A rare interview with Dr. Boli has been published at the Catholic Book Blogger’s site. Interviews with Dr. Boli are rare, not because Dr. Boli is unwilling to speak, but because it is rare for an interviewer to sit still long enough to hear out Dr. Boli’s measured and thoughtful answers to his questions. This interview, however, is exceptionally rare, because it also includes answers from another author, “Christopher Bailey,” who—the time has come to admit it—is a fictional character made up solely for Dr. Boli’s own amusement.
Are you looking for the perfect gift for someone on your Christmas list who knows how to read (or, failing that, at least recognizes pictures)? Here it is. Dr. Boli’s Gift Horse is a 300-page anthology of some of your favorite articles, illustrations, and even advertisements from more than six years of Dr. Boli’s Celebrated Magazine on the Web.
You used to need an old-fashioned Internet-connected electronic device, but now you can read (or look at) these things on paper, the medium of the future.
Perhaps you know a Luddite (from the futuristic planet of Ludd) who refuses to connect to the Internet. Now you can share your love of good literature (and pictures) with the most recalcitrant book-lover. And you can do it for about a twentieth of the cost of buying that person a tablet computer, not to mention the cost to your friendship of forcing him to use the thing.
The book itself is new, but every article (and picture) in it has stood the test of time by existing on line for months or years without being deleted. Some of the jokes in the book may be as old as time itself.
You owe it to your friends and family to improve their intellectual life, to raise their horizons, to help them become the better persons you know they can become. But that takes a lot of effort, so for now, why not just buy them this book?
In our earlier discussion of naming characters, we neglected the important matter of initials. That much can be done in this area is demonstrated by the popular American novelist Emma Dorothy Eliza Neville Southworth, who gave her fictional characters lovely Gothic names like “Wolfgang Wallraven” and “Regina Fairfield,” but whose parents had obviously mastered the art of suggestive initials.
Mr. Clay Potts writes:
It seems perhaps that among the greatest challenges in writing (fiction, anyway) is the proper naming of characters – I prefer names that are unique, humorous, but believable – I think Dickens was particularly adept at naming his characters – is there a secret to naming characters without assigning them all tired old monikers such as “Smith, Jones and Wilson”?
The question provoked an answer well worth reading from “Martin the Mess,” who considers all the practical difficulties the novelist faces in the simple act of naming a character.
We should acknowledge at the beginning that the problem of naming characters is not limited to the realm of fiction. Parents, when they give their child a name, are naming a character who will be the hero of his own history, and the name is of more importance than most parents understand. (On this subject Mr. Walter Shandy is the acknowledged authority.) Would Algernon Swinburne have been the blockbuster poet he was if his name had been Vlad “the Impaler” Jimenez? (You will notice that we follow the advice of Martin the Mess in mixing ethnicities.) Would Ethan Allen have been the hero of Ticonderoga if his name had been something prissy and pedantic, like “Benedict Arnold”?
Dickens was indeed the great master of suggestive names. One feels as if one knows the man already when one hears the name “Pecksniff.” Among novelists of our era, J. K. Rowling seems to have absorbed the principles of Dickensian naming more thoroughly than any other living writer. On the other hand, Anthony Trollope occasionally tried his hand at such indicative names and botched the job thoroughly. When we meet a Duke of Omnium or a lawyer named Slow, it takes all Trollope’s prodigious skill in characterization to make us forget the awkwardly one-dimensional name.
The example of Trollope suggests that, perhaps, the tired old monikers are the best. One of Dr. Boli’s own favorites among Trollope’s novels is The Struggles of Brown, Jones, and Robinson, and never were tired old monikers so deftly used: they put us in the thoroughly middle-class commercial world of the novel even before we open the cover. (Dr. Boli understands that this is perhaps no one else’s favorite Trollope novel, but at his age he feels little need to apologize for his peculiar tastes.) There is also the notable advantage that it would be very difficult for someone named Jones to claim that you meant him in particular when you named one of your main characters.