115) Men, Women & Dogs by James Thurber, finished November 21
I probably could not overstate the influence Thurber's had on my own work. In large part because I likely do not know the full influence he's had on me. The shock I had a few years back! opening my own chemistry folder from high school and finding me practicing Thurber's occasional Th signature on his cartoons! I mean---my thet of theudonyms doesn't date back to high school. And yet. On some subconscious level. It appears they do.two days
This is a collection of cartoons.
This is the stuff little therics are made of.
114) Bunnicula Meets Edgar Allen Crow by James How, finished November 21
The first four Bunnicula books are seminal bits of lit from my childhood. I am, however, now an adult, and so it is difficult to compare this volume to those---I'm far from the same person reading them. Certainly there were funny bits, but I have a hard time imagining hilarity ensuing were we to all read this together, as my mother read Bunnicula to us one road trip long ago. I believe I spent my own money buying books 2 and 3 and 4.two days
It's weird to me, the adult reader, that Harold is getting old and arthritic while Howie is still a puppy (for instance). But I also admire how kids lit can be both grounded in its own reality while loose with the concept of reality generally. Even adult fantasy doesn't quite have that freedom. Being a kid is rather postmodern---but kids have always been this way (cf the first book I started November 20). Adults can't own it the same way.
Anyway, new characters are introduced and things get nutty and never scary, but I enjoyed spending time with the crew. Probably would have enjoyed more a return to one of my old faves, though, Howliday Inn and The Celery Stalks at Midnight.
113) Oh The Moon by Charlyne Yi, finished November 15
I've had this book for months and its back copy intrigued me, but it was thick and it seemed like to much to begin. Little did I realize it's mostly sketches and whitespace.one eventide
Geez. Open a book, why dontcha.
Early on, I'm amazed at what a good agent can get published. Frankly, much of what's in this volume is the sort of absurdist silliness that passes for Big Ideaing that high-school students get into. I certainly did. And a lot of what I came up with then, I wouldn't be ashamed to let anyone read. I might, however, be ashamed to make anyone pay for it.
Really: much of this is extremely high-school in nature. Including the pages whose purpose is, in part, look! I can draw trees real good!
The other reference point for me is those text/linedrawing books from the 70s about love and stuff. You know, from Love Is... to Shel Silverstein's more adult works to a million points both beyond and inbetween. That stuff.
Another: It seems to me that part of the reason this may have been published is to bring the success of Wimpy Kid (and its million imitators) to the adult market.
Anyway. Enough with the speculation and the complaints (which is, let's be frank, hypocritical of me---have you seen my YouTube channel?---and I am fond of her aggressive style of antihumor). Although the book begins in absurdity and meanders through halfbaked surrealism, etc etc, Yi isn't just trading her B-grade celebrity for a brief shining moment on Barnes & Nobel's $3.99 table. In fact, she is attempting something rather ambitious, with interweaving and symbols and crap like that. That, in my opinion, it mostly doesn't come off matters less to me than that it was attempted and that it's interesting and it is, remember, ambitious. And the almost-last story "Strange Love" is actually very good. I hope BAC gives it a shot for their next goround.
Beauty by Hubert and Kerascoët, finished November 14
This is probably the best modern fairy tale I've read since The Bloody Chamber.two days
The tale starts with young Coddie, a genuinely ugly girl who words as (and smells like) a professional fishscale-scraper. Treated cruelly by all those around her, when she does an accidental kindness to a fairy and is offered a gift in return, she wishes to be beautiful. And her wish is granted. Her actual person has not changed, but she appears as the perfect woman to all who see her. Almost immediately this seems to be a curse as her godfather attempts to rape her, followed by the men of the village attacking her and requiring her to flee her home.
She is renamed Beauty and Beauty's beauty swings wildly between blessing and curse. She begins to use it to abuse and corrupt and manipulate. She is torn many directions. By virtue of being Beauty, she is inoculated from her own ignorance and others' poverty. Destruction follows in her wake. It seems certain we are reading a tragedy.
And then---somehow---Beauty finds salvation.
It is a remarkable story. And the art is stunning. The swinging back and forth between seeing Coddie as she is and Beauty as others see her keeps us both complicit in others' evil and aware of their errors as they themselves often cannot be.
111) "E" Is for Evidence by Sue Grafton, finished November 13
This one had the most thrills-per-pound yet. And while there's always the question in a detective series whether book or tv if one detective can really see this much action, who cares? Kinsey is nice to hang out with and I like to see her win. Even if she has to weather a couple explosions in the process.perhaps two weeks
Previously in 2015 . . . . :