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  The Ishmael Community: Questions and Answers

The Question (ID Number 554)...

    The biggest problem I have in introducing my friends to Ishmael is explaining it. They want to know what it's "about." How do I explain?

    ...and the response:

    In the ten years that have passed since its publication, no one (including me) has come up with a satisfactory way of explaining what Ishmael is "about." Franz Kafka once wrote to a friend that the only books worth reading are those that "wake us up with a blow on the head" and send us reeling out into the street, not knowing who or what we are. According to thousands of readers I've heard from, this is exactly what Ishmael does for them. What makes Ishmael important is not what it's "about" but rather what it DOES to you--and this is what you need to share with your friends. If it's taken you to a new place in your life (as many people say it has), then tell them that if they want to keep up with you, they're just going to have read it. Whatever it's done to you or for you, that's what will impress your friends, and that's what you need to convey to them.


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