This year I was delighted to pick up what must surely be one of America’s forgotten treasures: The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody by Will Cuppy. According to the afterword, Cuppy himself was a quirky eccentric, spending much of his time as a hermit on Long Island. Ironically, he died in 1949, shortly before this book was published. It spent four months on the NYT bestseller list the following year.
Decline is an entertaining, lighthearted romp through history, with laugh-out-loud facts about figures such as Cleopatra, Attila the Hun, Lady Godiva, Hannibal and those elephants, and many more. It truly is one of the best books I’ve read this year.
Ron again: Wikiquote has some great Cuppy quotes, including one of my favorites from when I found a battered paperback of Decline years ago: “The Bayeux Tapestry is accepted as an authority on many details of life and the fine points of history in the eleventh century. For instance, the horses in those days had green legs, blue bodies, yellow manes, and red heads, while the people were all double-jointed and quite different from what we generally think of as human beings.” Although I’ll never stop stumping for 1066 and All That.
27 November 2005 | gift ideas |
The second member of LiteraryChicks.com to provide us with a holiday gift recommendation is Alesia Holliday, the author of American Idle and Nice Girls Finish First. She’s also got a novella in the anthology The Naked Truth, out this month. Then there’s her first mystery, Blondes Have More Felons, coming next spring, plus all the YA fiction she writes as Jax Abbott…clearly Alesia’s one busy woman!
For the perfect holiday gift for any teachers you know, knew, or might someday know—or, really, just for anyone who ever went to school, my recommendation is Teacher Man by the amazing Frank McCourt. Anybody who knows me knows I’m in awe of the talent of this author for his gift of stripping story down to its essence; painting word portraits with brutal honesty and piercing, poignant humor. Mr. McCourt won the Pulitzer for Angela’s Ashes; I think he should win Teacher of the Century for Teacher Man.
26 November 2005 | gift ideas |