50-Word Review: Cat Stories

“The city of cats and the city of men exist one inside the other, but they are not the same city.”

Italo Calvino

Cat Stories, ed. Diana Secker Tesdell (Everyman Pocket Classics)

Surprisingly well-balanced collection of, well, stories about cats. Each one is different: there are sad stories, cheerful stories, horror stories, experimental stories, fairy tales, fables, existential mutterings, pastiche and parody. Every kind of story, so long as it is cat. Such fun. Favourite story: Alice Adams’ “The Islands”.

Word count: 48

50-Word Review: Every Man in His Humour

Thou hast done, or assisted to, nothing, in my judgement, but what deserves to be pardoned for the wit o’the offence.”

Ben Jonson

Every Man in His Humour,  Ben Jonson

An early seventeenth-century city play about a guy called Brainworm who goes round making fun of the pretenders and fools of his age. Probably screamingly funny onstage, but I have to admit I don’t actually remember all the details: it’s a little dry, and the seventeenth-century prose can be obscure.

Word count: 50

50-Word Review: This Dark Endeavour

“The preface? Why would he waste time with the preface? Skip the preface and move on to the meat of the thing!”

Kenneth Oppel

I’m deep in the Valley of the Shadow of Finals at the moment, Constant Reader, and so in an attempt to retain my sanity I’ll be doing a series of 50-word reviews for the next couple of days. Because there’s nothing like a new kind of blog post to distract you from all the revision you should be doing.

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This Dark Endeavour, Kenneth Oppel

A prequel to Frankenstein which sees Victor Frankenstein’s twin Konrad fall ill with (probably) leukaemia, prompting a quixotic quest for an alchemical cure, Oppel’s novel, though well-paced, manages to reread Shelley’s complex discussion of scientific progress and unholy creation as a commonplace revenge story about familial love. Meh, but YMMV.

Word count: 50 (I totally meant that to happen.)