Book Review: Romantic as Hell by Rodney Lacroix

Romantic as HellJust as I was getting my own book ready for release, Rodney Lacroix, who I know because we both collaborated on a funny tweet book a while ago, asked if anybody had a blog and could talk about his book. That’s it over there on the right. I saw this mostly as an opportunity to get to read his book without paying for it, so I jumped at the chance. (See, Rodney didn’t know this, but I actually intended to buy his stupid book, but now I don’t have to, because that dope sent it to me for free.)

I read it in just a few hours. Pretty much plowed through it. I laughed a bunch of times. And one part made me kind of sad. But overall, it’s a hell of a good book. But let’s focus on the thing I didn’t like: the indentation. So here we are, on a blog, and it does that thing where each paragraph starts with no indentation and has a gap of white space above it. That’s cool, but for some reason, print book are never done that way. In print, you are supposed to have no gap, and instead start each line with a half inch of blank space. Because that’s how Gutenberg intended it, or some shit. I don’t know. But that’s what they do.

And Rodney’s book kind of does that, but the indent is tiny. Like, two ems or something (an em is the unit of measure with the stupidest name ever—it is literally the size of the letter “m” in the font you are using; no, wait, I take that back. “en” is the stupidest, because they clearly were just copying the whole “em” thing, so it’s like a bad imitation of a stupid idea). Anyway, the indents are too small.

And every now and then he’ll have a little pull-quote kind of thing where they indent a whole bunch. But they left the text full-justified (which means the letters spread out so they cover the whole line). Except because of the giant indent on the left, the line is really short so the justification causes the kerning (space between letters) to often get r  i  d  c  u  l  o  u  s. Ugh.

Whoever did the text layout for Rodney’s book should be shot.

Also, he does this thing where he uses asterisks around words as stage direction. You’ve seen this in tweets:

*stops car* "Yes, Officer?"

It’s fine in tweets. It has no place in a book. In a book you have italics for that. (Quick aside: Why do we use * for that anyway? *word* is an old plain text usenet trick that meant bold. _word_ was used for underline. And, of course, underline is an old typing trick that you’d use when you didn’t have italics. So technically, shouldn’t we be using _ for stage direction, as in:

_stops car_ "Yes, Officer?"

Clearly we should, although it looks terrible, so yeah, never mind about that.) [That close parenthesis I just used is closing “Quick aside” up above, by the way. It turned out my aside really wasn’t all that quick.]

So, to summarize, this is a great book with annoying typography.

I could talk about the book content I suppose, but this is part of a “blog tour” (that term was probably invented by the same guy who came up with “em”). That means a whole lot of people have already talked about the content, and they probably did it better than I would do anyway. Quick summary: lots of funny stories, silly exposition, and creative romantic craft projects.

You can find it on Amazon at getbook.at/RomanticAsHell. I recommend it. It’s good. Except for the indentation.

Update: For heaven’s sake people. I was kidding! I wrote an actual review of his book. Go read that now.

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