Reviews by C. Alan Loewen

Practical Skunk Raising

by William Edwin Pratt

Self-published in 1915, this was William Pratt's stab at getting rich by telling other people how they can get rich, in this case, by raising skunks for their fur.

The trend still continues. As of this writing, various self-publishing houses are selling reprints of Pratt's 15-page pamphlet on Amazon.com for outlandish prices and one company is actually selling a reprint (not the original document, mind you) for a whopping $710.00!

And, the information is horrendous. Health issues are listed in this order: greed, cannibalism, murder, distemper, mange, and worms and this will come as a surprise to those who never thought greed and murder were illnesses. Oh, and of course he mentions rabies, right? A disease so deadly and insidious that the mortality rate dances close to 100% and as skunks are the predominant rabies reservoirs in the United State, there should be a whole chapter on this disease, right?

Nope. Not a word.

And what about the skunk's most famous attribute, their ability to spray you down with a musk so potent that it can make your eyes water? Well, we're advised that as long as you hold the animal "by the tail" you're okay.

I wonder if Mr. Pratt even ever raised a skunk by himself?

Nobody will ever know how many bought Pratt's book with stars in their eyes and dreams of swelling bank accounts, but I suspect only Mr. Pratt got rich off of this business venture.

C. Alan Loewen
http://www.amazon.com/Alan-Loewen/e/B009LLMD9K

Reviewed on 2014.11.30

Some Adventures of Mr. Surelock Keys

by Herbert Beeman

Herbert Beeman was a canadian and served as secretary of the Vancouver Board of Trade in the early 1920s. During this period he published an obscure hardcover, F.O.B. For Our Bureau which was a collection of poems. He has also been credited with writing “Some Adventures Of Mr Surelock Keys, Hitherto Unrecorded” in 1913, “The Halfway House Of The Empire” in 1929 and a broadside/poem called "How to Pronounce Burrard." Beeman died in 1931.

The humor is “Some Adventures Of Mr Surelock Keys, Hitherto Unrecorded” is humor writing that at the time was considered quaint and amusing, but today's tastes would see as only silly and irrelevant.

Alan Loewen
http://www.amazon.com/Alan-Loewen/e/B009LLMD9K

Reviewed on 2014.11.24

G.O.D.

by Jay Lake

Well, it started out very well and then it went ... weird.

Stream of consciousness or avant-garde writing is not easy to write. Even in the midst of it, there has to be something elemental for the reader to grasp and these three vignettes: G: Godstalk; O: Godstock; D: Gottschalk have intriguing elements, but the end result is simple confusion.

Reviewed on 2014.10.09

Chains

by Elizabeth Baker

I must be honest as a reviewer and say I did not care for this play at all. If I was given free front row seats and all I had to do was cross the street, I wouldn’t bother, but after extensive research it appears I’m the only person in the world who doesn’t like the play. Therefore, I’ve given it three stars out of respect for what is clearly a majority opinion when personally I would only give it one.

Elizabeth Baker (1876 - 1962) was an English playwright and a proud member of the lower middle class intelligentsia. Her very first play was Chains and was produced in 1909 (not 1911 as is reported). It has been resurrected many times to rave reviews and has also been a TV production as well as performed multiple times on stage.

Charley and Lily Wilson are members of the lower middle class in Edwardian England. Charley works as a clerk six days a week and Lily is a homemaker. To make ends meet, they take in borders and as the play opens, their present tenant, Fred Tennant (Get it? Tenant? Tennant? Oh, never mind.) decides he has the itch to leave his boring life and go cast his luck in Australia.

Much angst ensues as Charley wrestles with going to Australia along with Fred and various members of the cast either encourage or castigate him for even thinking about it. At the end of the play, nothing is resolved and you had to wade through a lot to get to it.

There are several attempts at humor, one being the neighbor who doesn’t use the front door but repeatedly climbs over the garden wall (this all takes place off-stage) destroying the garden in the process. This was evidently a real knee-slapper in fin de siècle England.

Nonetheless, in spite of my own ambivalence about the production, people in England absolutely adore this play and treat it like Americans treat the National Anthem. If you think lower middle class ennui is your cup of tea, enjoy.

Alan Loewen
http://www.amazon.com/Alan-Loewen/e/B009LLMD9K

Reviewed on 2014.07.22

more reviews ->