Friday, August 22, 2008

50BC08 #19 & #20

50 BOOK CHALLENGE #19
TITLE: Standing Room Only: Strategies for Marketing the Performing Arts
AUTHORS: Philip Kotler and Anne Scheff
YEAR: 1997, Harvard Business School Press
PAGES: 560
GENRE: non-fiction, marketing, textbook, arts management
RATING: 4 out of 5 stars

Kotler and Scheff have managed to write a textbook that is relevant, well-organized AND interesting! While the style is characteristically dry, the prose is peppered with plenty of real-life case studies that help elucidate both the marketing concepts themselves and the application thereof. The chapters are helpfully broken into sub-categories which makes for easy note-taking and comprehension. I can see why this has been the Arts Marketing bible for so long. The only thing we need is an updated version with more intense focus on internet marketing, etc.

50 BOOK CHALLENGE (2008): #20
TITLE: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
AUTHORS: Mark Haddon
YEAR: 2003, Vintage Books (Random House)
PAGES: 226
GENRE: fiction
RATING 4.5 out of 5 stars

The Boston Globe called this book, "gloriously eccentric..." which is an inaccurate way to represent this story by Mark Haddon. If anything, Haddon enters the world of autism and demystifies it, making it less eccentric. We see the world through the eyes of fifteen year-old Christopher Boone, who abhors the color yellow, but calms himself by solving complicated math problems in his head. The reader learns to re-calibrate his or her own emotional responses a la Christopher, for whom things hurt according to their logical content or lack thereof.

This book has many strengths, and Christopher's father is perhaps one of the best examples of a sympathetic but highly flawed character. While Christopher is undoubtedly the book's protagonist, the non-autistic reader will more likely empathize with Christopher's father, who is capable of both great love and great destruction.

Aside from Christopher's discussions with his therapist Siobhan, the book wisely veers away from preachy explanations about autism. Even the therapy sessions are more about interpersonal connection than outlining the intricacies of autism, and it is this that helps the reader to connect to Christopher in something other than sympathy. We engage with Christopher's world, not the world of autism...and this is right as autism spectrum disorders defy generalizations or easy categories.

The end result, if anything, is that the eccentricity of general humanity is exposed. We become conscious of our everyday lack of logic. The novel is just as much about the human condition as the autistic condition.

No comments: