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review 2019-01-12 16:19
The Complete Peanuts, Vol. 4: 1957-1958
The Complete Peanuts, Vol. 4: 1957-1958 - Charles M. Schulz,Jonathan Franzen

After a long hiatus, I've resolved to start reading these again. Whenever I feel like I need a boost I'll go ahead and buy another volume. I mean, I'm never going to retire anyway so what's the point of having a savings account?

 

Edit: Also, sorry folks you have to click through to the blog to see the whole comic strip. 

 

These were good years for the strip, with Schulz continuing to refine his technique, there are long sequences here - notably Linus' pledge to go without his blanket for two weeks and Charlie Brown's epic baseball gaff - and thee are jokes with almost identical panels repeated many times. This repetition wasn't detrimental, it seemed more like Schulz working out a joke in his mind until it reached maximum absurdity. Violet's hi-fi parasol inevitably becomes Lucy's hi-fi jump rope.

 

 

 

Much of the humor appears timeless, but the Peanuts gang were children of the 1950s, young baby boomers as observed by the previous generation. Their are many gags that deal with no outmoded technology, branding, or early television, but those dealing with child psychology were some of my favorites. This was the beginning of parenting being serious business:

 

27Jul57

 

 

Snoopy's impressions took off in the last volume, but he adds many more to his repertoire in these years and in general is just delightful.

 

 

There were no additions to the cast, the last two comics have everyone in them (the very last even with names)  but Schulz has a lot on his hands figuring out the group dynamics, good and bad. Schroeder and Charlie Brown compete for who's better at despairing over contemporary pop culture:

 

 

It was truly difficult picking a Sunday for this review, but this one touches on a lot of things I love about the series. Poor Charlie Brown, he suffers all the pangs of childhood and rarely catches a break:

 

 

Maybe it gets better for him next year, but I doubt it!

 

 

Complete Peanuts

 

Next: 'Volume Five: 1959-1960'

 

Previous: 'Volume Three: 1955-1956'

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review 2018-11-02 19:01
The Rim of Morning: Two Tales of Cosmic Horror by William Sloane
The Rim of Morning: Two Tales of Cosmic Horror - Stephen King,William Sloane Kennedy

I'd had this one on my shelf for a long time before being inspired to take it down for 2018's Halloween Bingo.

 

William Sloane (no Kennedy) inspires a lot of what-ifs. It's incredible to think that after producing these two works he never produced another long work of fiction. The two novellas have echoes of Lovecraft, but with a distinct - and more refined - flavor of their own. Lovecraft was many things, but he was never an effective prose stylist the way Sloane is in these two works.

 

'To Walk the Night'

 

After the tragic death of his friend, Berkeley Jones goes out to Jerry Lister's father's house to tell him what he believes happened. The two had witnessed the death of a professor of theirs in his lab from strange radiation, and subsequently Jerry marries the widow of the professor. There is something unusual about the Selena, however, that Berkeley can't figure out. He is even given disturbing, improbable evidence about Selena, but (mostly) keeps quiet about his suspicions in order to keep his friend. Sloane masterfully draws the relationship between Berkeley and Jerry, to my modern eye there was some homoerotic undercurrents beneath their corduroys and within their tastefully decorated bachelor apartment. Selena has come between old friends and upset the balance of their friendship, there couldn't be anything else to it could there that Berkeley resents?

 

Even when the reader guesses what's going on, Sloane has created a chilling science fiction novel.

 

'The Edge of Running Water'

 

This has more of the feel of Lovecraft to it - the remote New England setting, the dramatic old house situated above the water, and secrets behind a closed door.

 

Richard, a professor in psychology, receives a letter from an old friend - and romantic rival - Julian requesting help in a new experiment. Richard is unsure how he could help an expert in electrophysics, but as they've been estranged since the death of Julian's wife some years before.

 

Tragedy is hinted at, so the reader closely examines the old house Julian's converted into his lab, the sinister lab assistant Mrs. Walters, even the presence of the friendly housekeeper and Julian's wife's sister Anne, are viewed with suspicion.

 

This had more elements of the detective mystery story entwined with the horror and sf elements and falls flat a few times, but still a fascinating glimpse at a talent that we should have seen more from.

 

 

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review 2018-09-10 19:20
Legion of Super Heroes, Vol. 1
Legion of Super-Heroes Archives, Vol. 1 - Jerry Siegel,Michael C. Hill

My neighbor growing up, his dad collected the DC Archives, hardbound editions collecting gold and silver age comic books. They were of phenomenal quality, and introduced me to the deeper history of Superman, Batman and The Flash, among others. A blast from the past!

 

I loved those books, I was allowed to borrow one at a time and devoured everything he had. My favorites though, were 'The Legion of Super Heroes', teens from the distant future (there was some confusion about their being 100 or 1000 years ahead) who had formed a super-hero club in honor of Superboy.

 

Since they were a 'Superboy' spin-off, they were rather silly at first, but these proto-typical X-Men struck a cord with me. By the end of this volume, the Legion is only beginning to gel into the story-telling dynamo it became, but it was a pleasure to be re-introduced to Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Cosmic Boy, and the rest (even Bouncing Boy).

 

These books can get crazy-expensive, so I don't know when I'll get to the next volumes, but I'll keep my eyes open.

 

Legion of Super Heroes

 

Next: 'Volume 2'

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review 2018-07-17 02:30
The Silver Spoon, Forsyte Chronicles #5
The Forsyte Saga: The Silver Spoon (A Modern Comedy #2) - John Galsworthy
A Modern Comedy - John Galsworthy

An American relative by marriage arrives pays a call in Westminster, a link to the more interesting, artistic, Forsytes in time to be present at a new scandal. Soames overhears a guest at one of his daughter's parties make a disparaging remark about Fleur and defends her. What should have only been some ruffled feathers turns into a major concern and underlines just how much society has changed since the Great War.

While I have come around a bit in regards to Fleur, I still find her irritating. The social nature of this plotline had little of the dramatic edge of 'The White Monkey' for me. Mont's attempts to make a name for himself in politics is interesting historically, but also didn't have the drama I loved in the first trilogy of Forsyte novels.

What made this book readable was Soames, of course. His own interior distress at the changing times and his attempts to do right by his daughter were sympathetic and made for good reading. Soames is still moving well in financial currents and has developed an understanding of fine art, but emotions and what makes people tick are still a mystery to him. The American cousin, Francis Wilmot, has his own struggles with his fascination for the lovely and modern girl who sparked Soames outrage.

This was an interesting social critique of London society and to an extent global politics of the 1920s. I would still only recommend this for Forsyte fans.

'A Modern Comedy'

Next: 'Swan Song'

Previous: 'The White Monkey'

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review 2018-07-12 03:45
The Mysterious Case of Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys by Carole Kismaric
The Mysterious Case of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys - Carole Kismaric,Marvin Heiferman

I picked this up because of my recent re-attachment to the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew novels. I've been curious about what the original books would have been like ever since I discovered they were re-written starting in the late 1950s. I recently had re-read the revised first volume of each series and was under-whelmed enough to do a combo review, and then I began finding early editions. They are sooo much better you guys! Problematic, but not dull!

I haven't reviewed them yet, because I've got stuff going on all the time like no one else on the planet. When I do, you can check my totes-sleuthy shelf....If I don't change that shelf's name. Jeepers. Anyway this book:

This was a fan-letter about Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys with good layouts and illustrations. The content was often repetitive and a trifle biased towards boy detectives. There were musings on other product lines inspired by the series, successful and not-so adaptations for film and TV (this is 1998 so that aughts film didn't get consideration...which is a good thing). The book does provide a nice pocket history of the development of the juvenile series market though the Strathmeyer Syndicate, and how they invented the ghostwriter as we know it today. There are better and much more comprehensive books on the subject: for Nancy Drew there is 'Girl Sleuth' by Melanie Rehak, and for the Hardy Boys try 'The Secret of the Hardy Boys' by Marilyn S. Greenwald, which focuses on the first ghostwriter for the series.

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