, 22:16
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 126
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-cecilia-l.html
Latest Review: New York Linked Up Part 1 Manhattan by Colleen Katz

Post by Cecilia_L » 25 Nov 2018, 10:58

I think my hunch was right. This book is—more or less—a random series of scraps of notes and stories that the author decided to publish as a finished work. His admission made me feel even more disappointed, because there are good ideas in this writer’s notebook that could be turned into a good book with a little more work. For instance, a collection of biographical essays about veterans of all ages and branches of the military could be a wonderful read with wide-reaching appeal. But each entry would have to include more than just a list of vital statistics. Each one needs something personal, something that helps readers connect to each veteran on a deeper level.
I understand your disappointment and agree the content had more potential than what was executed. Thanks for your honest review.

User avatar
kandscreeley
Special Discussion Leader
Posts: 6404
Joined: 31 Dec 2016, 20:31
2018 Reading Goal: 115
2017 Reading Goal: 100
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 93
2017 Reading Goal Completion: 94
Currently Reading: End of the Last Great Kingdom
Bookshelf Size: 235
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-kandscreeley.html
Latest Review: The Third Thaw by Karl J. Hanson

Post by kandscreeley » 25 Nov 2018, 17:48

This sounds very unorganized. It would be frustrating with nothing to tie everything together. It definitely seems like it needs some reworking. Perhaps after some editing I'll look into this further.
“There is no friend as loyal as a book.”
― Ernest Hemingway

User avatar
Sarah Tariq
Posts: 1372
Joined: 17 Mar 2017, 02:17
2018 Reading Goal: 25
2017 Reading Goal: 15
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 92
2017 Reading Goal Completion: 46
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 66
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-sarah-tariq.html
Latest Review: Riddle of the Firstborn by Liz K McIver
Reading Device: PDF

Post by Sarah Tariq » 11 Dec 2018, 01:52

I like you wisely rated the book due to the flaws you mentioned above. It often happens that you have to give a low rating to a book despite its good content, just because of clear cut mistakes. Good review.
Make your ideals high enough to inspire you and low enough to encourage you.

User avatar
teacherjh
Posts: 1270
Joined: 15 Apr 2018, 23:16
2018 Reading Goal: 48
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 100
Currently Reading: The 7 Experiment
Bookshelf Size: 295
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-teacherjh.html
Latest Review: Raptor by B.A. Bostick

Post by teacherjh » 11 Dec 2018, 15:10

I love your chocolate chip metaphor. It seems like a strange set up for a book. I hope you enjoy your next one.
Latest Review: Raptor by B.A. Bostick

User avatar
Sushan
Posts: 623
Joined: 04 May 2018, 19:13
2018 Reading Goal: 10
2017 Reading Goal: 0
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 210
Currently Reading: Serial K Returns
Bookshelf Size: 158
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-sushan.html
Latest Review: The Traveler's Best Seller by Rick Incorvia

Post by Sushan » 13 Dec 2018, 14:15

It did not appeared as a nice book to me, and your review confirmed it. Thank you 👍👍
"He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help"

Abraham Lincoln



:techie-studyingbrown: $u$han €kanayak€ :techie-studyingbrown:

User avatar
CatInTheHat
Bookshelves Moderator
Posts: 2138
Joined: 31 May 2016, 11:53
2018 Reading Goal: 52
2017 Reading Goal: 52
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 92
2017 Reading Goal Completion: 98
Favorite Book: Cry the Beloved Country
Currently Reading: Rogue Captain
Bookshelf Size: 469
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-catinthehat.html
Latest Review: Lunch Money by Roger M. Cullen
Reading Device: B00JG8GOWU
Publishing Contest Votes: 0

Post by CatInTheHat » 13 Dec 2018, 17:05

Some books are harder to review than others. It sounds like this was one of them.
Life without a good book is something the CatInTheHat cannot imagine.


Grateful to get the opportunity to explore new books with those in the OBC.

User avatar
Shrabastee
Posts: 850
Joined: 23 Mar 2018, 00:38
2018 Reading Goal: 20
2017 Reading Goal: 0
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 185
Favorite Book: The Warramunga's War
Currently Reading: Strong Heart
Bookshelf Size: 280
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-shrabastee.html
Latest Review: I by Zeyan Zyrus

Post by Shrabastee » Yesterday, 01:02

Thanks for the very candid review. I liked the example of making our own chocolate chip cookies. Your review repeatedly reveals the underdevelopment of the book. I agree that with a little more imagination, the author could make this a collection of fictional stories based on real experiences. This would have made for a much more enjoyable read.
Latest Review: I by Zeyan Zyrus

Kajori50
Posts: 494
Joined: 10 Aug 2018, 15:10
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 41
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-kajori50.html
Latest Review: A Thousand Seeds of Joy by Ananda Karunesh

Post by Kajori50 » Yesterday, 08:31

I like the title and the concept of the book. This seems to be book of great potential.

Thank you for the great review.

Post Reply

Return to “Other Fiction Forum”