Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Book Review: 'Dear Mister Essay Writer Guy: Advice and Confessions on Writing, Love, and Cannibals' by Dinty W. Moore

Dear Mister Essay Writer Guy: Advice and Confessions on Writing, Love, and Cannibals
By Dinty W. Moore

Review by David Wineberg

The angle of this smoothly humorous, wisecracking collection of short memoir essays is the author receiving questions from other authors. He answers them with a note that bounces off the question (usually sarcastically), and an essay, drawn from his own endlessly amusing life. The questions tend toward the sardonic and the too clever, and the essays are standalone works often reminiscent of early Benchley and later Perelman. Not bad company to be in, and Moore fits well in that space. He has a mild case of dementia praecox, which is not so much curable as enviable.

Moore enlivens things with his layouts. Some of his essays are numbered sentences, very biblical. One is a Google map, with text balloons. One is a single column. One is a chart. And one is inevitably, a series of facebook comments that show how sharp and clever he and his friends can be when they’re on. Everything is a straightline, and writers are waiting in the weeds to pounce. It’s good old one-upmanship. The Algonquin Roundtable online. Oddly, there is an index, in case you need to look up on what page he referred to buckets of minnows (137).

The one memoir Moore doesn’t give us why parents named Moore insist on calling their sons Dinty. Inquiring minds want to know.

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.