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review 2019-08-09 20:12
The somewhat murky portrait of a man
Born to Be Posthumous: The Eccentric Life and Mysterious Genius of Edward Gorey - Mark Dery

I have been a casual fan of Edward Gorey for quite some time and hoped to learn more about him by reading Born to be Posthumous The Eccentric Life and Mysterious Genius of Edward Gorey by Mark Dery. While much is known about his work there is still a lot of mystery surrounding the man himself. He didn’t keep a diary and there’s not much in the way of correspondence. Was he a confirmed bachelor because of choice as an asexual man or was he a closeted man who never found time for love? Were his affectations symptomatic of a fake persona or was it the real him? Gorey was tested and judged to have a high IQ but his turbulent home life saw him uprooted often and he ended up delaying entry to Harvard to join the Army. Sporting long fur coats, white sneakers, lots of rings on both hands, and a big bushy beard insured that he stood out wherever he went. He compartmentalized his friendships, had no known romantic relationships, and spent inordinate amounts of time going to the ballet, watching silent movies, and reading copious amounts of books (specifically mysteries). [A/N: He once stated that he read 21,000 books and watched 1,000 movies a year.] At the end of his life he had moved into a dilapidated house on Cape Cod where he lived among lots of cats and a variety of knickknacks and curios. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer and diabetes before finally suffering a heart attack. Not quite the ignominious fate that his characters tended to suffer; it was nevertheless the end of an iconic literary figure.


Dery spent a large chunk of the book talking about the 'hidden meaning' in Gorey's work but honestly I don't see it. I think on the fact of it they were fun little illustrated stories that captured (and continue to ensnare) the imagination of anyone who reads them. You can look forward to a masterpost of some of that work coming up in the (hopefully) not too distant future. Overall, this wasn't quite the eyeopening biography that I had hoped it would be and the reach that the author tried to make kind of put me off so that it took me way longer to finish than it should have done. 5/10


What's Up Next: Toys Go Out by Emily Jenkins with pictures by Paul O. Zelinsky


What I'm Currently Reading: Stranger in the House: Women's Stories of Men Returning from the Second World War by Julie Summers

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2019-07-07 03:46
Lumberjanes: A Masterpost
Lumberjanes Vol. 1: Beware The Kitten Holy by Noelle Stevenson (2015-04-07) - Noelle Stevenson
Lumberjanes Vol. 2 - Noelle Stevenson
Noelle Stevenson: Lumberjanes Vol. 3 : A Terrible Plan (Paperback); 2016 Edition - Shannon Watters, Carolyn Nowak Noelle Stevenson
Lumberjanes Vol. 4: Out Of Time - Noelle Stevenson,Shannon Watters,Grace Ellis,Brooke Allen
Lumberjanes Vol. 5: Band Together - Noelle Stevenson,Shannon Watters,Grace Ellis,Brooke Allen

As I was trying to put together my review of the first volume in the Lumberjanes series (collaboratively written and drawn by Grace Ellise, Shannon Watters, Noelle Stevenson, & Brooke A. Allen) I realized that it was going to be nigh on impossible for me to formulate new thoughts/observations about further volumes without repeating myself ad nauseam...so a masterpost. 


The volumes of this series that I've read thus far:

  1. Beware the Kitten Holy
  2. Friendship to the Max
  3. A Terrible Plan
  4. Out of Time
  5. Band Together

On first beginning the series, I immediately felt like I was somehow starting in the middle as the reader is launched immediately into the inner circle of our main protagonists (Jo, April, Molly, Mal, & Ripley). What initially caught my interest were the excellent illustrations and the various looks of the main characters which are all widely different (much like the characters themselves). [A/N: I want to say here that the illustrative style changed for each of the volumes and I didn't really dig that.] I kept reading because the format of survival manual blended into a narrative arc was unique and I like the idea of a female led story being written and drawn by females. This is a great message for girls who may have felt that the comic book world wasn't for them. That being said, I'm not likely to continue the series beyond these 5 volumes and if I do I won't be reviewing it here unless it totally ends up blowing my mind. It felt gimmicky and at times I felt they were trying too hard and falling into contrived territory. I get that they're trying to be hip and inclusive (major props that there's not only a lesbian couple but a transgender character) but there was so 'trying to be hip' vibe that the story became second fiddle. Strong elements of fantasy, mystery, adventure, and friendship will appeal to all sexes but I don't think I'm the right age demographic (and this is coming from someone who routinely reads picture books). It's a 6/10 for me.


What's Up Next: Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie by Julie Sternberg


What I'm Currently Reading: Our Uninvited Guests: The Secret Life of Britain's Country Houses 1939-45 by Julie Summers

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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url 2019-06-08 00:39
Read Like a Rebel: Banned Books to Read in 2019
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review 2019-04-27 21:38
When the past catches up
Three Things About Elsie - Joanna Cannon

You may recall my review of one of my favorite books of 2017 titled The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon which centered on a small cul-de-sac in England and the mystery of a missing child. While I was discussing this book with a patron she asked, "Have you read her newest book?" then grabbed it off the shelf to show it to me. I took Three Things About Elsie  home that very night and began it with pretty high expectations. I'm happy to report that I was not disappointed. 


The main character, Florence, is an elderly woman living in an assisted living facility called Cherry Tree. The reader discovers that she's fallen down in her apartment and is awaiting imminent rescue. (What a way to start off a story!) The chapters flip flop between her lying there fantasizing about who will come to her aid and remembering incidents from the last several days and the distant past. Florence's best friend is Elsie and she talks at length about the reasons why she values her friendship beyond all others but over the course of the book she adds to her social circle Jack (retired military man and fellow inmate), Handy Simon (groundskeeper and handyman), and Miss Ambrose (second in command of the facility and at first Florence's sworn enemy). As with Cannon's previous book, this is a mystery set within a confined location (with a few brief journeys away) with one doozy of an ending. (I worked out one vital piece of the puzzle halfway through and agonized up to the very end that I had it wrong.) This book is not only about a mystery but also gives the reader a peek into the world of the elderly and what it's like caring for them. Topics like dementia, mental illness, loneliness, and self-worth are rather obliquely worked into the narrative. [A/N: Check the tags to this post if you want a bit of a spoiler-y sneak peek to another theme of the book.] This is a great book for a cozy weekend at home where you're happy to just sit and read for hours. The characters are fully realized and it's obvious that Joanna has a gift for localized mystery and drama. 8/10


What's Up Next: Adulthood is a Myth by Sarah Andersen


What I'm Currently Reading: Redwall by Brian Jacques

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-12-21 00:50
Sass with a side of sober contemplation
Calypso - David Sedaris

Quick note from me: Eagle-eyed readers of the blog will notice that I said I would be covering The Bear and the Nightingale today but actually I'm going to be reviewing Calypso by David Sedaris. I was working off of my memory instead of my notes and that's how that little boo-boo occurred. At any rate, today's book is a real treat! Calypso is an example of dark humor at its best. It's organized into short stories that cover the complete gamut of familial drama coupled with the woes of middle age. Sedaris divides his time between his home in England and a beach-side getaway he purchased for his family to use in Emerald Isle (among other properties briefly mentioned). I loved the parts where he talked about his relationship with his partner Hugh (who I fell in love with immediately) and his fears that he'll poop in his pants and Hugh will leave him for someone else. It also turns out that he's obsessive about tracking his steps and cleaning up every single piece of litter in the English countryside. He's a quirky guy and I strongly identified with him. He also touches on the tragic death of his sister Tiffany and the contentious relationship he has with his father who is in his nineties and stubbornly refusing to accept help at home. It's sharp, witty, shocking, tender, and hilarious. I laughed out loud at quite a few of the anecdotal stories (wait til you read about their visit to Japan). This would make a great gift especially for friends or family who do a lot of travel as this would be excellent to read on a trip. 10/10


I also urge you to read this article from Variety which talks not only about the beach-side getaway that Sedaris talks about in Calypso but also about Sedaris in general. It's hilarious! (Read the footnotes.)


What's Up Next: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green


What I'm Currently Reading: Tales from the Inner City by Shaun Tan


Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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