Sunday, April 30, 2017

“Read a Damn Book – 027: Swag – Rock Posters of the ‘90s”

Being born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, I actually came of age in the swampy breeding grounds of Grunge, although I was never really a fan of that STYLE of music, (it seemed more like metal than punk to me.) However, I ALWAYS loved the posters from this era, and this book includes a bunch of classic images that remind me that I used to be young!

Spencer Drate – Swag – Rock Posters of the ‘90s (2003)

I spent a lot of time at concert halls and other venues in the late 80s and early 90s (before I had kids), and we also had a local “punk” record store that was run by guy who LOVED rock posters, so I was pretty lucky, being heavily exposed to GRUNGE-ERA art when it was in its heyday. Frank Kozik, Coop, Jermaine Rogers, Tara McPherson, Brian Ewing, Jay Ryan, Art Chantry---these and another dozen or more big names from the artistic underground are covered in this book, and Chantry even wrote a nice, lengthy introduction on the history of concert posters. It’s a thick topic, but Chantry’s intro does an acceptable job of setting the stage for the rest of Drate’s book, which is essentially an alphabetical catalog of artists and designers responsible for some of the more noteworthy ‘90s music industry graphics.

Each artist/design team gets a brief intro and then examples of their artwork are presented for the reader to explore. Some of the bigger names get several pages worth of work, others get one poster and done, but the variety of styles and graphic design choices in this book are still pretty great. From hand-drawn comic book style images to modified photographs to bizarre cut-and-paste collages, the breadth of GRUNGE-ERA art was astonishing. It’s also interesting to me that the posters from this era were NOT just for bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam, but many classic rock acts also still toured (Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath, Stevie Nicks, Bob Dylan, etc…) and sometimes these crusters even  played with the fancy NEW bands of the day.

Overall, I’d recommend this book for design fans, for rock ‘n’ roll history lovers, for kids who were too young to be conscious during the height of grunge, or for anyone interested in underground artists. Many of the designers presented here have web sites or even entire books devoted to their art, so if you see something you like within these pages, there’s plenty of OTHER materials to look for. Meanwhile, this collection is a great starter.

---Richard F. Yates

Sunday, April 23, 2017

“Read a Damn Book – 026: Unsolved Mysteries”

When I was 12 or 13 years old, my parents got me a book called Mysteries of the Unexplained, which was a hefty encyclopedia of mysteries, coincidences, ghost stories, UFO sightings, and supernatural phenomena. I loved that book, but it presented a less than skeptical approach to most of the topics. The book I’m about to review, in contrast, is thinner than that old classic but much more balanced in its reporting…

Joel Levy – Unsolved Mysteries (2016)

Levy’s book is a well written survey of a handful of unusual topics, including mysterious locations, sightings of strange creatures, unsolved disappearances, and cryptic artifacts. Unlike my old Mysteries of the Unexplained book, this text presents the standard version of each story as well as the skeptical interpretation of the event or phenomenon, as well as the supernatural, conspiratorial or fringe theories in a section called “Far Out Theories.” Topics like “spirit orbs,” which are little splotches of light that show up in photographs, are pretty decisively explained as being caused by the flashes on cameras, but Levy also discusses the fringe beliefs, like that orbs are disembodied spirits or some kind of natural phenomena called “earth lights.” The fringe is still presented, but confined to a clearly marked section.

So if you are a huge fan of supernatural explanations or conspiracy theories, this book might not be your favorite. Also, the topics are covered VERY quickly, usually in four to six pages with lots of large text and photos. The majority of these subjects: Easter Island, Bigfoot, Area 51, Stonehenge, etc., require several books worth of information to cover thoroughly, and Levy realizes this, so he includes a section called “Further Reading” at the back of the book that suggests a number of additional texts that interested readers can look to for more information. And, my last complaint, there are some strange omissions from this book. There isn’t a word about the Great Pyramid of Cheops, or the Crystal Skulls, or Star Children… And WHY, considering the cover has the ALL-SEEING EYE on it, isn’t there a section on The Illuminati???

Overall, there are some interesting stories covered in this book, and lots of photos, which is cool. I like the inclusion of the skeptical explanations along with the wacky theories, as well, and the recent publication date means that the most recent research is usually included for each story. The book, however, is definitely a skimmer, just barely touching on each topic before dropping it and moving on to the next. If you are already a fan of Fortean topics, this book is going to seem too rudimentary, but if you’re looking for a starter text in WEIRD PHENOMENA, it might be worth picking up!

---Richard F. Yates

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

“Read a Damn Book – 025: Duchamp”

Janis Mink – Duchamp (2006)

Marcel Duchamp in one of the most important and most notorious artists of the 20th century, and oddly enough he really didn’t make that much ART. I’ve never really considered myself a huge fan of Duchamp, although I appreciate his sense of humor. Anybody willing to submit a toilet to an art show HAS to have a sense of humor, right?

What Mink does well in this book is explain some of what Duchamp was THINKING when he produced his art, and (as with Warhol) what the artist MEANT by his work is often more interesting than the finished product. The toilet wasn’t REALLY intended to be a beautiful work of art, it was meant as a CONCEPT and a CHALLENGE. The group that was putting together the show that this piece was submitted to supposedly had an open-door policy, meaning that anyone who paid the entry fee was allowed to show ANY two pieces of work that they wanted---but R. Mutt’s piece was rejected. (Duchamp submitted the work under a fake name, knowing that if he submitted it under his own name, the group would have to accept it.) The work of art was ACTUALLY intended to expose the hypocrisy of the group that was putting the show together, and supposedly Duchamp resigned from the organization when they rejected a paid member's submission.

Mink (using Duchamp’s journals and notes, as well as interviews and other sources) exposes the hidden jokes behind many of Duchamp’s most famous works. I’ve never been that moved by the art that Duchamp produced (except “Nude Descending a Staircase (No. 2), which was described by a critic in 1913 as “an explosion in a shingle factory,” and I also enjoyed his modified Mona Lisa postcard, in which Duchamp gives the old girl a mustache and beard!) Learning about the JOKES, bad puns, and clever concepts behind some of Duchamp’s works, however, is fascinating. He was a weird guy---deeper and much more clever than his individual pieces may seem at first glance. And he was apparently less interested in making art than he was in messing with people, and I respect that!

In contrast to all his humorous work, though, his final major creation is absolutely horrifying. “Given: 1. The Waterfall, 2. The Illuminating Gas,” is a “peep show” style diorama that he spent nearly 20 years constructing, and it is so unsettling, so disturbing and disgusting, that I really don’t care for it. The work itself looks to the viewer, at first, like an unmarked wooden door with two eye holes in it, but when the viewer looks through the holes, they are subjected to what appears to be a murdered corpse dumped in a field. A naked, pale torso, one bent leg, and the lifeless arm of a female figure can be seen laying in a grassy area. No face is visible, but the scene is still horrible, and to my sensibilities, it’s a bit TOO realistic (even though it is stylized) and horrific. Again, I’m a fan of horror movies and gothic literature and monsters, but REAL LIFE horrors make me very uncomfortable, and this work is very, VERY disturbing. It seems like such massive shift away from the playful, joke-filled, and more language oriented work that characterized Duchamp’s previous art, and I have even read one book that suggested the work was directly influenced by the Black Dahlia Murder, though Mink doesn’t mention anything like that here.

Still, Janis Mink has written an interesting book, and Taschen (the publisher), doesn’t skimp on the artwork or photographs. The book is short, though, much more of a survey or quick overview than a definitive biography (and Mink mentions several other books that interested readers can look for if they want to explore deeper), but I would recommend this one for readers who are interested in “modern” art, in conceptual art, or for those who wondered what was up with that TOILET that someone was trying to say was art!

---Richard F. Yates

Sunday, April 16, 2017

“Read a Damn Book – 024: Krazy Kids’ Food!”

I’m an art guy, but I also grew up in a small town without many museums or art galleries around (and parents who really weren’t into that kind of thing anyway), so most of my early experiences of ART came in the form of comics, cartoon shows, and of course ADVERTISING. Cereal boxes, toy packaging, candy wrappers…these were some of my earliest and, it turns out, strongest influences, and this book collects a whole MAGILLA of these graphics in one handy place!

Steve Roden & Dan Goodsell – Krazy Kids’ Food! (2003/2006)

This collection of advertising materials was compiled primarily from the private collections of the authors, and was originally release in Germany by Taschen (makers of many fine art books) in 2003, then reissued by Barnes & Noble in 2006. There is a short introduction to this book that discusses the history of advertising aimed at children, and it’s fairly interesting, but really too brief to teach the reader much, and then the rest of the book is comprised of quality photos of a whole bunch of kids’ products, mostly---but not entirely---of the edible variety. And this is where the book really shines!

Personally, I LOVE old advertisements---the strange colors, simplified graphics, the often horribly bizarre or even offensive subject matter... (“Rots o’ Ruck” candy? Seriously? With horrible, stereotypical portrayals of supposedly “Chinese” characters on it… And what the HELL is Gorilla Milk? It sounds illegal, to me.) Some of it is nostalgia, because I’m old enough to remember quite a few of these products, but a book like this is also a great resource for a visual artist. The smile on the face of the Devil Gum mascot is so menacing, but in a clever, “Maybe we could be friends?” sort of way. I study that thing to see why it’s so effective. And, the brushwork on the tigers who adorned Frosted Flakes boxes in the mid-1950s is simultaneously emotionally evocative AND controlled at the same time. (I would love to learn how the unnamed artist who painted that masterpiece perfected his technique…) And some of the weird ass characters on products like Crazy Foam containers and Fizzies packets are both humorous and (somehow) creepy as hell at the same time.

So, yeah, this book is worth flipping through if you are a nostalgia fan, a cultural historian, or a lover of strange ideas. And if you’re an artist, it’s ESSENTIAL that you be aware of the history of advertising, which is as close as you can get to a true embodiment of the culture in which you are living and working. Advertising AIMS at the people, and GOOD advertising smacks the people right in the eye…

---Richard F. Yates

“Read a Damn Book – 023: Please Kill Me – The Uncensored Oral History of Punk”

I was pretty late to the PUNK party, and in fact I’d never even heard the Sex Pistol’s Never Mind the Bollocks until I was a junior in high school (somewhere around 1988.) I was a skateboarder back then, mostly because the house my mom rented was right across the street from a skatepark, which had been built back during the 1970's skate-boom. And even though most of my friends in school liked the Ramones and Butthole Surfers and Black Flag, and several of them were even IN local punk bands, I was more of a “Waver” and listened to The Cure, Depeche Mode, O.M.D., Devo, Blondie, The B-52’s, and so on. Eventually, however, I caught the BUG. I can even pinpoint the tape that made me a punk fan: the Subhumans - EP-LP. After hearing THAT album and really connecting with it, I decided to throw myself into the punk sound head first. I read books on the origins of punk, I bought every Rhino Records punk reissue compilation that I could find, and (in Spring of 1993) I even did an independent study research project on punk at the local community college. Three months of listening to punk, reading about punk, and watching ever punk film and concert I could get my hands on. (This was before the internet had caught on real big, so most of this stuff had to be found by hunting through weird little shops in Portland, Oregon, or by ordering stuff through the mail.)

I wish I’d had this book back then! It would have made my final paper for the class MUCH more interesting…

Legs McNeil & Gillian McCain – Please Kill Me – The Uncensored Oral History of Punk (1996/1997)

Decades later, I’m still a huge fan of punk music, particularly the first wave bands from the mid to late 1970s, and this book covers many of those groups in EXCRUCIATING detail. Where documentaries like Don Letts' 2004 masterpiece PUNK: ATTITUDE focus on the SOUND and STYLE of punk, this book is more of a TRUE CONFESSIONS type of affair and is built around stories of “behind the scenes” shenanigans. McNeil was one of the founders of PUNK Magazine, which helped define what punk actually was (as well as giving the movement its name), so he was REALLY THERE, and he and McCain have pieced this collection together by pouring through hundreds of hours of interviews with many of the key players in the punk scene, in addition to some other sources (listed at the back of the book.)

Starting in the 1960s with the Velvet Underground and Warhol’s Factory crowd, and moving into the MC5, Iggy and the Stooges, Patti Smith, and so on, this book goes DEEP into the personal lives of the founders and early stars of punk---and it’s absolutely disgusting. Truly yucky to behold. Drugs, violence, prostitution, mental illness, obsession, back-stabbing, V.D., and moral degradation are on full display from page one until the end of the book. No punches are pulled, no egos are spared, no disgusting scene is left undescribed, in all of its body-fluid soaked detail. This book is absolutely NOT for the faint of heart.

Honestly, what this book covers is dark---almost TOO dark. I listen to songs like “Blank Generation” (by Richard Hell and the Voidoids) or “See No Evil” (by Television) or “Sleeping with the T.V. On” (by The Dictators) or “Jet Boy” (by The New York Dolls) and I think of nothing but fun times, happy memories, and really great tunes. These songs have always represented happiness and joy for me, but NOW, I’m going to have visions of these bloody bar fights and egomaniacs shooting drugs and people dying all over the place, when I hear some of my favorite music, all thanks to this book. And I get it, TRAGEDY is way more exciting than sunshine and daisies. I suppose these stories are mostly true, that this book represents an accurate portrayal of what life in the early punk scene in New York was really like, but all I can say is: I’m glad I wasn’t there.

Interestingly, the original ending of this book was a description of Jerry Nolan, legendary drummer for The New York Dolls and later The Heartbreakers, laying on his deathbed in a hospital, floating in and out of consciousness and surrounded by crying friends. It was sad and heart wrenching, especially as it came so shortly after descriptions of the deaths of Stiv Bators, Johnny Thunders, Sid Vicious, Lester Bangs…all these musicians and classic personalities. Luckily, I never read the original version of the book, and this edition (published by Penguin), has an additional 22 pages of material and ends on a much more positive note delivered by Wayne Kramer (of the MC5 and, interestingly, the 80’s funk-rock band, Was (Not Was)!) I’m glad McNeil and McCain added the new material so that the narrative no longer ends on such a desolate, heartbreaking scene. The origins of punk may have been pretty debauched, but the overall legacy of the era isn’t the dead bodies, it’s the GREAT music. Also, for people like me, who aren’t bothered by stories of ghosts or vampires or monstrous ancient gods (imaginary scares), but who are a bit too squeamish to enjoy REAL LIFE horrors, like sickness or needle drugs or human degradation, it’s good to let us off with at least a slight, tiny hint of hope and positivity.

Overall, the book is a thorough and “uncensored” look at the ugly, sickening, and depraved origins of punk, and will be of interest to anyone wondering how this movement got up and started moving (and then slumped over and threw up before getting up again…and again…and…) In addition, anyone who loves true-crime or stories of sleaze and debauchery will find a lot to chew on here. The book is engaging and easy to follow, but certainly NOT for the easily disturbed or morally conservative---you peeps won’t even make it past the first paragraph!

---Richard F. Yates

Friday, April 14, 2017

“Read a Damn Book – 022: The Far Side”

Gary Larson – The Far Side (1982/1983)

I’ve been a fan of Gary Larson’s comic strip for decades, and it’s interesting to go back to a book that you loved when you were younger and see if it still holds up today. The Far Side was a classic newspaper comic (from an era when there were still some comics worth reading), and I remember being upset when Larson announced that he was retiring. The Far Side was extremely popular, (this book was already on its 6th printing only ONE YEAR after it was first published) and most people have had SOME contact with these cartoons, whether they know it or not. There was definitely a reason for Larson’s popularity: The Far Side represented a unique vision.

What’s surprising, going back and rereading this book, is how DARK many of these cartoons are. Larson was a master of absurdity, and many of his cartoons are just silly. Three little pigs get a phone call, and the one who answers complains of “heavy huffing and puffing,” or in another cartoon a party of cannibals is seen dancing rapturously around an intended victim to the accompaniment of a female pianist, and so on. (Great stuff. VERY funny.) BUT there are also some comics that are downright disturbing. A pair of astronauts are on the moon and one of them exclaims how great it is that they’ve made it---but as he flaps his arms in joy, he breaks the glass on the front of his partner’s helmet. Or one where a cow in a coat is opening a freezer door, and we see (vaguely) human bodies hanging within. Or, another example, where a city is seen burning from far away, and two cows are watching the flames---the text below the image says, “It seems that agent 6373 has accomplished her mission.” Within the pages of this book, various creatures are eaten, or smashed, or drowned, or dispatched in one horrible way after another. Death is one of the most common themes in Larson’s cartoons, and it’s hilarious!

Death may be everywhere in The Far Side, but it’s not gory, or even blatant. Often, you have to connect a dot or two to come to a realization of the “shock” moment. Part of what makes Larson’s comics so fun is the joy of trying to figure out what the IMPLICATIONS of his cartoon are. Larson (in a later collection) admits that he sometimes fell short on his jokes, that sometimes they just don’t make sense, but even those jokes, the ones that are so weird that they don’t make sense, can be funny. For instance, in this collection there’s a great gag (possibly my favorite of ALL his cartoons) in which we see two men in an alley, one holding a duck by the neck, and in the foreground is a car that we assume is an undercover cop car with two men in it. The text below the cartoon reads, “All units prepare to move in! … He’s givin’ him the duck now!” It makes NO sense at all, but it’s hilarious…

The Far Side is still funny to me. It’s dark, it’s silly, and it’s often completely absurd, which are all desired qualities in my dream comic. If you aren’t familiar with Larson’s work, this collection would be a great place to start. I recommend that you find a copy, immediately.

---Richard F. Yates

Sunday, April 9, 2017

“Read a Damn Book – 021: The Woman in White”

For the last four decades or so, I’ve been a terrible sleeper. My poor wife, until my 40th birthday, had to deal with me, three or four times per week, failing to fall sleep, rolling over, and turning on a light so that I could read until I could calm my brain down enough to try and get back to Dreamland. For my 40th, however, she got me a back-lit e-reader, and the days of me needing to flip a light on at 2:00 A.M. (and interrupting HER sleep) were mostly over. Since that day, and through much trial and error, I’ve discovered that Victorian Literature has a very calming effect on me and can remarkably DECREASE the amount of time that I remain awake when insomnia strikes, and my most recent “night book” was SO EFFECTIVE at inducing unconsciousness that it took me nearly FIVE MONTHS of reading to finished it. Welcome, my friends, to…

Wilkie Collins – The Woman in White (1859-1860)

The Woman in White was originally published as a serialized story in a couple of subscription magazines of the day, and was eventually published as a 500+ page novel in 1860. I decided to read this book partially because it’s considered a gothic classic (an early detective story) and partially because I thought it was going to be a ghost story. Sadly, there were no ghosts, although there was one woman who always dressed in white and had escaped from a mental hospital, and that’s something, I guess. There were also some classic gothic atmospherics: an old, dark, run-down manor house; a sinister plot; secret societies; a few nice deaths; and a well written and extremely detailed story, but overall, it seemed a bit ELONGATED for my taste. The prose was readable, the descriptions evocative, and a few of the characters interesting enough, I suppose---particularly the rich, misanthropic, invalid uncle whose nerves where so disturbed that even talking with his own niece for a few moments was enough to shatter him, mentally and physically, for a full week.

Unfortunately, however, the overall story was dull, and I lost interest long before the novel was over. It took an act of extreme willpower for me to push through to the end. The book is considered a classic, and a gothic classic at that, so I felt it was my duty to finish it, but unless you are a REAL fan of Victorian Romances, I don’t think I’d recommend it. There are some GREAT books from around this time which I really loved: Varney the Vampire (1847), House of Seven Gables (1851), The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886), and Carmilla (1872), to name just a few, so it’s not that I don’t care for Victorian Gothic, I just found The Woman in White to be a bit less interesting than I’d hoped. (To be fair, I really didn’t care for Wuthering Heights, either, despite the fact that it DID have a ghost in it.) So, final words: The Woman in White wasn’t my thing---although I can suggest it if you’re looking for a powerful, non-narcotic sleep aid. Knocked my butt right out!

---Richard F. Yates

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

“Read a Damn Book – 020: Madman Volume 1”

Mike Allred - Madman Volume 1 (2010)

As I mentioned in a previous review (see The Atomics: Spaced Out and Grounded…), Mike Allred is one of my favorite comic creators, and this collection PERFECTLY illustrates the reasons why this is true. The first three comics in this book were originally published by Tundra back in the early 1990s, and are presented here in the GLORIOUS black and white of the true indie comic spirit. And I’ve got to say, these three issues are fantastic---nearly perfect.

The story is psychotic, funny, and gruesome, but cohesive and very satisfying. Our “HERO” (Frank Einstein, aka Madman), is a mentally fragile amnesiac who wears a grotesque mask to cover a scarred face, and he is DISTURBED, barely in touch with reality, and prone to outbursts of extreme violence. There are flashes of the supernatural (a great E.C. Comics / Creepshow moment to look for), moments of perfect humor (Madman’s preferred weapons are a yo-yo and a sling-shot, suggesting a childlike quality to his personality), and some wonderfully disturbing flashes of chilling psychosis. The issues great looking, the thick line and black and white pallet complimenting the mood of the tale, and the collection is well worth the price of admission for this section alone!

But that’s not all you get with this package, as this collection also reprints Madman Adventures #1-3. These issues are in color, and still look good (probably BETTER than the previous issues to most modern comics readers), but I prefer the moody quality of the older b&w issues. The individual stories are pretty fun, too. You get your time travel tale, your ancient aliens encounter, and your classic “meet the parents” and take your girlfriend on a date episode (not necessarily in that order), but these stories seem more like separate, one-off, side-liners to me, which don’t have that solid, cohesiveness of the first three books. Don’t get me wrong, there are still some entertaining moments in the second half of this collection, but overall, the last three stories seem to have lost that desperate/haunted quality that made the first three issues so appealing to me (desperate/haunted and depraved individual that I am.)

As a final bonus (in case the above wasn’t enough), there are also more than thirty Madman “pin-up” drawings to flip through and enjoy by a virtual Who’s-Who of comic illustrators: Frank Frazetta, Jack Kirby, Alex Toth, Barry Windsor-Smith, the Hernandez Brothers (all three!), Dan Brereton, Bill Sienkiewicz, Paul Chadwick, Sergio Aragones, Todd McFarlane, Charles Vess, P. Craig Russell, Jim Lee, Erik Larson, John Byrne…. I could go on, but my fingers are getting tired!

Final words: Is it worth the cover price? Absolutely. It’s a nice THICK collection (over 200 pages long), and NORMAL folks who might be turned off by the creepy/icky elements of the first half of the book (you know who you are), will probably enjoy the lighter second half, and us sickos can relish the darkness of Madman’s early days! (Now if I could just find a collection of Allred’s Graphic Musique / Grafik Muzik books, that would make my day complete!!!)

---Richard F. Yates

Saturday, April 1, 2017

“Read a Damn Book – 019: Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them”

My wife, my older daughter, and I are all fans of the Harry Potter books and movies, and in a very real sense, our family has grown up with Hogwarts and its influence, but for whatever reason or oversight, I’d never read THIS book. Since the film has just come out for home purchase, I thought, “What the heck!” And then I borrowed the copy that my Grandma Lucy just bought! (Thanks Granny!)

J.K. Rowling – Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them (2001/2017)

This book was written by J.K. Rowling, but attributed to the fictional character, Newton “Newt” Artemis Fido Scamander, whose adventures in 1920s New York have just been explored in the film, Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them. Unlike the movie, this book is NOT an adventure story, but a BESTIARY: an alphabetical catalogue of various creatures from Rowling’s magical universe (which is built around both classical mythology and regional folklore, though the monsters are sometimes tweaked and twisted to better fit Rowling’s vision---and I’m okay with that.) Bestiaries are fun, in my opinion, and I’ve read several: collections of mythological creatures from different parts of the world, books about science fiction creatures from various films and novels, Japanese yokai catalogues, monster manuals for role playing games, etc. I’m a sucker for monsters, so a book full of them is usually an easy purchase.

What makes THIS collection fun and worth reading are two main elements: 1. Rowling is very clever, and she fills the book not just with information about her creatures, but also with interesting footnotes and asides, many of them very funny, about the adventures and misadventures of various wizards and witches as they encountered these strange, magical beasts. I quickly started to look forward to these asides as much as the individual creature entries, because the footnotes were almost always good for a chuckle, if not a full-fledged belly laugh. 2. For fans of the Harry Potter universe or of the new film, there are a number of creatures in this book that are heavily featured in those stories. The recognition factor can be very entertaining. “Oh yeah, I remember the acromantula! It was in the Chamber of Secrets, and its death was a major plot point in Half-Blood Prince!” How many of these critters do you remember from the stories or did you spot in the movies? (Alright, alright---don’t talk all at once…)

So that’s the gist---if you like catalogs of various monsters, many from mythology and folklore, you might find this book fun (though it’s certainly not a scholarly source and isn’t meant to be.) If you are a fan of the original Harry Potter stories or of the new movie, you might like some of the additional back story that you get here (primarily in the Introduction), or if you are a fan of clever, humorous writing you will find a lot to enjoy. However, anyone looking for a novel length adventure story will probably need to look somewhere else for their fix… (Send me a note if that’s the case, and I can give you some suggestions.)

---Richard F. Yates