Synopses & Reviews
Louisa May Alcott
Louisa had had Concord. Still, she felt a sense of loyalty, dim to the point of evasiveness, toward Karen, Lupe, and Olga, her madcap sisters, in whose eyes attainment and sluggishness were so uncomfortably abed. They all seemed to be of the same age. How could that be? Louisa often wondered. There they were, messily engaged in another spontaneous fudge-making contest that had turned the front of the house a lively brown Karen with her fierce talents as a sculptress, Lupe with her good looks and imperturbable manners, and Olga with her cooking ability and school-of-hard-knocks brilliance. Only Louisa among them had been educated. In fact, none of the other girls could read or write, though they were, in an amateur, outdated way, tremendous talkers. Lupe, inexplicably, spoke nothing but a Spanish demotic at best.
"I'd rather spend the day with my hamster than a night with the Alcott girls," Mr. Crockett, the postmaster, had said. He was later arrested as a firebug.
Yet in spite of Louisa's many local attachments-not the least of which was to Lance Ruefrue, the handsome fidget who lived next door-she felt it was time to go. The scope of her talents could not be measured on the small field of Concord's prejudices. And this-this was the last straw! Little Men had been condemned by the Library Vice Squad as "a vile pit of unseemliness for minds under twelve and a jungle of ugly sensuality for those thirteen and over . . ." Louisa, characteristically, had opted for confrontation and faced Mrs. Fortress-Rondeau, the squad chairwoman, on the steps of Caldecott High.
"Mrs. Fortress-Rondeau . . ." Louisa began.
"Don't speak to me, you disgusting girl,"Mrs. Fortress-Rondeau replied. She swept past Louisa into her brougham where, drawing the curtains, she took a deep swig of Campho-Phenique, her one indulgence.
(One year later, she was to meet a tragic death. Outraged by a passage in Tennyson, she attempted to expunge the offending lines with her soap eraser and died of apoplectic fury. In her extremity, she fell on top of her husband, a tiny mouse of a man, who perished in the attempt to aid her. A memorial statue, The Arrival of the Gnomes at Kittyhawk, a tribute to the Rondeau family, still stands in the public square at Sodoma, Mass.)
"Little frump," Louisa shouted after Mrs. Fortress-Rondeau, anticipating, in the singular, the title of a novel she was never to finish. But her words were as wind-music and to no avail.
A classic artistic parody from two of the world's most satiric minds. Moss uncovers remarkable historical anecdotes, which are accompanied by Gorey's absurdly deadpan drawings. Although the insightful scenarios involving Emily Dickinson, Mozart, Henrik Ibsen, and El Greco are all the product of Moss's fertile imagination, his uncanny emulation of style makes us believe they (just possibly) might be true. 25 illustrations.
About the Author
Howard Moss (1922-1987) was the poetry editor of The New Yorker for nearly four decades. He was also a poet, playwright, and critic. In 1972, he won the National Book Award for his Selected Poems.