The Art of Steampunk by Art Donovan, finished December 7
The publisher contacted me and offered this book for my review.four or so months
Although part of the selling point of this book is writing from experts described with words like "Dr" and "Oxford University," in fact this book contains no real criticism of the field. Just boosterism. Which I suppose is fine for someone bumping into Steampunk for the first time, but if you're familiar with the field, it seems like a real lost opportunity. Some real analysis would have been terrific and made me much more enthused over this slim, glossy, photo-filled volume.
It seems pretty clear that many if not all of the artists wrote their own bios and captions, giving the impression that the curator's curating was minimal. Another lost opportunity. But I suppose the artform is young and it's practitioners are few and you take what you can get. Anyway, it sometimes feels that way.
But. That said, there is still some crazy awesome stuff in this book. Here are some artists to explore further: Jessica Joslin, Tom Banwell, Mikhail Smolyanov, Richard Nagy. I picked these because their stuff is cool and they're wildly different from each other. This steampunk is a broader field than your punk kid thinks.
120) The Blessing Way by Tony Hillerman, finished December 7
This has been the car book since The Little Friend. Sadly, unlike that novel, it's not a masterpiece of prose that rewards the reader who's dropping by for a paragraph or two while waiting with the hazards going. No, Hillerman pops corn. So eat it fast, before it gets stale and the fake butter congeals.six months
That said, I did enjoy the look into Navajo culture which, given Hillerman's awards from Navajo groups, I assume is fair and reasonably accurate. Frankly, although on one level, this is just another popcorn thriller, its milieu makes it absolutely worth reading and I'm very happy the series has been so popular. Reading something so . . . forgive me, alien, increased my sense of humanity and my empathy for a people this country has not always been terribly kind to (cf litotes). And that, methinks, is extremely worthy.
118) The New Yorker Album 1925-1950, finished DATE
This was a glorious library-sale find, and the most surprising thing is that even though the book's sixty-two years old, it's pretty much impossible to distinguish, design-wise, from any other New Yorker book ever. I love how they got it right the first time and then never had to fix it. Tiny tweaks only.about a month
Anyway, this collection has a lot of cartoons I've never seen before, and I've been devouring New Yorker cartoon collections over twenty years. Many of them are very much of their time---some to a level to which I can barely guess. Some artists who seem pivotal now---James Thurber, Charles Addams---are surprisingly lightly represented.
It's like a time machine to Flapperville and World War II. And some tropes I thought were fairly recent---old ladies' dogs being their children---surprised me with their age.
All in all, a delightful read. Even with some shades of old-timey racism and sexism, this is a pretty swell book to have on the shelf for my kids to find someday and to introduce them to the great heritage of New Yorker cartoons.
117) Going Postal by Terry Pratchett, finished December 1
Like I said about the second book in the series, this was an utterly delightful listen and although it has more damns than Encyclopedia Brown, I'm glad my kids are into it.about a month
Sadly, we've had no long road trips lately so getting through a 12-cd book in only a single renewal was not easy. We had to take a long drive tonight in order to get it back to the library on time.
But Moist was his regular rascally self and the book pops like all of Pratchett's work should, and the third in the series is on cd is just a few months.
We're all very excited.
116) The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks, finished November 26
The Big O recently read all of these books (a feat I never accomplished---the last two books were published while I was in high school or years graduated) and loved them. He pushed me to make this our next out-loud book. Large S enjoyed it quite a bit and even Little Lord Steed got into it by the end.a few weeks
As for me?
It holds up. I don't suppose one would call it properly quote-unquote enlightened, but it's not ignorant of more modern racial thinking. And it's a good yarn. Reid does an impressive job balancing the inherent wonder and horror of the situation---even if she certainly errs on the side of fun and forgiveness. As she must, given her audience. A spoonful of sugar and so forth.
Previously in 2013 . . . . :