Friday, December 31, 2004

Speaking of funny books...

Patrick McManus fairly consistently puts me into laughing fits where speech is impossible, breathing difficult, and I'm laughing, almost soundlessly, my eyes full of tears, my arms holding my shaking sides. My favorite stories are those which include his boyhood friend “Crazy Eddie” Muldoon. Especially the one where he and Eddie build an airplane.
Part of that is because I myself, at the tender age of ten, attempted myself to build an airplane, constructed out of a rickety old wheelbarrow and PVC pipes. I would then push the wheelbarrow as fast as my legs would go across a the bumpy, wind whipped fields, sure that any moment my creation could take flight, at which point I planned to jump on. I neglected any type of steering mechanism, which in hindsight would have been essential. However, wiser heads prevented me from ransacking the linen closet for sheets. Needless to say, I was unable to lift off.
Even with the second design, which was a glider made of PVC pipe, worn on the back, I still couldn't convince said wiser heads to allow the use of sheets-- probably because they would have caught the wind and propelled my scrawny ten year old frame straight into the barbed wire fence between our land and the neighbors.
Unlike young Pat and Eddie, however, I lived nowhere near a lake or pond, and wasn't able to experiment with submarines.

Two other favorite funny books are by Jerome K. Jerome – Three Men on the Bummel, and Three Men in a Boat.
The stories that he works into his books are just as funny as the main story he is telling- for example, in the former, the story of man losing a wife accidentally while bicycling through a country the language of which neither one spoke well.

Our family has also greatly enjoyed all of the Hank the Cowdog books we've read, written by John R. Erickson. The books on tape, read by the author, are also excellent, especially since reading them aloud taxes the reader immensely, since its always hard to understand people who are laughing and reading at the same time.
Sometimes when I watch the boys for the evening, I'll put them to bed with a Hank the Cowdog tape. They love it so much they'll go to bed earlier without a peep of protest, and after impulsively letting them make their own personal pizzas (“Look! I made mine a volcano!” “I need more pepperoni for my turtle.”) that's a very tempting thing! ;-)

Monday, December 20, 2004

English Country House Murders: Classic Crime Fiction of Britain's Upper Crust,
edited by Thomas Godfrey
A wonderful little collection of mysteries (22 of them), most of which I hadn't read.

My favorites in this collection were
“Jeeves and the Stolen Venus” (an unusual comic interlude),
“The Man on the Roof”, by Christianna Brand,
“The Fordwych Castle Mystery”, by Emmuska, Baroness Orczy,
“The Doom of the Darnaways”, by G.K. Chesterton, which I had read before, and
“An Unlocked Window”, by Ethel Lina White.
I picked it up on my way through a little town, at the library, where they were selling discarding books. I thought their prices in general steep, but I'm glad I paid the $2 for it. I love mysteries, so I'm always looking for other good mystery authors.
I think some of these authors will be good to research. Another recent read was an Ellis Peter's mystery, set in medieval times. I'd tell you the title, but it's behind wrapping paper, so I can't! ;-)