Tarkington’s The Image of Josephine, one of his last published works, gets the rare read and review at Puss Reboots. Here’s an excerpt of the full review: “I’ve read a number of novels written during WWII but Bailey is the first character I’ve come across who comes across as a realistic and broken individual. He’s not just a prop for Uncle Sam. If you can find a copy of this book, read it. It’s one of the best I’ve read this year.”
Thanks to its appearance in the Modern Libarary’s list of the top 100 American novels, The Magnificent Ambersons is getting a lot of reads lately, and a lot of mention in blogs. The novel is a good example of Tarkington’s power: a quality of writing, not unlike Dickens or Twain, that sustains its effect long after the style itself has gone out of fashion. It’s more than just the words or characters; it’s the heart behind them. One blogger notes, as I also have, similarities with the work of Sherwood Anderson.
Caftan Woman has put together an interesting profile of actor Wally Ford, a Broadway star and Hollywood character actor who died in 1961. His career got started by hooking his star to Tarkington’s: “Our guy was born Samuel Jones in Bolton, Lancashire, England on February 12, 1898. … Years of trouping in the boondocks paid off in 1918 with a role in Booth Tarkington’s Seventeen in Chicago and a move to the Big Apple with the show.”
The Perfect Neurotic poses an interesting question: “What television show (or book) have you found that you absolutely adore when it seems everyone else around you doesn’t even know it exists?” Her personal choice is Kate Fennigate, which she calls “a classic, I believe,” if one “not well known.” I have to agree.
Frank Herron’s blog 100 Years Ago Today carries news items from century-old newspapers. The following bit ran in a recent edition, culled and adapted from an unidentified newspaper: “Theatrical manager George C. Tyler was involved in a serious automobile accident while driving from Rome to Florence in Italy. The car was ‘completely smashed’ but somehow the passengers escaped unhurt. One of the passengers was author Booth Tarkington.”
At Globalicity, Gardiner Rynne makes an interesting comparison between cultural changes in 21st Century China and 20th Century America. His touchstone? The way in which Tarkington wrote about the automobile’s impact on American culture. “What were the geographic efficiencies that were a “natural” part of life before the automobile spread out our cities? Read Tarkington’s Penrod to get a sense of daily life for a boy who didn’t have a soccer mom to taxi him from place to place.India and China are at a crossroads. They have to choose how tightly they will embrace the automobile.”
In a recent review of a book about racehorse Peter the Great, Dean A. Hoffman mentions an interesting biographical connection between Tarkington’s fictitious Amberson family and Indianapolis banker Stoughton Fletcher: “Fletcher was perhaps only a bit less flamboyant than Stokes, but his family is reportedly the model for Booth Tarkington’s famed novel The Magnificent Ambersons. … Fletcher reportedly also used a cement mixer to make martinis at his parties. After all, it was the Roaring Twenties.”