... a charming and entertaining book
SOURCE5: Australian Society of Indexers Newsletter Vol. 26 No. 6, July 2002 by Trevor Matthews -- IASC/SCAD Bulletin (Canadian Society of Indexers) 19, Summer 2002 by Heather Ebbs
... a delightful anthology ... She makes her subject both serious and funny.
-- National Post, Canada March 19 by Robert Fulford
... reflects the editor's wit and dedication to detail. ... amusing and informative -- The Indexer Vol. 23 No. 1, April 2002 by Valerie Elliston
... a seriously entertaining book -- The Author Spring 2002 The Author Spring 2002
... a wonderful pot-pourri that indexers (and all bibliophiles) will enjoy for its wry humour and its erudition.
The index, taken for granted, perhaps considered boring - or not considered at all - is an essential part of a book, and some would say the most essential part. This study takes a wry look at the history, uses and implications of a previously little-considered element of the book and offers an anthology of amusing index extracts. This anthology, compiled by a professional indexer, not only examines the history of the development of the index, but also brings to light the debate and comment that the index has invited over the years, both in fact and fiction. The author examines examples of indexes from earlier centuries: some endearingly quaint; some deliberately humorous; some plain awful; and some of which are astonishing in the vehemence of the views they present. Bell also examines the depiction of indexers in fiction - and the picture she finds is not encouraging to the professional indexer: variously portrayed as diffident; domestic drudges; incompetent; fallen pedants - such as the drunken father of the classic butler in Parkinson's "Jeeves" and even frankly insane - Nabokov's megalomaniac Charles Kinbote.
In crime novels, the index becomes a tool for the crime-solver - and for the blackmailer selecting his victim.