What Are You Reading

Discussion in 'The Reading Room' started by Lancealot, Aug 13, 2006.

  1. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    In the next volume, we'll see Trixie give Skeezix his first kiss, marking the beginning of his career as a bumbling teen, which will consume the latter half of the thirties. He will, unfortunately, turn his attention to sedate, boring Nina -- who he will eventually marry. But Trixie will go on to a glamorous career as a radio singer, and eventually will serve in the war as a WAC. She hasn't been seen in the strip, as far as I know, since 1957, when she unexpectedly showed up for a visit, causing boring, sedate Nina to seethe with jealousy.

    If I was writing the strip today, I'd totally bring her back and give 95-year-old Skeezix something to think about.
     
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  2. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    Man is that true to life. Old girlfriends/boyfriends - even from decades ago - can stir the pot sometimes.
     
  3. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    Poor old Skeezix.
    tmgas140508.gif

    And in happier times...
    [​IMG]
     
  4. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    ⇧ Trixie's analysis and strategy of getting in the club is insanely astute - challenges assumptions, creates a plan of action, and pushes back against objections. There's almost a Kirk Kobayashi Maru to her approach. Also, anyone who wants to move up farther than the first few rungs on the management ladder needs to think like Trixie - all the time.
     
  5. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    Just imagine what she could've done with *two* good arms.
     
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  6. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

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    War, Sebastian Junger. Afghanistan, embedded with the 10th Mountain; 173rd Airborne.
    The more things change, the more things stay the same. Junger seems a caring, perceptive soul.
     
  7. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    The Revolt of Mamie Stover published in 1951, written by William Bradford Huie

    I found this book by way of Huie's book The Americanization of Emily, which I found by way of the James Gardner and Julie Andrews' movie of the same name.

    The movie is a relatively light look at the soft prostitution of "refined" British women to American officers during WWII and, more broadly, the morality of war and the sacrifice that the common man makes while senior officers issue orders at a safe distance. The book, though, takes those themes much more seriously and is, therefore and not surprisingly, more engaging.

    Which led me to The Revolt of Mamie Stover a, kinda, prequel to The Americanization of Emily as one character carries over, but really, Mamie stands on her own. And stand she does.

    Opening in pre-WWII America, Mamie - a six-foot tall, full-figured, flowing-haired blonde - after a failed attempt at a Hollywood career that led to soft prostitution and a bad encounter with the LA mob, is exiled to Hawaii where she is all but forced into prostitution.

    In Hawaii, at that time, prostitution is an illegal but unofficially regulated-by-the-authorities and well-organized business. The prostitutes' professional and personal lives are tightly circumscribes so as to keep them out of "polite" Hawaiian society - the nice beaches, restaurants, businesses and clubs.

    Mamie - smart and resentful - quickly climbs to the top of her new profession, but chafes at her restrictive social box. While looking for a way out, WWII takes over the island and Mamie's revolt begins as military rules and needs supersede local police control of the prostitutes.

    From here, we watch all the old - and bigoted and prejudiced - social norms crumble as an empowered Mamie, informally under the aegis of the US Military, breaks down every barrier while polite "old guard" Hawaiian society looks on in horror.

    More would give too much away, but two other points for potential readers. The narrator (one assumes the author, but who knows?) describes himself as liberal, but by today's standards, his struggle with seeing "old Hawaiian" society fall is hardly progressive thinking - his inner conflict is powerful commentary. And a warning, the book's quite-regular use of the "N-word" and other for-the-time "normal" prejudices are jarring to our modern views.

    If you can manage that, it's a good, quick read with lively characters and challenging social commentary that - like it or not - reveals a period and place in history without any modern filtering. It is that direct touch to history - its times, norms, argot, prejudices - that makes reading novels from a period so valuable.
     
  8. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

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    James Jones captured a slight tincture of Hawaiian society set against prewar Schofield Barracks garrison duty
    as seen from the lower echelon with his debut novel From Here To Eternity, which eclipsed James Mitchner's more voluminous opus Hawaii for its stark truth. Huie, like Jones, a Second World War veteran carved literature
    razored by personal experience.
     
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  9. dubpynchon

    dubpynchon Practically Family

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    'The English Patient' for the fourth or fifth time. I'd love to read the notebook Ondaatje used when he was researching the novel, it was donated to a university last year I think (too tired to google it right now).
     
  10. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    Couldn't get to sleep last night so I reached over and grabbed the top item from the three-foot-high stack of magazines next to the bed -- which happened to be the August 1930 issue of "Ladies Home Journal."

    There are few magazines of the Era that changed more completely over the course of a single decade than the LHJ. By the end of the 1930s, under the joint editorship of Beatrice and Bruce Gould, the magazine was a thought-provoking, progressive-leaning, controversy-courting publication that in all ways respected the intelligence of its readers. But the LHJ of 1930 was not this magazine, not yet. It's so far removed from what it would be that it seems like a completely different publication.

    The editor in 1930 was a man by the name of Loring A. Schuler, who must've been frustrated that he wasn't working at the Saturday Evening Post, because he comes across like George Horace Lorimer glaring across the table at his wife and telling her what to think. The Goulds edited the Journal with a sharp eye toward what their readers wanted to know about, whether economic conditions or birth control. Schuler edits on the basis of what he believed white upper-middle-class women should think. Nowhere is this more obvious than a persnickety editorial addressing the tenth anniversary of women's suffrage. Schuler condescendingly remarks that most women don't know anything about politics and don't care anything about politics and therefore those who anticipated that suffrage would lead to a more engaged electorate are understandably disappointed. But that's to be expected, he reasons, since the suffragette generation wasn't raised to know anything about politics. Maybe their daughters will grow up to be more engaged. Yeah, dreamboat, maybe they will. You'll have to excuse me now, I'm off to my YCL meeting. He also gets a bit defensive about the word "feminism," looking forward to the day when, as will the word "suffragette," the word "feminism" disappears from the language.

    Loring A. Schuler died in 1968.

    Other than its retrograde editorial page, this particular issue of the Journal is not as satisfying as it could be in the rest of its content. There's nothing particularly notable in the fiction section, just the usual array of stories about frustrated upper-middle-class women considering a bit of fun on the side but in the end deciding to stay with their stodgy but well-meaning Loring A. Schuler-type husbands. Many of the top authors of the time wrote for the Curtis magazines, but it's pretty much also-rans in this summer-doldrums issue. There's some striking artwork among the fashion spreads, including a two-page layout on the "Spirit Of The New Decade," which, in its design and use of color and its lean, angular figures, has far more to say about the spirit of the Old Decade than that which is now underway. Even the ads in this issue are lacking, although the number of car and motor oil ads targeting a female audience says much about the rising independence of the typical Journal reader, no matter what Mr. Loring A. Schuler thinks about it.

    Incidentally, this issue also offers one of my favorite things about Curtis magazines of the Era -- it has that very distinctive smell that only the Curtis publications exude. I don't know if it's the ink or the paper or the frustration of a Northeastern bourgeoisie unable to accept a changing world, or what, but if they could bottle that smell I'd gladly dab it behind my ears.

    Anyway, on finishing the magazine about half an hour after I started it I was ready to go to sleep, and I was wishing 1935 would hurry up and get here. Poor Mr. Schuler, it must've been a hard life.
     
  11. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    Tea and Sympathy a play by Robert Anderson written in 1953

    I backed into this one after the movie encourage me to read the "original source" material. (My comments on the movie here: https://www.thefedoralounge.com/thr...ovie-you-watched.20830/page-1244#post-2388570)

    While there is not much more in the play than the movie (and the movie builds out a few things not in the play), it was still worth the quick read as, IMHO, these are smartly drawn and nuanced characters that feel like real human beings.

    The quick and dirty is that one of the students at an all-boys bordering school is bullied by the other boys (and with the de facto approval of the boy's housemaster) because he's "different" / because he's not "manly -" he doesn't participate much in group activities, likes to sing, befriends the housemaster's wife, doesn't talk about girls, etc.

    Playing on in parallel is the housemaster and his wife's failing new marriage as she tries to bring out the softer/vulnerable side that she saw in her husband when they met, but that he has tucked away now that they are living at the boarding school where he enjoys projecting a "manly" image (it's subtle, but he appears to be covering up his own inchoate homosexual feelings).

    The bullied boy becomes a proxy for the housemaster's softer side; thus, pushing the housemaster away from both his wife and the boy. As the bullying builds, the boy becomes more desperate to either fit in or get out. In several poignant scenes where the boy's father visits the school, we learn that the father is disappointed in his son for not being "like the other guys," which only ups the tension while pushing the story to a pretty dramatic climax.

    To tell more is to give too much away, but I encourage anyone to watch the movie or read the play as it shows a 1950s America that is, yes, buttoned up, but is also awkwardly trying to deal with issues that will, ultimately, blast into the open in the late 1960s and that we are still wrestling with today.
     
  12. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

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    Gentleman Officer, Simon Heffer, Books May 2019; The New Criterion
    a review of A Dinner of Herbs; and Going to the Wars: A Journey in Various Directions by John Verney

    Studied British martial insouciance, satire, and the generational nobility possessed by those who fought Nazism.
     
  13. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

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    Jack Goldsmith's excellent The Mueller Report's Weak Statutory Interpretation Analysis, LAWFARE; 5/23
    The OLC's clear statement rule; misapplication of obstruction statutes to Article II; and the vindictive therein;
    finally, an objective piece of solid analysis and not foolscap rubbish.
     
  14. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    The Passionate Friends by H. G. Welles published in 1913

    I am very far from a Welles expert, so this not-science-fiction-only-modestly-utopian novel was a surprise to me. However, a quick web search showed that Welles wrote novels in several different genres despite being most famous for his sci-fi / futuristic-view books.

    The Passionate Friends - if described by an English teacher - is a novel with a love story as plot, but driven by the themes of the restrictions of social and gender roles and - separately - utopian ideas inspired by a socialist / communist outlook.

    That's a lot, but Welles works it all (mainly) seamlessly into a quick 300-plus pages. The strongest part is the love story - boy meets, gets and then loses girl and spends the rest of his life missing the girl. There's more, they meet a few times after their break, have an affair and write to each other; and there's plenty of collateral damage - his career, both of their marriages and, ultimately, her entire future.

    The love story works and feels reasonably modern despite its 1913 style (social conventions limit their meeting and defined even their private actions) and keeps you actively engaged. The break in the relationship comes because the upper-class young woman won't marry the young man from a similar class but without wealth (owing to the British system of primogenitary, entails, etc., that created a class of to-the-manner-born-but-poor young men).

    She also has a strong streak of early feminism where she doesn't want to be "owned" by any man and apparently has an agreement - never flushed out for the reader - with her wealthy husband to have an element of personal freedom in their marriage. It's also a great example of how reading novels from a period show you a view of a time period in a way that modern novels set in that period won't.

    To wit, the woman in The Passionate Friends wants her freedom, but she very strongly sees inherent differences in men and women that she believe are innate, natural and that require different outlooks and desires. So while her independent streak aligns very much with modern progressive views, her view of gender/sex-based identity does not.

    As a regular reader of modern period novels, I'd note that this second view would be changed or ignored in a modern period book as, at least my experience has been, modern liberal writers make their progressive heroes align almost perfectly with modern progressive views. That's why reading novels from a period are so important to better understand that period.

    The same could be said of Welles' view in this book of communism and socialism. He is writing before the world had had the coming 20th Century experiences with those ideologies, but one sense Welles is a utopian but not a full buyer of those ideologies as he seems to have his own take on how work and want / skill and desire would be governed and determined in a future state - albeit, it was a bit muddled in its presentation here.

    But like with his character's early feminist views, his socialist/communist/utopian views don't align neatly to today's liberal views. And from a literary point of view, the utopian part of the story - expressed through the young man's career of building a movement and publishing empire to advance his utopian ideas - felt forced; whereas, the woman's feminist views were central and organic to the story.

    In the end, despite some noted bumpiness, the book moved quickly, had echoes of Edith Wharton themes of money, marriage and social standing (a large compliment in my opinion) and has sparked an interest in me to read more Welles.

    Oh, I found my way to this book via its 1949 movie adaptation directed by David Lean and staring Trevor Howard, Ann Todd and Claude Rains. Oddly, the movie is very well done, but only overlaps with the book at a surface level as it goes its own way because, my guess, its themes and complexity would be hard to translate to a movie in 1949.
     
  15. Tiki Tom

    Tiki Tom One Too Many

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    Have read a few since I last checked in: “The Sea People” by Christina Thompson. A really excellent, well-written deep dive into the history of Polynesia, including the best detail about ancient Polynesian navigational techniques that I’ve ever read. Also read “The Agony and the Ecstasy” by Irving Stone. I had the pleasure of knowing Mr Stone and his wife. So rereading the book was a treat.

    But what I want to write about here is that I stumbled upon Peter Mayle’s “My Twenty-Five Years in Provence; reflections on then and now.” Picking it up, I was shocked to learn that Mr Mayle passed away last year. How did I miss that? Peter Mayle was an influence on me and a life-preserver when, in the early 90s, I was also plotting my escape to a fairy-tale version of Europe. His final book is a love letter to his little corner of France. A breezy read, as you would expect it is full of honey-colored villages with red roofs, bottles of rose’, and brilliant fields of sunflowers. It’s bittersweet to read because you realize that he died a few months after publishing it. The last line of the book is “I must go. Lunch is calling.”
    Au revoir, Peter. I, for one, will miss your fun-filled brand of escapism.
     
  16. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    Settling in after work with the May 19, 1942 issue of "Look."

    I was listening to Fred Allen's show last week and heard him mention that he was to be profiled in "the next issue of Look," so I went right out and bought a copy. (As the saying goes, the past isn't dead -- it isn't even past.) As it happens, I actually like Look better than I like its arch-rival Life -- Life has the better reputation and the better photography, but its articles are also permeated with that insufferably smug Luce tendency to look down its perfectly-sculpted nose at whatever it's writing about. Look, whatever its shortcomings may be, does not have that quality about it, so if they're doing a Fred Allen profile, I'm fully on board.

    The issue has a very striking cover -- Mr. Allen is not present, but a rock-jawed Marine sergeant in dress blues is, a striking image against a bright-red background (at a time when Life's covers were almost always black and white.) Bannered across the masthead are two feature articles -- "Stalin Wants No Peace With Hitler," by former Ambassador Joseph Davies, and "A Plan For Attacking Japan," by Major George Fielding Elliot. Weighty stuff indeed.

    There's a lot of briskly-written war content in this issue -- "Mother India's Threatened Millions" considers the political tensions that divide a nation in fear of Japanese onslaught, with a particular focus on the wrenching poverty that consumes the nation and the religious divsions that create a fizzing powder keg just waiting to blow. "To Mohandas K. Gandhi India looks for spiritual guidance as she awaits her new birth of freedom." The Davies piece on the Russian situation dismisses any speculation that Stalin might seek a separate peace with Hitler while supporting the idea of a second front in 1942, while the Eliot essay stresses the strategic value of the Aleutian Islands in mounting a future attack on Tokyo. And a profile of "F. D. R. -- Commander in Chief" calls the Preisdent a "master strategist" who thoroughly understands the military situation facing the Allies. And there's a profile of RAF flyer Alexander Davidson, who's touring New York for what seems to be a long procession of cheesecake photos among the local chorines.

    The Allen profile is a good one -- a look at the grinding routine of putting together a weekly full-hour radio comedy show. Allen's Texaco Star Theatre, 1942 model, was a sleek, well-oiled machine - but the oil that lubricated it was Allen's sweat, and you can see in the photos how much it takes out of him each week. There are some good shots of The Mighty Allen Art Players at the microphone, and an unforgettable shot of Allen -- whose baggy-eyed face belies his muscular middleweight's build -- in boxing garb as he blows off stress at his neighborhood Y. Oh for the days when a top-rated entertainer could be found hanging around the Y with the local palookas. Allen's wife Portland Hoffa is noted as "a small, prematurely-gray woman who tries very hard not to look like the boss's wife." And for you menswear buffs, there's a delightful shot of Allen's featured tenor, Kenny Baker, slouching up to the microphone in an unpressed, baggy nubby-weave suit with the coat flapping open to reveal a plaid flannel shirt buttoned to the neck with no tie. Apparel Arts cover boy, right there.

    Speaking of sports, there's also a piece on Mel Ott takng over for Bill Terry as manager of the New York Giants. Ott, who began his career at the Polo Grounds at the age of sixteen, is now a ripe old thirty-two, and still waves his leg in the air before he swings the bat. He intends to continue playing as well as managing, and with the draft situation for baseball still up in the air, he isn't sure how long that'll be.

    Look didn't attract quite so many advertisers as Life, and those it did attract tended to be smaller firms. The big auto and tobacco firms are not found here -- the back cover advertises Shredded Ralston, not exactly a big money product, endorsed here by second-echelon comic strip heroine Dumb Dora -- and the most impressive full-page, full-color ad is for Borden's Hemo, a malted milk product flacked by Elsie the Cow, Elmer the Bull, and Beulah the Calf. Ah, family values. There are some oddities in the back pages -- the glowering visage of none other than Bernarr Macfadden himself commands you to spend the summer at his Physical Culture Hotel in Danville, New York, where you will experience hydrotherapy, physiotherapy, and colonic therapy. That'll fix what ails ya. And in the very back of the magazine, there's a bunch of little sixteenth-of-a-page ads for the kind of stuff you expect to see in a pulp -- ah, there's the old reliable "Rough On Rats" ad, complete with the engraving of a dead rat with his little feet in the air over the slogan "DON'T DIE IN THE HOUSE." Life wouldn't run an ad like that, which is another reason I like Look better than Life.
     
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  17. Tiki Tom

    Tiki Tom One Too Many

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    Okay, Lizzie; I'll bite. Where did you go "right out" to buy a copy???
    BTW, I enjoyed your walk-through of that issue. Thanks.

    Right now I am about half way through "Is Paris Burning" by Larry Collins and Dominique LaPierre. "Now back in Print". It's a great read for anyone wanting to immerse themselves in the feel of that summer 75 years ago. It is filled with the interesting and touching true stories of a multitude of characters, famous and unknown, Allied and German. There is a ton of "period" details for fans of the golden era. I find the acts of bravery and heroism performed in small ways by average Joes/Janes to be the most moving. Also the small acts of decency. Well written. Highly recommended.
     
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  18. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    There's an "antiques marketplace" type of shop just down the road from me with a pretty good Vintage Newsstand at reasonable prices. They aren't too deep in the more obscure stuff -- they never seem to get in "New Masses" or anything along those lines -- but when it comes to mass-circulation publications, you often can find what you want.
     
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  19. Tiki Tom

    Tiki Tom One Too Many

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    Here you go, Lizzie. Enjoy! :)
    "Scanning of New Massess is now complete. We are delighted to present for all to view and download in full resolution high quality, high resolution, "art-preserving" scans of New Masses, 1926 through 1945 (and the final two issues printed in January of 1948)."
    https://www.marxists.org/history/usa/pubs/new-masses/#start
     
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  20. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    Monumental! Some of the best cultural writing of the 1930s could be found in NM, and hard copies are maddeningly difficult to find. Like most opinion journals of the Era, it was printed entirely on cheap pulpy newsprint that tended to decay very fast, and when copies do turn up they're often too brittle to handle.
     

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