Monday, September 12, 2011

Book Review: the Broken Teaglass

I have read many books about writing, being an amateur writer myself for most of my life. One of the things the books always recommend is to write about what you know.

Emily Arsenault certainly does that with her 2009 novel The Broken Teaglass. The story is set at a fictional dictionary publisher the Samuelson Company. Emily herself worked as an editorial assistant at Merriam-Webster for four years herself, writing definitions. One of the book’s lead characters Billy Webb was a philosophy major before joining the world of lexicography. Emily herself majored in philosophy as well.

Briefly, the story tells of young Billy who joins the Samuelson Company out of school and strikes up a friendship with co-worker Mona Minot. She has discovered something odd in the office files, a number of word citations that come from a non-existent book “The Broken Teaglass”. To further add to the mystery, the citations seem to be making reference an unsolved crime that may involve one or more of the people who work at the self-same company.

What I found interesting in the book was the actual day to day aspects of working for a dictionary company. Emily takes her former career and applies it well into the literature in a way that is fascinating. I really felt I learned something from this book in that area.

I also liked who the mystery was put together and how the clues were organized. I think that was a brilliant way for the author to go. Very ingenious.

There were a few things I didn‘t like about the book though. I felt it was a little slow in parts. There are also a number of extra characters who are there just to purposely drop key pieces of information into Billy and Mona‘s laps in order to move the story along.

My biggest problem though was the ending. We get this whole mystery build up, but in the end it just goes flat. Instead we’re left with Billy’s personal issues being dealt with, issues that cropped up out of seemingly nowhere in the later half of the book as if the author felt the story needed something more.

The Broken Teaglass is scheduled to be released in paperback and Kindle format on September 13, 2011.

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