From Publishers Weekly
Wells, a senior editor at the Wall Street Journal, has put together a terrific collection of the most memorable stories from the off-beat front-page column that covers singular topics like toad-licking and the Miss Agriculture pageant, and leads with irresistible opening lines like "First, pretend that you are a sheep." Wells, who is also a novelist (Meely LaBauve), includes stories of unconventional inventions such as braces for sheep teeth, a low-flatulence bean and underwear for the incarcerated. There are profiles of the unglamorous and overlooked, such as a professional fish-sniffer and the world's most prolific, and unknown, novelist. Readers receive an education in Greek banana policy, the national sewer-fat crisis and what it's like to be a Serbian sniper. Stories also involve reporters trying on new careers, from belly-dancing to auto-show modeling. Although there is a heavy emphasis on humor here, readers can still expect to find a smattering of serious subjects, like rescuing otters after the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989 or the fate of the mail destined for the World Trade Center after 9/11. For regular WSJ readers, who have loved the middle column, this collection, with pieces largely from the 1970s forward (the column dates back 50 years), is a must. Those who think WSJ stories are only for the business-minded are in for an unexpected treat.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
One of the best-read features of the Wall Street Journal
is its "middle column," described by Wells as "an aperitif or fine dessert," meant to sweeten and please the palate of readers used to more serious fare. The column, written by any reporter with a good idea, is a quirky mix of topics and writing styles. The 67 articles selected for this collection are arranged according to general topics. Among those descriptive of American life is an article on how the rising use of cellular phones is changing the cultural and social landscape and an account of how stricter copyrights on popular music are changing what Girl Scouts sing around the campfire. The chapter "Style" covers the sexy image enjoyed by uniform-clad UPS drivers and the incredible styling competitions among black hairdressers. This collection offers humor, insight, and sharp observations as well as a cultural slant on the eccentric and the mundane. Vanessa BushCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved