Donut Machine Week.

March 15, 2009 at 2:44 pm Leave a comment

Small towns

Gee Whiz!

Well, shucks, I wanted to make this week’s theme out-of-print children’s books, but as I began researching the stories I had in mind, holy cats!, I found that they’d all  been reprinted in the last few years (Yippee!). Well, I had to find something else to write on, but what? So I put my noggin to a’thinkin’, real melon-scratching type thinkin’. And I decided to write on the books anyway. This week is nostalgia week here at SoA, a week chock-full-a great books from midcentury America as well as some whizbang words.

The books that you’ll see in the next few days are all ones I’d read over and over as a kid, but that I’d first pulled off the shelf because they were old: Beat-up books that were missing covers, with loose pages tucked in between the wrong chapters. These were the books that my mother read as a kid, too precious for my grandmother to throw away, sent instead to us over years of routine house-cleanings.

But these books have another common theme: they are all achingly quaint portrayals of the quintessential small town American life. They’re American commedia dell’arte, with predictable and comfortable casts. Mothers in these books are described as “ample,” and every evening they call the playing children back to the clean house for a warm meal before scrubbing dirty faces and putting them to bed. Fathers are breadwinners who willing offer themselves up as living jungle gyms for younger members of the family. Sisters and brothers wander unsupervised for hours through the town, discovering caves or chatting with white-capped milk men and aproned diner waitresses.

It’s easy to see why a book like this would go out of print.  Yet there are some gems that take these stereotypical plots and characters and elevate them to classics. How? Almost always with an incredibly winning child protagonist. The kids carry these novels and, in the process, become exemplars of an “American” childhood.

With all that in mind, I will present for your critical pleasure “Donut Machine Week,” a title which will suggest to those “in-the-know” what type of books I’ll be listing. They’re all stories from 1960 or earlier which mix bright, adventurous, wacky childhoods with a delicious dose of nostalgia.


Entry filed under: Uncategorized, Weekly Themes. Tags: , , .

H(elvetica)2O(ptima) Donut Machine Week 1: Henry Reed Inc.

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Read the Printed Word!
he sailed off through night and day and in and out of weeks and almost over a year to where the wild things are.

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