I Cannot Wait Till Lunchtime

English as She Is Spoke by José Da Fonseca & Pedro Carolino, edited by Paul Collins. McSweeney’s Books, 1855.

Sarah: In 1855, two Portuguese guys decided to write a Portuguese-English phrasebook, the drawback being that neither of them spoke English and neither had access to any Portuguese-English dictionaries. So they used a Portuguese-French dictionary and and French-English dictionary to create their phrasebook.
Gene: (laughs)
S: And they published it. This is a reprint of that book, which immediately became an early comedy hit. Because it is hilarious.
G: Unintentionally hilarious?
S: Unintentionally hilarious. You do have to remember… well, like when you read Bram Stoker’s Dracula and you think “Well, this isn’t that spooky,” but it was the first one. Sometimes if it limps a little, you have to remember it was the original. And this was before machine translation, so they were doing this by hand. It’s artisinal translation.
G: Are we at the point where we’re calling translations artisinal? That’s kind of sad. Continue reading “I Cannot Wait Till Lunchtime”

Mrs Vince Camden Written on a Pee Chee

Citizen Vince by Jess Walter. Harper Perennial, 2008. 9780061577659.

Sarah: So when you first talked about Book Wows, you pitched the idea to me as we grab a book from our collection and talk about why we love it. So this is the first book I thought about, but I didn’t want to start out with it. It’s almost too much for me to talk about. The book is Citizen Vince by Jess Walter.
Gene: OK!
S: It’s the first or second book by him that I read.
G: He was a journalist somewhere in Washington state, I think — he’s somewhat local, right?
S: He still lives in Spokane.
G: He used to work with my friend Jonathan. I was at a party at Jonathan’s house and he and another reporter talked about how Jess Walter had escaped journalism much like librarians talk about those who escape the library.
S: Walter and Sherman Alexie do this podcast together, it went on hiatus while Alexie was ill, but it’s rumored that it’s coming back. It’s so good: two really smart guys who are incredibly good writers interviewing other writers they like. It is the best way to get to know authors that you need to read.
G: So tell me about this book. Is it a mystery? Continue reading “Mrs Vince Camden Written on a Pee Chee”

The Big Book of Surgery

The Sacred Heart: An Atlas of the Body Seen Through Invasive Surgery by Max Aguilera-Hellweg. Bulfinch Press, 1997. 9780821223772. 128pp.

Gene: This is a Wow, but it’s also potentially an Ick. What I love about sharing books with you is that I’m digging into books that I’ve kept for a long time and asking myself why I’ve kept them, and if they’re worth hanging on to. This book freaks me out.
Sarah: Ugh!
G: It’s photographs of surgery. I’ve looked at it so many times, but so quickly, that I didn’t realize before the other day that a lot of the pictures are of the same surgery. I never read the essay before (I did a little this time) because the photos take over my brain and then I have to stop looking at it. Continue reading “The Big Book of Surgery”

Spivspeak

A Dictionary of the Underworld, British and American, Being the Vocabularies of Crooks, Criminals, Racketeers, Beggars and Tramps, Convicts, The Commercial Underworld, The Drug Traffic, The White Slave Traffic, Spivs by Eric Partridge. Bonanza Books, 1961.

underworld Sarah: My parents are downsizing, so every once in a while they’ll say, “If there’s anything you want, make sure you ask for it.” So I said, “I want A Dictionary of the Underworld.”
G: I’ve got to do the creepy thing. (Sniffs book.) It doesn’t actually smell, but it looks like it would smell.
S: It’s old enough that it should.
G: How old is it?
S: First published in 1949, reprinted with new addenda 1961. Continue reading “Spivspeak”

Strong is Beautiful

Strong Is the New Pretty: A Celebration of Girls Being Themselves by Kate T. Parker. Workman, 2017. 9780761189138. 256pp.

strong-is-the-new-prettyGene: It’s the ultimate coffee table book. Photos of girls, a lot of them doing sports – it’s a celebration of how strong and tough girls are. It’s not quite against the idea of dolling yourself up, but it makes it clear you don’t have to to be strong and pretty.
Sarah: So a wider variety of pretty than you’d see in a lot of books.
G: Right. The photographer, Kate Parker, said she was shooting pictures of her daughters and their friends and the ones that resonated were the photos where they are 100% themselves. They’re celebrations of who the girls are. (Reading) “I wanted my girls to know that being themselves is beautiful, and that being beautiful is about being strong.” There’s a quote from each girl next to her picture, with her age and her first name. Continue reading “Strong is Beautiful”

Beware Cat Ladies

The Collected Cat Rackham by Steve Wolfhard. Koyama Press, 2016. 9781927668382.

catrackhamSarah: OK, I picked this book for you because of the shiny bits on the cover.
Gene: Ooooh! Cat Rackham!
S: All the rain falling on a dejected Cat Rackham is shiny.
G: It’s a beautiful use of spot gloss on the cover.
S: Falling on a completely sad lump of a cat wearing a green t-shirt.
G: I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed this, but rain is something that a lot of cartoonists draw to show off their skills. Like in old Will Eisner graphic novels — it’s beautiful. Glorious parts of Sin City feature rain, too.
S: So Steve Wolfhard is an animator and for a while he drew comics and they became really popular. He eventually ended up back in animation and he’s one the artists with Adventure Time. You can definitely see some of his style reflected in Adventure Time now.
Continue reading “Beware Cat Ladies”

My Life Sandwich List

The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches: Recipes, History and Trivia for Everything Between Sliced Bread by Susan Russo, photography by Matt Armendariz. Quirk Books, 2010. 9781594744389.

10,000 Snacks: A Cookbook of Canapes, Savories, Relishes, Hors D’Oeuvres, Sandwiches, and Appetizers for Before, After, and Between Meals by Cora, Rose and Bob Brown, pictures by Julian Brazelton. Halcyon House, 1937.

encycsandwichGene: All right, these are from your permanent collection. Go.
Sarah: First, The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches! It’s technically a cookbook but honestly I feel like it’s more of a checklist of sandwiches, regional and national, that you should eat. Because if I travel somewhere, I want to eat the sandwich of that place.
G: Doughnut sandwich? Where’s that from? Continue reading “My Life Sandwich List”