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Literary Criticism

All of the Marvels by Douglas Wolk

Review courtesy of my husband, Tim! In this book, Douglas Wolk does something very few would attempt, much less complete: read literally all the marvels. At the beginning, the book seems to be presented as a tour that recaps the last 60 years and a way for new readers to jump in. I don’t think it worked. I think you need to be pretty well versed with at least the characters if not the events to enjoy this tour. But as an insightful look at the various neighborhoods of the marvelverse, it is brilliant! It provides some history for sure, but Wolk finds the heart of what makes each team, family, and character work in storytelling. The only downsides to me were the sometimes incomprehensible jumping around the timeline. Not unlike some marvel stories. And the lack of pictures to go along with his description of the artwork.

All of the Marvels by Douglas Wolk, (List Price: 28, Penguin Press, 9780735222168, October 2021)

Reviewed by Melissa Taylor, E. Shaver, bookseller in Savannah, Georgia


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A Swim in a Pond in the Rain by George Saunders

Communication is a key ingredient to our daily life. Even choosing to avoid it says multiple somethings about us. Be the relationship cave painter and archaeologist or mother and son, down to the nanosecond most of us (speaker and auditor) repeatedly fudge it up. In that last sentence, for example, the subject choices and use of the word “fudge” paint both a true-ish and false-like picture of this reviewer. But this isn’t about me (or is it?). [Ahem] Through a panoply of pitch-perfect analogies, George Saunders puts the writer/reader at the reader/writer’s La-Z-Boy/typewriter. With hang-out-sesh tonality, he weighs the beauty in misunderstanding against how utterly frustrating it can be to simply get what you’re being told. Fans of Understanding Comics or How to Read Nancy might enjoy placing turn-of-the-century Russian masterpieces under the microscope. It’s been over a week since I finished A Swim… (“not about me,” eh, me?) and like a kid home from camp, not a day has gone by without a few thoughts of this deep moment or that fond element. All that’s missing from that analogy is me repeatedly checking the mailbox to see if George wrote me a postcard, but that would be a downer of an ending to this wonderful book’s review (not to be confused with a wonderful book review), so it’ll surely be edited out.

A Swim in a Pond in the Rain by George Saunders (List Price: $28, Random House, 9781984856029, 1/12/2021)

Reviewed by Ian McCord, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

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