Halloween (OUP, 2002); Davidson's FOOD (Penguin, 2002)

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Sun Nov 3 20:53:03 UTC 2002

by Nicholas Rogers
Oxford: Oxford University Press
198 pages, hardcover, $23

   I got an Amazon alert for this book just yesterday--after Halloween.
   The author teaches at York University in Canada and has won awards for
previous books.  This book won't win any.
   It doesn't have a bibliography.  There are a limited number of
illustrations (15?).  This is the definitive book on Halloween?  Couldn't get
to even 200 double-spaced pages?  This is an OUP book?
   There are 20 pages of footnotes, where you'll find citations to such
and MONTREAL GAZETTE.  Who knew that Canadians were so scary?
   On the plus side, he did cover Detroit.  "Devil's Night" is mentioned on
pages 97-100.  And he cites Ze'ev Chafets, DEVIL'S NIGHT AND OTHER TRUE TALES
OF DETROIT (New York: Random House, 1990), which covers the subject better.
   This is a poor treatment for "trick-or-treat" (it's not even an entry in
the index--you have to look under "Halloween," then "and trick-or-treating").
 He cites Tad Tuleja, "Trick or Treat: Pre-Texts and Contexts." in Santino,
ed., HALLOWEEN, pg. 88, which again covered the subject better.
   "Beggars' Night"--no entry in the index for any "beggar."  "Gate Night" is
the term I'm used to in downstate New York.  You'll have to check that on
Google (where it was discussed eight years ago), because it's not in the
index here, either.
   Give it a browse at your local bookstore (it's unfortunately under "New
Age").  It's probably not worth your money, though.


by Alan Davidson
New York:  Penguin Books
1073 pages, paperback, $30

   This was originally published in 1999 as THE OXFORD COMPANION TO FOOD.
Oxford can't publish its own book in paperback?
   I've discussed the book before, and I agree with "Chow Hound" Jim Leff's
review on his web site.  It's a great work by one person, but suffers greatly
by being written by one person.  There might be a long essay on some obscure
British food item, then a tossed-off entry on a food everybody really eats
today.  It should be on your bookshelf, but it's not the last word in food.
   I noticed a 2002 copyright.  The book says "Revised edition published by
Penguin Books."  I gave a quick check to Andy Smith.  It cites "Popcorn
Polka" in Davidson's journal PPC (1997).  Surely, Davidson must know that
Smith published a BOOK on popcorn?
   On a person note, there's the "frankfurter" entry on page 379:

   The name is thought to stem from newspaper cartoons of around 1900 by T.
A. Dorgan, which portrayed talking frankfurters; these were also known as
"dachshund sausages" because of their shape.

   Yep, this book is thoroughly revised.  Yeesh!



KEN BURNS AND THE AMERICAN LIFE--A sign at my local Barnes & Noble bookstore.
 Over half of the display is NEW YORK: AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY--written by
_Ric_ Burns.

DAVID SHULMAN'S STEVE BRODIE BOOK--A publisher was keeping his "Steve Brodie"
stuff.  So Shulman finally wrote a letter to try to get his stuff back.
Nothing happened.  He called.  Nothing.  So he used my "attorney at law"
stationery.  He got his stuff back.  He also got a letter, saying how the
published couldn't possibly consider a book on Steve Brodie, blah-blah-blah.
I told Shulman I didn't want to read it or to analyze it.  Obviously, there
are people out there who'll treat a 90-year-old scholar like crap.
   It reminded me of my letter from the Chicago Historical Society on why
they couldn't possibly consider an article on "the Windy City."  (The CHS web
site would later publish incorrect information about its city.)  Publishing
is an incentuous business, and they want to publish what's just been
successfully published.  Original work is beyond them.
   So, I guess, we don't have an OUP "Steve Brodie" book, but do we have

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