Nicole Hollander’s Humor & a Trip to the Library

I used to pore over Nicole Hollander’s Sylvia cartoons.  Her eccentric character Sylvia lived with cats, was politically radical, and spent a lot of time reading in the bathtub.  She was the only  comic-strip heroine I identified with, besides Cathy Guisewite’s Cathy.  I read Sylvia in an alternative paper.  Hollander introduced Sylvia as a character in The Feminist Funnies in the ’70s, and the Sylvia strip was syndicated in 1981.  Alas, Hollander retired Sylvia in 2012.

We still miss her!

Fortunately at the library I recently found Hollander’s 2007 book,  Tales of Graceful Aging on the Planet Denial, a collection of comic essays.  I had no idea she’d written a book.

She begins,

The two girlfriends and I are going to the movies.  Someone who looks about twelve is selling tickets.  She looks at me and I prepare to be complimented on my earrings, scarf, any number of things because I know I look adorable.

She says, “Will that be senior citizen, ma’am?”  Behind me the girlfriends suck in their breath.  They are happy they made me leave that cute little revolver that I bought in case some man proposed to me and wouldn’t take no for an answer at home.  They fear another traumatic event like the one when that kid tried to give me his seat on the bus.  Big deal…He’s young, his scars will heal.

lf that hasn’t happened to you yet…just wait!  I’m not a “senior” yet,  but at the hair salon they’ve started asking if I want the discount.  I burst out laughing when I realized I looked ancient to them with my gray hair. And then I looked in the mirror and I do look ancient.  I’m not sure exactly when I get those senior benefits–I vaguely think it’s 65. But everybody ages at a different pace.  Viva la age!

These essays are witty.  I’m chortling on every page.  Some are better than other, but it’s so much fun!

A TRIP TO THE LIBRARY.   It’s a warm day in autumn, the lake is blue and ruffled by wind, and we popped into the library on impulse:  well, mainly because I wanted a D. E. Stevenson book.

And I did check out one Stevenson book.  No idea if I’ve read Mrs. Rochester’s Wife or not!  I’ll find out.  I also was happy to find a novel by the Southern writer  Lee Smith.  I’ve been a fan since Black Mountain Breakdown but I’ve never seen Something in the Wind, her second novel.  A good find.

We filled our huge shopping bag with books. Am so glad I remembered to bring it, or I would have had to put some books back.  (Well, I did put a few back.)

My husband is a nonfiction fan, and we found…

…a short biography of Buddha, Czeslaw Milosz’s Selected and Last Poems, and Sarah Bakewell’s How to Live:  Or A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer.  

I spent most of my time in fiction, starting  in the S’s and slowly went back to the M’s. I didn’t have time to go back to the A’s.  I checked out Him Her Him Again The End of Him by Patricia Marx, whom I know as a humorist for The New Yorker.  And I hope it’s humorous because that’s what I’m in themood for.

I’ve never heard of Jane McCaffrey, but First You Try Everything looks intriguing.  Perhaps I’ll get around to it, perhaps not.

And, last but not least, how could I resist The Art of the Wasted Day by Patricia Hampl, a book that, according to Maureen Corrigan at NPR, celebrates daydreaming?

A satisfying hour at the library:  a good haul, and I hope I get around to some of these!

4 thoughts on “Nicole Hollander’s Humor & a Trip to the Library”

  1. It sounds like you had a great day. I love to browse books, both in bookstores and in libraries. You picked up an interesting group of books. I have heard good things about The Art of the Wasted Day. I would like to read it myself.

    1. Yes, we enjoyed going to the library. It always seems a good thing to do in fall, pick out a lot of books and rush home and read them! I’m looking forward to Art of the Wasted Day.

  2. I had forgotten about Sylvia; I used to read her with Cathy too! I hope she is enjoying her retirement (and all the related discounts she is no doubt enjoying). Recently I’ve started purchasing the only Toronto newspaper which still has a book review section on Saturdays (there are three others which do not and a free alternative paper which has a single page of short reviews), and am amazed to see how many comics are still running but, also, how many are new. Looking forward to hearing whether that is the proper Mrs. Rochester’s wife, or not!

    1. Oops, I stated writing Mrs. Rochester and then noticed it was Rochester’s Wife! And somehow Mrs. is still there…
      I’m sure there must be women’s comic strips, but I haven’t seen them here. We’ve got Dilbert, some family comic strips, and animals. They’re fine, but I do miss Syliva and Cathy, and surely there are some new ones like that somewhere.

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