Title: Think Before You Ink and Other Cautionary Tales
Author: Alison Bossert
Genre: Essays, Humor, and Satire
This short volume features twenty-one stories and essays, some humorous, some serious, but all lighthearted, pithy, and amusing. They share a common point-of-view—that of a single career woman who has come to value time and relationships more than technology or possessions—but the settings encompass the globe, from Moscow to California, Japan to Long Island, Vietnam to the Bahamas.
The book is laid out fairly well, with the humorous stories being primarily towards the beginning and the advice more towards the end. The entire volume reads a bit like a humorous memoir, where one learns more about the writer as one reads along. Still, it might’ve been nice if there had been a clearer delineation between the stories and the reflections, as the advice at times felt mixed-in with the humor.
The stories all center on the narrator and are told in first person, so readers gain a fairly clear picture of who is speaking to them, long before any advice is given. However, there were moments when the memoir-nature of the story made things hard to follow, as other characters were mentioned without providing a good understanding of who they were, how they were related to the narrator, and why they mattered.
The stories themselves contain rather minimal description, and, given the variety of the settings, one would think there would be plenty to see, smell, and experience. Still, the goal seems to be to tell a humorous story or to dispense advice, so details might’ve gotten in the way and diverted the readers’ focus.
Pictures of some things are included, providing an image of certain items the narrator mentions in lieu of describing them, and the narrator’s tone is pleasant without being particularly gracious. When she feels something is problematic, she doesn’t seem to encourage opposition or even a different point of view, and it did feel at times that she takes her ability to travel and to buy things a bit for granted. Still, there’s something in the volume for everyone thanks to the range of topics and the humor she employs throughout.
Despite the shortness of the stories, this volume isn’t particularly geared towards young adults, though, as the tone is one of experience and is at times mature. Instead, the work speaks of the challenges of life in general, discussing the value of volunteering, how to deal with the matrimonial schemes of friends and relatives, what one learns from being laid off, and even how to face death.
Overall, the tales are encouraging, and the advice well-worded without being pushy. Provided one approaches reading with a solid sense of humor, the various comments about our technology, travel habits, and lives can be appreciated without offense.
Comical, surprising, and a bit unpredictable, Think Before You Ink will definitely give one something to contemplate. While it may not radically change one’s life, it could provide a laugh or two along the way, or even help one enjoy one’s life, job search, or closet a little better.
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