This is another of those books my dad said he read as a kid. Penrod is an 11-year old boy, living in the midwest a hundred years ago. He has the kinds of adventures, one presumes, that boys had back then. I expect much of it will be foreign to today's video-game boys, but us geezers who remember Eisenhower, and whose fathers were more-or-less contemporaries of Penrod, can feel some vague sense of familiarity. Whatever, it was a fun read. I may well look into snagging the second Penrod book, Penrod and Sam
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.