Retirement Community

The Finnegan Farms Review of Books (No. 3)

Welcome to the third edition of our little review! It’s been over a month since the last one, and we still haven’t found the first edition. It has also taken some extra time to produce this month’s review, owing to the fact that the computer in the computer lab broke down and it will take Danforth’s nephew at least a week to come out and fix it. Fortunately, Tillie from the cafeteria crew knows how to laminate documents, and has kindly pasted our broadsheet on the underside of all the dining room placemats. However, she has strictly forbidden anyone from taking placemats back to their apartments! The laminating machine is costly and time-consuming to use.

Before we get to the reviews, I have some exciting news and some sad news to share. First, the sad news, since the exciting news might send some of you to the hospital. Gertha, who did a wonderful job editing our last issue, was unfortunately caught between two reversing Lincoln Town Cars last week and instantly killed. I have taken over the editing duties (it’s Jerry—no, the new Jerry). Second, our exciting news is that Agethena has four new grandchildren! Congratulations, Agethena! We know they are the apple of that thing in your eye.

Now, on to this edition’s reviews! Once again, these were edited for length (to make them longer) and Edsel’s swear words.

City of Bohane, by Kevin Barry. Three stars. What an intriguing work of imaginative fiction and inventive language! This book oozed style. The author had a habit of saying things like “He had a pair of hands on him the size of Belfast sinks” and “the elderly heaters juddered like halfwits” and “the tang of stolen youth seeped up in his throat with the rasping burn of nausea” (all in one paragraph on page 12). As you can tell, this book made an irritating amount of absolutely no sense. Are Belfast sinks particularly large? Do halfwits judder in a particularly unique way? Is it nausea or the actual taste of vomit that causes rasping, tangy burns? Needless to say, by page 12 I had begun writing letters to my loved ones in the same way. “Dear Alvin, I do wish you could find the creaky sauce of time to come visit me with the patinated bronze of your thoughtful mittens. We could have lunch together. The nauseating texture of the hallway lights is much improved from its previous brooding screech.”  Since that did not improve relations with any of my family, I stopped reading this book on page 12.


A Game of Thrones, by George R. R. Martin. Three stars. My son-in-law told me that there’s a new show on the Home Box Office TV channel based on George Martin’s series of books. This was the first book in the series. I’ve had this book in my possession for a while, having picked it up from some flea market or another, but could never get far in it because of all the misspellings, like calling knights “Ser” instead of “Sir” and never getting a single name except “Ned” right. I made it through to the end, though! Many people died suddenly and had unusual, graphically detailed sexual relations, often at the same time. Edsel and I are watching the Home Box Office TV version now, and can confirm this. In the end, I’m disturbed that my son-in-law recommended this show to me.


Innocents Abroad, by Mark Twain. Three stars. It’s been many years since I read this book, but its delights have not faded. Twain is an expert story-teller, a master of punchy language, and loved saying “gewgaws and gimcracks.”  Some of this seemed kind of adolescent, though, like when he pretended to have found an ancient Roman newspaper reporting the results of a recent gladiatorial combat. I suppose it was funny if you knew something about 19th-century newspaper opera reviews, or if you enjoy reading high school seniors’ creative writing projects, but in the 20th-century, much of the humor is lost. The key to timeless humor, I believe, lies in its universal human appeal, not some pseudo-intellectual fictional satire of a tired literary format. Tawdry trumpery, if you ask me.


The Swerve, by Stephen Greenblatt. Three stars. This was $%#@ boring history of some cod-$%^#ing Catholic priest who discovered #%$@-faced Lucretius’s ancient Latin manuscript and helped usher in the %&^$ effusion of the $^%# Renaissance. I learned more about the $%#@ arts of ancient %^&$ pleasure by watching $%^# Game of Thrones with Belvina than I did reading this expert $%#$ of an $%#@ acclaimed book.


Fodor’s Australia, by Fodor’s. Three stars. I absolutely loved this book and its many wonderful full-colored pictures and reviews of restaurants and hotels I will never get to visit. I loved the pictures of happy, young couples frolicking in front of Sydney Opera House, or delighted, healthy couples scuba-diving the Great Barrier Reef, and pleased, satisfied couples touring the wine country near Adelaide. And did you know there’s an island in Australia called Kangaroo Island? A whole island of kangaroos! Magnificent. It reminds me of the times that Jed and I used to vacation at Deer Isle, Maine. A whole isle of deer! It was magnificent. But it wasn’t the same thing. It was just deer. I miss Jed.


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