Jan. 18th, 2017

osprey_archer: (books)
What I’ve Just Finished Reading

The first Ivy + Bean book, which I did not find nearly as enchanting as I hoped. Ivy and Bean are just such - twerps, I think is the only word for it; the crowning moment of the book is when they throw worms in Bean’s sister’s face, and you know, I have an older sibling, and he could be very frustrating when I was seven, but somehow I managed to refrain from throwing worms in his face.

On a cheerier note, I also read Thomas Mallon’s Yours Ever: People and Their Letters, which is absolutely charming. I love letters and books about letters and letters between famous people, and Mallon packs lots of characterization into his brief portraits of these famous letter-writers.

Of course it helps that the letter-writers are so very characteristically themselves: Byron, for instance, bragging of his “Don Juan,” “Could any man have written it who has not lived in the world? - and fooled in a post-chaise? in a hackney-coach? in a gondola? against a wall? in a court carriage? in a vis-a-vis? on a table? and under it?” He probably expired filled with dismay that he never managed to do it in a hot air balloon.

Or Richard Nixon, paranoid, thin-skinned, obsessed with his legacy. His neediness is actually rather touching, at least as long as you don’t think about the fact that he had the power to turn that thin-skinned paranoia into quite a lot of damage.

What I’m Reading Now

I’m reading Blinky Bill, which is Australia’s answer to Beatrix Potter. Like Beatrix Potter, it is full of adorable pictures of anthropomorphized animals looking cute, and also like Beatrix Potter, when you actually read the text you discover that the adorable animal illustrations are a thin veneer over ANARCHY. Blinky Bill is forever narrowly escaping death and also accidentally (or not-so-accidentally) squashing other critters and there is nary a moral in sight.

I don’t know about Blinky Bill’s reputation in Australia, but it occurs to me that Beatrix Potter, like early Disney, has a reputation for treacliness that is totally at odds with the actual content of her stories. Maybe it’s just because we associate these stories with early childhood and assume that they must therefore be sweet and anodyne.

What I Plan to Read Next

Well, I’m giving the second Ivy + Bean book a go. We’ll see if it’s an improvement.

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