Archive for July, 2010


The Rustle of Silk

July 28, 2010

My mental file on Cosmo Hamilton, up until recently, read something like this: brother-in-law of C. Aubrey Smith, wrote Who Cares?, not really named Cosmo Hamilton. I’d read other things about him — that he was a playwright, that he wasn’t actually C. Aubrey Smith’s brother-in-law for very long, etc., but those were the ones that stuck. And now I have something new to add: he took himself very, very seriously, or so The Rustle of Silk leads me to conclude. Unfortunately, that’s the only thing The Rustle of Silk leads me to conclude. Read the rest of this entry ?


The Lone Wolf

July 23, 2010

I was predisposed to like Louis Joseph Vance because he was found dead in his apartment in December 1933, burnt to a crisp from the waist up. Apparently there were suspicions that he’d just…gone up in flames one day, and spontaneous human combustion is, like, my favorite thing. Or, at least, I find the idea of it pretty entertaining.

But I think I would like Louis Vance even if he hadn’t spontaneously combusted. The Lone Wolf is the first book in a series about a gentleman burglar type, and while it wasn’t quite what I’d expected, I very much liked what it turned out to be instead. Read the rest of this entry ?


The Enchanted April

July 20, 2010

Thanks to Mystrygirl87 for pointing me in the direction of The Enchanted April, by Elizabeth von Arnim. It’s exactly the sort of book I like–or at least it should be. I started out by loving it, and finished by finding it kind of frustrating.

The Enchanted April is the story of four unhappy women who rent an Italian castle together for a month. Lottie Wilkins is shy and nervous and stifled, and knows it. Rose Arbuthnot is stifled too, but doesn’t know it–she’s been using religion as a substitute for happiness, so admitting that she’s unhappy would require admitting that religion isn’t sufficient to make her happy, and obviously that won’t do.

The two of them find the advertisement for the castle — placed by its owner, a Mr. Briggs — together, and advertise in turn for a couple of housemates. They find Mrs. Fisher, an elderly lady who apparently does nothing but reminisce about the days when she knew Ruskin and Tennyson and Carlyle; and Lady Caroline Dester, who spends most of her time being irritated that people won’t leave her alone because she’s so beautiful. Sure, Caroline, that’s a terrible problem. I mean, I get the wanting to be left alone bit. People are frequently irritating. But, on a list of irritating habits (ranked by irritatingness, if that’s a word) complaining about how being stunningly beautiful has ruined your life is going to be pretty high up on the page. Read the rest of this entry ?


I hate posting to apologize for not posting

July 19, 2010

But that’s what this is.  I seem to have been focusing on the visual lately: art books, comic books, television shows, etc. Also I’ve been reading Nero Wolfe again, which I guess is always dangerous.

Can anyone tempt me back to the wonderful world of pre-1930 popular fiction? I’d love recommendations, especially for early motoring novels, like From the Car Behind, and most of the Williamsons’ output.