Books for the Reading

by Lynn Wienck, The Chisholm Trail Bookstore

After several very warm days, I thought summer had arrived, but no, lower temperatures have returned. The rain has returned as well. It’s pleasant and surprising. All vegetation has gone various shades of green and wild. The days have been slightly hazy and humid. Small frogs, tiny frogs hop everywhere. They are a pleasure to watch. Do they play leapfrog?

Still Life with Bottle: Whisky according to Ralph Steadman, (1994) is the author’s more-than-slightly convoluted history of whiskey. It is, of course, accompanied by his own satirical illustrations. His humor is quite dry; he accomplishes the mot juste. There’s much world history detail with particular emphasis on Scotland and Scotland’s many characters. Some phrases and traditions may be unfamiliar; not to worry, as the flavor and intent is informative, clever, and very clear. For an overview, gaze at the busy, dizzy pictures and read the headings at the top of every few pages. This book is joyful, a little manic and best in short readings, but joyful.

Coming soon, but not yet in hand is the Devil’s Dictionary written by Ambrose Bierce in the last century and illustrated by Ralph Steadman in this century. Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914) remains known for his scathing, pointed, blazing, and satirical commentary. This tome – originally titled Cynic’s Word Book (1906), later published as Devil’s Dictionary (1911), Ralph Steadman illustrated edition (2003) – is Ambrose Bierce’s own abrasive attitude lexicon-dictionary. Ralph Steadman with his equally pointed illustrations should provide fine, merry, fitting tunes to the words. I’m looking forward to a rather perfect symphony. If words make music, then so do pictures.

Enough of the musing. It’s into the rain, and perhaps, more rain for several days. It’s not too cold, not too hot, but just right, and the rain is gentle. Watch the clouds roll in; watch the clouds roll out; watch the wee frogs hop, hop, hop. It’s a pleasant respite from the soon-to-come summer heat.

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