January 09, 2007

Book Review Time!

As I mentioned sometime ago, I got a Barnes and Noble gift card from my brother- and sister-in-law, and loaded up on a bunch of bargain books online, and have managed to look at a few of them.

Ones read so far:

Allied Aircraft Art Gosh, what a crappy book. I love nose art, and thought a modern take on it would be interesting. It probably would have been, had the compiler/author taken the time to not show ugly, amateurish, half-completed work. If you're going to have nose art photos, every one doesn't have to be a Vargas girl, but whatever it is ought to all at least be well done. It would also have been good had it been printed on better quality paper. And if the photographs had been even slightly clear. And if the author had resisted the urge to "write" captions, most of which were lame attempts at humor, or otherwise uninformative. Not recommended.

Art Nouveau: An Anthology of Design and Illustration from the Studio I like the whole fin de siècle, Art Nouveau period of art and architecture, and enjoy graphic art picture books. This one was okay, but there was no organization to it, and some of the reproductions were muddy or grayish, rather than being in crisp black and white. The pulpy paper didn't help anything. Found a couple of interesting bookplates and such, but overall it was a bit thin, and less than compelling in its offering of examples. But it was only a buck, so I can't complain.

A Guide to the Most Disgusting, Hideous, Inept, and Dangerous People, Places and things on Earth (World's Worst Series) A breezy look at just what the title says. Relatively interesting, although most of this stuff I've already read online in various places, mostly Snopes.com or The Straight Dope. Eh. Whatever.

May Contain Nuts: A Very Loose Canon of American Humor It's been a long time since I read any sort of anthology, especially one devoted to humor. Humor has changed, let me tell you. The book is VERY Web-oriented, with many stories and quips drawn from the Internet or Internet life or things peculiar to the computer medium, such as a "news crawl" of silly asides printed every few pages or so. The only thing is that many of the authors are of the "I Am a Humorist, and What I Write is Humorous, and Therefore I Must Write Much of It In Order to Maximize My Funniness" school of writing, and go on and on and on with the same not-really-that-funny, but-I-saw-something-like-it-on-the-Internet-so-it-must-be-funny premise. Virtual humor, I suppose. Not really funny, but virtually so. I kept wishing for a mouse so I could scroll through all that crap.

Second, aside from the odd homage paid by so many of the writers to the pervasiveness of the online world, there is just the general quality of the writing. So much of it seems so strained. Look, we've got enough angstiness and neurotica in regular literature, so don't feel like you've got to beat the crap out of lighter topics, too. Relax a little. And again, be brief.

Anyway, I'm about a quarter of the way through, and so far the only thing that I felt was actually humorous was written by Roy Blount, Jr. Go figure. There's a lot more left, including P.J. O'Rourke, so I know I'll find something else funny. I hope. Anyway, it was only two bucks, so hey.

The final two I got I haven't started yet--The Wide Net and Other Stories and Twenty-Five Yards of War: The Extraordinary Courage of Ordinary Men in World War II.

So there you are.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at January 9, 2007 09:28 AM