This is a challenging book. Tinsley, who created some of the most repellent cartoons "lampooning" American morality, was accused of incest. At his tri...moreThis is a challenging book. Tinsley, who created some of the most repellent cartoons "lampooning" American morality, was accused of incest. At his trial, his cartoon, "Chester the Molester," was the main source of evidence against him and he was sent to prison. His conviction was overturned on appeal but Tinsley's life was ruined and a variety of first amendment questions are asked that force the reader to decide whether or not we are intellectual enough to turn off visceral disgust and particular morality when analyzing the potential guilt of a man accused of incest when that man made a career of making cartoons about child rape.
"According to Levin, Tinsley was reacting to the sickness of society, Reagan’s America where everything was clean on the surface but dirty underneath. He used the example of a cartoon he drew of exterminators using a human baby to lure out rats, inspired by stories of actual babies being gnawed on by rats in tenement apartments. He said that when people were outraged, the fact remained that the sympathies of the viewer were with the baby, not the exterminators. The implication being, of course, that when one sees a “Chester the Molestor” cartoon wherein Chester has slipped his dick in a bun and a smiling little girl finds it, tongue sticking out in anticipation of the hotdog she is about to eat, our sympathies lie with the child. It’s hard to see that when one looks at the picture. All one sees is the child anticipating a treat – nothing hints at the horror to come when Chester steps out of the bushes and shoves his cock down her throat. It’s a very amateur hour claim to insinuate that the average viewer is supposed to fill in those blanks of intent when Tinsley fails to signpost the real danger. He implies danger in a few of the cartoons, but, for the most part, the consequences of Chester’s actions seldom foreshadow grave harm to the little girls he stalks. The little girls are targets, but they are not portrayed as potential victims. All we see is the fun Chester is about to have.
The hell of it is that Tinsley, in addition to inking “Chester the Molester,” drew some very trenchant and funny political cartoons. One very funny one is of a painter using a dog’s anus as a model for Newt Gingrich. Crude, but the point is unambiguous. Given that Tinsley was capable of creating cartoons that lampooned their target effectively, it makes it all the more curious that he was unable to convey the satire involved in Chester particularly well."(less)
This book helped me hate Andy Warhol just a little less, because it is clear he was not responsible for the denigration and demise of Edie Sedgwick. E...moreThis book helped me hate Andy Warhol just a little less, because it is clear he was not responsible for the denigration and demise of Edie Sedgwick. Edie was going to end up dead of an overdose or a suicide attempt one way or the other, and while Andy was a parasite, the blame for his death cannot be laid at his doorstep.
Mostly this book was interesting in a voyeuristic manner. I felt a similar sense of looking into the lives of a certain sort of elite when reading about John Cheever's life. This book stands as a direct refutation to the old canard that the rich are not like us - they are better. Fuzzy Sedgwick, Edie's father, was a living emblem of how money can lead one to believe one is almost a God. His arrogance destroyed his children and his weak wife stood by and let it happen. Two sons committed suicide, Edie died of a drug overdose, the eldest daughter cut off ties with most of her family and it was all a direct result of having a lecherous, nasty, arrogant, self-absorbed narcissist for a father.
In a way, this book, told via the remembrances of those who knew Edie and her family, is a third party examination of how women with borderline personality are created. Because from the perspective of armchair psychology, Edie was definitely a borderline.
There were a couple of moments wherein I literally cringed when reading of Edie's behavior. After she had left The Factory, Edie fell in with a group of bikers. She had no sense of the danger she was courting, as she was genuinely convinced of her charm. According to a man called Preacher Ewing, Edie would flirt and tease the bikers at bars and, had it not been for a couple of male friends who prevented it, she was opening herself up to a gang rape. She was so accustomed to being the most beautiful and sought-after girl in the room, and having dealt with the dregs that were often attracted to Andy Warhol, she had an over-inflated sense of her desirability and the civility her money and quasi-fame bought her.
This was a terribly sad book in so many ways. But, like most tales of how the mighty have fallen, it was a fast, gripping read.(less)
Review snippet: This book has interesting moments but they are few and far between, and those moments are generally content that will not be new to lo...moreReview snippet: This book has interesting moments but they are few and far between, and those moments are generally content that will not be new to long-term Gorey fans. Still, it was pleasant being reminded of how eccentric Gorey was, how he eventually stopped wearing fur because of his love of animals, how he sewed stuffed animals by hand as he watched television, how he would do work for anyone who asked, even those who could pay very little.
But after one admits that this book has some charm, one can only list its many problems. The first is that in the first fifteen pages, Theroux manages to write in a way that is so alienating that a casual reader might be tempted to give up. I am a reasonably intelligent woman who has devoted my adult life to reading. I fancy that if a reasonably well-educated person with a devotion to books found Theroux’s verbiage cumbersome, then it is safe to say it was, in fact, too much for a biography of a beloved pop culture icon. But who knows? Perhaps the words enchiridion, coloraturas, the French phrase le cercle lugubrieux, and karfreutagian have slipped into the common lexicon without me noticing. If not, they were odd word choices in a biography such as this. This is not the sort of book that can tolerate the interruptions that come when the reader is forced to put the book down in order to look up words and French phrases. But luckily Theroux stops showing off so egregiously around page 15. Still, not a good beginning.
For whatever reason, this book did not work as well as Didion's wonderful The Year of Magical Thinking. There is an element of repetition in Blue Nigh...moreFor whatever reason, this book did not work as well as Didion's wonderful The Year of Magical Thinking. There is an element of repetition in Blue Nights that did not portray the emotional and mental confusion of a woman who has lost her daughter. Rather, the repetition of the stories of how Didion came to adopt Quintana Roo and Quintana's later obsession with those details seems cloying, almost dull in their insistence on reliving the same emotion over and over even when it did not seem to matter in terms of what she was writing.
One of the biggest and most oft-levied criticisms of Joan Didion is how self-indulgent she is in terms of writing and some even extrapolate it into her own life (asking how self-indulgent one must be to name a child Quintana Roo). I never bought into that criticism that much because all autobiographical writing is self-indulgent to a point. But in this book I could see the accusation had some legs because as I read, I felt as if Quintana was a prop, not a person in her own right. Of course the book is Didion's reaction to her daughter dying, not her daughter's biography, but even taking that into account, in a book of how Didion reacted to her child's death, her child seemed filmy and far away. A person whose life only mattered because of how Didion reacted to her death.
One cannot condemn Didion for this - a book about grief has its own rules, I suspect. But it was a flat, tiring experience reading this book.(less)
This book was not what I thought it was going to be. When the title involves the word "marriage" I expect a little more of actual information about th...moreThis book was not what I thought it was going to be. When the title involves the word "marriage" I expect a little more of actual information about the marriage of Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath. Instead of actual events from their marriage, we get lots of literary analyses of how their poetry echoed and reacted to each other.
That's all well and good but this book leaves out huge amounts of actual details from the writers' lives. Even the discussion of the poetry was shallow because there was a wealth of work that Hughes and Plath completed during their marriage that even I as an amateur Plath reader know of and found the omission of... interesting.
There is so much information about Plath and Hughes' actual life together that would have been nice to include in a book ostensibly about their marriage.
It's not a bad book but it's not great either. I am largely meh about it, sadly.(less)
Review snippet: Her trunks were filled with her life’s possessions – linens, carefully wrapped china, diplomas, many pictures of the road trips she to...moreReview snippet: Her trunks were filled with her life’s possessions – linens, carefully wrapped china, diplomas, many pictures of the road trips she took with friends. Her immigration papers, her medical certifications and letters from friends and her male friend, embroidery, patterns, and most importantly, pictures of her with her car. An independent woman, Margaret never married and rare for the time, she owned her own car, traveling on vacations with female friends, her mobility giving her freedom. And unlike many at Willard, she had friends who stuck by her until the end. The depth of her friendships, the loyal bonds that those who are extremely mentally ill enough to be institutionalized for life often have a hard time forming, should have been a clue she was not schizophrenic, but the dogma of the time said she had the disease and she was treated for it until she was a shell of a person. Read my entire review here.(less)
No matter what your opinion is of the JFK assassination, or even Thornley’s role in it, it is safe to assert that the madness and paranoia that plague...moreNo matter what your opinion is of the JFK assassination, or even Thornley’s role in it, it is safe to assert that the madness and paranoia that plagued him in his later life was sparked in no small part by those who were either involved in the assassination or used the assassination to push their personal agenda. He started off as a sparkling trickster and died sick and paranoid, a very sad ending to be sure. I think this was one of the finer biographies and conspiracy books I have read in a while. Complex, interesting, mildly skeptical and interested in the truth but willing to admit it may never be known, and most importantly, evenhanded, open, scrutinizing yet ultimately kind to its subject. I highly recommend it. Read my whole review here.(less)
The case of J. Frank Hickey was a fascinating read. Though I disagree with the assertion the author makes, that Hickey was the first man ever captured...moreThe case of J. Frank Hickey was a fascinating read. Though I disagree with the assertion the author makes, that Hickey was the first man ever captured as a result of profiling, that does not render this book any the less absorbing and hard to put down. Read the rest of the review here.(less)
One of the best things about conspiracy theory is that it is generally interesting. It may be crazy. It may make you doubt your own sanity as you read...moreOne of the best things about conspiracy theory is that it is generally interesting. It may be crazy. It may make you doubt your own sanity as you read it (why yes, there IS something lizard-like about the British Royal family). But I defy you to read anything by David Icke, Jim Keith or Tex Marrs and not be entertained.
Never has conspiracy theory been more boring than it is in the hands of Donald Bain. He seems a competent enough writer, so the perhaps the problem lies not with his skill as a teller of odd or improbable tales, but rather the material he was given to work with. If conspiracy theory is to be offered with not even the slightest amount of � proof� other than the hypnotically induced memories of someone claiming CIA-connections, then it needs to have an element of the outrageous in it. Black helicopters. Lizard people. A vast international conspiracy of bankers and politicians who have sex orgies in between attempts to take over the world. Something. Anything more than a weird man who hypnotizes his equally weird wife and TA-DA! She was controlled by the CIA because, you know, she says she was.[return:]Read the rest of the review at: http://ireadoddbooks.com/?p=154(less)
I am not a big science fiction fan, so H.G. Wells, while I certainly read him and was socially aware of him, was not an author for whom I had any grea...moreI am not a big science fiction fan, so H.G. Wells, while I certainly read him and was socially aware of him, was not an author for whom I had any great affinity. But it was nevertheless disappointing to realize that he was a completely unlikeable, self-absorbed, trivial, priapic worm. Add to it that he may well have been a plagiarist who stole words knowing the person whose words he stole would likely have no recourse because she was not famous, had little money of her own, and most importantly, because she was a she and not a he, and it would appear H.G. Wells was a vile little man in many respects. Read my entire review here.(less)