Sunday, October 22, 2006

Philip Nel, Dr. Seuss, an American Icon. Continuum 2004.

I can't recommend the book as a whole for anyone except Seuss obsessives: it's a bit stodgy, and has what I'd think of as "the wrong kind of detail". At one point he makes a patronising comment about another critic who can be excused because "he is a historian" but the main flaw here is the inability to sort the important from the unimportant, so that huge amounts of information is given, only for the reader to be told it had no impact. No historian would make that kind of mistake.

But that said; Chapter One, "U.S. Laureate of Nonsense: A Seuss Poetics" is quite possibly one of the best discussions of poetics in children's literature, I've ever read. Brilliantly written, with a humour and passion lacking in the rest of the book, it has just gone on to my reading list for a creative writing module. Apart from anything else, Nel explains the basic terms of rythm and metre in an easily referable form, and then shows us how this, plus the process of Seuss's editing, produced classics such as Green Eggs and Ham -- which I did not know was written to a fifty word palette.


I've failed to blog for a while because the processing of the survey has so swamped me, as has the increasing sense I wasn't about to meet my deadline (I've written half the book, but the chapters don't require equal amounts of work). Yesterday I bit the bullet and asked for an extension. If the publishers agree, then normal blogging will resume on November 1. I actually have a backlog of books read but not yet annotated.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Robert A. Heinlein, Have Space Suit Will Travel, 1958

Just to note that this was not as I thought first published as a juvenile, but appeared first in Fantasy and Science Fiction and then as an Ace paperback.