Sunday, July 31, 2022

Walter R. Brooks, Freddy the Detective (1932)

In this book: Freddy! And he's a detective! That was the original title; this one was never changed, but it seems that Brooks still wasn't convinced at this point that this was going to be a wholly Freddy-centric series, as the next three books all received non-standardized titles. So, then.

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Thursday, July 28, 2022

Walter R. Brooks, Freddy Goes to the North Pole (1930)

This was originally titled More to and Again.  What the HECK, man?!?

I’ve gotta be up front here: after being not-super-impressed by Freddy Goes to Florida, I kind of thought I’d have to have some degree of patience to get to where the series really got good.  I was prepared to dig in a little.  

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Monday, July 25, 2022

Walter R. Brooks, Freddy Goes to Florida (1927)

When I was a child, the Freddy the Pig novels--of which Brooks wrote twenty-five--played a big part in my literary consumption (he also wrote the stories that inspired Mr. Ed).  I remember I really liked them, but I hadn't read any (or, more likely, had any read to me by my dad) in thirty-odd years, so my memories are hazy and I thought it would be interesting and hopefully fun to revisit the series.  It was out-of-print for a long time, but the whole thing was reissued as ebooks in I think 2014.

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Thursday, July 21, 2022

Andrus Kivirähk, The Man Who Spoke Snakish (2007)

Well, I'm shortly going to be teaching in Estonia, so I read an Estonian novel.  There is no other explanation than that.

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Thursday, July 07, 2022

Alan Burns, Europe after the Rain (1965)

Burns (1929-2013) was an experimental writer, part of the British movement that emerged in the sixties and seventies and also included the likes of Ann Quin, BS Johnson, and Christine Brooke-Rose (and then didn't last because fifty percent of its members ended up killing themselves).  You'd think I'd've discovered him through my readings of those writers, but actually, I think it was just from hearing John Foxx's song "Europe after the Rain" and thinking, huh, that's an evocative title.  Does it come from something?  As it turns out, both Burns and Foxx named their works after a painting by Max Ernst which unfortunately seems to not be (split infinitive ftw!) prominent enough that there's a good-quality image on the internet.  That's annoying.

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Tuesday, July 05, 2022


Chloe--aka Honeybee, Big Fuzz, Chlo-Chlo, Chloe Bean (to analogize with our dog Ellie, who was sometimes Ellie Bean), and occasionally Douglas (that one was just me being goofy for no reason; don't worry about it) was the only "problem" dog we ever had, sort of.  Not that much, but when she was young and full of beans, she tried to establish herself as the alpha dog by occasionally attacking the others, all of whom were extremely unassuming, to the point where for a brief while it wasn't clear if we'd be able to keep her.  But she grew out of that quickly enough (and really, she was always obviously the alpha anyway; she didn't need to be attacking anyone to prove that).  She was always a little difficult; you were never one hundred percent sure whether you could trust her around strange dogs or people she didn't know.  But people she did know, she loved very intensely (at one point, she was wagging so hard that she contracted a comical condition called happy tail syndrome where a dog whacks something that she gets a small abrasion in her tail and she starts spraying blood every which-way.  Some dogs who get this have to have the ends of their tails amputated, but hers cleared up on its own).  I don't think I can adequately express what a noble beast she was.

(I remember one incident: when I got back after a year in Morocco, she was unbelievably glad to see me.  It was really hot so I decided to sleep downstairs with the air conditioning, and several times during the night she came over to visit with me, which each time involved urinating all over the carpet in excitement.)

She was diagnosed with lymphoma about three weeks ago.  We were able to keep her comfortable with steroids for a while, but yesterday (some holiday that was, not that it would have been anyway) the end had clearly come.  She was fourteen years and seven months old--ancient for such a large dog, but that is cold comfort.  I had sort of had the idea that the end might be at least a little easier given the advance time we had to mentally prepare for it, but that did not work out.  Of course, it's impossible to really clearly remember mental states, but my subjective impression is that out of the three cats and seven dogs I've had to say goodbye to, this was the hardest.  But we did the best we could for her, it's very obvious that she went at exactly the right time, and--somewhat miraculously--both my brothers were in town, so she was surrounded by all her favorite people.  If it had to happen--and it bloody well did, in spite of magical thinking to the contrary--it happened as well as it could have.

I sometimes think that it says something positive about humans that we're willing to take in pets in spite of absolutely knowing that this is inevitable--and then we keep doing it, even after learning from painful experience.  Not, as we can easily see, that that appears to translate into a less cruel society, but it's not nothing.  I suppose.  Anyway, I put some more pictures after the jump.  As you can see, her muzzle really grayed as she got older, to an extent that I don't think I'd ever seen before in a dog.

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