Friday, June 30, 2017

Book Review: 'The Smartest Book in the World: A Lexicon of Literacy, A Rancorous Reportage, A Concise Curriculum of Cool' by Greg Proops

The Smartest Book in the World: A Lexicon of LiteracyA Rancorous Reportage, A Concise Curriculum of Cool
By Greg Proops

Review by David Wineberg

These are a few of my favorite things

It’s difficult what to make of this book. On the one hand, it demonstrates Greg Proops’ bottomless passions and capacity to soak up knowledge. But we knew that. On the other, it appears to be a widely scattered compendium of western history and arts with no focus whatsoever. Maybe they’re the same thing. Or maybe Proops thinks his fanbase doesn’t read books, and this is a way to hook them.

There’s something for most everyone. It’s a quick skim of things and people you really should know anyway. There are poems from the ancient Greeks to Edgar Allan Poe. There are classic American and foreign films, obscure foreign novelists, and baseball. A lot of baseball. The history of baseball, dream teams, biographies and critiques. There are all star teams made up of historical figures and women. The longest chapter in the book is on black pitcher Satchel Paige.

Proops also appreciates women, and capitalizes the w everywhere. He portrays female poets and activists and performers. He moans about discrimination. Proops is a confirmed feminist.

The Smartest Book in the World could win you Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, providing every second question was on baseball.

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of David Wineberg. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right. 

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