Archive for March 11th, 2007

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Adrift in New York, or Tom and Florence Braving the World

March 11, 2007

Ah, Horatio Alger, Jr. If I have an area of expertise, he’s it. A few of his books were the beginning of what is now a pretty large collection of old children’s novels, and I bought my tenth Alger yesterday. It’s called Adrift in New York, and it’s exactly as ridiculous as I’ve come to expect Alger’s books to be.

You’ve probably heard of Alger in connection with the “Alger Myth”: the idea that anyone can make money and move up the social scale as long as they’re willing to work hard. I don’t like the Alger Myth. Or, at least, I know that it doesn’t really hold true in his books. My friend Sam expresses it much better in his description of Mark the Matchboy: through hard work and good luck, you can become the grandson of a rich man.

Adrift in New York
is something like that.

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Who Cares?

March 11, 2007

I’ve been rereading Who Cares? by Cosmo Hamilton, whose name was actually Cosmo Gibbs and who happens to have been C. Aubrey Smith’s brother in law. I found this book about a year ago by browsing through the Project Gutenberg catalog alphabetically by title. Novels with questions for titles tend to be fun, and quite a few of them can be found under ‘W’.

Who Cares? is silly and overwrought, but I keep being seduced by the descriptors Hamilton uses for the hero and heroine: young, clean, honest, strong, etc. And somehow that’s always what I remember about this book, instead of the silliness.

Joan Ludlow lives with her grandparents in the country. Her mother used to live with them, too, but she has just remarried and gone away for her honeymoon, and so Joan is alone with her old grandparents and their old house full of their old servants and old dogs. And she’s bored out of her mind because her grandparents are strict and she’s full of youth and vigor and stuff.

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