Book Review: Complete Speaker’s and Toastmaster’s Library

Book Review: Complete Speaker’s and Toastmaster’s Library by Jacob M. Braude

Public speaking is a valuable skill.  You may be called upon to say a few words at a friend’s or relative’s wedding.  You might have to give a presentation at work.  You might even aspire to doing Youtube videos.  But it’s also a skill many of us use infrequently at best.  It can be difficult to even determine how to start, let alone compose the rest of the speech.

Complete Speaker's and Toastmaster's Library

One of the quick methods of starting a speech off right is using a joke, anecdote, quote or proverb to get the audience in the mood for the remainder of your speech.  And it was to help out the speaker who doesn’t have an instant recall of vast pools of quotes and stories that Mr. Braude compiled this library back in 1965.

“The trouble with being punctual is that there’s nobody there to appreciate it.”

It’s a boxed set of eight slim volumes.

  • Proverbs, Epigrams, Aphorisms, Sayings and Bon Mots
  • Speech Openers and Closers
  • Remarks of Famous People
  • Origins and Firsts
  • Rhyme and Verse–To Help Make a Point
  • Definitions and Toasts
  • Business and Professional Pointmakers
  • Human Interest Stories

Within each volume, the items are sorted by category, such as “Ingenuity” or “Happiness.”

The good:  It really is helpful to have at hand a quickly searchable database of bits to shore up your speeches.  The quality is overall high, and quite a few can just be used on their own to wow your friends.

The less good:  Judge Braude first put out a book of quotes and aphorisms in 1955, after a quarter-century on the Illinois State bench.  As a result, his material is now badly dated.  A good quarter of the material involves ethnic- or gender-based humor that is in dubious taste in modern times, or people who were famous in the mid-20th Century but will be unknown to younger audiences.  The aspiring speaker will need to comb through carefully and avoid using the less palatable jests.

Different editions of Mr. Braude’s books were issued until the early 1990s, so the frugal shopper should be able to find one inexpensively, but the 1965 eight-volume edition with slipcase would look exceptionally nice on your bookshelf.  Recommended to Toastmasters and aspiring public speakers.

And now, let’s have an aspirational example of public speaking!

Book Review: Temporary Walls

Book Review: Temporary Walls edited by Greg Ketter and Robert T. Garcia

This short book of fantasy stories was inspired by John Gardner’s On Moral Fiction, in which the author argued that writing fiction is an inherently moral endeavor and that writers, especially those in the fantasy genre, should instruct their readers about “the morality that tends to work for all people throughout the ages.”  Art, for him, built temporary walls against the dissolution of what makes us not corpses.  And so, six short tales that involve ethics and morality.

Temporary Walls

“High Ground” by Kathe Koja and Barry N. Malzberg starts off the volume with a murky tale in which a motley group of stock fantasy characters discuss ethical dilemmas in the forest of inconsequence.  They do not reach a conclusion; the point perhaps being that there is no conclusion to reach.  I will say, however, that the first scenario discussed is one of those forced “no-win” scenarios so beloved of philosophy professors and villains, and loathed by most audiences.

“Dream Harder, Dream True” by Charles de Lint is more optimistic.  A young man finds a woman hiding by the back steps of his apartment building and takes her in, because helping is what you do.  And in return, she teaches him much more about stories and dreams than he ever imagined.

“Dateline: Colonus” by John M. Ford is a retelling of the death of Oedipus in modern dress, from the perspective of a reporter who is traveling with the family.  Can good come from an evil life?

“Woman with Child” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch is about a woman who is cursed (literally) with an unwanted child.  She would do nearly anything to be rid of it, but there are still regrets.

“Choices” by Mary Frances Zambreno features another woman, but she is uncertain if she wants the child she bears.  That is why she has come to a witch for a divination.  One kind of child will bring more vengeance, another temporary peace.  Once she knows, what choice will she make?

“The Stranger” by Patricia A. McKillip is a meeting between two weavers, one of cloth, and the other of skyfire.  If you know that the art you make is harmful, but you have no passion but that art, what are you to do?  Is beauty worth any price?

I like the de Lint and Rusch stories best, I think.

This book was a souvenir of the 1993 World Fantasy Convention held in Minneapolis, Minnesota and not sold in any store.  Thus it may be a little  hard to find a copy.  However, it’s quite possible to track down the individual writers’ stories in anthologies of their own work.

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