Pretty amusing read. Kramer's use of first-person and revolving narrators definitely kept me guessing about what was going on. I don't mena to belittlPretty amusing read. Kramer's use of first-person and revolving narrators definitely kept me guessing about what was going on. I don't mena to belittle Kramer, but the word 'cute' kept popping into my mind as I read this. Of course, the cover art may have something to do with that....more
First, I'm glad I've already read The Innocents Abroad, or else at some point I'd have little to no idea what Twain is talking about when he refers toFirst, I'm glad I've already read The Innocents Abroad, or else at some point I'd have little to no idea what Twain is talking about when he refers to incidents on that trip, which happens occasionally. This seems a slightly more 'serious' book than that, too, which shows me some of the changes (not to mention growth) in Twain himself, which adds interest.
Beyond that, there's no easy way to categorize this book: humorous travelogue, social critique of both Europe and the U.S. (in which neither has everything its own way), journey of self-discovery, collection of folk tales, art critique. Twain ventures into all of these areas, and not in exactly an orderly fashion, either. Like a good journey, sometimes one doesn't really know what's coming around the next corner until it arrives.
One rather specialized section near the end will mostly appeal to those like myself who have, starting with English, attempted to master German. In it, Twain offers to reform the latter. I don't know how funny a native speaker would find some of his suggestions, but to me it was in many ways the funniest part of the book.
If you like Twain, this is a must-read. It's a good book to tackle when you have somewhat limited time, since it's divided into longish, but not unconquerable sections, between which you can let the book lie and, once you've come back to it, not have much of a task, if any, to return to the narrative. Those unfamiliar with Twain's longer stuff really may want to start with The Innocents Abroad and then try this, since, although this book can stand on its own, one gets more from it having read the former. That's just a suggestion, though. ...more
**spoiler alert** I picked this up for my niece, then wound up reading it, having heard my sister talk about it a good bit when we were young. (Always**spoiler alert** I picked this up for my niece, then wound up reading it, having heard my sister talk about it a good bit when we were young. (Always wondered where "I must, I must, I must increase my bust" came from.) While Margaret is interesting, I have to admit the thing I found really interesting is the world around Margaret, and how skilled Blume is in letting that world filter in to us through the narrator without carrying things beyond Margaret's understanding.
Some things I noticed: (note, this is all my personal reactions, but I was surprised a teen-targeted book roused such reactions in me, and so thought they were worth recording)
Nancy Wheeler: an inveterate liar. Margaret better ditch her now, because trouble's following that one. Unless something changes, a lifetime of gossip, failed matchmaking, ruining relationships, and, possibly worse awaits Nancy.
Janey Loomis: some flaws, but honest. A keeper.
Gretchen Potter: either a future scientist or sociologist. That enthusiasm will serve her well either way.
Laura Danker: I may be reading this wrong, but I wonder if she and Margaret aren't destined to become good friends.
Sylvia Simon: Margaret's paternal grandmother is stuck in a hard place. She really wants Margaret to convert to her faith, but, bless her, values Margaret as her grandchild more. Also has the good sense to hook up with a man, since, sadly, Margaret is about to outgrow 'grandmothering.' My favorite character in the book, even thought I can imagine she was a little much too deal with at times for Barbara and Herb—I suspect some of that's Barbara's fault, though.
The Hutchins: Margaret's maternal grandparents seem to be miserable bible-thumpers of the worst sort—that is, they value their idea of God over His (not to mention their own) actual children. The sort who interpret 'Feed my sheep' as a call for a funnel and a headlock. They have managed to put the guilt she-bang big time on their own daughter, Barbara.
Barbara Hutchins Simon is a real piece of work. It's pretty clear to me it's her fear that Sylvia will succeed in making a Jewish girl out of Margaret that's moved the Simons to Jersey, and I simply adore her freakout when Margaret actually starts taking steps to fulfill the promise Barbara and Herb made to their daughter much earlier—that she can choose. It's my guess that Barbara retains a healthy dose good old Catholic or Protestant Guilt (I can't recall which, or does Blume let us know?), and, worse, after being shown the door over a decade ago, she still values her parents' good opinion, if not over her daughter, at least to some extent over her husband. If I ever received any communication from a family member in which my wife was pointedly, ignored simply because of who she is, I would in turn politely but pointedly ignore said family membr and any request they had to make. To do otherwise is to value them over someone I've made vows to (and who, in Herb's case, is certainly honoring those vows on his end). I hope this last incident has cured Barbara, because if not, she and Herb face some rocky times. Some of her last scenes give me some hope for her, though—and I also have to remember she's being described by her pre-teen daughter, so she's going to suffer the most.
Herb Simon: a nice guy. He lets his wife run things a little too much (as opposed to being equal partners—I don't mean Herb needs to be some sort of Promise Keeping shmendrick), but he does try to support her.
Philip Leroy: Future School Hero and, afterward, all-around jerk. Good match for Nancy.
Frank (can't recall the last name): in for a big surprise, possibly in the form of a thrashing, someday.
Moose: is in big trouble. If he wants to evade matrimony, he'd better start running now…
Miles J. Benedict: has a bright future as a teacher. Anyone who can outsmart eleven-year-olds (note: this requires thinking like eleven-year-olds, which is no mean feat for someone over twenty) his first time at bat is destined for teaching greatness.
I read both this and Very Good, Jeeves in the same omnibus collection, and so am combining my reviews of the two, since both are collections of shortI read both this and Very Good, Jeeves in the same omnibus collection, and so am combining my reviews of the two, since both are collections of short stories. Between the two, one gets a rather good cross section of young Bertram and his various relatives and friends, enough, I think, to know whether you’d like more or are relieved to have made this acquaintance and wish to move on.
Of them all, two stand out in these collections: the forever love-struck trencherman Bingo Little, and Bertie’s own dear Aunt Agatha. I’ll admit I got more than my fill of both of them during this visit. Bertie, ass though he may be, is more forgiving than I—had I to hear Bingo claim help from Bertie because ‘we were in school together’ once more, I’d have wished for a time machine by which to correct that unfortunate connection, and Agatha is as insufferable as ever.
On the other hand, both get ‘settled’ in these volumes, so they’re worth reading just for that, especially, if you, like me, are always wishing just such a thing would happen to Agatha. In fact, I’d say The Inimitable Jeeves is a must-read for any of her detractors, and Very Good, Jeeves, for those longing to see Bingo sorted out—at least, one can hope.
As always, Wodehouse’s prose is smooth enough to border on anesthetic, and his use of period slang is frankly delightful. He makes one want to pop off to that era simply to try it on a cove or two, what? ...more
Of course, having just finished Life with Jeeves, I'd recently read most of the stories in this collection. However, there was one I'd never seen befoOf course, having just finished Life with Jeeves, I'd recently read most of the stories in this collection. However, there was one I'd never seen before, that stood out, even if it seems to 'forget' certain facts: "Bertie Changes His Mind." It's a Wooster story told from Jeeves's point of view, something I didn't know existed. For any fan of these tales, it's definitely worth a look, whether in this volume or in Carry On, Jeeves, i which it originally appears. For one thing, it allows me to compare Wodehouse to another writer who, having written quite a few stories about a character from the POV of his companion, once allowed the character to narrate a tale himself. I’m speaking, of course, of Arthur Conan Doyle who, after having had Dr. Watson narrate Sherlock Holmes’ adventures, has Holmes himself tell one, to with, “The Adventure of the Lion’s Mane.” (found in The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes). I must say Jeeves manages rather better than his fellow ‘superman’ and provides an understanding of Bertram Wooster I don’t think I had before. For any Wooster and Jeeves fan, it’s definitely worth a look.
As for the book as a whole, as others, including the author himself, have warned, it’s probably something to visit from time to time rather than devour in one or two sittings unless, of course, like myself, you’re endlessly fascinated by Wodehouse’s style and by the dialect he uses. Then it’s a veritable feast, what?
Which reminds me—the introduction, written by Plum himself, is also of interest to the more than casual fan, particularly in regards to how this volume should be employed.
The obvious question: why buy something I can read for free on the web? The short answer: I don't wear t-shirts much, and I felt I ought to give sometThe obvious question: why buy something I can read for free on the web? The short answer: I don't wear t-shirts much, and I felt I ought to give something back to an artist who's given me years of enjoyment. Besides, I keep going back and re-reading the darned thing anyway—might as well save a little on bandwith charges now that my ISP has a data cap.
The long answer is actually shorter—I haven't had a comic give me as much pleasure since Burke Breathed stopped drawing Bloom County.
Not that QC is exactly a re-make of BC by any means; for one thing, it's characters are decidedly more adult, and for another, Jaques never steers directly into politics the way Breathed used to. But QC hits that same 'spot' for me—a mix of whimsy and humor that takes moments in life I can relate to (despite me being rather past the age of the characters) and turns them on their ears, shaking out something — truth? I don't know, but something very satisfying. It must be, because, as I said, I've read most of this four or five times before I got the book, and then went it through one more time, and I know it won't be the last.
So be warned that this stuff is addictive. Still, it won't rot your teeth, screw up your lungs, or get you arrested—most places, anyway*— so it's a benign monkey to have on one's back. So allow me to 'push' a little feelgood your way. C'mon, you know you wanna try it!
*For the love of god, I'm kidding. I think. Meanwhile, Jaques, willya get the next one out already?...more
We're from different generations and, too an extent, cultures, but I find I relate to Lewis Black very well—maybe too well. We both get angry about siWe're from different generations and, too an extent, cultures, but I find I relate to Lewis Black very well—maybe too well. We both get angry about similar things, we both see the humor and absurdity of our surroundings, and, is spite of that sense of humor, we both still manage to become very, very angry at times. What that means, I don't really know, but I agree with his own assessment, that many people should skip certain parts of this book, and others should put it down altogether (Actually, knowing some of this stuff might be good for them, but the coronary or apoplectic fit probably wouldn't). But if you like having your worldview challenged, if you can find the humor in the sick and senseless, and if you don't mind getting really angry from time to time at the astounding stupidity that abounds in the world, this book is for you.
Just don't say either I or Mr. Black didn't warn you.
I didn't have high expectations for this, but Pratchett surprised me in the end, as he often does, by getting to that 'good' sort of serious that I soI didn't have high expectations for this, but Pratchett surprised me in the end, as he often does, by getting to that 'good' sort of serious that I so enjoy in his books. I think this one has a little more of that than most of recent Pratchett, or perhaps it spoke to me more....more
I enjoyed this. I don't know that it's a 'youth' book, although the protagonist is 11. It works very well for me, and I'm far beyond that in years.
I wI enjoyed this. I don't know that it's a 'youth' book, although the protagonist is 11. It works very well for me, and I'm far beyond that in years.
I will add that, to me, it may be one of the better Esme Weatherwax books. Pratchett presents Granny, seen through the eyes of Tiffany, her potential equal, in a way somewhat unlike the other novels Granny Weatherwax appears in. To me, it's much more insightful than say, Carpe Jugulum. ...more