January 10, 2005
New Year's Reading

A nasty post-holiday cold allowed me (and E., apparently) lots of time for reading in the past few weeks:

Jaime Hernandez, Locas: I've always had a soft spot for Maggie & Hopey of Love & Rockets the comic (less so for Love & Rockets the band), but I was not dedicated enough to haunt the comic stores looking for new installments, and before I knew it the thing was finished. So it's great to have everything in one (massive) volume. Review here. (Fun fact: Like Hopey, I always wanted to dance down the Soul Train line.) File under "Gift most difficult to explain to my parents."

Larry McMurtry, All My Friends Are Going to Be Strangers and Some Can Whistle: Finally got around to reading the Danny Deck novels, as I'd always wondered what happened to this mysterious character who makes a cameo in some of McMurtry's other books. While it's fun to see how the author connects his various novels together, and the first book, All My Friends, has a bizarrely satisfying streak of existential despair that culminates in its hero wading disgustedly into a river, reading them as a pair disappointingly demonstrates how often McMurtry reuses and recycles his archetypes (cranky housekeeper, hard-bitten old cowboy, etc.). He does this in all his books, but perhaps to worse effect in these two, because Deck himself is a strangely empty, passive character and his much-vaunted daughter is described as beautiful and lovable but, confusingly, is one of his least charming, brattiest creations. She's ill-fated, not surprisingly as the offspring of many McMurtry characters end up dead, crazy, in prison, or generally warped and bitter. (Fun side fact: In real life, McMurtry's son James is a musician in the alt-country vein.) File under "Oh, for god's sake!"

Cornelia Otis Skinner and Emily Kimbrough, Our Hearts Were Young and Gay: Affectionate memoir of unworldly young women visiting Europe in the 1920s before embarking on what turned out to be major careers as writers and actresses. The book hasn't lost its appeal (in its day, it was made into a movie) though the authors' influence has sadly evaporated from the cultural atmosphere. A nice companion piece to Kimbrough's book about her mid-life return to Europe, Forty Plus and Fancy Free, which I read as a child. (Fun side fact: Kimbrough was from Muncie.) File under "Why don't more books have illustrations like these (by New Yorker illustrator Constantin Alajalov)?"

J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone: Thought I'd get on the bandwagon with these. Strangely, it's hard to read this without envisioning the actors from the movies, which should serve as a warning to me about the Lemony Snicket adaptation. (Fun side fact: In an unfortunate collision of literary worlds, I keep wanting to call Dumbledore "Gandalf.") File under "Better late than never."

Posted at January 10, 2005 09:15 PM

I was quite careful to read as many of the Potter books as I could before I saw the movies for exactly that reason. Since my image of the characters existed before the movie ones, I still usually see them. Fun books though.

Posted by: Brian on January 12, 2005 01:34 PM
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