Friday, November 9, 2007

What?s in a quote?

Express Staff Writer

?Not Barlett?s? by Elise Lufkin. Helen Marx Books. $16.95. 147 pps.

The easiest way to write a story about Elise Lufkin's new book is simply to quote it. Considering the book is entitled "Not Bartlett's" and is full of quotes, this quite obviously is too easy, even for me. The title refers to "Bartlett's Familiar Quotations," published in 1855.

Inside the small, elegant book, Mark Twain is quoted: "The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug."

And therein lies a clue into the struggles of all writers, the pitch of Lufkin's book and the brilliance of Mark Twain. Each quote is perfectly balanced within the separate chapters.

Subtitled "Thoughts on the Pleasures of Life: People, Gardens, Dogs and more," it covers a myriad of authors from Robert Frost, Ernest Hemingway, Oscar Wilde and William Faulkner, to Beryl Markham, Diane Arbus, Joan Didion and even the late New York philanthropist Brooke Astor ("Don't die guessing").

Unlike what is seen in many compendiums of themed quotes, this is a very literate group of writers that Lufkin quotes.

"These literally came out of the bed side drawer, the desk drawer, and finally a manila envelope," Lufkin said. "I used to underline in books but unless I reread the book I never saw them again. That was when I started writing them down. Then I finally decided to put them together."

One of the quotes she particularly loves is from Logan Pearsall Smith: "People say that life's the thing, but I prefer reading."

"I've always felt a little that way," she said. "I found a new one that's not in the book by Aldous Huxley, 'The proper study of man kind is books.' I can't stop. I still find myself writing quotes down. It's an ongoing process. It really could lead to a sequel."

The bookseller Barnes & Noble is interested in it, and plans to market it over the holidays as a gift book, Lufkin said. "That's super exciting. I'm so thrilled."

The artwork on the cover of the book and within was done by Hailey-based artist Jenifer Galpin- Mikish, who is married to Nate Galpin, Lufkin's stepson-in-law.

"It's all in the family," she said. "I think her work is beautiful and they did a great job of reproducing it."

Lufkin, who is also the author of "Found Dogs: Tales of Strays who Landed on Their Feet" and "Second Chances: More Tales of Found Dogs," hasn't entirely left behind her love of pooches.

"I get to meet the most wonderful crazy people," she said. "I'm working on another, which is due in about 18 months. This is about found dogs who go on to be service and therapy dogs."

From the Dog section of "Not Barlett's," Dave Barry's quote is a standout: "Dogs feel very strongly that they should always go with you in the car, in case the need should arise for them to bark violently at nothing right in your ear."

Book signings are scheduled in Ketchum in December, beginning on Dec. 2 at Chapter One Bookstore, Iconoclast Books on Dec. 20,, and Chapter One on Dec. 27.

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