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25 June 2003 @ 11:59 am
James Thurber, The Years With Ross  

I found James Thurber's The Years With Ross on my mother's bookshelf when I was visiting the other day and asked if I could borrow it. It didn't particularly surprise me to see it there -- I grew up in a home where the current issue of The New Yorker was always on the coffee table.

I think this book's weakness is also its strength -- it's thoroughly episodic and anecdotal. Its weakness in that I found it hard to get any over-all sense of anything and because I really prefer to be able to get into the "flow" of a book; its strength because Thurber is just so darned good with anecdotes, short descriptions, and clever turns of phrase. I kept wanting to read passages aloud to whoever happened to be around, although I (mostly) restrained myself. Come to think of it, I guess by the end I was able to put together some sort of mental image of Harold W. Ross, so I guess the book fulfilled its purpose, even though the way it got there was somewhat frustrating to me.

The other problem I had was, having been only slightly more than two years old when Ross died, I am not familiar with some of the key people and events Thurber refers to sketchily, as if "Everybody who read this will surely know about...." I almost want an annotated version!

In all, I'd have to say it was well worth reading.

 
 
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Fighting Crime with a Giant Dandelion Since 2013pameladean on June 25th, 2003 12:03 pm (UTC)
We didn't have a subscription to The New Yorker (though I have one now), but we had a copy of The Thurber Carnival, which I pored over as a child. We also had another Thurber collection I can't recall the name of, the one with the essay about how to write a comic story, in which he says that after the division of "I'll" by a hyphen, the reader's attention can never successfully be recaptured. I'm sure a lot of my quirks as a writer are all his fault. I have the fondest feelings for his work.

Pamela
Skylarkerskylarker on June 25th, 2003 04:47 pm (UTC)
I haven't read The Years With Ross yet. I especially liked Thurber's short fantasies, like 'The Thirteen Clocks.' One of my favorite Thurber bits is a cartoon of people rushing past a graveyard, with the text, 'Where most of us end up there is no knowing, but the hell-bent get where they are going."