I know that I’m never going to run out of new reading, even at the increased pace I seem to be reaching (that is, a book a week or thereabouts, counting as “book” only, well, actual books)–but sometimes I want to take a fresh look at memories of bygone years.
I’ve been thinking about one group of writers I think of as the humorist/essayists, although that’s probably the wrong term. These are folks I read, as much as I could find, some decades ago and enjoyed thoroughly–and I’m wondering whether they’ll stand up to rereading.
Who? Five names comes to mind immediately, but one of the five is a ringer: He’s my age and only well known as an essayist in fairly recent years, and I mostly want to read more of his writing.
Three really are from bygone days: SJ Perelman, James Thurber and Robert Benchley. One is somewhere in between: Woody Allen. The ringer is Steve Martin.
I have a feeling I’m forgetting some of the greats from 40 years ago, when I was doing a lot of this reading; maybe they’ll come to me while browsing the shelves (a combination of short stories, since Livermore shelves those separately, and other classifications–maybe 813.54 or thereabouts? That’s an ignorant guess, since I don’t know Dewey worth a damn).
Turns out Livermore doesn’t own any Perelman–maybe he’s faded away more than I thought. The others are fairly well represented (at least three of them also in films, to be sure). My best guess: The first three will still be funny, Steve Martin will still be great, and Woody Allen…….well, I’m not sure how he’ll fare.
I’m pretty sure the political humorists–Art Buchwald and the lot–won’t have aged very well, and I’ve forgotten most of them.
These are idle musings, but I will start rereading some of this stuff soon. I never subscribed to The New Yorker, home base for much of the best of this sort of writing; maybe I should change that.
There is, to be sure, a solution for Livermore’s lack of Perelman–and for Livermore’s lack of Barbara Fister (I’ve grown to respect her writing and thinking so much that I really want to try her crime novels, but I want to read one before I go out and buy them), for that matter: Link+, the fairly large library cooperative in Northern California that’s surprisingly well integrated into the local catalog. I’ve never used it; that’s about to change, I think.
Amazing: A post about books.
(Yes, I have some thoughts about the current ebook kerfuffle–and about the extent to which public libraries have pushed ebooks and ereaders despite the lack of ownership that was almost certain to lead to stuff like this. But I don’t know when or whether I’ll post anything about it…there are others much closer to the situation, and at least one of them has already said “Why is anybody surprised by this?,” which is a good starting point for a longer conversation.)