Everything you ever wanted to know about growing up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in the 1950s. The author sticks to the facts as she experienced them,...moreEverything you ever wanted to know about growing up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in the 1950s. The author sticks to the facts as she experienced them, but embellishes them with creative wordplay and philosophical and psychological observations. She occasionally uses semi-intelligible poetic imagery.
She digresses into her hobbies: rock collecting, mineralogy, insects, moths, butterflies, etc. But are they really digressions? She describes her life as “crawling on my pin,” as if she were an insect impaled on a pin in a display case. I know the feeling!
As this book is nonfiction, it could benefit from a picture section. What did the author and her family look like in those days?
Recommended to Pittsburghers, who will appreciate the local references and local history. This book is very much about Pittsburgh, its people and places. It is also a book about growing up. Childhood is a state of being asleep, says the author. Children live in an internal world. Growing up is a process of awakening from sleep, of opening to an external world, of noticing things previously unnoticed. Of shedding indifference to the world outside of oneself. She describes the ups and downs, mostly downs, of the process as it happened to her, until she “vanished into a blinded rage.” (less)
Amazingly detailed bio of Cowley, his life—including his inner life—and his development as a poet and man of letters to age thirty-two. Derived from h...moreAmazingly detailed bio of Cowley, his life—including his inner life—and his development as a poet and man of letters to age thirty-two. Derived from his voluminous correspondence with his literary contemporaries, his private notebooks, his published and unpublished writings, poems, and book reviews. And from interviews with the Cowleys at their Connecticut home.
There is talk about aesthetics, poetics, the mechanics of poetry: rhyming schemes, free verse/modernism versus classicism, etc. They are relevant because they were important to Cowley, but can be dead wood to readers who are not interested in them. And there is literary criticism. Lots of good insights into other, mostly American, authors. Because Cowley believed that literature was a collaborative effort, to be viewed within the context of contemporary literary trends.
My main complaint is the size of the type—too small for reading comfort. I had to use a magnifying glass. This is too big a book to read under such conditions, so I will never finish it. I’d like to see a condensed version in larger, more readable, type, with some illustrations. This version has only one illustration. But it will tell you everything you might want to know about Cowley’s formative years. (less)
A good biography of Will Cuppy has been long overdue. I even considered writing one myself, but no need now. This one is well done. Thoroughly researc...moreA good biography of Will Cuppy has been long overdue. I even considered writing one myself, but no need now. This one is well done. Thoroughly researched, it draws on Cuppy’s books, but also on his reviews of mystery stories, his correspondence, and other sources both published and unpublished. Even his personal scrapbooks! For years I’ve been wanting to visit the Cuppy papers at the University of Chicago. That hasn’t worked out; this book is the next best thing.
It discusses his politics and his sexual orientation, concluding that he was apolitical and asexual. His curious relationship with his mentor, Isabel Paterson. His need for emotional and professional support. The “subtextual codes” in his writing. His suicidal tendencies. His creative use of footnotes. It puts him into context with contemporary satirists such as Robert Benchley, James Thurber, and S. J. Perelman. It compares him to Groucho Marx, Henry David Thoreau, and others.
The author is a professor of film, and it shows. He injects films into this book more than Cuppy’s life would warrant. Cuppy was not a movie star and did not write for the movies. Why then are so many of the illustrations in this book from Hollywood movies? But there are some gems, including two portraits of Cuppy in his youth.
Author Gehring admires Cuppy but is critical of him, even to calling him a “man/child.” This book illuminates Cuppy’s enigmatic character and adds dimensions to his persona. Recommended to Cuppy fans. It will help them spot the undercurrents in his life and work.
This book is indexed and lavishly sourced, with many pages of chapter notes and an extensive bibliography.
Joseph Tumulty was secretary to President Wilson. This book was published in 1921, while Wilson was out of office but still living. Biased in favor of...moreJoseph Tumulty was secretary to President Wilson. This book was published in 1921, while Wilson was out of office but still living. Biased in favor of Wilson.(less)