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"Floating off the Page


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About the Author

Michael Lewis, the bestselling author of The Undoing Project, Liar's Poker, Moneyball, The Blind Side, and The Big Short, among other works, lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife and three children.


Adult/High School-The column from which this collection derives debuted in December, 1941, and from its 6-decade history Wells has selected 67 engaging examples of journalistic creativity and caprice. Each entry of approximately 1500 words is signed and dated, and tackles an offbeat topic of the staff writer's choice, designed to leaven the daily news offerings and to entertain by wresting readers' eyes from serious matters. For example, one may read about cutting-edge technology in sheep orthodontics, record-breaking distances in piano flinging by trebuchet, and fantasy styling excesses at hair fashion shows. This is a book to be valued equally for the composition lessons inherent in its polished prose and for its appeal to readers.-Lynn Nutwell, Fairfax City Regional Library, VA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Wells, a senior editor at the Wall Street Journal, has put together a terrific collection of the most memorable stories from the off-beat front-page column that covers singular topics like toad-licking and the Miss Agriculture pageant, and leads with irresistible opening lines like "First, pretend that you are a sheep." Wells, who is also a novelist (Merely LaBauve), includes stories of unconventional inventions such as braces for sheep teeth, a low-flatulence bean and underwear for the incarcerated. There are profiles of the unglamorous and overlooked, such as a professional fish-sniffer and the world's most prolific, and unknown, novelist. Readers receive an education in Greek banana policy, the national sewer-fat crisis and what it's like to be a Serbian sniper. Stories also involve reporters trying on new careers, from belly-dancing to auto-show modeling. Although there is a heavy emphasis on humor here, readers can still expect to find a smattering of serious subjects, like rescuing otters after the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989 or the fate of the mail destined for the World Trade Center after 9/11. For regular WSJ readers, who have loved the middle column, this collection, with pieces largely from the 1970s forward (the column dates back 50 years), is a must. Those who think WSJ stories are only for the business-minded are in for an unexpected treat. (May 16) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

When most people think of the Wall Street Journal, words like quirky and whimsical don't spring readily to mind. That's because most people don't spend enough time reading the "middle column" of the paper, that part of the front page devoted each day to an offbeat feature story. Veteran Journal staffer Wells has collected 67 of those stories, with topics ranging from silly (people who strive to use only one-syllable words) to heart-rending (the fate of oiled otters in Prince William Sound) to enlightening (an afternoon with Serbian snipers) to downright disgusting (coagulated fat in sewers). Wells has arranged the stories in nine broad categories, rather than chronologically; the reader must flip to the end of each piece to see both the date and the author. He also rejected the original headlines in favor of breezy and occasionally anachronistic titles like "Y2K Alert! (But It's 1980)." Not every piece is brilliant, or even captivating, but the collection features enough top-notch writing to make it a worthwhile purchase for journalism collections. Susan M. Colowick, North Olympic Lib. Syst., Port Angeles, WA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Truth may be stranger than fiction, but it's rarely so funny and absorbing as these classic middle columns from The Wall Street Journal. For A-hed addicts everywhere, this is an unalloyed treat.
The Wall Street Journal doesn't usually seem synonymous with humor but this book proves it too has a funny bone.
Terrific...for regular Wall Street Journal readers, this collection is a must. Those who think Wall Street Journal stories are only for the business-minded are in for an unexpected treat.
"Editor and Publisher Magazine" ""The Wall Street Journal" doesn't usually seem synonymous with humor" but this book "proves it too has a funny bone."
Michael Lewis author of "Liar's Poker" and "The New New Thing" For more than five decades, the middle column of "The Wall Street Journal" has been the antidote to boredom...[The writers] find a subject that is merely delightful to write about -- a man who has built a medieval catapult to throw grand pianos across his sheep pasture, for example -- and try to persuade you of its significance. Or not...The quality of the "Journal's" prose is always highest in its middle column because the people making it are having fun.
Andy Borowitz humorist, "New Yorker" and "New York Times" contributor Truth may be stranger than fiction, but it's rarely so funny and absorbing as these classic middle columns from "The Wall Street Journal." For A-hed addicts everywhere, this book is an unalloyed treat.

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