Hannibal and Me and me

17 Jan

[MR. CROTCHETY, our guest expert on the power of books, reviews Hannibal and Me by Andreas Kluth.  No sweat.  Pure sprezzatura.]

We are reminded, in a recent book published by Riverhead, of a (disputed) quote by Eleanor Roosevelt:

“Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people. The smallest minds discuss themselves.”

I became familiar with Hannibal and Me after sending a pithy letter to The Economist. My letter didn’t get printed, which is odd because it was brilliant. But Mr. Andreas Kluth, writer for The Economist, sent me an e-mail. Desperate for followers, Mr. Kluth pointed me to his Hannibal Blog. (This was Mr. Crotchety’s coming out almost four years ago.)

Loyal followers of the Hannibal Blog have waited a long time for Hannibal and Me. Recently, we have suffered the rave reviews of complete strangers. Those professionals will never love it or hate it the way We do.

Fair to my calling, I offer something shallow and negative.

I would like to see more maps in the next edition.

I dog-eared two places:

  • One place was at the description of Jung’s symptoms of midlife crisis. What do I know about Jung? (you laugh) But I suddenly see a dear friend as a midlife train wreck. (It’s not Mr. Crotchety. Really.)
  • The other place is the metaphorical center of gravity. I’ll be ruminating on that. You should too. There’s a whole other book. Right there.

The description of Wang Guangmei was just plain tragic. Don’t be Chinese circa 1966.

If I had not been anticipating this book, I might have put it down without finishing. Amy Tan is a badass, but introducing her at the early stages made me impatient. The first appearance of a list nearly scared me off. But, I gathered my wits, massaged myself with oil, and soldiered on. (You’ll understand after you read the book.)

I prefer a tedious read. H&M is breezy. I’m the sort who could sit in a meat locker and read The Pickwick Papers. I can spend days mining for something interesting. H&M has a nugget on every page. A lesser man could read H&M at the beach and return to the boardroom as an agile negotiator and a scholar of Roman history. No book club required. No embarrassing self-help books hiding on the Kindle.

It seems a shame to eat in minutes a feast that took days to prepare, just as it took only a few sittings to read a book that took years to publish. The good news is that Hannibal and Me offers a lifetime of sustenance.

By the way, I wrote this using only my left pinky.

17 Responses to “Hannibal and Me and me”

  1. jenny January 17, 2012 at 9:59 pm #

    I wanted to copy Mr. C and change my profile picture, but my son ran off with my copy of H&M.

    No kidding.


  2. dafna January 17, 2012 at 10:18 pm #

    Wilson W. Wilson from “Tool Time” only more edgy ;0

    • jenny January 18, 2012 at 8:34 am #

      Where’s your review, dafna?

      • dafna January 18, 2012 at 2:41 pm #

        i don’t have a copy of the book yet, jenny.

        would you like a review without one? some of the themes seem to overlap a “self-help” book that i am reading called “being happy”.

  3. jenny January 18, 2012 at 8:32 am #

    Already, I am reaping the benefits of this post. The triple threat of Hannibal, Andreas Kluth and Mr. Crotchety brings in referrals from places with names like My Business Model Blogspot.


  4. Andreas Kluth January 18, 2012 at 9:22 am #

    My god, I have hit the big time indeed. I am being reviewed by the new dynamic duo of Sprezzatura and Crotchety.

    Let me say no more here, so others can weigh in. But I may have to doff my hat to this post on my own blog. To accelerate this, I may use both of my pinkies to type.

    • dafna January 18, 2012 at 2:44 pm #

      o.k. what did i miss? (my normal state of half clueless)

      this review is by Mr. C. – did jenny review your book also?

      • jenny January 18, 2012 at 3:33 pm #

        Dafna, screw writing; I’m going entrepreneurial: My happy contribution was providing the forum. 🙂

      • dafna January 18, 2012 at 8:16 pm #

        in that case, the check is in the mail honey 🙂

      • jenny January 20, 2012 at 5:05 am #

        No, dafna. I send you the check. You’ve misunderstood my whole business model.

        It’s just like that joke about Rabinovich and Shapiro. Rabinovich brags to Shaprio about his new business:

        — I buy widgets for $2 and sell them for $1.
        — What? How can you make a profit like that?
        — Volume!!

  5. Andreas Kluth January 18, 2012 at 9:23 am #

    Oh, and may I have permission to use the photo above as a link image?

    • Mr. Crotchety January 18, 2012 at 12:01 pm #

      OK by me. Posters are available.

  6. Andreas Kluth January 19, 2012 at 6:50 pm #

    Kidding aside, I’m of course intrigued by your (Mr C’s) dog ears. I want each reader to have his own dog ears, and I’m fascinated by the various choices.

    In your case, “center of gravity” and “midlife” were in my mind “minor” points supporting “major” points. And this may be the way this goes: Readers seem to react strongly to one detail, not necessarily my main pitch. And that’s great!!!

    BTW, will Sprezzatura, who seems to have been flexing her muscles for a more vigorous spanking of me, remain so discreet about all this?

    • jenny January 20, 2012 at 5:18 am #

      Sprezzatura was preparing to speak up about “all this” in our own H&M review when a guest editor suggested a guest post by Mr. Crotchety.

      A much classier idea, so we went with it. Props, as the kids say, to both guests.

      But, now, I can either put my thoughts in the comment section (and, as it is, I over-indulge in blog commentary to the point of slurring my words) or come up with some clever new twist to compete with Crotchety. And how am I supposed to do that?

      Now, today, my entire staff (every one of them moonlights in the legal field) travels to some far-flung corner of Illinois to peddle civil rights. I tell them that we cannot run a proper blog this way, postponing our posts and responding to comments at 5 AM when our judgment is impaired.

      But here we are at 5 AM. WIth impaired judgment.

      You’ll hear from me, A.K. As soon as I figure out the how.

      • Andreas Kluth January 20, 2012 at 9:35 am #

        I’m all for peddling civil rights in far-flung corners of Illinois. Heck, I would join in or apply. Keep peddling.


  1. Hannibal and Me … and Mr Crotchety | Hannibal and Me - January 18, 2012

    […] of which is a long-winded way of saying that this same Mr Crotchety has now, via Sprezzatura, written his own and inimitable review of Hannibal and Me. Follow the link, and may the kvetching […]

  2. Hannibal and Me? « sweat and sprezzatura - February 14, 2012

    […] next part  got Mr. Crotchety’s attention.   Mine, too.  (I should be any less discerning than Mr. C?) Sosylus suggests that in order […]

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