Thursday, May 24, 2007

Useless Literary Information

Lately I've been reading "the Book of Useless Information" by Noel Bothman & The Useless Information Society (Yeah! They even have a whole group devoted to collecting this stuff!)...What did you say? Get a life? Remember, I'm the same person who reads the dictionary in her spare time... Anyway, here are a few bits of useless literary trivia that just might tickle your fancy; they did mine. Did you know (or care) that:

  • Bambi was originally published in German in 1929?

  • General Lew Wallace's best-seller, Ben Hur, was the first work of fiction to be blessed by the Pope? I just hope my book gets blessed by the reader...

  • an estimated 2.5 million books will be shipped in the next year with the wrong covers? Yike! Better not be mine!

  • During his lifetime, Herman Melville's timeless classic of the sea, Moby Dick, sold only 50 copies? worries for my book--it won't be a classic, not of the sea anyway...

  • Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein (presumed to be the first science fiction novel) at the age of nineteen? Upstart!

  • Virginia Wolf wrote all her books standing up? Hmm...try writing while weaving around traffic and carrying on a conversation with your teenage son as the radio blares with Mega Death, Virginia!

  • In 1898 (14 years before the Titanic sank) Morgan Robertson wrote a novel called Futility, about the largest ship ever built that hit an iceberg in the Atlantic on a cold April night? Oohh! Sure hope my book, "Darwin's Paradox", doesn't predict our future: a multiplex, technophile society, reliant on artificial intelligence and plagued by a technologically-induced disease, and fast growing infertile...

  • Goethe couldn't stand the sound of barking dogs and could only write if he had an apple rotting in the drawer of his desk? Really! I'm not making this up! But it does explain his writing, doesn't it?

  • And, last but certainly not least, Isaac Asimov is the only author to have a book appear in every Dewey decimal category? He's my hero...

So, how useless is useless? If it entertains you, makes you raise a brow or your lips quiver with a half-smile, then perhaps it's not so useless, after all. More like celebrating the incredibly wondrous and paradoxical world we live in. The Society's one edict is that the piece of information not be 'boring'. While Society members might yawn at the fact that the Mississippi River is 1,171 miles long, their eyes light up when they hear that in the Nuuanu Valley of Honolulu there is a river that flows upward. I concur! It is a gorgeously incomprehensible world we live in, richly festooned with the simple complexities and colours of nature's genius.


Amebaid said...

standing up , nineteen , Titanic

i really like it and for sure didn't knew all that info

good one

Spacerguy said...

Isaac Asimov is a true inspiration and friend of Gene Roddenberry. His ideas sharpened Star Trek lingo.