Monday, August 24, 2009

10 Books A Day: #124

Around The World In Eighty Days...Jules Verne...Lancer Books

Journey To The Center Of The Earth...Jules Verne...Scholastic

Frankenstein...Mary Shelley...Bantam

Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula...Loren Estleman...Penguin

The Lair Of The White Worm...Bram Stoker...Zebra

The Jewel Of Seven Stars...Bram Stoker...Zebra

Incubus...Ray Russell...Dell

Mystery...Peter Straub...Signet

Beautiful Losers...Leonard Cohen...Bantam

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead...Tom Stoppard...Grove Press

archy and mehitabel...Don Marquis...A Doubleday Dolphin Book

Animal Farm...George Orwell...Signet

Three Comedies Of American Family Life: I Remember Mama/Life With Father/You Can't Take It With You...Ed. Joseph Mersand

Bevis...Richard Jeffries...Puffin Classics

Getting Even...Woody Allen...Vintage

Without Feathers...Woody Allen...Warner

Side Effects...Woody Allen...Ballantine Books

It's a very mixed bag today. The first two Jules Verne books represent an odd trend that happened from the early 60's to about the middle 70's: there was a little spate of adventure movies made from Verne and Wells and Burroughs books, laced with mild science fiction, lost worlds, and what we might call "steam-punk" action today. It started, perhaps, with Disney's 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea and ended with Disney's The Island At The Top Of The World. It extended from movies to cartoons. I think the Edwardian and Victorian style had a kind of "groovy" appeal, while at the same time harking back to a time when there could be more hidden corners of the earth to seek out freedom and wonder. The Eighty Days book still has my wobbly fourth grade signature in it; I always thought the Phileas Fogg on the cover looked like Jed Clampett in one of his more slicked up moments.

Much of the classic horror here belongs to my brother. But Incubus is a kind of trashy novel from the 70's that belonged to all of us; it was made into a kind of trashy movie in the 80's. Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula coyly credits itself to Dr. Watson, claiming Estleman "edited" it. There must be something inevitable about the Holmes/Dracula/Jack the Ripper match-up; I've seen several authors toy with it. There is much fine "streaky bacon" in archy and mehitabel and Animal Farm and Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead and You Can't Take It With You: mingled laughter and philosophy and "rough stuff" as Marquis might phrase it.

I leave with a quote from Woody Allen's My Speech To The Graduates: "More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly."

Book Count: 1469.

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