Saturday, December 5, 2009

Review: The Great Divide by Daniel Evan Weiss

What was I thinking, keeping a book full of statistics and a 1991 publishing date on my shelf for so long? Better yet, what was I thinking buying a book that is nothing more than a compilation of statistics in the first place? Did I not look at it in the bookstore? I have to believe that I didn't even open it to the first page and glance at the contents because if I had, I certainly never would have bought it. And given my blithe unconcern about the innards of the books on which I spend money (even if this one dates back to my college binge buying years), I'm not certain what that says about my ability as a discerning reader/buyer of books. Actually, I know exactly what it says. I am a profligate spendthrift who should have saved the $8.95 (remember when trade paper books only cost this?) I spent on this book.

Was this interesting when the statistics were current? I have to believe the answer is still no (which also points to my complete inability to tell a good book from a hole in the ground, incidentally). There's no commentary at all about the statistics. It is just line after line of "x% of men do this, y% of women do this." It gets really fascinating when it throws age into the equation: "x% of men ages 16-60 do this, y% of women ages 16-60 do this." So, ummm, yeah. Boring in every way shape or form, especially for the ninny getting her degree in English who apparently thought she was going to get some sociological look behind the numbers (and knowing my long ago college self as I do, I suspect that's exactly what I thought I was getting--because seriously, straight numbers make me run for the hills even when they aren't in a mathematical equation).

On the (slight) plus side, there is unintentional humor here in the complete worthlessness of many of the stats given the advances in technology since 1991. How many men vs. women have used a public telephone in the past 24 hours? Who cares? How many public telephones are still in existence in this age of cell phones might be a more instructive statistic--not that it would point to the difference between the sexes alluded to in the title. And that's the most disappointing thing about this, the lack of meaningful commentary on the differences between the sexes more so even than the outdated and ultimately unimportant statistics.


  1. The only interest of this book is that it is an early effort by a writer who went on to pen four fabulously reviewed novels that are published in scads of languages all over the world. He's been compared to Kafka, Don Marquis and Swift in the NY Times for "The Roaches Have No King" & called "the Evil Knievel of novelists" in Newsday in a review of "The Swine's Wedding." Check out: or

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