Archive for August, 2009


I cannot express how much I hate Philo Vance right now.

August 29, 2009

I don’t know why I keep putting myself through this. I loathe Philo Vance. I mean, S.S. Van Dine is hilarious in his insistence on always using the longest word available and out-footnoting everyone on the face of the earth, but even run-on sentences about “the lepidoptera of our café life” cannot make up for the hatefulness that is Philo Vance. Read the rest of this entry ?


Four Girls and a Compact

August 29, 2009

Four Girls and a Compact is short and predictable, but not in a bad way. Four girls — Loraine, Laura Ann, Billy, and T.O. — are four working girls who share an apartment they call the “B-Hive” because all of their last names begin with B. Loraine is a teacher and an aspiring writer, Laura Ann is an artist whose job has something to do with photography, Billy teaches music, and T.O., the “Talentless One,” sells handkerchiefs in a department store.

All four are tired and overworked, and they decide to go spend the summer in the country. They’re determined to be completely selfish while on vacation, and they sign a “Wicked Compact,” which states that if any of them do anything unselfish during their trip, they will be evicted from the B-Hive. Read the rest of this entry ?



August 28, 2009

So, A Girl of the Limberlost is only a sequel to Freckles in the way that Alger’s Phil the Fiddler was a sequel to Paul the Peddler, but the text of A Girl of the Limberlost is kind of aggressive about insisting that the reader read Freckles as well, so I did. (The only thing Alger was only ever aggressive about was insisting that a fifteen-cent plate of meat come with a plate of bread.)

So, um…this is where Slippy McGee came from, I guess. It’s really disconcerting to me to see how much Marie Conway Oemler owes to Gene Stratton-Porter. At the same time, though, it’s kind of nice to be able to catalogue all the ways Oemler was better. But this post is not about Marie Conway Oemler, except in the sense that every post on this blog is a tiny bit abut Marie Conway Oemler. It is about Freckles. Read the rest of this entry ?


A Girl of the Limberlost

August 27, 2009

I’d read A Girl of the Limberlost a long time ago, and although I remembered the basic outline of the story, I don’t think it really made much of an impression on me. This time around — well, mostly it just reminded me of Marie Conway Oemler. Enough to make me feel like I don’t need to reread A Woman Named Smith just yet, but not so much that I do feel like I need to reread Slippy McGee.

There are some fairly obvious similarities, from the character list at the beginning to the preoccupation with moths — things that make me think that Oemler, who was writing about ten years later, was definitely aware of Gene Stratton-Porter. Certain details in Oemler’s stories, especially The Purple Heights, show some deeper similarities, but while Oemler owes a lot to Stratton-Porter, I don’t have to switch favorites just yet — nothing in A Girl of the Limberlost made me grin to myself like a crazy person — although I did, at one point, say, “Oh no, not brain fever!” out loud. Why does it always have to be brain fever? Read the rest of this entry ?


The White Linen Nurse

August 6, 2009

So, the real reason I keep reading things by Eleanor Hallowell Abbott is that every once in a while, I reread The Indiscreet Letter and fall in love with it all over again–with the Young Electrician, and the alternating pink and blue lisle undershirts, and the Traveling Salesman’s wife and the whole utterly impossible conversation. I reread it yesterday, so today of course I had to read The White Linen Nurse.

I love coming to something new by an author I’m pretty familiar with and recognizing all the things that make it impossible for it to have been written by anybody else. Especially when I realize new things about the author at the same time. So, The White Linen Nurse was like that, and as such I found it really interesting. Read the rest of this entry ?