Friday, September 18, 2015

FFB: What the Dog Saw -- Malcolm Gladwell

I doubt that this book is forgotten, but it might be one that not many of you have read.  It's a collection of 19 essays, all of which first appeared in The New Yorker, so you may have read them there.  

The book is divided into three sections:  "Obsessives, Pioneers, and other varieties of Minor Genius," "Theories, Predictions, and Diagnoses," and  "Personality, Character, and Intelligence."  Each one of these has essays that I found fascinating and entertaining.  Gladwell says he wants to "to engage you, to make you think, to give you a glimpse into someone else's head."  For me, he succeeds admirably in those goals.

It's hard for me to pick out a favorite since I had a great time reading all the essays.  The first one in the book is on Ron Popiel, and it was a real treat to read about the gadgets and the selling of them.  There's the best essay I've read on the Exon debacle.  There's a really fine one on profiling serial killers, and there's one on late bloomers that I liked a lot.  And so on.  I liked them all.  

Gladwell writes clear, straightforward prose, and he has a gift for making things easy to understand.  Everything he writes has a human connection, and he has the gift of being able to tell a great story, whether it's about a dog whisperer or plagiarism.  If you're looking for some entertaining nonfiction, I highly recommend What the Dog Saw.

7 comments:

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

Sounds good. I guess for it to be "forgotten" I'd have had to know about it in the first place, which I didn't. But then, even George Kelley doesn't know everything.

I'll check it out.

Jeff

George said...

I read WHAT THE DOG SAW (and all of Malcom Gladwell's books) years ago. As you say, it's excellent. I'm a big fan of essays and these are first-rate.

Richard R. said...

Sounds great. I'm hoping the library has a copy.

Richard R. said...

They did, as audiobook, ebook or print book. I put a hold on the latter. Thanks for the tip, Bill!

Bill Crider said...

Better read it before you thank me!

Don Coffin said...

One of the delights of subscribing to The New Yorker is the opportunity to read work by people like Gladwell (and John McPhee and Atwul Gwande and Oliver Sachs) before then became Famous Authors. I envy someone who's reading these Gladwell pieces for the first time.

Mathew Paust said...

Of late it seems I'm more apt to read a writer's essays as an intro to him or her than to jump right in with one of his or her novels. That's not the way I started with you, tho, as for some reason I simply could not resist jumping onto Up in the Air and devouring it with gusto. But these essays do tempt. Thanks for the recommendation, and, of course, for Dan Rhodes.