Thisby Thestoop and the Black Mountain

It’s fair to say that I read a good number of books children’s books. Having kids of my own, I like to pilfer their shelves from time to time. In our house, we like to stock “the classics” as a sort of quality guarantee. Since children’s books became a genre there have been writers who have tried to cash in on the children’s market as a way to make a quick buck with little effort. Reading “the classics” means that you get the best books from every era without having to wade through the formulaic twaddle, most of which has mercifully been forgotten over the years.
It’s a different story with modern children’s books. Picking up a new children’s book means taking a chance on wasting your time, and the modern children’s book publishing machine loves tried and true formulas. After the success of Harry Potter we got books about schools for magical/mythological/specially talented kids who are sorted into groups based on their personalities. After The Hunger Games took off, we’ve have had m…

Tarzan of the Apes

I still remember reading my first Edgar Rice Burroughs book as a kid. It was The Moon Maid, and it was given to me by my uncle. It was wonderful. I still have great memories of reading that book over and over again. I then progressed to Burroughs’ Carson of Venus series, but that was about it. For some reason I never read his most famous book, Tarzan of the Apes.

Well, now I’ve read it, and like everything else I’ve read by Burroughs, it is awesome. Of course it’s pure hack writing; Burroughs went on to write twenty-five, that’s right, TWENTY-FIVE , sequels to it. It’s pulpy melodrama to the core. The characters are one dimensional, the dialogue is stilted and the situations are absurd. Rudyard Kipling famously stated that Burroughs wrote Tarzan to “find out how bad a book he could write and get away with it.”

So why did I enjoy it so much? It is pure excitement and adventure, unencumbered by any restraints, and it is a great story. If it were not a gripping story, Tarzan would not be one of the most easily recognizable literary characters of the 20th century. Like Paula Deen’s bacon-wrapped, batter-dipped, deep-fried macaroni and cheese, critics could point to a lack of elegance and discernment in taste, but that still wouldn’t change the fact that it is a pile of warm cheesy goodness. Will I probably come back for another helping later? Yes. Yes I will.

4/5 stars

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