Wednesday, June 18, 2008
#21 -- "The Professor and the Madman" by Simon Winchester
I've read a bunch of Winchester's books, but ('til now) not the one that probably drew the most attention. If you somehow missed this when it was all the rage a decade ago, it's the parallel stories of the editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, and one of the OED's main contributors, who happened to be mad as a hatter. It's livelier than a lot of Winchester's books, and good fuel for big nerds like me. Enjoyed it a whole bunch. He strains a bit to draw connections between the two characters early on, but so what? It manages to make the creation of a dictionary sound exciting as hell, which is no small feat.
#22 -- "Tortilla Flat" by John Steinbeck
Probably hadn't read anything by Steinbeck since high school. I just remember overwhelming depressing-ness, rightly or wrongly -- this, in a stack of books lent to me by the Ski Bum last year, is lotsa fun though. Drinking and carousing among the poor of depression-era California -- how could it not be fun? Sure, lots of poignant stuff, but I laughed a lot. It makes being an alcoholic transient look like a blast -- the yin to Ironweed's yang.
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I don't think I've ever recommended a webcomic, because generally my relation with the genre goes as follows: I discover them, I entertain myself for hours going through the archives, then pretty quickly a) the comic starts sucking or b) the creator has his/her hands severed and never draws again.
Nonetheless, two that I've recently discovered haven't yet felt my curse, so here we go: Scary Go Round, which has introduced the phrase "And Malcolm Gladwell likes what he hears!" into my repertoire, and Kate Beaton's comics (not sure if they have a series name), discovered thanks to Wonkette. Go to that last link and then scroll down to "I Wonder If James Monroe Really Had It Goin’ On," and if you don't start laughing 'til the tears squirm from your eyes, you are dead inside. Sorry you had to find out this way.