Thursday, May 25, 2006

Reading Into the Past: Week of 5/21

This week I'm looking at the books I read this week eleven years ago, in 1995:
  • G.B. Trudeau, Washed-Out Bridges and Other Disasters (5/14)
    The then-current Doonesbury collection, featuring a parody of The Bridges of Madison County (the book that everyone in the world has now forgotten about -- and, just you wait, Dan Brown, that may be your fate in another ten years). Doonesbury is often funnier in retrospect than it is at the time (since one concentrates on the pain of the ox-goring rather than the humor when it's new), so I bet this would be very funny right about now.
  • Donald E. Westlake, Bank Shot (5/15)
    One of the early "Dortmunder" caper novels, which I was devouring at the time. This is probably the best short one (Drowned Hopes is the best long one), and features schlubby crook John Dortmunder and his pals trying to steal a bank. Yes, that's right: not rob a bank, steal a bank.
  • S.J. Perelman, The Last Laugh (5/16)
    The final collection by a master of the comic essay; I don't recall, precisely, what was in this book, but it wasn't quite as good as his prime material. It's not shabby stuff by any means, but no one should start reading Perelman here -- dig up The Most of S.J. Perelman instead.
  • Evelyn Waugh, The Loved One (5/16)
    Probably my favorite Evelyn Waugh book, and one I should find time to re-read (it's very short, so I might even be able to do it). It's nasty and funny, and all about funerals. If you haven't read it yet, what are you waiting for?
  • Parke Godwin, The Tower of Beowulf (5/21)
    A retelling of Beowulf, I assume, but I can't dredge up any independent memory of this myself.
My excuse for running late this week is that my boss Ellen Asher just came back from vacation yesterday, so I'm going to say that I was very busy on Monday and Tuesday getting everything ready for her return. (Yup. I'm going to say that.) Yesterday really was busy, with a lot of "when did this happen?" conversations.

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