Monday, November 22, 2021

Reading Into the Past: Week of 11/22/04

Nothing new this week, so instead I'll look to the past. Here's what I was reading in a randomly-chosen past year, 2004. I likely will remember very little about any of these books - which, in its own way, will tell you something about each of them.

John Blumenthal, Millard Filmore, Mon Amour (11/16)

I love the title, and remember liking the book even as I have a blank about what it actually is. (Literally: it's a novel but my first thought was to wonder if it was an odd non-fictional take on obscure 19th century Presidents.) It seems to be a deeply quirky novel, a humorous contemporary book mostly focused on a hypochondriac millionaire and his new girlfriend (the wife of his psychiatrist). I think I liked it, but I don't seem to have read any other Blumenthal books - I don't know what that means.

Robert Mankoff, editor, The Complete Cartoons of the New Yorker (11/17)

I'm pretty sure I did not read every cartoon. As I recall, this is a pretty big book filled with lots of cartoons, but also included a CD-ROM (which were still somewhat shiny and exciting in '04, but not the crazy new thing they were in the '90s) that did actually include every single cartoon published in the New Yorker up to that point. I lost it in the flood, but, if I hadn't, this is a book I expect I'd be pulling out every so often to poke through.

Robert A. Heinlein, Grumbles from the Grave (1/18)

This was the first and only time I read this book of Heinlein's letters, though it was originally published in 1989. My understanding is that it saw a very heavy editorial hand and was aimed at providing a very particular and somewhat hagiographical view of him - something that will be completely unsurprising to anyone who knows anything about Heinlein, his widow Virginia, and his cult. Heinlein was always an entertaining writer of sentences, and full of strong opinions, so this collection of mostly correspondence with editors complaining about things they were doing "wrong" was entertaining.

But I'm sure there could have been - I have no idea if the papers still even exist - a more interesting book about Heinlein, one less centered on showing off how smart and forward-thinking and right he was. Maybe someday that book will exist.

J. Torres, et. al., Teen Titans Go!, Vol. 2: Heroes on Patrol (11/19)

My sons were big fans of the Teen Titans Go! TV show, and these associated comics around this time - the older one was six that year and the younger turned four a little later, so I might have been somewhat reading these to them. (Though my memory is not: I read a lot to them, but, in my mind, they grabbed comics and ran off on their own from a very young age.) Well, I should probably be more honest: I think I liked these comics even better than the boys did, at least as time went on.

No idea what specific stories are in this volume, fifteen-plus years later, but they were all zippy and energetic and funny and awesome. They might even still exist in the house, since they went into the boy's bedrooms rather than my bookshelves.

Paul Grist, Kane, Vol. 3: Histories (11/21)

I hesitate to call myself a big fan of Grist's comics, since I lose track of him for years at a time. But I've really enjoyed everything I've seen of his. This was the then-new book in his series about a cop in a realistic world, as opposed to his Jack Staff comics, which are superhero work and tend to the more baroque. Kane was the name of his central character, who was (I think) a detective in some mid-size, possibly fictional, UK city.

No memory at all of this particular book; I remember the series in general as inky and fun in a noir-ish way, with a dark outlook on life to match the art.

Gregory Benford, The Sunborn (typescript, 11/22)

No memory at all, though I clearly read it for work. According to online sources, it's in the same universe as (and probably a loose sequel to) The Martian Race, whose title rings a slight bell. I think they were relatively hard SF, fairly near future, and only very very slightly like spinach.

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