This coffee table book would have worked a lot better had it focused solely on a detailed guide to classic ‘70s and early ‘80s porn, since that section is filled with history, insights into the industry, and a ton of cool ‘70s movie posters. The rest of the book, though, is eye-rollingly uneven, alternating between genuinely enlightening info and some seriously lame jokes. The lowlight of these extras is an overly detailed discussion of fetish porn, while the highlight is a hilarious list of porn title spoofs (Genital Hospital, Hump Up the Volume, etc.) that had me in stitches.
I love Nick Hornby’s Stuff I’ve Been Reading column (which he’s written on and off for The Believer since the 2000s, and perhaps will again when the magazine finally makes its return??) because he talks about books like a real person, avoids pretentious review-speak, and jokes about how Americans don’t understand British football. Though this review collection’s in the same vein as his others, I missed the more stylized jacket flaps and the book excerpts that came with the first two collections, which made finding new books for my own towering To-Read stack that much easier.
This picture-filled guide to Roy Lichtenstein’s career covers both his paintings of starry-eyed comic-book heroines (an example of which graces the cover), his images of everyday objects like washing machines and golf balls, and his later, more abstract paintings. There’s also a close technical and thematic look at the Benday dots used in so many of his works. Though I was most interested in Lichtenstein’s Pop Art images, the book covers much more, though the latter half goes into more depth than I was looking for. Still, a solid introduction to Lichtenstein’s life and work with cool pictures.
Where I Got It
At a bookstore in the Germantown section of Columbus, Ohio in summer 2015. I’d been interested in Lichtenstein’s Pop Art works for a while (one of my teachers had a large “I’d Rather Sink Than Call Brad For Help” print on his office door in college, below), and buying this book was my reminder to actually learn more about him.
An encyclopedia of humor clichés of the Looney Tunes/newspaper comic variety, American Cornball covers the ubiquitous falling anvils, stinky limburger, and bindlestick-carrying hoboes of the first two-thirds of the twentieth century, along with why and how these now-outdated gags entered the mainstream. Miller realizes (rightly!) that books about funny things should also themselves be funny, and writes with graceful wit and humor. The book is also exhaustive, with enough pictures, literary references, and observations about the human condition to keep the fun moving through the 500 pages from A to Z (or, from “Absentminded Professors” to “Zealots”).
Where I Got It
Ordered online, Summer 2015.
NPR Interview with the author