42 Word Retrospectives

Service of All the Dead

Service of All the Dead by Colin Dexter (Macmillan, 1979); audiobook read by Samuel West (Macmillan, 2017) Dexter begins with a lengthy series of inciting incidents to which readers are privy but Morse isn’t. Morse then solves the mystery by mooning about irritably, his moribund thoughts kept equally inscrutable. Sans John Thaw’s embodiment, the whole effect is rather dismal.  …

Dr. Seuss Goes to War

Dr. Seuss Goes to War: The World War II Editorial Cartoons of Theodor Seuss Geisel by Richard H. Minear (The New Press, 1999) Minear provides detailed historical context through which to appreciate (or occasionally question) Theodor Geisel’s distinctive, beguilingly Seuss-esque wartime cartoons. Each drawing is presented on its own page but regrettably this is not a complete record. Many more…

Cocaine Blues

Cocaine Blues by Kerry Greenwood (McPhee Gribble, 1989); audiobook read by Stephanie Daniel (Bolinda, 2010) Greenwood evinces as no-nonsense an approach to plotting as does the irrepressible Phryne Fisher to solving mysteries and bucking societal norms. The result is a fast-moving romp through 1920s Melbourne, more worldly than Wodehouse but with a similarly delightful turn of phrase.    

Peanuts Every Sunday, 1952-1955

Peanuts Every Sunday, 1952-1955 by Charles M. Schulz (Fantagraphics, 2013) Everyone comes from somewhere and this is Peanuts before the characters grew up, both physically and emotionally (even artistically). There are nascent hints of what the future holds but even in large-format colour it’s difficult to digest Schulz’s work being this unsophisticated.    

Soul Music

Soul Music by Terry Pratchett (Victor Gollancz, 1994); audiobook read by Nigel Planer (Isis, 1996) Though chock full of rock ‘n’ roll allusions and puns, Soul Music is a rarity amongst the Discworld novels in that it isn’t really about anything. Witty and imaginative and still amusing on a micro level, yes, but by Pratchett’s standards underwhelming.    

The New Shoe

The New Shoe by Arthur W. Upfield (Doubleday, 1951); audiobook read by Peter Hosking (Bolinda, 2010) A beautiful piece of Australiana and a preserved character study—both of the small coastal town and its inhabitants, and of half-caste Aboriginal detective Napoleon Bonaparte. Upfield’s prose is methodical yet poetically descriptive. Bony is a protagonist with unique methods and appeal.