The number of novels published every year is so great that Dr. Boli cannot read most of them. Indeed, he often excuses himself from reading twenty-first-century fiction by saying that he has not caught up with the nineteenth century yet, which is strictly true.
Nevertheless, he will occasionally read a current novel. How, you may ask, does he decide whether a current novel is worth his time?
It may surprise you to hear that Dr. Boli can tell by the first three words of the book whether he will enjoy the rest of the novel. It is a very simple test: Are the first three words a character’s first and last name followed by a verb? If so, Dr. Boli will set the book aside unread.
Doubtless you will leap up to tell him how many great and inspiring works of fiction he has missed by applying this completely arbitrary standard. Probably you, the reader from whose ears cartoon jets of steam are erupting right now, have written a novel, perfect in every detail, whose first three words are “Zachary Mulligan turned,” and they are the only three words with which the story could possibly begin.
Dr. Boli will not contradict anyone who tells him that he has missed a number of very good books by applying his first-three-words test. He will only say that he has been spared an enormous number of very, very bad ones. When time for reading is limited, one must find a way of apportioning it, and Dr. Boli has found one that works well for him.