Items tagged with "The Trumpet of the Swan"

I'm sorry, what is it that you say? I haven't blogged in a while? Well, that's about to change. Blogging regularly: HAPPEN!


Here's an idea! Here are some book blurbs(and inside flaps) off some random books I found lying around my house, and my critical analysis of those blurbs(and flaps). Keep in mind some are off the back of the book and some out of the inside flap, so that explains length discrepancies. I haven't actually read most of these books, but that doesn't mean I can't judge them!

This is also just part 1. More blurb/flap reviews come in a few weeks, so buckle in for the ride of your lives, everyone.

Dune, by Frank Herbert

“The Duke must exchange his lands. Instead of his lovely domain, rich and well-watered, he and his wife and son must move to and accept a barren desert, where a drop of water is worth its weight in platinum.

Why? The all-powerful Emperor fears Duke Leto—fears his strength, his popularity, his growing wealth. And the duke has other enemies, notably the great rival house of Harkonnen, led by Baron Vladimir, the living symbol of evil.

A page of medieval history? Not quite. Duke Leto Atreides is moving from a planet, which he owns, to another planet, which he has been given in exchange. The Emperor, Shaddam IV, is emperor of the known Universe, not a country. And Duke Leto’s son, Paul, is not a normal noble heir. In fact, he is so little normal in any way that he happens to be key to all human rule, power, and indeed knowledge!

The Duke’s lady, Paul’s mother, is unusual as well. She is the creature of the Bene Gesserit, the strangest religious matriarchy ever conceived, whose aims are also universal rule. And the answer to all questions is a world, the world called Dune, the Planet Arrakis, which produces the drug of immortality, Melange, as its sole export. The world of sand, rock and heat, where roam savages armed with deadly weapons, who kill for drops of water.

Meticulously worked out, marvelously detailed, frightening, exciting, baffling, challenging, Dune will never let the reader go. A book as universal as time, brilliant in scope and dazzling in narrative style, Dune will be long discussed as the penultimate in writing of the distant future, the example of what can be done when a skilled writer turns his eyes forward into history instead of back.”

Wow. That was a rollercoaster of emotions. First, I very much enjoy the labored set up of the earth-shattering revelation that will come in the status-quo-redefining crescendo of Paragraph 3. Our inside-flap writer is clearly quite smug about his whole situation as a professional inside-flap writer, and you can just imagine him telling you this as he sits in his armchair in front of a roaring fire, a wry twinkle in his eye as he arrives at the zenith of his tale: “A page of medieval history? Not quite, you fool.”

He then italicizes planet twice, just in case the first time just sent you reeling into a firm state of denial, the second is there to propel you into stupefaction. By the ‘Universe’, however, I just didn’t want him to get too overexcited. Let’s, uh, keep your shirt on there, inside-flap writer. You’ve got me hooked, don’t let your mouth-foaming self-satisfaction scare off the game.

And finally he delivers the final bombshell on the burning Baghdad of our psyches: Paul is the key to all human rule, power, and indeed knowledge! It’s a good thing he said ‘and indeed knowledge’(sic), he was about to lose me when got to ‘power’. “Rule? Power? I believe in intellectualism! What am I doing reading this drivel??! STRAIGHT IN THE WOOD CHIPPER WITH YOU—No, wait, never mind, phew. My rationalist philosophy is fulfilled!”

And it ends with some passive-aggression directed once again at the medieval history crowd, who he appears to have some barely-veiled contempt for. He probably read that one out loud as he stared angrily at his ex-wife, the medieval-history-blurb writer, from across the room: “The example of what can be done when a skilled writer turns his eyes forward into history instead of BACK!” “SCIENCE FICTION IS FOR WUSSES!” “I AM NOT A WUSS, DEBRA!” “OH YEAH, LIKE YOU WEREN'T IN RENO?” “OH, GREAT, THIS AGAIN!

Other Thoughts:

I feel like you have no reason to be disappointed that you have only one export when that export is a drug that grants immortality, since at that point I feel like you have basically cornered the market.

If this takes place in the distant future and everyone else has exciting sci-fi fantasy names, why is the villain Russian and why are the heroes English?

The Trumpet of the Swan, by E.B. White

“Louis is scared when his father tells him that he’s different from other swans. He doesn’t want to be different. Even though he can’t talk, Louis knows he could learn to read and write, if only he could get into school.

Sam Beaver, a boy who understands all wild things, agrees to help. But Mrs. Hammerbotham isn’t sure she can handle a Trumpeter Swan in her classroom.”

At first glance, this premise seems like a cruel subversion of the classic ugly duckling tale. An adorable swan is born, but the moment it hits puberty it becomes a horrid monster, much like real life puberty. However, it soon proves to be just some sort of depressing morality fable about a horrific Frankenstein’s-monster-esque self-aware swan whose meager animal intelligence has been genetically altered from years of toxic waste dumping in its natural habitat so that it has the capacity to yearn for education, yet tragically is incapable of even communicating its despair. Also, he has an unsupportive father.

Yet this piteous creature is saved when a kind child who clearly has the power to understand beasts, birds, and The Troggs, agrees to help. Uh, okay then? Sam probably regrets being over-generous and being such a pushover on this, because how do you even begin to go about that? Try to tell someone else that since you assume that you can ‘understand all wild things’ this swan wants to learn how to read and write? Tell the poor guy to take some night classes online?

What is Louis’s long-term plan on this? Does he want to go into publishing or something? He's a swan. Literacy will not lend it’s aid when you are being savaged by a hungry mink in the wild, Louis.

Sam apparently manages to convince his teacher Mrs. Hammerbotham to educate poor Louis, but for some reason Mrs. Hammerbotham is filled with doubt, possibly because HE IS A SWAN. I enjoy how it is phrased almost as an afterthought on Mrs. Hammerbotham’s part: “You know, perhaps it isn’t right to have an actual, literal Trumpeter Swan in my classroom, which hitherto did not allow live waterfowl and mainly educated sentient human children. No, no, that’s foolish.” Also, Mrs. Hammerbotham felt the need to specify that she might not be able to tolerate a Trumpeter Swan in her classroom. The Whooper Swan is a notoriously diligent student.