Posts Tagged ‘boys’

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David Blaize

September 24, 2010

Sometimes I read a book and know exactly what I want to say about it, and writing about it is easy and fun. Other times, it’s a struggle. I don’t know what I think of the book, and I write about five half-posts before I come up with something that says about half of what I wanted to say.

I think David Blaize falls into the latter group.  So, things:

  • I think the real problem here is the structure. There’s pretty much no plot. In the first half of the book, David goes to a school called Helmsworth. In the second half he goes to a school called Marchester. He has some friends. He gets into trouble a couple of times. He plays some cricket. At the end, he gets horribly injured, and the  whole chapter feels like it ought to be in a different book. It’s like E.F. Benson just wrote whatever he wanted about his main character, without really bothering to make sure all the parts were related in any significant way. And somehow there’s almost no narrative tension to be found anywhere. Read the rest of this entry ?
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The Boy with the U.S. Census

June 4, 2010

I thought The Boy with the U.S. Census, by Francis Rolt-Wheeler, was going to be kind of boring, but there’s so much going on with it that I’m not sure where to start.

I guess we can begin with Mr. Rolt-Wheeler himself. Back when I thought the book was going to be boring, I thought this post was going to be all about him. According to French Wikipedia, he was born in England and left home at the age of twelve, earning his passage to America as a deckhand on a sailing ship. He then became an Anglican minister (although the New York Times says he was Episcopalian) and also an expert on astrology and the occult.

Sadly, French Wikipedia has nothing to offer on what seems to have been the most sensational part of Rolt-Wheeler’s history. Read the rest of this entry ?

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The Telegraph Boy

July 14, 2009

So, I have this New York Book Company edition of Horatio Alger’s The Telegraph Boy. I think I got it at The Book Barn more than a year ago. Anyway, it’s been sitting on a shelf on my family’s house upstate for kind of a while, because I compulsively buy Alger books and forget to read them. This past weekend, though, I forgot my Kindle at a 4th of July party and ended up being without it for, um…twenty hours? Which resulted in me reading a couple of actual physical books that I wouldn’t have read otherwise, one of which was The Telegraph Boy.

(I recognize that I am overly attached to my Kindle. I may actually be as attached to it as my brother once was to his Gameboy Color, which is saying a lot. I feel bad about this, because I really do love actual paper books, especially when they’re old and the pages are turning brown and they smell kind of weird.)

Anyway, the point of this post is that I rarely finish an Alger book and think to myself, that was really good. In fact, I’m not sure that’s ever happened before, and I love Alger more than the vast majority of people, I think. I don’t know what made The Telegraph Boy work so well for me, but here are some guesses: Read the rest of this entry ?

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Alger books

April 24, 2009

This is a document I created for myself when I was writing a high school research paper on Horatio Alger and had trouble keeping his books straight. I think it’s pretty clear that I wasn’t taking the paper very seriously.

It’s been a while since I read anything by Alger, but he was sort of my first love in the world of trashy 19th century fiction, and I feel a warm glow when I look at my bookshelf and realize for the hundredth time that yes, I own a  copy of Walter Sherwood’s Probation.

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Tom Slade’s Double Dare

March 12, 2008

There’s a particular kind of plot, particularly common in adventure novels, where the hero, after having done something particularly heroic, is thought to have done something bad instead and is shunned by everyone until he is vindicated at the end.

I suspect that this was the only plot Percy Keese Fitzhugh knew how to write. His Tom Slade series is a paean to it. But if he only did one thing, he did it well. The Tom Slade series is my favorite boys’ series. None of the several companion series have the same self-righteous (but not sulky) angst that the Tom Slade books do. Read the rest of this entry ?

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The Otterbury Incident

February 20, 2008

Because home is in New York and School is in Pennsylvania, I’ve been spending a fair amount of time on trains lately. And I should probably use that time for work, but somehow I fond it difficult to do anything at all when on trains. I’m perfectly happy to stare out the window for an hour at a time. So the books that I’ve been bringing with me for my train rides have been very frivolous: The Westing Game, Slippy McGee (Marie Conway Oemler’s books continue to fill me with glee), The Otterbury Incident

The Otterbury Incident is the one I really wanted to talk about. It’s been one of my favorite books for years — I’m not really sure how long, exactly. For people who haven’t read the book, the most interesting thing about it will be that it was written by Cecil Day-Lewis, who was the Poet Laureate of England from 1968 to 1972, and who also happened to be the father of Daniel Day-Lewis. For those who have read the book, all that is kind of irrelevant. It’s just too good for any outside factors to be very important. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Deering of Deal

September 20, 2007

Deering of Deal, by Latta Griswold, is one of the most adorable books I’ve ever read, but I’m going to have a hard time talking about it, because I know I shouldn’t be devoting more time to Reggie Carroll than to Tony Deering, who is, after all, the main character.

Tony is a cheerful but sensitive southern boy, who, like all of the men in his family before him, has been sent north to attend a fictional boarding school called Deal. His father and grandfather, by the way, are named Victor and Basil, respectively. I mention this only because I think the names Basil, Victor and Anthony are sort of in harmony with each other in a way that pleases me.
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