Two minutes with Danny Katz: how to avoid reading a rello’s self-published book

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Q: Several retirees in my extended family have produced self-published books chronicling their life story and have gifted copies to me. There’s no way I want to read these texts. What do I do when they ask me what I thought of their masterpieces?
C.G., Deagon, Qld

Illustration by Tara Axford.

Illustration by Tara Axford.Credit:

A: My dad self-published a memoir about his early career as a geologist in Canada and it was a great read, fascinating stuff. But I never finished it because 1: I’m not in it. 2: I’m not really big on rocks (they’re just hard, sharp things that get stuck between my toes when I’m wearing thongs – especially the ultramafic, igneous ones, they’re the worst). And 3: it had sex scenes in it and I don’t want to know about my father’s sex life, even though, according to Dad, geologists know what makes the bedrock.

Instead, I did a quicky-flicky scan through his book and gleaned the important information: rocks are interesting … Canada is full of rocks … Canadians who are into rocks think about sex approximately every 27 pages.

This is what you should do with your relatives’ self-published memoirs: just do a quicky-flicky-scan so next time you bump into them, you can say, “Hey, I loved that bit on page 42 about your long family road trip to Gympie! Oh, and page 79, when you had trouble replacing an old toilet seat that had yellowed due to UV exposure? That really resonated; I almost wept! This book needs to be in bookstores! How do we make that happen?”

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And who knows, maybe while you’re quicky-flicking through, you’ll find bits that truly grab your attention, that make you want to read more, like I did when I stumbled on a section where Dad describes an outcrop of foliated, metamorphic graphite. I tell you, that man really knows his schist.

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