This is probably the first collection of writing impetuses I've encountered that hasn't bored/irritated me. Quite the contrary, the collective purpose...moreThis is probably the first collection of writing impetuses I've encountered that hasn't bored/irritated me. Quite the contrary, the collective purpose of these prompts seems less about encouraging mass output (though that may prove a happy result) than it is about gently tricking you into adopting potentially unfamiliar narrative styles and POVs that you may never have previously considered or cottoned to. A legitimate and worthwhile tool. (less)
I like this Jeffrey Brown character. One does not come to him for spectacular art (though the crude style never detracts from the material; just the o...moreI like this Jeffrey Brown character. One does not come to him for spectacular art (though the crude style never detracts from the material; just the opposite, in fact), but for the opportunity to see familiar and often overlooked mannerisms and habits depicted within an instantly relatable situation. Here, he proves that his characters needn't be human or at all anthropomorphized to fit seamlessly into his perceptive little universe. Just about every weird thing I've ever seen the various cats in my life do - rubbing their face on everything, loving you one minute and biting you the next, the Flehmen response, the crazy chattering noise whenever they see birds out the window - has a frame or two dedicated to it. I only wish the book were twice as long, but what little there is of it is attractively-designed (love the cover) and thoroughly charming. (less)
The book is impossible to wrap my mind around. Part of me wishes it ended thusly: the tree suggests the boy chop her down to make a boat, he takes her...moreThe book is impossible to wrap my mind around. Part of me wishes it ended thusly: the tree suggests the boy chop her down to make a boat, he takes her advice, and the tree falls on him, killing them both. The moral being a quote I've heard attributed to Bill Cosby: If you spend your whole life trying to make other people happy, YOU'LL never be happy. The boy is punished for all but raping the one who cares more for him than anyone in the world, and the tree pays the ultimate price for a lifetime of allowing herself to be a doormat, or, alternately, finally gets her revenge.
Who knows what Silverstein was trying to get across with this alternately touching and troubling parable? An ex-girlfriend of mine gave this book to me as a present early in the relationship. What was SHE trying to get across? I can't give anything as tangibly mind-boggling as "The Giving Tree" an entirely negative review, and as always the art is cute and affecting. And who can say, maybe the guy just wanted to tell a little story about a nice tree? Foremost among Silverstein's many gifts (apart from the more obvious talents of humor and rhyming) were pathos and irreverence. In the case of "The Giving Tree", for this reader anyway, it's very difficult to determine which of those traits is rearing its head here.
Bottom line: It's not a good present for your significant other. (less)
Throughout the 70's and 80's, David Greenberger worked (and may still) in an assisted living type place, getting to know the elderly patients (whose m...moreThroughout the 70's and 80's, David Greenberger worked (and may still) in an assisted living type place, getting to know the elderly patients (whose mental conditions were in various stages of decay) as well as possible under the circumstances, all the while letting them talk and talk about whatever struck their fancy (though generally starting them off with a broad topic - snakes, for example - and letting them run wherever they liked with it). During these conversations, Greenberger would dictate the patients' responses and reactions, then provide these accounts to cartoonists, a la "American Splendor", who would then interpret them as they saw fit, using a provided photo of the patient. The book is split up into several segments, each starring an elderly man with their idiosyncracies and singular communication style. The majority of the delightfully glib codgers regale Greenberger with supposedly fact-based adventures (some less likely than others), half-remembered bits of trivia, and questionable advice. Typically, the cartoonists either use the freewheeling nature of the transcript to let their pen run wild, inking the men into exaggeratedly humorous illustrations that take their rambling at face value, or they simply draw Greenberger and his chatty friend sitting around the room having their conversation. Both routes have their merits, but I found myself, in most cases, more drawn into the cartoons that simply showed the men talking. Some of the facial reactions in these strips are perfect and hilarious, as Greenberger squints at suspect information, and drops his jaw at an out-of-left-field, casually dropped non-sequiter, while the old men beam with the thrilling momentum of a successful anecdote, or scowl testily during one of the many moments of inevitable miscommunication.
Avoiding any temptation to simply deliver a "boy, aren't old men weird and stupid?" cartoon, the book simply lets these characters have their say, shying away from neither the giddy ridiculousness nor the empty sadness of their stories. My favorite one is probably the last comic, which illustrates a road trip that Greenberger and a very old, particularly crotchety gentleman named Arthur take to attend the funeral of a former fellow patient. When he isn't expressing anger at perceived incompetence or misplacing his hearing aid, Arthur tends to relay less-than-urgent information that he feels absolutely pertinent to the current situation (during the trip, while Greenberger tries to figure out where he took a wrong turn, Arthur declares "Water is my number one best drink!"), and his chapter is the least surreal and probably most relatable. When they finally arrive at the funeral, they find it to be modest and sparsely attended, but they settle into what crowd there is and take in the ceremony. Finally, the pastor asks those in attendence if anyone would like to say a few words in memoriam, and Arthur raises his finger, stands up, and proceeds to announce that the departed didn't like bananas.
Just like talking to your grandparent in the nursing home, it's fascinating, frustrating, and heartbreaking, and you'll be thinking about it for the rest of the day. (less)
This may be my favorite book ever. The Sterns know food so well that I think they might be made out of cheeseburgers and scrambled eggs. There isn't a...moreThis may be my favorite book ever. The Sterns know food so well that I think they might be made out of cheeseburgers and scrambled eggs. There isn't anything I can think of right now that I don't like better than eating in a run-down diner, and this guide celebrates and achingly describes the best in the U.S. I am not lying when I tell you that I look at the book just about every day. Unfortunately, I have been unable to patronize the vast majority of the included eateries, but the Sterns, perhaps aware of the fact that most people don't get out much, recreate each bite of sauce-drenched barbecue and swig of Southern sweet tea with unmatched foodie passion. There are passages in this book that - seriously - can bring me to tears, in particular a paragraph or two describing a now defunct boarding house in Florida, where ravenous strangers once gathered around an enormous lazy Susan, helping themselves to community bowls of insanely delicious fried chicken and talking amongst themselves, even the least personable of the group roused to jovial conversation thanks to the amazing food and neighborly goodwill exemplified by the woman who ran the place. Another review, yet again for a fried chicken establishment, compares the taste of their chicken to a first kiss. "Bon Ton fried chicken, like a first kiss, is a never to be forgotten experience". Good God. Fried chicken as a good as a first kiss...my mind goes white with wonderment. I get choked up just typing that. (I really like fried chicken). It's the best food writing I've ever read, and it makes me want to run outside and eat everything in the world. (less)
This is the best film guide I have ever read. Thorough doesn't even begin to describe it. Weldon takes these movies seriously, and never even really m...moreThis is the best film guide I have ever read. Thorough doesn't even begin to describe it. Weldon takes these movies seriously, and never even really makes much fun of the worst of the lot. Closer in spirit to Halliwell than Joe Bob, which is a rarity when it comes to cult film reviews. If you have even a passing interest in horror, sci-fi, or under-the-radar movies in general, this book is an absolute necessity. I take a look at it almost every day. (less)