But I Digress, Peter David

Krause, 1993, 256 pages, US$14.95 tpb, ISBN 0-87341-286-9

Peter David describes himself as a “writer of stuff”.

For instance, you might know him as the writer of some of the best Star Trek novels ever written—from the hilarious Q-in-Law to the maudlin Imzadi. Or you might know him as the writer of a few Babylon-5 episodes (“Soul Mates”, “There the Honor Lies”). You might remember his name on a few novelisations (The Rocketeer, Babylon-5: In the Beginning), or a few movies whose scripts he wrote (TRANCERS IV, OBLIVION). You might know him as the writer of several comics, from X-Men to Spider-man. Or, you might even remember him as the writer of one infuriating column in Comic Buyer’s Guide, “But I Digress”.

But I Digress collect almost three year’s worth of columns from the eponymous series. Covering a wide range of subjects -from the obvious comics, to Star Trek, to movies, conventions and more serious social issues, But I Digress is also a self-revealing portrait by one of the most versatile “writer of stuff” today.

Peter David has the gift of writing in a way that will not leave you indifferent. Most of the time, he will make you laugh. That’s David’s trademark and he doesn’t disappoint here. Don’t miss “An Animated Discussion”, a panel reuniting Disney’s favorite heroines: it’s a hoot, much like David’s recommendations to budding comic writers. (“Don’t bother coming up with a mutant team called ‘X-Crement’. Better men than you have already tried it.”) and anecdotes from the convention circuit. The book is full of zippy one-liners that will make you laugh aloud… Hey, better that than a sharp stick in the eye!

But David is also able to bring the reader to serious reflection of serious issues, bringing the same verve to social commentary than to comic discussions. He is someone who cares about stuff in addition of writing about it. His first L.A. travelogue is especially poignant.

Since these are columns published in a comic magazine for comic readers, it’s a fair bet to state that this will appeal more to faithful comic buyers that the general public. Readers unfamiliar with the wonderful world of comic publishing will feel lost in the first pages. Which isn’t to say that it’s completely inaccessible: This reviewer was eventually able to piece up a coherent picture of the comics industry with minimal outside sources.

It’s a testament to David’s writing skills that this book can be read in a flash. More like an assortment of tasty treats than a full-blown meal (to fall back on culinary metaphors again), But I Digress is great entertainment with an unusually high re-readability factor. A fairly complete index will help casual readers find their bearings.

[Byline: Reviewer Christian Sauvé is a Reader of Stuff.]

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