And give up showbiz? by Josh Young

The author is a five-time New York Times bestselling author, and I want to write, based on the quality of his writing, I am entirely baffled as to how. That is not accurate: many New York Times bestselling authors are terrible writers and based on And give up showbiz?

Josh Young falls into that category.

There are a bunch of things that strike the wrong tune with And give up showbiz?, but the most glaring I the book should not be for sale, but should be given away by the book’s subject, lawyer Fred Levin.

Let me clarify: This is a badly written, book-length public relations pamphlet for Fred Levin.

The subtitle of the book is: “How Fred Levin beat big tobacco, avoided two murder prosecutions, became a chief of Ghana, earned boxing manager of the year & transformed American law.”

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Stiff: The curious lives of human cadavers by Mary Roach

Sept. 9, 2014

I wanted to like Stiff. I wanted Mary Roach to be an entertaining writer. Alas, she is not.

She’s judgmental and annoying. She writes too much about too little. She goes on long, pointless tangents.

Most damning of all (for me, as a journalist), are incongruities between what she’s written as either the truth or a semblance of the truth and the truth I’ve read from more credible authors. Meaning, she’s lying or being lazy or a combination of the two.

Once the first hole is poked in Roach’s credibility, I have no faith that her work is not riddled with holes.

At this point, I should put some caveats in my review: I am not easily grossed out. I’m a little bit morbid. While I do not deal with dead bodies extensively, I deal with death and the grieving on a regular basis as a cops and courts reporter for a newspaper.

This appears to be an issue for some reviewers. I did not find the book to be particularly gross.

Show me the money
First, my biggest problem with the book. Roach writes a little bit about the history of the body market, but not that much. When it comes to the modern body market, she writes, a costs $500. Who knows how much it sells for.

That’s it.

One single reference.

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Death’s Acre by Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson

“Death’s Acre” is not what it claims to be: “Inside the Legendary Forensic Lab the Body Farm Where the Dead Do Tell Tales.”

It’s Bill Bass’s bloated memoir, brimming with useless information, bogging down readers and serving no purpose.

It’s also Bill Bass’s chance to stand up and accuse men and women, not convicted in a court of law, of being murderers. More on that later.

Bass writes about all sorts of things, including a few of his cases and cases of his colleagues. He writes a little about the “body farm” and its genesis, but, not that much.

He complains about journalists, the scoundrels, and then bemoans when newspapers (written by journalists) didn’t cover a murder, disappearance or found body he deemed newsworthy. A little bit of cake-and-eat-it-too going on.

As much as Bass might bemoan journalists, he could have done with a journalistic editor. He jumps around, across, over, under and through time without much, if any, concrete groundings, concrete dates, concrete years to orient the reader. There is no timeline and the memoir is not ordered chronologically.

Result: Confusing and bloated. Too much useless fluff opinion. Bass tries to be a philosopher, to make great, profound points at the end of his chapters. Really, life is short and brutish and no amount of sugared words will mask that fact.

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