Bandbox Harvest Book eBook ´ Bandbox Harvest eBook

Bandbox Harvest Book What a wonderful romp I had picked this book up at least twice before and something always got in the way but I'm glad I stuck with it this time The Bandbox of the title is a men's magazine in roaring 20's New York that has been resurrected and given chest hair by editor Joe Harris who has added crime stories oddball dining features one idea jail food to which the dining critic said I don't know what I'll call it for sure but it'll have 'stir' in the title and arch art photography for the coversOnly one problem One of his top editors has deserted him moved several floors up in the Graybar Building and started a rival magazine Cutaway which is starting to bleed him dryThe struggle over which enterprise will win provides the thread for this ride through the exuberant decade but it's also just a platform for a lot of other characters and situations including a copy editor who loves animals than people and is sickened by the photo editor's love of exotic beasts in cover shoots; a researcher whose mission has been to bed down all the newcomers; a dispirited drunken editor who has given up on his talent and the young writer who wants to save him; and many including a gay restaurant owner Irish cops a Jewish crime boss and his thugs a Tammany Hall judge on the take and as the eventual centerpiece a greenhorn from Indiana who takes off for the big city and ends up disappearing from sight during a liuor fueled party at a publisher's penthouseAlthough it's a plot driven bumper car ride there are also colorful characters excellent pacing and snappy patter It seems obvious to me that Mallon a well known critic and freelance author wanted a movie to come out of this but I don't think one ever didNo mind A film might only suffer next to the mental pictures which is what any book lover might say Lots of characters to keep track of in this one Have a hard time really caring about any of them The writing is well done but the story is barely engaging best think about this book is the photo on the cover This is the first book I have finished read from a larger set of purchases at Powell's on a recent trip to Portland Or Powell's is a reader's delight I highly recommend itThis novel however was a bit of a let down I read Thomas Mallon's Fellow Travelers earlier this year and loved it It was a smart touching sad well written book and it was also hard to put down It was about DC in the 50's and the cold warMcCarthy era of red baitingHistorical fiction is Mallon's thing and Bandbox was set at the end of the Roaring 20s A super fascinating era worthy of attention by us post Dotcomers It focuses on the goings on at a gentleman's magazine like G and the zany writers and editors who work there It took me at least the first half of the book to keep track of all of the charactersBandbox is written and structured in a way that is reminiscent of the style of narrative popular at the time it was set However this construction becomes of a vanity on Mallon's part than a skill as it too often takes precedence over plot and theme As someone says below it was a good light read But I expected from someone whose last novel haunted me for weeks after reading itNot to mention that Bandbox was hardly a page turner It was a struggle to finish this one as nothing in it was really compelling enough to make me keep going except for my faith in Mallon I hope the next one of his I read does better Musical comedy in novel form But Kitty Sark remains one of the hall of fame fictional cat names I don't know if it was intended to be historical fiction but outside of erroneously placing San Rafael outside of Los Angeles circa an hour rather than outside of San Francisco Bandbox provides interesting grist for the mill Having served as freelancer for as well as editor and publisher of several national magazines as well as having worked with one of the founders of two of Conde’ Nast’s magazines I was intrigued by Thomas Mallon’s take on early 20th century magazines Bandbox Not only was the setting appealing to me but I was immediately drawn into the story by the writing I understood the appeal when a character in this era reminisced about “summer nights alive with the tooting of oompah bands instead of the discordant mystifying chords of jazz” p 9 I could just see the fictional “Manking” he describes as “their old Times Suare Chinese restaurant a place so inauthentically awful it couldn’t even transliterate the name of the city whose cuisine it claimed to be serving” p 11 Of course it’s ironic that the ownerpublisher of the fictional Bandbox magazine is named Hiram “Hi” Oldcastle when the famous ownerpublisher of Conde Nast publications which rival the fictional publication in the book was S I “Si” Newhouse Lest there be any confusion the real publishing magnate wasn’t born until after the setting of this book Bandbox recounts some intriguing Jazz Age stories with a much lighter brush than for example F Scott Fitzgerald Having worked for a New York publisher I remember hearing a lot of similar tales though they happened much later than the 1920s and we were implementing anti harassment policies long before #metoo But Bandbox has the drinking the drugs the affairs organized crime and police bribery one associates with the pre 1929 era Flirting and innuendo are such a significant part of the magazine scene in this era that even a comment like the following doesn’t seem out of place “A young man with so little self love he had difficulty masturbating” p 27 And at least one major character has a career crisis to which he responds “Like an aging Dalmatian hearing one last fire bell ” p 298 One of the characters writes for the magazine in between his novels with titles that reflect the atmosphere like Flaming Zeppelin and Ticker Rape p 110 Of course the nickname for another character’s autobiography Going Down for the Count combined with another character intimating he’d like to crawl underneath her covers may well express the spirit of the age p 58 Outside of the double entendres Bandbox is full of personal crises aging editors rival espionage pending spinsterhood alternative lifestyles alcoholism and even a kidnapping Bandbox is a ridiculous but entertaining comic romp through the “golden” days of New York publishing or at least the nascent but not innocent days I’m curious about how Thomas Mallon handles other eras and other industries so I plan to read another sometime soon It was hard to relate to or empathize with any of the characters in this book there really was no depth or realism in any of the story When I first started reading this I was somewhat perplexed and was patiently waiting for something to happen The novel takes place in 1928 at the height of prohibition and not long before the stock market fall and the beginning of the depression The story revolves around the day to day operations of a popular magazine of the time called Bandbox which is defined at the beginning of the book as a neat box of pasteboard or thin wood usually cylindrical for holding light articles of attire orig for the bands clerical collars of the 17th century Also attrib flimsy; unsubstantial; as a bandbox reputation Well this book seemed to match its definition when I first started readingit seemed both flimsy and unsubstantial and contained way too many characters to try to keep track of But as it progressed I became engrossed in the story of the magazine's struggle to stay afloat and the circumstances involving the mob the NYC vice suad a kidnapped subscriber and a starlet with a very uestionable past The characters are well portrayed especially the writers and editors of the magazine including one who is obsessed with the fair treatment of animals used in some of the magazine stories as props for its photography Overall I would recommend this and I found it to ultimately be uite enjoyable and full of humor I was surprised by this one I also finished it a while ago and haven't updated in a while so I'm not sure how much I rememberThis started out slowly and is in dire need of a Cast of Characters So many people are introduced at the beginning that it's kind of hard to keep everyone straight Partly because of this I think I found it a bit hard to get into However as I read on I began to really enjoy this Madcap may be a word used in the blurb or it may not be but it surely comes to mind The novel is reminiscent of an old Hollywood comedy and hits most of the right notes It even has an activist vegetarian I love the way Mallon writes This is a very literate novel that manages to capture another era I would say perfectly but I'm not uite that old I have to base it on the old movies and yet manages not to be dated From gangsters to kidnappings and Hollywood drama it's really an enjoyable rompYet somehow it manages to be a little slow hence the three stars It may be that the characters aren't as well developed as I usually like or not uite as relatable I still think this is well worth the read though An enjoyable use of your time particularly if you like the 1920s and old movies please note the majority of this novel takes place in NYC but it is definitely reminiscent of old movies Recommended with slight reservations Cuddles Houlihan got clipped by the vodka bottle as it exited the pneumatic tube With that bottle we enter Bandbox a hugely successful magazine of the 1920s run by bombastic Jehoshaphat Joe Harris Harris's most ambitious protégé the bastard son he never had has just defected to run the competition plunging Bandbox into a newsstand death struggle The magazine's fight for survival will soon involve a sabotaged fiction contest the vice suad a subscriber's kidnapping and a film actress cover subject who makes the heroines of Chicago look like the girls next door While Harris and his magazine careen from comic crisis to make or break calamity the reader races from skyscraper to speakeasyThomas Mallon has given us a madcap romp of a book that brilliantly portrays Manhattan in the gaudiest American decade of them all Two magazines Bandbox and Cutaway are in competition with each other Cutaway seems to be the up and coming while Bandbox is just barely making it and needs to find something BIG that will get them back to where they once wereWhen a young man from Indiana shows up as one of Bandbox's biggest fans John Shepard is invited to the Bandbox Christmas party in the owners penthouse and comes across some not so nice people and suddenly disappearsWill this be Bandbox's BIG story they are looking for or will Cutaway reveal it as Bandbox's biggest scam to win back their readers?This story was definitely different and did have some interesting story lines going on but it seemed like there was too many different storylines going on with literally all the characters of this story It almost made it a bit confusing on what was happening with what character I'd have to say that the chapters close to the end of the book was most interesting especially with the young man who shows up in the beginning but isn't really acknowledged until almost the last half of the bookI gave this 3 stars as I feel like the author should've focused on just a few of the characters and maybe not all of them Also put focus on the young man who actually ends up going missing

About the Author: Thomas Mallon

Thomas Mallon is a novelist critic and director of the creative writing program at The George Washington UniversityHe attended Brown University as an undergraduate and earned a Master of Arts and a PhD from Harvard He received the Ingram Merrill Foundation Award in 1994 and won a Rockefeller Fellowship in 1987 Mallon taught English at Vassar College from 1979 1991Mallon is the author of the

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