Cruse – Stuck Rubber Baby

Stuck Rubber Baby by Howard Cruse. Introduction by Tony Kushner
Date read: 14-15 March 2015
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cover of Stuck RubberBaby by Cruse

Paperback, 216 pages
Published 1995 by Paradox Press
Source: Deschutes Public Library (CRUSE HOWARD)

A gay coming-of-age story (and more) set in the context of the civil rights movement in 1960s Alabama. I quite enjoyed it.

There is very little sex; it is not explicit. It is also balanced between heterosexual, or at least a heterosexual act, and gay sex. It shows sex as fraught and demonstrates a side of sex that is good for young adults to fully realize is wider than just them. And, if you demand a moral lesson (or simply, reality) then, yes, he does make her pregnant the first time. I am here to tell you it happens.

I think this would make an excellent suggestion for any young adult who is ready for it. It does a good job of showing how just going along is full acquiescence to the status quo, without being the slightest bit preachy. The bigotry of the 1960s US South and its various violent manifestations is on prominent display, as is the complexity of the various forms of resistance.

Which means it could be recommended for any adult. Well, it should be.

Excellent read.

This is the 41st book in my GN2015

Foglio, et al. – Girl Genius 12

Agatha Heterodyne and the Siege of Mechanicsburg (Girl Genius v. 12), by Phil Foglio (story, drawings), Kaja Foglio (story), & Cheyenne Wright (colors)

Date read: 13-14 March 2015

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cover of Foglio, et al. Girl Genius 12

Paperback, 192 pages

Published 2013 by Airship Entertainment

This material originally appeared November 2011 to December 2012 at www.girlgenius.net

Source: Own. Purchased at Pegasus Books, Bend, Oregon 11 March 2015

I absolutely love Girl Genius! I have this one on hold from the public library but its copy has gone missing so I finally broke down and bought this. I really prefer reading it in this format versus the PDFs of vol. 0-11 that I got via a Kickstarter or on the web as I usually do. That said, $25 for one print volume is a LOT of money. It’s beautiful and I prefer reading from the print but I read it for free on the web. For free! This being v. 12 would put this over $300 and still climbing if one wanted to pay retail for all of the 13 volumes so far. That is a bit much.

Last we left Agatha the Doom Bell had been rung. The Castle has recognized Agatha as the Heterodyne. The city is surrounded and under numerous and assorted attacks; the Castle is almost completely out of power from years of neglect and abuse. Dealing with all of this and trying to fuel the Castle is the gist of this volume.

The boys are back and in fine form; Jäger General Gkika is loosed from her “beer hall;” Franz “Hey! I said Rejoice!” That’s only the start of the fun. The other Jäger Generals and where is the missing one; where did Higgs get to after he and Zeetha showed up?

“Of course I’m distraught! They hurt my weasels!

“You’re one of those militant agnostics the Abbess warns us about, aren’t you?”

“Gadzooks! It seems even your own town doesn’t like you very much!”
“Verily M’Lord, he has been fried!”
“Oh, No- I feel great!

He he.

This is the 40th book in my GN2015

Saunders – Dinner in the Beer Garden

Dinner in the Beer Garden by Lucy Saunders

Date read: 10-11 March 2015 (Re-read); originally read 24-27 June 2014

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Photo of cover of Lucy Saunders' Dinner in the Beer Garden

Paperback, 232 pages

Published 2013 by F&B Communications

Source: Backed on Kickstarter 6 Sep 2013 ($25) by wife, received 31 Jan 2014

[Sara helped Kickstart this book so we have a signed copy that randomly arrived one day a couple of months later. Some days that’s a joy of Kickstarter. Some days not. I read it last June but failed to review it at the time. As part of my goals for the year, starting this month, one a month, I am to review a beer book that I previously read but failed to review. That schedule may be a little tight since it will involve so much re-reading but if I can get through about six before year’s end then that’d be most of them.]

Well-illustrated with color photographs. Lest the title distract you, this is a cookbook. There is no text wasted on philosophies, disputations or similar arcana. There is an acknowledgments, a recipe index and an ingredient index, along with photo credits and an author bio. In between each recipe section there are short “profiles” of some beer gardens and related topics. Otherwise it is mostly recipes, each of which comes with a suggested beer pairing.

While this book does not eschew meat entirely, as the jacket states, “It’s a cookbook for people who like carrots and kale—as well as butter, fish, cheese and chocolate!”

Table of Contents (and commentary):

  • Appetizers (9 recipes – Bock pretzels and other sweet and/or savory things for various seasons)
  • About Tasting and Pairing Beer with Vegetables
  • Beans & Legumes (6 recipes – From salads to fried)
  • Bavaria’s Biergartens (by Lindsay Bosslett and Rick Hadsall)
  • Cheese (9 recipes – French toast to gnocchi to turnovers)
  • Estabrook Park Beer Garden (Milwaukee, WI)
  • Eggs (8 recipes)
  • August Schell Brewery Gardens (New Ulm, MN)
  • Fish & Seafood (7 recipes)
  • New Glarus Brewing Co. Hilltop Beer Garden (New Glarus, WI)
  • Greens (7 recipes)
  • Boundary Bay Brewery & Bistro (Bellingham, WA)
  • Noodles & Pasta (6 recipes)
  • Brewery Farms (Rogue, Bell’s, NY farm brewery license program, Sean Paxton, Sierra Nevada, Stone)
  • Roots (7 recipes)
  • Building a Better Beer Garden: Advice from a Pro Brewer (advice from Aaron Rzeznik, landscape designer and brewer at Witch’s Hat Brewery, South Lyon, MI)
  • Squash & Vegetables (12 recipes)
  • Virginia’s Brew Ridge Trail (Blue Mountain Brewery, Afton; Devils Backbone Brewpub, Rosedale; Wild Wolf Brewing, Nellysford; 6 breweries, Nelson and Albemarle Counties www.brewridgetrail.com )
  • Grains (6 recipes)
  • Botanical Garden Brewfests (Fest-of-the-Ale at Missouri Botanical Garden (Oct); Fest-of-Ale (month of Oct) by Atlanta Botanical Garden; Chicago Botanic Garden festival; Oregon Garden Brewfest, Silverton)
  • Sauces & Soups (8 recipes)
  • Bière de Garde Jelly by Christina Ward, Milwaukee County Master Food Preserver
  • Fruits & Desserts (13 recipes)
  • Recipe Index
  • Ingredient Index
  • Photo Index, Participating Breweries

I have already identified several recipes of interest, including a Basil-Walnut Pesto and Udon with Ginger-Garlic Broth under Noodles & Pasta; Potato-Leek Cakes with Almond Cream Sauce and Manchego Potato & Chard Tarts under Roots; Sesame Miso-glazed Squash and Cauliflower-Chickpea Cakes under Squash & Vegetables; and Carrot Risotto Cakes with Spiced Plum Relish and Millet Flatbread with Manchego and Rosemary under Grains. No doubt, others will sound scrumptious when the proper ingredients are in season.

Pairings  

For the Udon with Ginger-Garlic Broth she suggests a black IPA or hoppy American stout. I might use less ginger; in fact, would, so maybe not so big. I’m thinking Firestone Walker Wookey Jack. The rye in that can add a little of its own spice.

For the Potato-Leek Cakes with Almond Cream Sauce she suggests “a yeasty Belgian strong ale with plum and caramel notes …” (127). Mmmm. Several possibilities here.

For the Sesame Miso-glazed Squash the recommended pairing is “malt-forward lager such as Vienna or Oktoberfest [which] balances the salty miso sauce” (159).

Once in a while the recommendations are oddly specific; I am not referring to the odd Rogue or Goose Island beer or so on as several breweries did support her with locations and/or photos. But, for instance, for the Millet Flatbread with Manchego and Rosemary the recommendation is “a golden ale aged in merlot barrels, or a farmstead dry cider with enough tannins to take on the Manchego and rosemary” (178). OK. We get two recommendations. But both are incredibly specific. I agree that either, but especially the merlot barrel-aged golden, would be exquisite. Not the easiest thing to put one’s hands on, though.

I would love to go to the Fest-of-the-Ale at Missouri Botanical Garden. [ I love MOBOT! I grew up in St. Louis County and visited MOBOT many times when a kid and made it back a couple years ago.]

The Bière de Garde jelly sounds quite tasty but it involves canning. [I must say, I adore this contributor’s title, “Master Food Preserver.” Of course, I just registered for our second year at the C.O.M.G.A. Spring Gardening Seminar.]

All-in-all, this is an excellent book of primarily fruit- and vegetable-centered recipes covering dishes of all sorts to pair with beer. And while these foods could certainly be enjoyed anywhere—without or without a well-paired beer—they would be even better in a beer garden among loved ones or friends. That is what this book celebrates.

I recommend it if you can get your hands on it. Seems to be used copies out there.

This post is cross-posted at my other blog, Bend Beer Librarian, for purposes of the below reading challenge.

This is the 16th book in my Traditional Chesterfield armchair

Allen and Cantwell – Barley Wine

Barley Wine: History, Brewing Techniques, Recipes (Classic Beer Styles series no. 11) by Fal Allen and Dick Cantwell

Date read: 26 February – 04 March 2015

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Image of cover of Barley Wine: History, Brewing Techniques, Recipes (Classic Beer Styles series no. 11) by Fal Allen and Dick Cantwell

Paperback, 198 pages

Published 1998 by Brewers Publications

Source: Own

Fal Allen is currently the head brewer at Anderson Valley Brewing Co. (AVBC). You can see more of his brewing background at that link. Dick Cantwell was one of the co-founders of Elysian Brewing in 1996 and is still their head brewer.

Contents:

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1: The History of Barley Wine
  • Chapter 2: The Flavor Profile of Barley Wine
  • Chapter 3: The Five Elements: Malt, Hops, Yeast, Water, and Time
  • Chapter 4: The Brewing Process
  • Chapter 5: Professional Barely Wine Breweries
  • Chapter 6: Recipes
  • Appendix A: Festivals
  • Appendix B; Troubleshooting
  • Appendix C: U.S. and Canadian Barely Wine Breweries
  • Appendix D: Unit Conversion Chart
  • Glossary
  • Further Reading
  • Bibliography
  • Index
  • About the Authors

NB: Publication date 1998. At the time perhaps it made sense, but 17 years later App. C is kind of useless. Chap. 5 is better in that we get some data and descriptions, so even if the beer or brewery are long gone it still provides some context, especially compared to the others in the rest of the chapter. [This book is no. 11 in the series and no. 10 Stout (see below) also has an appendix “Commercial Stout Breweries,” which seems of the same limited value and ends with “Note: This is only a partial listing of the numerous brewers of stout.” You think?]

Introduction

“These days barley wine brewing is alive and well, if somewhat besieged in its native Britain. Its history is not continuous or easy to trace. Studying barley wine is like following footprints which disappear and reappear, forking and veering, stamping for a time in a circle and then dispersing, leaving trails that seem to go cold and then suddenly present a host of destinations. It’s an enterprise requiring a few leaps of courage and fancy simply to consider the widely variant examples and information that is part of the same theoretically coherent style. We will challenge and define the parameters of barley wine, examining every stage of the brewing process to wring the utmost from ingredients, equipment, and procedures. We will explore the contributions of each of brewing’s basic raw materials, including one not ordinarily considered—time. We will also offer practical hints based on our own home and professional brewing experience” (Introduction, 6-7).

Chapter 1: The History of Barley Wine

Seems reasonable. Anyone aware of other histories of barley wine? I like that we’re off to an inclusive start.

Chapter 2: The Flavor Profile of Barley Wine

Covers a lot of ground fairly succinctly.

“There are, in fact, a number of proper versions of the style, each with a historical and geographical precedent, and each matching the original qualities” (31).

Includes: alcohol, color and clarity, hops, age, yeast and other influences, conditioning and carbonation; “families” of barley wines: The Trent, the Thames, and Others: English Barley Wine Brewing; The Northeastern United States—The Great Between; Northwestern Barley Wines; Other Beers Defying Classification.

The “Other Beers Defying Classification” section was interesting in that it told me that Michael Jackson considered Russian Imperial stout to be a dark barley wine. I just checked his The World Guide to Beer and sure enough, pages 170-171 are “Russian stout and barley wines” (1977, First american ed.). I did not remember that. Perhaps partly due to the fact that it was many years later before I had tasted either style. I am not saying I agree with Michael, though. His reasoning was a little loose.

This section also reminded me that “in Stout, Michael Lewis considers imperial stout such a break from traditional stout styles that he devotes to it only a brief discussion (Lewis 1995)” (50). That’s right. I can find almost nothing on Imperials in it. That’s my biggest gripe with Stout. But back to this book.

Chapter 3: The Five Elements: Malt, Hops, Yeast, Water, and Time

I like how they bring out in the section on “Pale Malt” that English pale malt is best (with Maris Otter at the top) because “it has a more complex flavor than American malts, which are generally malted to microbrewery specifications” (55). That is soon to change, although mostly likely remain sparsely dispersed and very small-scale for a long while. Micromalting. Heirloom and landrace barleys. Barleys not even suspected by the macros.

Photo of emblem for the High Desert Museum exhibit Brewing Culture: The Craft of Beer

We went to the last panel discussion at the High Desert Museum as part of their exhibit, Brewing Culture: The Craft of Beer. It was Feb. 19th and this was its remit:

“Join us for a dynamic conversation with Seth Klann of Mecca Grade Estate Malt to learn how barley is farmed and malted in the High Desert. Klann will be joined by Scott Fish a barley breeding researcher and resident malster at OSU and Dustin Herb, a graduate research assistant in OSU’s Department of Crop and Soil Science whose work is on barley and malting.”

The researchers actually went first with Seth finishing before questions for everyone. Mecca Grade Estate Malt. We have locally grown barley and a micromalting facility in Central Oregon. I know there are a few around the country. Michigan, for sure. Colorado somewhere? New York? Montana? Barley region states anyway.

For far more information on this panel discussion of malt see “The day I learned about barley.”

Hmm. Ambled away from the topic at hand again.

This chapter covers some ground but does it fairly efficiently: The Malt Bill: Pale Malt, Specialty Malts, Adjuncts; Hops: Boiling Hops, Finishing Hops; Yeast: Yeast Flavor, Alcohol Tolerance, Attenuation, Flocculation, Oxygen; Water; Aging; Packaged Beer; Wood.

Chapter 4: The Brewing Process

Let’s just say that if you want to brew your first barley wine you perhaps had best read this chapter. I’m not saying it is the last word, by any means. But it gives you a good idea of how much you’ll be taxing your knowledge, your system, your ingredients and your processes.

Chapter 5: Professional Barely Wine Breweries

Provides the specifications, and variably some notes or description, on twenty barley wines, beginning with Bass No. 1. The specs provided are slightly variable and/or not available for some pieces of data on each beer. Basically: Name, Brewer, Original Gravity, Terminal Gravity, ABV, IBU, Hop Variety, Malt, Mash, Boil, Fermentation Temperature, Yeast, Fermentation Time and Aging.

Some of the other beers are Sierra Nevada Bigfoot, Fuller’s Golden Pride, Anchor Old Foghorn (1996), Thomas Hardy (1989), and Hair of the Dog Adambier.

Chapter 6: Recipes

Eleven recipes “from a wide-range of brewers and brewing backgrounds” (131) are presented and each is sized for both 5 gallons and 1 barrel. Some of the brewers are Ray Daniels, Charlie Papazian, George & Laurie Fix, Fred Eckhardt, and Randy Mosher.

Appendix A: Festivals

Clearly several more by now and The Brickskeller is closed.

Appendix B: Troubleshooting

From stuck fermentation to stuck mash and other issues in-between.

Appendix C: U.S. and Canadian Barely Wine Breweries

No doubt it was partial then; now not so much interesting even as an historical document since we have no idea of the scope of its limitations to begin with.

Appendix D: Unit Conversion Chart

Glossary

Not even sure half of those terms are in the book. And they’re mostly not indexed soit  makes it hard to verify.

For now I am recommending this book. The issues I have pointed out above are inherent in any text like this that becomes dated. My single caveat for otherwise not wholeheartedly recommending it is that I have yet to brew from it. Based on other things I have read their recommendations seem sound but I have not tested any of them in practice. Take that as you will.

This is the 15th book in my Traditional Chesterfield armchair

Citations

Lewis, Michael. Stout. First American ed. Boulder, Colo.: Brewers Publications, 1995. Print. Classic Beer Style Series, 10.

Cross-posted at Bend Beer Librarian.

Bagge – Woman Rebel

Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story, First hardcover ed. by Peter Bagge

Date read:01-02 March 2015

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Image of cover of Bagge's Woman Rebel

Hardback, 72+ pages

Published 2013 by Drawn + Quarterly

Source: Deschutes Public Library (BAGGE PETER)

Margaret Sanger was an American sex educator and nurse. She opened the first birth control clinic and, in effect, began Planned Parenthood. She is a fascinating person, to say the very least.

This title was interesting enough. There is a 2-page intro called, “On Peter Bagge and Margaret Sanger” by Tom Spurgeon (editor of The Comics Reporter), the graphic novel proper in 72 pages, followed by two pages on “Why Sanger?” by Peter Bagge, and 18 pages on “Who’s Who and What’s What,” which is actually the endnotes. Yep. No indication in the text that there was more context, and perhaps photos or other images, in the back. Grr.

Also, the text in the introductory and back matter is tiny. Grrr.

The author does do a good job of telling us where he took artistic license in the back matter. Clearly, other stories—as he points out—can and have been told.

Fast read. Positive but honest portrait of a complex woman. Mostly marked down for not alerting me to extra context and small type.

This is the 39th book in my GN2015

This is the 14th book in my Traditional Chesterfield armchair

Atkeson – Oregon II

Oregon II by Ray Atkeson; text by Archie Satterfield

Date read: 21-26 February 2015

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Hardback, 182 pages

Published 1974 by Graphic Arts Center Publishing

Source: Deschutes Public Library [OVERSIZE 917.95 ATKESON RAY)

Not near as impressed with this as I was with Oregon, My Oregon or even Ski & Snow Country.

In those books all of the photographs were black & white and we were provided both historical and technical details by contributors highly qualified to do so. This book has only color photos and the text by Archie Satterfield consist of an eight-page essay to Oregon and, I assume, the photo captions are also by him. But in neither case do we learn anything about the historical and technical details of these photos. Or why they are even all color.

Despite carting home this heavyweight and its equally stout companion, Oregon III, and the not light but more middling-sized, Wind on the Waves, I almost did not read this. Atkeson’s color photos (based mostly on this book) simply do not draw me in like his black & white photos do. Better editorial selection? Or do I just prefer his work in b&w?

What drew me in, even though I still had to force my way through the Satterfield essay (which is OK in its own right; just not what I am looking for), was the two-page photo (pp. 8-9) of the Cascades at sunset looking west from the top of Pilot Butte. I immediately recognized the view, despite it being an “impossible” one. That is, not a human eye perspective. The photo is mostly shades of gold and browns, while the sunset silhouettes cause lots of interesting flattening in the depth-of-field. But it isn’t quite flat, not in all places. I am not going to try and describe it any further; let us just say, it has depths. Then again, I do not particularly think it is a great photo at all. It is an interesting one though.

The perspective in the photo is quite intriguing, as I hinted at. My guess, based on information on Atkeson’s technique (at least in b&w) in Oregon, My Oregon was to use the “extra” resolution of his 4×6 camera to take larger landscapes and then crop out the portion he wanted. Based on the perspective of this photo he had to do something similar. This is a piece of a much larger negative. There is no other way to compress and flatten the foreground so much without a telephoto lens which would seriously narrow the angle and we would have far less peaks in view. By the way, I talked about foreground in the previous paragraph but that is what is entirely missing from this print. The foreground of the photo has been removed in printing.

So … larger negative, piece of. Interesting. But now I want to see the whole negative. And did Atkeson compose the entire picture in the viewfinder and then still enlarge sections out or did he compose the shot he wanted and only ensure he had enough “extra” around it to do whatever he was looking for with perspective, etc.? So many questions and no hints of an answer.

By the way, there was an Oregon in 1968 by Atkeson with text by Charles H. Belding. It was “one the most successful books in the history of regional publishing, [but] has gone out of print to make way for this fresh look …” (front flap).

I liked it well enough but I simply am not roused by Atkeson’s color photos—or at least those selected for this book. I will try poking at Oregon III, which has text by Richard Ross, and at Wind on the Waves, with lots of text by Kim R. Stafford. Both of those also contain all color photos.

This is the 13th book in my Traditional Chesterfield armchair

Pilot Butte Update 2

In which I give an update to my hiking of Pilot Butte and more general walking and other exericse.

I first addressed Pilot Butte in my Exercise goals for 2015 post and again in the Pilot Butte Inspiration post of 10 February, which makes this update 2.

The gist was that I was going to climb Pilot Butte a minimum of 1x/week but that was causing my back to hurt too much so I decided to hike the base trail around, which really is as much up and down but in shorter more frequent doses. I also started working toward the Century Club.

In the last update I had hiked the butte 9 times by the end of week 7. Week 9 just ended—also ending month 2—and I have have hiked it now 15 times. That is 30% of the way to the Century Club with only 16.7% of the year gone by. Maybe I can complete two Centuries this year.

a photo of my Century Club card filled out to date

Times are still quite good (for me, and in my opinion) and I do not detect any kind of overuse issues beginning. I do need to get new walking/hiking shoes soon though. Should be good for running shoes but got cold again so that’ll wait.

Tights update: new tights are boring black. ::sad face:: Seems fashion moves on. Colorful tights are only available in 3/4 length tights currently; at least at the local store I went to. Maybe elsewhere the situation is different … but 3/4 length are nowhere near my radar currently. I have tights though. Of course, as soon as I got them the weather turned cold again and we even got snow and ice. It is winter after all. 😀

And thank you, Mom, seriously, for helping me with the tights. They may be boring but they should be effective. That’s what truly matters. You know me, though. Loud and flashy.

At work yesterday I went through the current version (Oct 2012) of US Army FM 7-22 Army Physical Readiness Training [PDF ~24 MB) and got a lot of good info to start doing other things besides walk/hike and pull-/chin-ups.

As for weekly mileage, in the last update we were still in week 7:

  • Week 7     16.19 mi
  • Week 8     8.96 mi
  • Week 9     13.77 mi
So despite week 6 being crap I have been over 8 mi/wk since. This pleases me greatly.
I think that’s it for now.

Ramsey – New Era

New era : reflections on the human and natural history of Central Oregon by Jarold Ramsey

Date read: 07-26 February 2015

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cover of  Ramsey's New Era

Paperback, 154 pages

Published 2003 by Oregon State University Press

Source: COCC Barber Library (F 876.5 .R36 2003)

I found this while verifying that there is a second copy of the previously reviewed Atkeson book on the library shelves.

I truly enjoyed this book and will be acquiring a copy to own: there are several stories, some useful leads in my local history question, and some intriguing points of view that I want to revisit.

Ramsey’s language is of the common person, yet fluid and often beautiful. We heard the author speak at our public library just two days after I checked out the book. He told us a very schematic Native American folktale from the Central Oregon region and then proceeded to embellish it by looking at it academically and following up leads and sources until it is was fleshed out as it can be. It was wonderful exercise. “The Farm Boy, the Homesteader, and the Old Indian: Conserving a Story” is a similar sort of exercise that he undertakes in this volume.

Contents:

  • Introduction
  • New Era: Growing Up East of the Cascades
  • The Farm Boy, the Homesteader, and the Old Indian: Conserving a Story
  • Going Around the Mountain
  • The Kiln
  • Opal City
  • Quincey’s Ladders: A Fishing Tale
  • The Canyon
  • Two Homesteads
  • An Impromptu on Owning Land
  • Notes

“New Era” tells of growing up in Central Oregon and of the one-room schoolhouse he attended. I already mentioned “The Farm Boy, …” above. “Going Around the Mountain” tells the story of a family trip in the summer of 1949 to circumnavigate Mount Jefferson. “The Kiln” and “Opal City” are about just what they say there are. “Quincey’s Ladder” is about a prime fishing spot and so much more. “The Canyon” is indeed the story of a canyon, while “Two Homesteads” is a comparative study of two ranches. “An Impromptu …” is also well-advertised as to topic.

Highly recommended for lovers of Central Oregon history, Ramsey’s other literary endeavors, or fans of stories of the homesteading era.

This is the 12th book in my Traditional Chesterfield armchair

Merveille – Hello, Mr. Hulot

Hello, Mr. Hulot by David Merveille according to Jacques Tati

Date read: 23 February 2015

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cover of Merveille's Hello, Mr. Hulot

Hardback, 32 pages

English translation published 2013 by NorthSouth Books; first published in France under the title Hello Monsieur Hulot, 2010

Source: Deschutes Public Library (Picture Books MERVEILLE DAVID)

I learned about this adorable book from Unshelved in a review by Gene Ambaum himself. Same weekly installment in which I learned about A Most Imperfect Union.

Monsieur Hulot is a comedic character invented and acted by Jacques Tati for four movies made between 1953 and 1971. I have not seen them all but I know I have seen at least one and perhaps two. If you are unfamiliar with Monsieur Hulot then I suggest you check out one of the movies listed at the Wikipedia article linked above.

If you are familiar with (and like) Monsieur Hulot then I suggest you check out this book. It is quite simple and you can read it in minutes if that is your desire. You would be better rewarded by taking your time with each scene, though, and soaking in what is going on around Monsieur Hulot; whether or not he is aware that anything is going on.

This was the most fun I have had with a book in a long time. There are 22 “scenes,” perhaps “tableaus,” each consisting of two pages. The “set-up” is on the recto (righthand page) and then you turn the page to see the “punchline” on the verso (lefthand page.)

My favorites, for assorted reasons, are:

  • The Moon Walk
  • Globe Trotter
  • The Umbrella Corner
  • Chameleon
  • The Eternal Smile
  • The Crossing
  • Attention
  • A Tall Tale
  • A Butterfly Moment

I honestly do not remember there being any stinkers in the bunch. I think it could be great to read with kids but they might need some help with context. I mean, Neil Artmstrong’s footprints on the moon? Of course, I would really love to hear the stories an inventive three- to four-year old might tell based on the pictures.

There are no words, except for those on the occasional street sign or awning or a sound effect or two.

Highly recommended for story lovers of all ages. Especially those who appreciate whimsy, lightheartedness and kindness in their humor.

This is the 38th book in my GN2015

Stavans and Alcaraz – A Most Imperfect Union

A Most Imperfect Union: A Contrarian History of the United States by Ilan Stavans and Lalo Alcaraz

Date read: 18-20 February 2015

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Image of cover of Stavans and Alcaraz - A Most Imperfect Union

Hardback, xv, 269 pages

Published 2014 by Basic Books

Source: Deschutes Public Library (STAVANS ILAN)

I wanted so much more from this.

There is so much sarcasm here, at different levels, that it becomes an obstacle to knowing how to take much of it. The author, Stavans, jumps right in in the five-page Foreword. He doesn’t need to sell me on the “immigrant perspective”—I value such critiques—but he does on some of his stereotypes of Americans throughout the book. I agree in most cases, but I sometimes want a little support. Also, I despise broad-brush generalizations as a simplification device; or, for most any reason.

Sadly, though, I think they are mostly preaching to the choir. Anyone who truly needs this book will probably never read very far in it; that is, if they ever even pick it up.

Give it a try and see how you relate to it. I guess I wanted sharper, more pointed critique that was not simply stereotypes being thrown around.

This is the 37th book in my GN2015

This is the 11th book in my Traditional Chesterfield armchair