While reading Jack's Notebook by Gregg Fraley, I found myself wondering over and over, "Where are all the competent editors these days?" This is a book published by a leading Christian house, Thomas Nelson (a house that I, myself, have written books for), yet it is riddled with grammatical errors, stylistic flaws, and some very awkward writing overall. Even worse, we have main characters who drink alcohol, spend the night together before marriage, hold down jobs in bars, and even use very questionable language. The book carries no overt or even subtle biblical lessons or strong references to Scripture. One has to wonder what in the world Thomas Nelson is doing publishing a book like this.
Pages 214 - 237 provide a marvelous "cut to the chase" synopsis of what is dragged out during the previous 213 pages. Basically, we are presented with the creative thinking and problem solving processes taught by Gregg Fraley in his national workshops. And they are quite good. They involve brainstorming, generating many leads and options, filtering through potential opportunities in a systematic manner, and then focusing on a workable goal while remaining flexible and open to developing new opportunities. In short, these closing pages make up what could have been an excellent magazine article in a business publication. The rest of the book is a half-baked story about a guy named Jack, who quit college and now is trying to make a career for himself as a big time photographer, while also wooing the attractive Molly. They act out what author Fraley hopes all of his readers will do in learning to master his problem solving systems. But it's dull...very, very dull.
The book has incredible coincidences, such as Jack getting a ride during a rain storm from a guy named Manny, who happens to be the world's greatest problem solver. Then, even cornier, Jack makes one of his first goals to find a new girlfriend, and, lo and behold, he walks into a coffee shop the next day and meets Molly (pretty, single, yadda, yadda). Jack needs to learn how to use the Internet, and Molly just happens to know all about that. (What luck, eh?) Jack needs to get his first big break as a photographer and, wouldn't you know it, Manny needs to hire a photographer. (My, my Jack, can life get any more convenient for you?)
And the writing itself, as I said, is incredibly flawed. We have dialogue with semi-colons in it. That is wrong. Since people speak in sentence fragments, writers are allowed to use sentence fragments in dialogue. Also, we have attributions after passages of dialogue, such as "he smiled" or "he nodded." No, people cannot smile or nod words, they can only SAY words and then smile or nod. The list of writing offenses is endless, so I'll stop. Again, one wonders where the talented manuscript editors that used to be at Thomas Nelson (Larry Weeden, Janet Hoover Thoma) have gone. It's a sad loss.
Business executives and motivation speakers are not novelists. If they are dead set on creating a book that involves their "messages," they need to find a co-author who can tell a story. Jack's Notebook does not. – Dennis E. Hensley, Ph.D., Christian Book Previews.com
Problems! Jack Huber has his share. But when he is introduced to the creative problem solving process from an unexpected source, life soon changes . . . drastically.
Jack Huber dreams of being a professional photographer and starting his own business. He has a few ideas but doesn't know how to process them to make his dream a reality. That is until an unlikely mentor stumbles upon Jack's path and shares a whole new way of thinking through problems.
In Jack's Notebook, Gregg Fraley, an innovation consultant to Fortune 500 companies, illustrates a well-kept secret of corporate America: the Creative Problem Solving process.