Lifelong Dewey

Reading through every Dewey Decimal section.

Category: 810s

817: Dave Barry Slept Here by Dave Barry

DDC_817

817.0973: Barry, Dave. Dave Barry Slept Here: A Sort of History of the United States. New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1989. 175 pp. ISBN 0-4499-0462-8.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 800: Literature
  • 810: American literature in English
  • 817: American humor and satire in English
  • +09: With respect to history
  • +73: United States

When I was a kid, Dave Barry was just about the funniest writer I knew. My mother got me hooked, and while his style and wit have fallen off in recent years, I find it hard not to go back to him for a chuckle or two. Because most of his classic writing was for a weekly newspaper column, it’s a bit dated but funny nonetheless. In Dave Barry Slept Here, he takes a look at American history in a way that only he can, with eye toward potential exploding animals, the absolute importance of the Hawley-Smoot Tariff, and acts of Congress that would also make good names for a rock band.

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812: Wit by Margaret Edson

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812.54: Edson, Margaret. Wit: A Play. New York: Faber & Faber, 1999. 85 pp. ISBN 0-5711-9877-5.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 800: Literature
  • 810: American literature in English
  • 812: American drama in English
  • 812.5: 20th Century
  • 812.54: 1945-1999

Margaret Edson’s Wit is an earnest look at how terminal illness affects one’s perspective. Dr. Vivian Bearing, a respected professor and scholar of the works of John Donne, is diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer and has to undergo intense chemotherapy if there is to be any recovery. Her doctor is of course very clinical in his treatment of her, and his protégé is a former student (making for very awkward encounters). During the course of her treatment, Bearing gets sicker and more introspective. The play focuses on Bearing’s assessment of her life and learning as she deals with her imminent death.

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818: My Planet by Mary Roach

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818.602: Roach, Mary. My Planet: Finding Humor in the Oddest Places. New York: Reader’s Digest, 2013. 160 pp. ISBN 978-1-62145-071-9.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 800: Literature
  • 810: American literature in English
  • 818: American miscellaneous writings in English
  • 818.6: Written after 2000
  • +02: Miscellany

Mary Roach is one of the most quirky, witty, and amazing writers I have ever read. For me, she ranks up there with John Hodgman, Dave Barry, and Simon Winchester. She’s so much fun, in fact, that I have four books by her planned for this quest. Her latest book, My Planet, is a collection of 62 of her columns previously written for Reader’s Digest. They explore her world—everything from dishwashers to paint chips to RV vacations to makeup and beyond.

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810: Ornithologies of Desire by Travis V. Mason

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810: Mason, Travis V. Ornithologies of Desire: Ecocritical Essays, Avian Poetics, and Don McKay. Waterloo, ONT, Canada: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2013. 226 pp. ISBN 978-1-55458-630-1.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 800: Literature
  • 810: American literature in English

This is another one of those book where I don’t have a fun, exciting, or enticing lede. Travis V. Mason’s Ornithologies of Desire is an in-depth look at the writing of Canadian poet-critic-essayist Don McKay. But rather than a straightforward textual reading of McKay’s works, Mason uses McKay’s love of birds and ornithology to create a ecocritical lens through which to examine McKay.

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816: Letters from a Nut by Ted L. Nancy

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816.54: Nancy, Ted L. Letters From a Nut. New York: Avon, 1997. 185 pp. ISBN 0-380-97354-5.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 800: Literature
  • 810: American literature in English
  • 816: American letters in English
  • +.54: Written between 1945 and 1999

Well, as promised, here’s the second review for today.

Ted L. Nancy’s Letters From a Nut is truly the product of a deranged mind. The premise of the book is that a guy living in Thousand Oaks, California has taken it upon himself to write a bunch of letters to actual American corporations inquiring about odd matters or seeking special accommodations or praising them for strange aspects of their service. There’s not really much more I can say by way of a summation, but here are some examples of his correspondence:

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813: The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet by Reif Larsen

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813.6: Larsen, Reif. The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet. New York: Penguin, 2010. 374 pp. ISBN 978-0-14-311735-3.

Dewey Construction:

  • 800: Literature
  • 810: American Literature in English
  • 813: American fiction
  • +.6: Authors active after 1999

On a ranch in Montana, Tecumseh Sparrow Spivet is busy drawing maps. He spends countless hours observing the world around him, carefully detailing its motions and inner workings. From the flight paths of bats to the individual sound prints of different firearms, his maps allow other people to see the world in a different light. And it is precisely these maps that earn him the prestigious Baird Fellowshop from the Smithsonian. All this would be remarkable on its own, but it’s even more so given one more detail: T.S. Spivet is only 12 years old.

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814: Cleavage by Wayne Koestenbaum

814.54: Koestenbaum, Wayne. Cleavage: Essays on Sex, Stars, and Aesthetics. New York: Ballantine Books, 2000. 338 pp. ISBN 0-345-43460-9.

Dewey Construction:

  • 800: Literature
  • 810: American literature in English
  • 814: American essays in English
  • +.54: American essays in English by authors whose careers started between 1945 and 1999

I finished this book yesterday and I still don’t know what to say about it. About halfway through a book, I can start jotting down initial impressions or a general outline of how I want to attack the review. Sometimes I focus on my reaction to the book, and sometimes I just like to summarize the text and leave people to their own impressions. Wayne Koestenbaum’s Cleavage just leaves the reader stunned with wave after wave of cultural musings and wordplay.

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