Saturday, December 29, 2018

Staged shelfie just for the halibut

(You can't do this with eBooks, can you?)

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Book cover: "Peace"

This novel is on my to-read list, though it's alongside several hundred other books in that regard. I hope I'm not spoiling too much for myself with this standard summary, but odds are that I'll forget all of this, anyway, before I get around to reading the book.

  • Title: Peace
  • Author: Gene Wolfe (1931-present)
  • Cover artist: Gahan Wilson (1930-present)
  • Publisher: Berkley Books
  • Cover price: $2.25
  • Original publication date of novel: 1975
  • Publication date of this edition: 1982
  • Pages: 246
  • Format: Paperback
  • Back-cover excerpt: "PEACE is the life story of Alden Dennis Weer, an eccentric old man living out his last days and fantasies in an obscure Midwestern town. It is also much more — an extraordinary combination of the mythic vision of fantasy and the thrilling disquieting suspense of a mastercrafted ghost story."
  • First sentence: The elm tree planted by Eleanor Bold, the judge's daughter, fell last night.
  • Last sentence: My aunt's voice on the intercom says, "Den, darling, are you awake in there?"
  • Random sentence from middle: And it has just struck me that that sky must be the only thing left unchanged since by childhood.
  • Goodreads rating: 4.04 stars (out of 5.0)
  • Goodreads review excerpt: In 2015, DeAnna Knippling wrote: "Wolfe's story structure goes like this: you have to read the book, and then you have to read the book at least one more time. It's just not possible to sort everything out the first time, sorry. A Wolfe story is meant to be savored and pondered — there are actually (at least) two different stories going on at all times: the surface-level story, and the plot-twist story that you can only have a hope of getting once you pass the ending."
  • Amazon rating: 4.0 stars (out of 5.0)
  • Amazon review excerpt: Responding to a two-star review, Robert G. Buice wrote: "The interesting and clever thing about this book is what is going on in the narrator's past that he doesn't directly tell you. The second time I read the book, I found it to be a totally different story."
  • Notes: Full disclosure: A year or so ago, I started and then abandoned Wolfe's 2010 novel The Sorcerer's House. So that, in and of itself, will give me some reservations when I eventually try Peace. I'm also not thrilled at the idea, advanced by so many, that this is a novel you have to read twice to truly "get." There are too many books on the waiting list for me to have to read one twice. So we shall see. If you want some other thoughts on the book, check out Mordicai Knode's 2012 essay urging everyone to read the book and Joan Gordon's 2013 "We Read Things Differently" at the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas!
Boldog Karácsonyt!
Nadolig Llawen!

Monday, December 24, 2018

Happy Christmas Eve,
J.R.R. Tolkien style

This postcard reprints one of the many amazing illustrations from J.R.R. Tolkien's Letters from Father Christmas.

The letters are a series of illustrated stories that Tolkien wrote for his four children each Christmas between 1920 and 1942. (He wrote the first one on Christmas Eve, 98 years ago today.) They are epistolary tales, from the perspective of either Father Christmas or his secretary. There are adventures in the North Pole, pesky goblins, mysterious caves to explore, and bumbling polar bear sidekicks. According to Wikipedia, "each letter was delivered in an envelope, including North Pole stamps and postage marks as designed by Tolkien." (It's amazing what people could do when they had to be creative and couldn't just order their Christmas presents with one click.)

The letters were later collected, edited and published in 1976 by Allen and Unwin and Houghton Mifflin. This edition has, in my opinion, the best cover. But it apparently doesn't contain every Father Christmas letter and illustration. Various editions have been published since, some with different amounts of content.

Of Tolkien's artwork, the states:
"As for the illustrations, JRRT had a wonderful sense of color and line. He was very good at drawing stylized landscapes and interiors. Who wouldn't want someplace like Cliff House? He was less successful at drawing people and animals, probably because he knew very little about anatomy. Still, the portrait of Father Christmas wrapping a package is very fine; his features look somewhat Asiatic. I don't know if it is because JRRT had trouble drawing European round eyes, or if the Tolkein children were old enough to have seen pictures of Lapps and Eskimos and would have felt that such features would be appropriate to a man who lived at the North Pole. Also, the picture of the Polar Bear battling the Goblins to save the Good Children's presents was full of movement and spirit enough that one didn't mind the questionable anatomy; the same could be said of the illustration of the accidental flooding of the English Deliveries room."
If you're already working ahead on your Christmas 2019 gift lists, this might be a nice one to consider for a loved one.

Christmas-themed booklet from Hochschild Kohn's

Shown above is the Santa-riffic back cover of a staplebound booklet that was distributed decades ago at Hochschild Kohn's, a Baltimore area department store chain. The front cover is shown at right.

The 12-page booklet measures about 6⅝ inches by 7⅞ inches and is split equally between full-color pages and black-and-white pages. The front cover features a stoic cow and the printing information "No. 725 AH Made in U.S.A. © THE P. & M. CO., INC." There is no date, but I'm guessing the 1930s would be a reasonable guess.

Hochschild Kohn's, according to Wikipedia, "started in 1897 as a partnership between Max Hochschild, Benno Kohn, and his brother Louis B. Kohn. Hochschild-Kohn & Company opened that year with a downtown-Baltimore store on the northwest corner of Howard and Lexington Streets."

It later spread out from the city and became one of the pioneers in launching suburban department stores. The company opened a store here in York, Pennsylvania, in 1968. (Ask Joan says it was along Market Street in Springettsbury Township, in the general location where Burlington Coat Factory is now located.) Hochschild Kohn's, which had been purchased by Supermarkets General in 1969, went out of business in 1984.

Read more about the department store's history at this website and share any memories you have of Hochschild Kohn's in the comments section!

In the meantime, here are some more of the dandy interior illustrations, starting with a cat anticipating the decades-later launch of the #CatsOfInstagram era.

Vintage postcard in Swedish: "Lycklig Jul" is Merry Christmas

To get things started on Christmas Eve, here's a colorful postcard with the Swedish caption of "Lycklig Jul," which translates to Merry Christmas. It's another tree adorned with candles; there have been many of those in recent days on Papergreat. We have a bit more diversity of toys for these children than some of the other cards. I especially like the white bear riding the elephant. There are also a doll, a book and more for this trio. I would, of course, be the kid in the foreground with his nose buried in the book.

This postcard was made in Germany and published by Frederik Peterson, 36 Bromfield Street, in Boston, Massaschusetts. In 2009, the Postcardy blog1 featured three other Frederik Peterson Christmas postcards, all very much like this one. (And all beautiful.)

This postcard was mailed in December 1912 from Rockford, Illinois, to Grand Rapids, Michigan. The short cursive message states: "Lycka till en Glad Jul från Mr. and Mrs. Johnson," which translates to Good luck and Merry Christmas from Mr. and Mrs. Johnson.

1. Postcardy's L.F. Appel has commented on previous Papergreat posts. Postcardy ran from 2006 to 2017 and has been followed by Postcardy 2.0, which had many great posts from October 2015 to October 2018 but currently appears to be on hiatus. Another related blog is Postcard Gems. All of these are superb websites to check out if you want to learn more about postcards

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Mystery Christmas group photo from 102 years ago

This AZO real photo postcard has only this caption on the back: "Taken Christmas day Dec. 25 1916."

So that's 102 years ago. It's a mystery, though, who these people are. Or where the photograph was taken.

Here's a closer look at everyone, to help you assign amazing backstories to all of these interesting folks from a century ago. (And the little dog, too.) Given the date of this photo, the oldest people in it were probably born around 1840, well before the invention of pasteurization, dynamite, the telephone, the phonograph, the light bulb, the bicycle and the ballpoint pen. All those things came to the world during their lifetimes.

Christmas greetings from
author Edna Albert

My, how time flies. It's been almost four years since I discussed Edna Albert (1878-1960), an author who was born and died in Adams County, Pennsylvania, but in between spent part of her life in Lancaster County. I first wrote about her in February 2015 and have a small stash of postcards, mostly sent to her.

This appears to be an unsent Christmas postcard from Edna. The other side reveals a Thomas Jefferson one-cent stamp pre-printed onto the card. But the card was never addressed or postmarked. The Jefferson postcards were in production from about 1914 to 1950.

On the blank side, as you can see, Edna has affixed a colorful illustration of a candle surrounded by holly. In precise, small printing, she has written:

Goodman weary, wife pain worn,
And a little babe new born!

Strength and love and helplessness
wait a stable poor to bless.

Set your heart's door open wide
That Son of Man may step inside.

A Merry Xmas
Edna Albert

I tried searching Google for many of the key phrases in that verse, and nothing came up. So it's possible, perhaps even likely, that those lines were penned by Edna herself and aren't from any poetry of the day.

Two postcard views of a mystery living room at Christmas

These postcards seem to represent two attempts by someone, decades ago, to get the perfect real photo postcard of their well-decorated living room for Christmas. There is nothing at all written on the back of either postcard. The design of the Kodak stamp box tells us only that the cards were printed in 1950 or after.

The first shot is the better one, I think. We can see the fireplace decorations and tree. As a bonus, the family dog makes a cameo appearance. We used to have a side table like the one next to the chair at our house on Oak Crest Lane.

The second photo was an attempt to show everything lit up, from the fireplace to the lamps to the blazing Christmas tree. It's nice, but perhaps a bit too high on the contrast.

I think my biggest question involves the painting/picture over the fireplace. Is that Machu Picchu? If so, who puts a picture of Machu Picchu over their fireplace?

Martin St-Amant (S23678) [CC BY-SA 3.0], from Wikimedia Commons