Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Fascinating stuff

Malcolm Gladwell seems to have a knack for making a lot out of a little. Take, for instance, his book Blink, the thesis of which is: First impressions are usually right. What I said in five words, he stretches out to several hundred pages. Yet they are fascinating pages that don't just state and restate his initial thought but dig deep into the hows and whys of the matter.

In What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures, Gladwell holds himself back, giving us shorter reflections on a variety of intriguing questions you may have never thought to ask but, upon reading this book, you are glad somebody did. The book collects 19 articles originally published in The New Yorker.

Among the questions Gladwell asks and then answers are:

Who's the guy in all those Veg-O-Matic and Showtime Rotisserie infomercials?

If there are so many varieties of mustard, why is all ketchup pretty much the same?

Should a charge of plagiarism ruin a person's life?

Is someone always to blame for major disasters like the Challenger explosion?

Why do we equate genius with precocity?

Are smart people overrated?

What do job interviews really tell us?

The answers to these and other questions are almost always surprising and, like Blink, utterly fascinating. In his introduction Gladwell states his belief that anything can be interesting if the writer does his job and makes it interesting. In fact, a reader might wish Gladwell would stretch each of these pieces into a book.

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