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SheriC

Portable Mistletoe

Reading, for me, is entertainment and an escape from the real world. But it can also inform and stretch the boundaries of the life I live.

Currently reading

The Horse Dancer
Jojo Moyes
Seabiscuit: An American Legend
Laura Hillenbrand
Peanuts Classics
Charles M. Schulz
Progress: 20/450 pages
The Bungalow Mystery
Carolyn Keene
Progress: 192/192 pages
In Such Good Company: Eleven Years of Laughter, Mayhem, and Fun in the Sandbox
Carol Burnett
Progress: 16 %
The Bungalow Mystery #3
Carolyn Keene
Progress: 192/192 pages
The Bungalow Mystery
P.M. Carlson, Russell H. Tandy, Carolyn Keene
Progress: 204/204 pages

The Bungalow Mystery - update ND3.1

The Bungalow Mystery - P.M. Carlson, Russell H. Tandy, Carolyn Keene The Bungalow Mystery  - Carolyn Keene

Reading the 1930 & 1960 versions of The Bungalow Mystery simultaneously, comparing differences in the story and characters, and pondering dated plot points. Spoilers: full plot description below!

 

1930 Chs 1-3 vs 1960 Chs 1-2

 

1930 Nancy and Helen, her buddy from the last two books, are having a nice summer afternoon boating adventure on the lake when a violent storm comes up out of nowhere. Their boat sinks before they can get back to shore and there’s an unreasonably exciting scene where Helen, who is a weak swimmer, nearly drowns Nancy by clutching at her in a panic. Unreasonable, because it’s Chapter One and you know they’re both going to survive, but it’s really pretty well written, even with the cliché of exhausted Nancy trying to tow Helen to shore and Helen pitifully telling Nancy to leave her and save herself, and Nancy grimly determined to save them both. Anyway, another girl in a boat shows up, having heard their shouts for help, and rescues them. While Helen lays in the bottom of the boat like a dead fish, Nancy takes over for the exhausted girl at the oars.

 

Once they get to shore, the girls shelter in a boathouse until the storm blows over, and the new girl tells them her story. Laura Pendleton is a wealthy young lady who has been recently orphaned, and she’s staying at a hotel on the lake where she will be meeting her court appointed guardian, Jacob Aborn. She’s grieving and lonely and afraid, because her guardian is a stranger to her. The girls exchange invitations to visit and part company.

 

The 1960 version is similar, except that instead of Helen panicking like a ninny so Nancy can look extra competent by comparison, 1960 Helen has her arms somehow paralyzed by the boat hitting her when it sank. Laura inexplicably tells them her whole story while they’re still out in the storm trying to make it to shore, and the boathouse that they shelter in has a second story that’s set up like a small apartment – this difference will be a significant plot point later. Jacob is a distant relation in this version, and is to be accompanied by his wife Marion. I can’t find any reason for this change that serves the plot, except it gives the author a chance to illustrate a “bad” woman.

 

Considerations: A couple of things caught my interest. In the 1930 version, the girls pull on oilskins, but in the 1960 version, they put on plastic raincoats. So I fell into an internet rabbit hole reading about the history and evolution of waterproof outwear technology. Apparently, the oilskins would have been made from cloth impregnated with a petroleum-based wax. It seems that most of the innovations in waterproofing technology occurred somewhat later than the 1960 date of the revision, but by the late 1950’s there were “plastic ‘macs’ aka (by brand name) Pakamacs (made from extruded sheet plastic with welded seams and no fabric at all).”

 

Another curiosity is that the 1960 girls did look unsuccessfully for life jackets before the boat sank, but this isn’t mentioned at all in the 1930 version. Another internet rabbit hole later, I can say that life preservers did not become mandatory in personal watercraft until 1973. In fact, even at the time of the 1960 rewrite, the available technology was so poor that it’s highly unlikely a lake resort motel boat would have even had a life jacket designed to hold an unconscious person’s head and face out of the water, so although it might have helped Nancy keep Helen afloat, with her useless arms, she still would have had to struggle to keep her face above water in the rough, stormy water.

 

Dated Plot Points: Nobody with commonsense is going to be caught out on the lake in a storm today, assuming they have a smartphone with a weather app and weather alerts. Although I suppose they could be out of a service area. Since they are only 40 miles from River Heights, though, that seems unlikely. Also, mandatory life jackets, floatation cushions, and a radio for help. We had all these things on our 16 foot ski boat, so I assume they would be available on a resort motel’s motor boat.

 

Cult of Domesticity: One striking difference in the revisions is the significant amount text devoted to demonstrating that Nancy, despite her intelligence and determined, inquisitive nature, is still compliant with the virtues of feminine domesticity. In the 1960 version, we are treated to a full explanation of the girls drying out their wet clothes, making a nice cup of hot chocolate, washing their dishes and tidying up, and leaving a note of thanks to the boathouse’s owners. The 1930 girls just shelter until the storm blows over and take off after.  

 

The 24 Tasks of the Festive Season 2018: Dia de los Muertos (Nov. 1) – Book: Re-read an old favorite from a now-deceased author, a book from a finished (dead) series, or a book set in Mexico.

 

Index of Posts:

ND3 Reading start

ND3 Reading finish

ND3.0

ND3.1 (pending)

ND3.2 (pending)

ND3.3 (pending)

ND3.4 (pending)

ND3.5 (pending)

ND3.6 (pending)

ND3.7 (pending)

ND3.8 (pending)

ND3.9 (pending)

 

ND3.0 The Nancy Drew Project, con’t for The Bungalow Mystery

The Bungalow Mystery - P.M. Carlson, Russell H. Tandy, Carolyn Keene The Bungalow Mystery  - Carolyn Keene

Three years ago, I was inspired by a fellow Bookliker to embark on a project to read through my Nancy Drew collection, in order, and comparing the original to the revised texts. It has been slow work, so I’m just now getting to the third book in the series, “The Bungalow Mystery”.  I’d better pick up my pace, if I’m to finish in my lifetime, as of the original series, 34 of them have multiple text versions.

 

Background: The Nancy Drew Mystery Stories began as a girls’ adventure series in 1930 by the Stratemeyer Syndicate, written by various authors under the pseudonym Carolyn Keene, following the story idea and outline provided by the Syndicate. Starting in 1959, the books were rewritten, condensing them to 20 chapters/180 pages, modernizing the stories, and eliminating some of the racist stereotypes found in the original stories. Some revisions only updated the stories, but others featured extensive revisions and sometimes even a completely new story. The Bungalow Mystery was originally written in 1930 by Mildred A. Wirt Benson and revised in 1960 by Harriet Stratemeyer Adams. The revisions are less extreme, although as usual the updated version is more poorly written and far less interesting, having introduced more characters and needless subplots in a condensed page count. Not to mention the significant changes in Nancy's character, who is a feisty, reckless, independent girl in 1930, but is sweetened up and made far more demure and traditionally feminine in the revision. I’ll post the chapter comparisons over the next several days.

 

Updated shelfie of my Nancy Drew collection: Starting with the books I owned and loved as a girl, I’ve added to it over the years from junk shops, used bookstores, and online purchases, with a goal of owning a copy of each format – original and revised texts, illustrations, and cover art. It is not yet complete, but I’ve hit a few bonanzas this year, so it’s now taking up 5 rows of shelves.

 

Book Challenge & Tags: Lucky for me, this book fits the Dia de los Muertes door in the 24 Festive Tasks of the Holiday Season 2018. All my posts in this project use the tag Nancy Drew Project.

 

Index of Posts:

ND3 Reading start

ND3 Reading finish

ND3.0 (current post)

ND3.1 (pending)

ND3.2 (pending)

ND3.3 (pending)

ND3.4 (pending)

ND3.5 (pending)

ND3.6 (pending)

ND3.7 (pending)

ND3.8 (pending)

ND3.9 (pending)

The Bungalow Mystery - finished reading

Sorry I've been absent the last several days. I'm using the Dia de los Muertos book task to further my Nancy Drew Project, and to simultaneously read and compare two versions of the same book requires some focused concentration on my part. I'm done reading both 1930 and 1960 versions and now just need to write it up and start posting. 

The Bungalow Mystery - P.M. Carlson,Russell H. Tandy,Carolyn Keene  The Bungalow Mystery  - Carolyn Keene  The Bungalow Mystery #3 - Carolyn Keene  

There are only 2 text versions, but I love the new cover art on the most recent printing.

 

Door 4 - Diwali; Task 4

Washington Square - Henry James, Lorna Raver A Little Princess - Tasha Tudor, Frances Hodgson Burnett Mostly Monsterly - Tammi Sauer The Dark Tower - Stephen King A Knight in Shining Armor (Montgomery Saga, #10) - Jude Deveraux

Task 4: Find 5 books on your shelves (either physical or virtual) whose covers show a young woman holding a flower and share their cover images.

 

I squinted at over 1700 thumbnails on my shelves, and this was the best I could do. If I stretched the definition until it squeaks, I could say these five  are "persons" holding or wearing flowers. 

 

I could have gone a step farther and gone with young women with flowers in near proximity, and I'd have had plenty of covers to show for it, but I decided to stick with this. And yes, I realize that the last one is technically a knight's gauntlet holding a flower, and doesn't actually have the knight's hand *inside* it. 

In Such Good Company - 16%

I love Carol's explanation that the inspiration for one of her most famous comic moments was entirely due to costume designer Bob Mackie's genius.

Scarlett vs Starlett - the portiers dress

 

Apparently, the script instructions were just that Scarlett would just pull down the curtains then appear with them draped around herself, rather than wearing a dress made from the material as in the original book/movie. Mackie said, "Well, that's not all that funny," and decided to add the curtain rod. He didn't tell Carol Burnett what he'd done until the day of the show. 

 

If you're interested, here's a video of Carol talking about that episode, with clips from the skit. 

 

Reading this for the Festivus book for the 24 Festive Tasks. 

In Such Good Company: Eleven Years of Laughter, Mayhem, and Fun in the Sandbox - Carol Burnett 

Firestarter ★★★★☆

Firestarter - Stephen King, Dennis Boutsikaris

There is a lot to like in this story. The concept has always fascinated me, especially given the veneer of plausibility as the US government does have a well-documented history of unethical human experimentation and has had programs investigating psychic phenomena. So the setup, and the description of Charlie and Andy McGee’s wild talents, the psychological manipulations, and the action scenes are wonderfully entertaining. The characters who people The Shop are fantastic.

 

But the book is not without its problems. The pacing is awful, dragging endlessly in spots until the final third of the book. This is also very much a book of its time, with now cringe-inducing stereotypes toward race, gender, and sex. Charlie, who is only 7 years old, behaves with a maturity and critical thinking ability far beyond her years, even for a child who has spent all her life having to conceal her essential self and years on the run from deadly government agents.

 

Audiobook, via Audible. The performance by Dennis Boutsikaris is excellent.

 

I read this for The 24 Tasks of the Festive Season, for the Guy Fawkes Night door; the book task: Set in the UK, political thrillers, involving any monarchy or revolution; books about arson or related to burning.

Woohoo! I just realized

The Light Fantastic - Terry Pratchett

I just realized that our Discworld group read for December fits the Diwali book activity. I love it when that happens. 

Peanuts Classics - 20/250pg

Peanuts Classics - Charles M. Schulz

I had planned on using In Such Good Company: Eleven Years of Laughter, Mayhem, and Fun in the Sandbox - Carol Burnett  for the Festivus door, and even started it last night after I finished Firestarter - Stephen King,Dennis Boutsikaris, but then while I was browsing Half Price Books while waiting on friends for dinner, I came across this and had to have it. Then I opened it to read  couple comics and just kept reading! So I think I will use this for Festivus instead. 

Door 4 - Diwali; Task 1: Share a picture of your favorite light display.

I get that we're supposed to be cynical about Disney World and its artificial perfection, but dammit, this was the most amazing light show I've ever experienced. The videos don't do it justice. In person, with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra pounding in my ears and an entire city block's worth of buildings covered in pulsing lights, I was dumbfounded. 

 

I wish I had higher quality video, but this is the only one that really matches up with my memory of it. There are others that more clearly show the details and the other songs in the light show. 

Firestarter - 26%

Firestarter - Stephen King, Dennis Boutsikaris

Oh dear, this story has gotten so dated. 

The Bungalow Mystery - 0/204 pg

The Bungalow Mystery - P.M. Carlson, Russell H. Tandy, Carolyn Keene The Bungalow Mystery  - Carolyn Keene

The next book for my Nancy Drew project fits right in the Dia de los Muertos book category, so here we go!

Hocus Pocus ★☆☆☆☆ (DNF)

Hocus Pocus - Kurt Vonnegut

I gave it my best for 40 pages, but finally just saw no reason to continue. This book does have a perverse sort of humor and is funny in places, but it was also off-puttingly angry. The conceit of this book is that it is the disjointed scribblings of a (possibly mad) man who is imprisoned in a library, and he decides to write his life story on random little scraps of paper he found laying about. So even as I recognize that the story's rambly structure and style is meant to illustrate the set up, I still found myself utterly unable to summon the will to keep reading. YMMV

 

DNF at 40/325 pages. Paperback, picked up from... somewhere, and had been sitting on my shelf for 3 years. Fly free now, little book, and I hope you end up with someone who wants to read this kind of drivel. 

 

I was attempting to read this for The 24 Tasks of the Festive Season game, for door 19 Festivus (Dec. 23) book task: Read any comedy, parody, or satire. Instead, I'm going to listen to the audio of Carol Burnett's In Such Good Company

Door 3 - Melbourne Cup Day; Task 2

Task 2: Cup day is all about the hats.  Post a picture of your favorite hat, whether it’s one you own or not.

 

 

Rally cap!!!! When the Rangers need some runs for a come-from-behind-win, I make my dogs wear the rally cap. Annabelle is generally not pleased, but my sweet Stubbs will put up with anything for a little attention. 

 

Sometimes it even works. 

 

 

Firestarter - 0%

Firestarter - Stephen King, Dennis Boutsikaris

It's a re-read, but I've never actually written a review for this one, so I decided to use it for the Guy Fawkes Night book. Obviously, there is arson, both intentional and accidental. 

Door 2 - Guy Fawkes Night; Task 1

Task 1: Burn a book in effigy.  Not that anyone of us would do such a thing, but if you HAD to, which book would be the one you’d sacrifice to the flames (gleefully or not)?

 

 

No, I would never burn a real book. Not even books as terrible and potentially harmful as these two. It was tempting to toss them in the recycling bin, though, which is where they belong, but instead I returned these safe and unharmed to the library that I borrowed them from. I am pleased to report that at least some teenagers are too smart to fall for this misogynist bullshit, though. The books came to my attention when the author was invited to speak at a local high school and a number of students walked out, but not before trolling him on Twitter with #Lookadouche. This arbiter of moral values was arrested a couple of years later for public intoxication after police found him asleep in his car, covered in his own vomit and reeking of alcohol, after not bothering to show up at a speaking engagement to yet more impressionable youth. 

Hocus Pocus - 0/324pg

Hocus Pocus - Kurt Vonnegut

It's probably a bad sign when I'm already expecting I might DNF a book before I've even read the first page, but I have very low expectations here. I picked this up on a whim at a used books sale, but I'm always hit/miss with Vonnegut and based on other user reviews this is going to fall into the dark humor category as I see descriptions of both "funny" and "angry". Also, it also relies on a shifting timeline narrative and I think I've probably had enough of that from the book I just finished. 

 

Oh, well. I'm reading this for The 24 Tasks of the Festive Season game, for the Festivus door, and if I hate it then I have a Calvin and Hobbes book as an alternate. And although those cartoons are also an acerbic social commentary, they are still more fun than angry, so I won't have trouble finishing THAT one, for sure.