Don't Live For Your Obituary
by John Scalzi
Cover Artist: Nate Taylor
Review by Jon Guenther
Subterranean Hardcover / eBook ISBN/ITEM#: 9781596068582
Date: 31 December 2017 List Price $40.00 / $4.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
It's likely there are few fans of science fiction who haven't read a book by John Scalzi, or at minimum don't know the name. His runaway hit, Old Man's War was the first book by him I read. As a published writer and reader I had strong hopes for the content of this book, and as usual Mr. Scalzi didn't disappoint.
Don't Live for Your Obituary is a historical look at the past decade of Mr. Scalzi's work and life as a best-selling science fiction writer. It's an unflinching look, in a lot of ways, and that's why this book worked for me. Whether discussing the business side of writing, the pains and pleasures of book touring, or writing through tough circumstances, Mr. Scalzi provides readers with a good understanding of exactly what it's like to not just be a science fiction writer, but the daily life of a writer that goes well beyond the presumed "glamour and glitz" most uninitiated folks ascribe to the field.
Fortunately, the book has at least some organization to it. Maybe not as much as I would have preferred, but it's likely a terrible task for any writer to comb through a decade of commentaries, opinions, advice, and personal editorial and somehow culminate that volume into a well-organized piece of non-fiction. Sometimes as I read I noticed topics seemed to overlap into various areas, although Mr. Scalzi at least in his foreword had the integrity to warn readers up front this would be the case. But the book is no less pleasurable to read on that count. I think he did a good job of capturing the cream of the crop.
Anyone who is a writer, is thinking about being a writer, or is merely interested in what it means to be a writer is going to enjoy it. Some of the content surprised even me, and in other cases merely affirmed or dispelled what I already thought I knew. And while I didn't agree with every opinion, I commend the author for having the guts to write what's on his mind and heart and even expose some of the personal pitfalls of the business.
In the end, Don't Live for Your Obituary by John Scalzi is a poignant and humorous memoir of one of America's best, modern-day science fiction authors. For anyone who is into this kind of book, I couldn't recommend it more.