Archive for January 2009
Is it just me, or has the reading public (or all “public”, for that matter) been hit with Gladwell fatigue?
While perusing a bookstore’s shelves a few of years ago, I was stunned to discover a tome entitled Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. After feathering through a number of these gossamer pages I was convinced that I’d finally stumbled upon an author with the strength and ability to explain the obvious to a large, confused book-buying public. After further research – a glance at the Barns & Noble placard signifying such – my suspicions proved true. Blink was a bestseller!
To be brief, I wasn’t impressed. In fact, if I remember correctly, I think I threw the book on the floor and stormed out of the building in anger and disgust. But I wasn’t about to question an author’s ability to reach bestseller status. No. He’d earned every bit of that authorial achievement. Out of ritual, I will have you know, I protest all bestsellers in this fashion.
Now comes Gladwell’s latest endeavor: Outliers: The Story of Success.
Here’s an excerpt from his website:
1. What is an outlier?
“Outlier” is a scientific term to describe things or phenomena that lie outside normal experience. In the summer, in Paris, we expect most days to be somewhere between warm and very hot. But imagine if you had a day in the middle of August where the temperature fell below freezing. That day would be outlier. And while we have a very good understanding of why summer days in Paris are warm or hot, we know a good deal less about why a summer day in Paris might be freezing cold. In this book I’m interested in people who are outliers—in men and women who, for one reason or another, are so accomplished and so extraordinary and so outside of ordinary experience that they are as puzzling to the rest of us as a cold day in August.
Where’s the morphine. This is brilliant.
My recommendation: if you’re considering buying Gladwells latest book after this obtuse reflection, you’re obviously not thinking about not thinking about buying it – and so be it, that’s exactly the trap old Gladwell has set. And this is exactly what I mean by Gladwell fatigue.
After a bumpy landing at Sea-Tac today, I’m returned from two weeks in NH and upstate NY. The balmy seattle moisture was welcomed – it was in the constant teens out east. But what happened to the snow? When I left it there was at least six inches on the ground, albeit slushy, and I expected the same upon return. No such luck.
I love it when Seattle grinds to a halt. Then I realize that “Seattle grinding to a halt” means I don’t make any money. God curse paradox!