Sunday, 20 January 2013

Sunday Spotlight: Better Than Great by Arthur Plotnik

My new Sunday Spotlight feature (which actually bears a striking similarity to my old Saturday Spotlight feature) will showcase some of my favourite recent books reviewed for the superb Bookbag site.

This is slightly different from normal, as it's an adult non-fiction title and I don't normally post these reviews here because I try to keep YA Yeah Yeah for YA/MG/NA books. However, this is a distressingly excellent book which has proven to be massively useful when writing reviews of those books which really do punch out great's headlights, so I thought I'd share it here to help other reviewers.

Better Than Great is a bravura, ingeniously inventive, roaringly intelligent thesaurus of praise and acclaim - oh, momma! Where has this paean-worthy, distressingly excellent book, which certainly goes the whole hog, been all my life?

Split into fifteen categories such as 'great', 'beautiful' and 'physically affecting', Arthur Plotnik has given us around 6000 expressions to use when praising something. If I'd had this two years ago, rather than my first draft of my review of Wereworld: Rise of the Wolf by Curtis Jobling consisting of the word WOW! repeated 500 times, I could have pointed out that it was marked for greatness, it punches out great's headlights, and is pretty much the kipper's knickers. (Although Plotnik helpfully warns that the last would have only really been of much use if I was talking about it to someone from Scotland.)

Similarly, my review of Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein is one I'm actually quite proud of, but how much better would it have been if I'd had this book at my hand? I could have paid a more deserved tribute to Wein by telling her that her book was a spirit-buoying, traumatizingly good and keenly affecting novel with fulgent writing. (Although I'd be relying on my readers to know that fulgent means gleaming, which I didn't before I'd read this book!)

At the start of each chapter, there are a couple of pages talking about the upcoming words, while at the end of each we're given Vintage Gold - described by Plotnik in the How To Use This Book section as still-punchy superlatives from yesteryear. Other sidebars include useful adjectives and even terms for the best terms for describing really delicious wine.

Arthur Plotnik - you rolled a natural when you wrote this book. I would go so far as to say that you are a frigorifically cool author.

Himalayan recommendation.

For more from Art Plotnik, you can check out his own website, another website to go along with this brilliant book, and an interview he kindly gave me which is on the Bookbag.

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