The experience of guest blogging for Laurie Edison and Debbie Notkin at
Body Impolitic the past month has encouraged me to try again to put in some codes, and even join the searchers at technorati.com. Your patience is appreciated in the face of any disappearing links and bizarre formatting mishaps that may ensue!
May 18 to May 23, 1976 I read:
Hauntings; Is Anybody There, Norah Lofts
British, schlocky Edna Ferber was my verdict back then.
I should say that for me an "Edna Ferber" type book (Show Boat and Giant are the bert known) is one that starts with young romance, proceeds through disillusioned marriage that inevitably lands the heroine into full catastrophe style marriage (nod to Zorba the Greek for that phrase) and/or widowhood. The conclusion shows a stalwart matriarch finding pleasure in having endured to see her grandchildren. I must have read six or seven Ferbers in adolescence and they all move right along plotwise, but the way people's lives developed in the books frustrated me every time. At that age (and even now) I don't think about life that way. Ferber herself had an
interesting life. She won the Pulitzer Prize in 1924 for So Big, a novel I particularly disliked for all the reasons mentioned above--but I read it! You have to specifically query to get a bio that mentions her marital status--I guess that's politically incorrect to mention but I was curious. I searched around some, until I found a...well, I'll be polite and call him a jerk--oh, wait, the byline is "Luke Warm" so possibly it's a typo for "Luke Worm," although the copyright is to John Troesser, "http://www.texasescapes.com/They-Shoe-Horses-Dont-They/Is-There-an-Edn
a-Ferber-in-Your-Mailbox.htm/">urging people to protest Ferber being on the 83-cent stamp because, essentially, "she's ugly."
Troesser/Warm/Worm does inform us that, in fact, Ferber never married, due to the aforementioned ugliness. He doesn't want her on a postage stamp for the same reason. It never seems to occur to him that the overachievers on postage stamps are not chosen for their looks. He isn't protesting Ben Franklin's getting on a stamp. Um, yeah, and it's the women who don't meet his standards whom he wants out of public view. With her never-married status proving her unworthy of public honor, Ferber appeared to present a hilarious target. Nothing like peeing on an old dead author's grave to start the day right. Excuse me, where's your Pulitzer Prize, Mr.Troesser/Warm/Worm?
Anyway, this non-gentleman provides a demonstration of the sort of dude Ferber's heroines were always marrying in haste and repenting for the rest of their lives. Much as Ferber's attitudes bothered me when I read her books, hearing her castigated as unworthy of being on a postage stamp simply because she didn't make some guy's worm warm, gives me the urge to yell, as many an old granny has--"Where's my shovel, Doris? I wanna kill another snake."
Nora Lofts (remember her? Back before I digressed?) may have a similar view of life to Ferber, and I might have responded to that in 1976. I may look up Lofts again because of her interest in haunted houses
Online I found an interesting web site about a
Lofts may have written about (or not).
Hell House, Richard Mattheson
I copied the blurb on the cover of this book because I thought it was unintentionally funny:
This book should come complete with three medals. The largest of these would read 'I have read Hell House,' the second one, smaller but still impressive, 'I have read half of Hell House.' Finally, the last of all, 'I read past page 60 of Hell House.' Even the wearer of this one deserves recognition for his bravery. The Charleston Gazette.
I still think it's amusing that you should get a big medal for finishing the whole book. That just doesn't sound good. Some books, a reasonable cash payment would be nice. My memory of Hell House was that it was over the top and not so much fun.
People Reading, Bier and Valens
1976 note: Did not finish but would like to--2006 note: that's highly
Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice
I re-read this a few months back and it's still compelling.
Smart Aleck - The Wit, World and Life of Alexander Woollcott, Howard Teichmann
This was fun, funny and fascinating
George S. Kaufman, an Intimate Portrait, Howard Teichmann
Even more fun than the book on Woollcott. I had read Moss Hart's Act One years earlier, and this was an interesting description of his collaboration with Kaufman with the focus on Kaufman.
Coincidentally, or not, Edna Ferber (see above)was also a member of the Algonquin Roundtable, featured in both the Woollcott and Kaufman bios, a gathering that has quipped its way into American legend.
May 18 to 23, 2006, I read:
Howl's Moving Castle, Diana Wynne Jones
This is a charming, fast-moving fantasy story that a sheltered 10-year-old could read without encountering anything to make her parents worry.
I enjoyed it for the parts a younger person would be unlikely to notice. The heroine tangles with a witch who turns her into an elderly crone, so she goes out to seek her fortune in the world. She finds herself newly assertive, because when everyone perceives her as an old person, she has nothing to lose.