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Penrod: Illustrated Edition Paperback – July 15, 2016
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Many years ago, also at my dad's urging, I read Tarkinton's Seventeen, and didn't particularly like it. I think I was too close to being ridiculous in my first loves myself and didn't much like reading about someone else's being similarly ridiculous. I think I might be far enough removed from being a silly 11-year old that the victories and vicissitudes Penrod experienced didn't affect me so much. As always, I'm a bit appalled as how racist we all were a century ago, but then again, looking at today's Tea Party Movement, I see that some of us haven't evolved much. Still, as I mentioned, it was a fun book.
Interesting that this book is basically a series of short stories, albeit tied together from one day to the next. My previous book, The Wisdom of Father Brown, was also short stories, and I didn't much care for that format. But I think, while they contained the same central character, they didn't flow smoothly from one to the next. I doubt anyone would say Tarkington is more of a literary giant than Chesterton, but between these two books, Tarkington wins hands down.
The book itself was easy to read and understand although there were several "old English" words that needed to be defined or read in the context of the sentence to find the meaning. The chapters are designed so that it is easy to stop at the end of a chapter and resume at another time since each chapter is read as a different event.
many times, and they never fail to bring laughter and enjoyment in abundance. They also give a marvelous picture of
life in middle America in the early years of the twentieth century, years that Booth Tarkington describes as being just
after the horse-drawn carriage fell out of favor and just before automobiles were everywhere to be seen. Consequent-
ly, Penrod has full use of his family's garage/stable, while his father mulls over the purchase of an auto, a decision he
is in no hurry to make. With hilarious inventiveness, Penrod turns the old stable into his sanctuary, clubhouse, retreat
from worldly cares, pretend office, theater, pharmacy...in short, anything his imagination can conjure up. To my mind,
Penrod's tales are timeless classics, for the "plain and simple reason" that Booth Tarkington was an inspired writer.