Book Review – Smorgasbord by Francis Joseph LaManna

Smorgasbord by Francis Joseph LaManna

I read this in paperback. This is an unsolicited review.

Smorgasbord is an apt title, I’ll start with that. The book reads like a mishmash collection of writing that somehow makes sense in the end. Author Frank LaManna delves into creative writing (generally dark themes), some random thoughts, philosophy, numerology, synchronicities, and autobiography relating to the current state of the world. From the back: “…edgy and bold, some portions … very opinionated… Take whatever you have in your head about what a traditional book is supposed to be like and forget it.” That is the perfect explanation right there.

My favorite chapter had to be “LaManna” (written in Greek). Here the author, whose enthusiasm shines through easily, delves into numerology regarding generations, years, history, and the like. It was fascinating food for thought. Like the rest of his writing, he never forces his ideas in your face, rather makes interesting notes pointing the the reader in one direction or another and says: now how about that? One can tell he’s a teacher at heart because that is how he writes. Not the teachers of today who tend to preach without room for individual thought, but instead the teacher (of philosophy) from previous days when critical thought was the name. While I didn’t always come to the same conclusions he did, I appreciated the way he meanders through thoughts and ideas, sparking conversation.

What I liked: I love the cover and the length of the book, at just over 130 pages. I also appreciate LaManna’s voice. It’s easy and relatable, not pretentious or overbearing.

What I didn’t: initially the style seemed all over the place and disjointed. That said, by the time I was a quarter of the way through, I recognized it was just his style and I settled in for an entertaining and thought-provoking read. I did not care for the illustrations at the beginning of each chapter. For me, they did not help the book or accentuate it. In my opinion, they lowered the value of the words.

Final thoughts: I have mixed feelings about the book. It’s an easy read, per the author’s voice and style, though some of the topics may be off-putting. I personally am okay with that because I like deep conversations and discussions that might make one uncomfortable, in the way that they may make you question your beliefs or preconceived (ie: preprogrammed) ideas about the world. That said, it narrows the field for those who will appreciate what he’s conveying. It’s a mixed bag but one I happily took a gamble on. I wasn’t disappointed. With 4/5 stars, I recommend the book to those who appreciate philosophical autobiographical topics, and in this case, especially related to living circumstances and the current state of the world.

Read more book reviews by following my Review Category.

be a good writer: read.
~tara caribou

**If this review was helpful or you’ve read it and want to add to the discussion, please let me know in the comments!

I will also, as a side-note, say, it may seem that I am harsh on many writers for their editing, formatting, grammar, punctuation, etc. I do so unapologetically. One, because this is a review, not a popularity contest. Two, because honest criticism should help us grow as artists.

The fact of the matter is, these things MATTER. A mathematician must use his tools and use them correctly to be an effective mathematician. A surgeon cannot simply say, “I know I can’t sew the wound closed but at least I could remove the appendix or whatever it’s called.” Same with writers. We can’t claim to be writers but refuse to use proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation. We can’t claim to be a photographer just because we know how to push the button on the camera (or phone). There’s an art to it.

So while I may appreciate the artist as a person and their words, I believe that it does us all a disservice to say lower quality editing is okay. Believe in yourself! Believe in the power of your words! Put the effort into being the very best you can be. Ask for help. Grow and learn.

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