Saturday, January 15, 2011

A Few More Stray Reviews

This wraps up everything I read in 2010. Whew.

We Shook The Family Tree - Hildegarde Dolson.
I wrote about this humorous memoir, published in 1946 here but I got parts of it confused with parts of Dolson's 1955 follow-up, (which I actually like a little bit better) Sorry To Be So Cheerful. Guess what I did soon after that?

Composed - Rosanne Cash.
I have been a huge Rosanne Cash fan since that summer day in 1981 when I went to Peaches, a record store in Tulsa and bought her 1979 album, Right or Wrong, then went back to my then-boyfriend's parents' home and laid it on their turntable. Composed is a surprisingly literary memoir. Sometimes, it seems extremely introspective as if Cash were writing to herself rather than to an audience of readers, but I admire her tastefulness, her intellect and her dazzling ability to see connections in practically everything.

The Long, Gone Lonesome History of Country Music - Bret Bertholf
This book is juvenile nonfiction and it's also a picture book. Right out of the gate it suffers from an identity crisis. It doesn't really succeed as a picture book because the color palette is too dark and muddy. As far as the nonfiction goes, there's a lot of names and expertly-done caricatures of country stars from the past, but many of them are just presented as names and faces and that's all. Only the keenest and most interested young reader would be motivated to Google for more in-depth information. Also, the book has the dual disadvantage of being out of date and being about a genre that is maniacal in its drive to always produce the newest flavor of the month, (even if that flavor tastes increasingly of cheap plastic) and very young country fans have no bridge to tie yesterday to today. I can only see this book appealing to someone like myself or Sam from Book Chase because both of us enjoy and appreciate the history of country music and we're old enough to get most of the references. One final complaint: There's no bibliography, which is inexcusable. Even if the people reading the book are only waist-high and seriously believe that Hannah Montana is a real person and that french fries with ranch dressing and bacon bits is a balanced meal, they have a right to a list of original sources.

Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things - Randy O. Frost and Gail Steketee. Stuff starts out with the cautionary tale of the Collyer brothers, whose hoarding in their New York City brownstone led them to a horrific end in 1947. Frost and Steketee present other cases for our consideration, from those who mindfully struggle with parting with even the smallest, most insignificant objects to those who are living in such extreme filth but still believe it's not their problem, but rather the problem of friends, family or the authorities who find their lifestyle alarming. Animal hoarders are profiled, and also very young children with hoarding tendencies who have been brought to Frost and Steketee by concerned parents. There's a brief overview of how philosophers throughout history have viewed owning possessions and a look at how and why an increasing number of Americans have hoarding issues of different degrees. Frost and Steketee aren't judgmental or know-it-all about this disorder. Their willingness to discuss the contradictory theories and raise the questions that still puzzle them is refreshing.


Beth said...

I've seen STUFF reviewed several times in the past few weeks, and it looks interesting each time. Another one for the groaning list.

Kate said...

Stuff looks good. I love the show Hoarders (especially when the hoarder is able to make significant changes). It also makes it easier to clean up my closets. :)

Eva said...

Ohhh: Stuff sounds v interesting! Putting it on my TBR list. :)

Jeane said...

I've been thinking of reading Stuff. It looks really interesting.

Brenna said...

I've been trying to read more non-fiction and Stuff sounds like a good one. I wonder what they say about book hoarding.

Carrie#K said...

I'll have to read Roseanne Cash's book, she had an interesting life and she can certainly turn a phrase.

That hoarding book intrigues me in a scary way. I consider it collecting. So far, no city official will fault that but I'm not done yet.....;)

Bookfool said...

Stuff sounds really interesting. And, ohmygosh . . . I remember Peaches. Now you've got my husband and my little self reminiscing about Tulsa. Roseanne Cash's book sounds like a great one. I try to avoid celebrity memoirs because most of them are about sex lives and drug addictions but since you said it's pretty literary, I might give it a go, someday.

Bookfool said...
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Susan said...

All I could think of while I read your review of Stuff was, do I qualify for this book? lol I don't (no one has brought me to a specialist yet), but I wonder at what point collecting books passes into hoarding. I might have to get this book just to reassure myself!