Retirement Community

The Finnegan Farms Review of Books (No. 4)

Hello, everyone! It’s been quite a while since our retirement community has been able to put together an issue of the book review, but now that the typical wave of post-Holiday depression has finished culling our flock, so to speak, we’ve been able to concentrate more easily without the distraction of sufficient companionship.

In this issue, we’re proud to announce that we’ve moved off the rear side of the cafeteria menu and are now back on the bulletin board. I’ve also been told that Danforth’s nephew (to whom we owe a sincere thank you for fixing the Compaq computer and Sanyo printer) has been sharing our little literary hobby with some of his publishing friends on the Internet—I hope they are not too shocked about Edsel’s colorful language.

We’d also like to thank Agethena’s daughter, who attended Franklin County Library’s annual warehouse sale, put on in conjunction with BJ’s Wholesale Club, and purchased a variety of library remainders and a new jumbo nylon hallway rug—much needed since Jerry’s (no, the new Jerry’s) unfortunate incident in the cane and walker storeroom. Now that Jerry’s whole again and laid to rest (it was a lovely closed-casket funeral, for those of you unable to attend or unable to hear the graveside service owing to the fact that it was next to I-87), I (Junely) will be your editor for the foreseeable future. Please keep me  in your thoughts and prayers.

With our new box of gently-used hardcovers and flood-washed softcover Consumer Reports, we have plenty of new material to read. Unfortunately, very few of our new books are large-print, audiobooks, or pictures of architecture, so we apologize to our new Internet friends (hello there! You are welcome to visit anytime—just a quick hop up I-87) for any misinterpretations or elisions in our reviews. In particular, I’d like to point out that the feud between Edsel and Belvina may not reflect the actual content of their work so much as some unarticulated dispute that none of us can seem to get out of either of them, dying as we are to know before we die. Hopefully their conflict will be resolved by the time of our next issue, because it’s really tearing our community apart.

The Histories, by Herodotus. Western civilization’s “father of history” was a well-educated, widely-traveled man who used his brilliance to be the first to call his book a history, hence ensuring his place in it. Although not strictly a history, and more like a historical travelogue through Herodotus’s 5th-century environs, it is still a rollicking, dramatic adventure of made-up personalities, prejudicial rumor-mongering, and poor climatological and geographic science. I would highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in seeming interested in history. Three stars or thereabouts as makes no difference.


The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson. Finally, a book that tells it like it %$^& is. I once spent a summer in Stockholm, and I can tell you that that place and pretty much all of $^&# Sweden is the #$^% pits. I’m not the least bit surprised to read this &^%-$%^&$# expose about its $#@@* inhabitants and their love-affair with $%^&-&*^%$##$ sexual torture. At least they have the $%^& honesty to admit it. If you ask %$^& me, scratch the surface of any place and you’ll find it filled with disgusting #@$% exemplars of the dregs of $%^& humanity. Belvina, I suppose, wouldn’t agree with me on that. Three $%#^ stars or so.


I Could Pee On This, by Francesco Marciuliano. What a wondrous outpouring of creative energy this insouciant cat-humor publication represents! I am astounded and amazed at the extent to which the author could, with what must have been an enormous psychic toll, insert himself into the mind of our species’ second-closest animal companions after dolphins. Each page expresses both a profound appreciation for and a life-affirming lightness toward the relationship between blundering hominids and the precise, delicate world of insightful and observant felines. I came away with a new appreciation for Simpson, our community’s deathbed comforter, though I am concerned that he hasn’t come back now—he usually doesn’t stay gone so long. For the life of me, however, I can’t figure out why the county library would have had this book in their possession. Seems like an unnecessary risk that this would fall into the hands of a minor. So perhaps three stars.


The Life of Pi, by Yann Martel. This book had some compelling artwork on its cover, but no pictures inside. Pictures would have made it much better. Anyway, this first and only known work by an obscure French Canadian author is about an Indian boy (real Indian, not fake American kind) grappling with theological questions after the boat transporting him, his family, and many of his father’s zoo’s animals sinks. Why would they put them all on the same boat? Just courting tragedy there. Regardless, Pi (that’s the boy’s name—again, a poor choice on the part of his parents) is left in a small boat with a surviving tiger, an injured zebra (who dies pretty quickly), and an orangutan. Whoopsies, sorry about telling you about the zebra. Nevertheless, it seems a child of a zookeeper would be better trained for just this kind of situation instead of ruminating on the meaning of life and the whims of God. Combine good animal husbandry with pictures and new character names, and this book could’ve really been something different. Therefore, about three stars.


Winter World: The Ingenuity of Animal Survival, by Bernd Heinrich. This is a book about the life of animals in winter. It has some interesting tidbits about squirrels, small birds, and especially bears, who apparently don’t really hibernate but instead undergo a general slow-down that maintains high body temperature and allows them to awaken easily. They also don’t use the bathroom for months, which is amazing feat that people can only replicate with colostomy bags! Ha-ha. But truly, the resilience of wild animals in such tough conditions is astonishing. I never worry when I hit a wild animal with my Town Car, or clip someone’s poor dog or a community’s all-knowing cat; animals know how to survive. And if they don’t, well, it can serve as a reminder that life can end suddenly and perhaps it’s better not knowing when it’ll happen. I hope Edsel comes to understand that, and lets certain people keep their license. So three stars—give or take.


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