How Precious Was That While

why you should read obscure books

"How Precious Was That While" is part two of Piers Anthony's autobiography. The first part "Bio Of An Ogre" covered his first fifty years. This one mainly covers the years from fifty to sixty-two; or at least that was Anthony's stated aim. This book basically contains his whole life albeit Bio Of An Ogre would be more detailed about his early years.

This book is destined to change my book buying habits because it details the inner workings of the publishing and book distribution industries. It turns out that I have heretofore been buying into the hype generated by Publishers and missing out on some great prose. Even the bestseller lists are revealed as measures of how fast a book sells rather than how may copies where bought over time. Thanks to Anthony I will now make it a point to zero in on unknown authors and obscure books in the hopes of finding that rare gem that could turn out to become a favorite.

This book also brings home the much belabored point, that writing, for the majority of writers, is not a lucrative trade. I used to be unaccepting of this because I am a writer wannabe but I am now at peace with this reality - am not counting on writing for wealth but I am deadset on going into it for the love of writing. That said, Anthony is a member of the minority. He's writing has made him rich and its quite fun to see how money has changed his life.

The book also presents a panorama of his works. I already have one of his Xanth books, his most commercially successful work. If I like it I'll read the series which I think has thirty books and counting. I will also eventually check out his latest effort, his Geodyssey book series. And two or three collaborations look interesting, particularly "Through The Ice" his collaborative work with a high school author who was killed by a drunk driver.

I did not read everything in this book; there was a chapter about Anthony's suicidal or depressed correspondents full of verse which I did not finish; I skipped his chapter on animals. And there was a bothersome chapter about real rape cases. Anthony also wrote a book about childhood sex abuse called Firefly, I saw one at Books for Less, this is too dark for me and I am never going to read it.

One of the more interesting chapters is called Professionals which was about other writers. It turns out that during Anthony's heyday at Del Rey the big three of the industry where Heinlein (the top writer), Asimov and Arthur C. Clark.

All in all this was an informative read and a rare opportunity to go behind the scenes of the genre.

Posted: August 6, 2007