Don’t you just hate reviews and essays that start “Webster’s Third International defines…”? The writer somehow needs to reinforce what s/he is saying through the authority of a dictionary. The writer then applies his/her own definition to the words that comprise the original definition, and uses a narrow interpretation of said definition to fit his/her point. If a speaker bombastically delivered the previous three sentences, it would be a rant.
Thinking I misinterpreted what “rant” means, I looked it up and, thanks to the Internet and specifically Google, it’s easy to find definitions in many sources at the same time (just Google “define” + a word). What caused me to question my understanding of this particular word is a book, But Then Again I Could Be Wrong: The Book of Rants. Within its pages, author Jim Rising offers observations on a multitude of subjects, and many of these observations will make the reader smile. None of them qualify as rants in the style of ranter king Andy Rooney, or pretender-to-the-throne Dennis Miller. Ranting is defined as speaking or writing — declaiming — aggressively, bombastically, violently, angrily, vehemently…need I continue? George Carlin was a good ranter. Many comedians attempt to be.
Jim Rising is a writer for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, PA Weekender and the clever host of an appealingly named radio program, “Rising at Ten.” Rising explains that his “rants” were originally broadcast on WDMT 102.3 and he chose “rants” for alliterative purposes — “Rising Rants.” Each of Rising’s rants ends with his signature line “Or then again I could be wrong.” This device may work well on daily radio broadcasts, but if you read more than one rant a day, it will start to get on your nerves, detracting from what you have read. His editor might have done well to advise him to include the line in the title (as he has) and the first and last chapters.
One of Rising’s rants is a lovely piece about wildlife in the snow, late at night. He writes about his lawn mower, the alarming crime rate in his community, whiskey for breakfast, flea market finds, Alzheimer’s disease, money, air travel, and a host of other topics that dance through his fertile imagination. He observes and relates, seeing things that most see and experience, then gently (at least, in print) tells us about them. When he writes “I am in cell hell,” we also relate…to him.
Throughout his 225 pages, Rising is funny, self-deprecating, astute, and even wise. He is never offensive, mean, or crude. When we look at the world through his eyes, we sometimes see things exactly as we always have, and at other times we apply a refreshing, new interpretation.
Perhaps But Then Again I Could Be Wrong: The Book of Rants should be read like a book of meditations, one or two chapters at a time to start the day. The reader will have something to consider as well as a pleasant thought or two, and may put personal rants on hold. One warning, however: you will disagree with the author. In so many of his observations, there is no way in the world that he could he be wrong.
Bottom Line: Would I buy this book? Yes, I found it thought-provoking, as well as entertaining.