Friday, March 15, 2013

What is there to read around here...?

I’ve had a tough couple of weeks. My knee, which I damaged somehow before going to Los Angeles, got swollen and painful from doing a lot of walking during my time in Southern California. I’ve had an off-and-on complaint since I got back; some days are worse than others. For the past couple of days it has been painful to even sit upright and work at my keyboard.

To pass the time I usually just go to my reading material. I always have a bunch of books and magazines I haven’t had the time to crack. Enforced idleness is a good excuse to read, even if it includes positioning an icebag around my knee before opening a book.

Author Andre Norton was born Alice Mary North in 1912. She died at age 93 in 2005. She chose a gender-neutral pseudonym because when she began writing science fiction and fantasy it was a male genre. She began her writing career in Cleveland, Ohio, and before 1950 worked for the library system in that city.

Stand To Horse, a 1956 novel of a U.S. cavalry unit in New Mexico just before the Civil War, is the type of novel not usually associated with Norton, but like her fantasy and science fiction is full of action. A group of soldiers pursuing renegade Apaches become the hunted. It was written for young readers but is of interest to anyone who likes Westerns, or cavalry, or stories of America’s wild frontier. Norton researched it by going to old journals and contemporary accounts of the time.

I checked and the book is available for Kindle right now at $3.99. One seller has listed the paperback edition I bought for 50¢ in a thrift store at $192 (!) on Amazon (good luck on getting your price, seller). Another seller has a hardback edition for sale at a much more reasonable price.

A library book sale got me this book about the self-promoting showman, P.T. Barnum, which includes the information that Barnum was his own top attraction.

Bennett Cerf, who wrote a series of books over several years with funny anecdotes about the celebrities and politicians of the era, published The Life of the Party in 1956. I found this first edition at another thrift store.

Besides Cerf’s witty writing, it is illustrated by one of the top cartoonists of the era, Carl Rose.

I haven’t yet read this edition of She by H. Rider Haggard. I like Haggard, but I keep putting novels by him at the bottom of the stack. I assume I’ll get to it someday.

Perry Mason books by Erle Stanley Gardner are like popcorn for me. They are so entertaining I can read two or three of them in a row, as I did with these two.

There are magazines stacking up, waiting to be read. These two issues of  the art magazine, Juxtapoz, are library copies. I was happy when my library subscribed. A good use of taxpayer money, and I’m not being sarcastic. Someone at my county library system is really sharp, and their purchases belie the fact we are in one of the most conservative states in America.

And then there is The New Yorker. Not only am I unable to keep up with the new issues, I buy old issues at thrift stores, and get behind on them, too.

The Barry Blitt cover of the retired Pope Benedict is funny.

I grabbed this 2003 issue with its Gary Larson cover as soon as I saw it. It is a cartoon issue, something that used to be an annual event, but along with the yearly fiction issues, something I haven’t seen in a while.

The issue features this funny story by cartoonist Roz Chast. My wife spent last weekend in Vegas with her niece, who was celebrating her 25th birthday. She didn’t report any experiences like these, although the two of them saw the sights, and more important, did no gambling.


Kirk said...

Used to watch Bennett Cerf on the old What's My Line's on the Game Show Network's black-and-white night. Enjoyed how he kidded the stodgy host of the show, John Daley.

Gary Larson did a New Yorker cover?! Wow!

You may already know this, but in case you don't, the cover of the second Juxtapoz is from Daniel Clowes graphic novel Ghost World. You might recall there was a movie made of it a few years back by Terry Zwigoff, the guy who directed the documentary Crumb.

Postino said...

Kirk, I remember Cerf as being intelligent and erudite without coming off like an egghead; great sense of humor. What's My Line was a favorite of mine at the time, and introduced me to Cerf.

I have a small claim to fame. I met Terry Zwigoff in 1973 when he was living with Robert Crumb and Crumb's girlfriend at the time, Kathy, in San Francisco. I was introduced by a mutual friend. I loved the movie, Ghost World, which I thought caught the essence of Daniel Clowes' original graphic novel.

Kirk said...

I don't want to tell you what to write, but a visit with Zwigoff and Crumb might make a great post.

Postino said...

Shhh, Kirk. I wrote about that visit in the early days of this blog, "disguising" the principals because of some sensitivity to the situation. You can read it here:

The Beard.

What I remember about Zwigoff is he had just bought an original oil painting from Carl Barks, a long panel showing a scene from the Uncle Scrooge story, "The Golden Fleece." He told my friend about it and my friend bought a painting from Barks for the price Zwigoff got his, $150.