How Green Was My Father
How Lost Was My Weekend
The Crazy Glasspecker
How Green Was My Father
THIS BOOK COULD CAUSE A LOT OF TROUBLE (But it's worth it)
Thousands of disappointed American tourists may demand their money back from the Mexican government because THEY motored through Mexico and nothing funny happened at all.
Maybe it's all in the way David Dodge tells it, and maybe it doesn't hurt to have your narrative illustrated by Irv Koons. Maybe it helps too to have the gods throwing figurative custard-pies in you face while a good-looking wife and a cute little daughter keep wondering aloud why Papa always makes simple things so complicated. But is all that going to help the Mexican government?
Disputes over favorite passages may break out into physical violence now and then.
You can stay out of this by locking your doors for a siesta whenever you see a friend coming down the street with one hand clutching a copy of the book, the other hand free for convenient lapel-clutching. And look, don't try to tell us there's a funnier passage than the one describing the author's first ride in a Mexico City taxi, understand?
School kids may start playing hookey from their language classes.
After all, they will mutter, is the game worth the candle? Once Mrs. Dodge spent ten minutes trying to buy a can of grapefruit juice. She looked it up in the dictionary and asked the man at the store for jugo de toronja. The storekeeper looked blank until a seven-year-old child explained in kitchen Spanish he had learned form the maids. "Ah si!" beamed the storekeeper. "Grepfrut!"
American women will be outraged by what the author says about Mexican women.
This may in turn prevent a lot of tourist traffic to Mexico, because Dodge says that Mexico City is bulging with good-looking girls, bulging. But this statement is not intended as a disparagement of American women. Not the good-looking ones, anyway.
Stout-hearted disciple of Benchley, Perelman, Thurber, etc., may start writing the critics poison-pen letters.
Hell hath no fury like the disciple of a great humorist when informed by a critic that another humorist is just as funny. Luckily our man Dodge isn't following in any footsteps but his own (which gives his prose that weavy feeling) so let Benchley-ites, Perelmanites, and Thurberites just swallow the sugary pill that another fine humorist has come along.
HOW GREEN WAS MY FATHER
A Sort of Travel Diary by DAVID DODGE Illustrated by Irv Koons. $2.75. SIMON & SCHUSTER, Publishers.
The New York Times Book Review, vol. 52, no. 18 (May 4, 1947), p. 20 [Advertisement]
Que Tal, Hombre?
HOW GREEN WAS MY FATHER? By David Dodge. Illustrated by Irv Koons. 217 pp. New York: Simon & Schuster. $2.75.
In essence this is a travel book, but with a difference. It is spontaneous, free from any trace of stodginess, and is even informative, in a distorted kind of way. Mature and wildly boisterous, it is the fantastic, zanylike and at all times unpredictable odyssey of the Dodge family--two adults and an inquisitive offspring--to Guatemala via Mexico. The Dodges get going in the old family sedan, after sea and plane reservations end in failure. The preparations themselves, the author's incidental asides and audible mutterings on last-minute cancellations, travel officials and formalities, are immensely diverting. Particularly good is the presentation of the language problem.
The comments on Spanish ways and the protracted, complicated antics of Latin officialdom are handled with a whimsical touch, in a crisp, quick style. Brief, colorful thumb-nail sketches of people, things and places thread through the story. The author does some excellent fooling with Spanish-English dictionaries and conversation guides, and has chortling things to say on the oddities of pronunciation, both English and Spanish. Finally Guatemala is reached. It's a pity, in a way, for we wanted more of this unique travel diary. The line drawings exuberantly carry out the spirit of the text.
The New York Times Book Review, vol. 52, no. 18 (May 4, 1947), p. 43
(reviewed by Harry E. Wedeck)
HOW GREEN WAS MY FATHER. By David Dodge. New York: Simon & Schuster. 1947. 216 pp. $2.75.
The title of this funny book is a literal translation of the title of a Mexican movie comedy on the boards when Dodge passed through Mexico to Guatemala in his Chevrolet, with his wife and little girl. "Green" or verde is Mexican slang for a "skirt-chaser," but Dodge uses it in the American slang sense of "sucker." the sucker, he cheerfully sets forth, was himself, though he feels pretty sure he wasn't quite as big a one as his little girl, Kendall [sic] and his "tactless wife," Elva, made him out to be.
However, by his own account, he came pretty close to perfection as a general ignoramus and easy-mark, and it is precisely this "Innocents Abroad," babe-in-the-woods approach that provides much of the hilarity of this little volume. His route through Mexico is studded with an unending series of closely spaced eight balls. He struggles from behind each of them manfully, chiefly by plenty of leg work, industrious gullibility, and his hand ever held forth with coin of the realm. Five-year-old Kendall got along swimmingly with all ages, and her smile proved more effective in melting hard-hearted officials than even the author's ready shower of pesos. His wife's role seemed to have been to collect all the local lounge-lizards about her and violate all the social customs of the land.
By managing to hit all the rough spots and hit them real hard, the author avoids a single dull moment in his book; and his predicaments are so absurd and mostly so unnecessary, his telling of them so inflected with humor, with clever bon mots and gags, that laughter bubbles from every page.
He is helped in his tale by the fact that he hit Mexico at the moment when post-war travel was at the peak of difficulty, and he would have weakened his account considerably if he had sloughed off his pose of "the rube at large" to show the slightest comprehension of the why of Mexican habits and psychology. It is not, therefore, a document about Mexico but about American provincialism.
Had Mr. Dodge known Spanish, had he known something about Mexicans, he might have discovered that he could have gotten such extraordinary services, not by paying for them but as a gesture of kindness and friendliness. As it was, the author repeatedly insulted friendly hosts by trying to pay them for their generous assistance. But this little homily should not detract from the fact that Mr. Dodge has written a delightful, mirthful book, which was all he set out to do.
The Saturday Review of Literature, vol. 30, no. 27 (July 5, 1947), p. 26-27
(reviewed by Carleton Beals)
How Lost Was My Weekend
Coctels and Barracuda
HOW LOST WAS MY WEEK-END. By David Dodge. 248 pp. New York. Random House. $2.75.
Having successfully rollicked through Mexico, Mr. Dodge, erstwhile mystery-story writer turned professional traveler, moves southward in his most recent book to the banana republics. The ostensible purpose of his fifteen-month residence in Guatemala was to gather material for future murder mysteries. Thus, not without reason, much of the book is given over to the exploration of oddities of Central American custom. The history and numberless uses of the machete, the interesting ramifications of Guatemalan plumbing, the effects of the powerful native brew which passes for coffee--all come in for thorough analysis, with more than a passing hint to the reader of their potential usefulness as murder weapons.
At the same time Mr. Dodge had some amusing adventures. He found himself unexpectedly playing host to seventy-five thirsty guests with no ingredients for coctels. He was almost sat on by an overzealous mule and almost shot at in the mountains, all but eaten by barracuda off the Honduran coast. One of his gayer escapades was a fishing trip with a Very Important Character, nicknamed Vic, through the Bay Islands, where fishing, alas, was subordinated to speech-making at every tiny port.
The New York Times Book Review, vol. 53 (June 20, 1948), p. 10
(reviewed by Margaret Mellinger)
Greenhorn in Guatemala
About a year and a half ago David Dodge, a spare-time writer of top level mystery stories, decided to go to Guatemala for a fresh outlook on the business of murder. In "How Green Was My Father," a beautifully zany book published about this time last year, he told how he left his fog-belt home in San Francisco and finally got to Guatemala in spite of the somewhat mythical road known for a reason he could never determine as the Pan-American Highway.
Now come further funny words from Mr. Dodge in the form of "another sort of travel diary" titled "How Lost Was My Week End" (Random House; $2.75). The week end he lost in Guatemala (with side visits to Honduras and Antigua) was actually a year and a half, but according to the author, there were compensations. And there were--consider a few of them:
Life Can Be Beautiful
Three excellent full-time servants for $33 per month; spectacular weather, in spite of the fact that it rains on an average of "two inches a day during the season and one inch a day forever"; a suburban estate about the size of a young hotel, with stove, refrigerator, hot water, fireplace and orchids in the backyard; Kentucky bourbon at $2 less a bottle than in the States.
Oh yes, there were compensations. Enough to balance the mosquitoes, spiders, lizards, various black hairy creatures, low awnings and ever-changing traffic rules.
And then there was the social side of Guatemala. Mr. Dodge tells of fiestas, cockfights, bullfights and parties, but he is at his funniest when he writes of daughter Kendel's [sic] sixth birthday celebrated with a "romper la Pinata," which the author explains is referred to there simply as a "pinata" for "convenience in listing casualties." Action at a pinata is so speedy, so widespread and so unpredictably various that is always scheduled as an outdoor melee. But that Guatemalan custom the Dodges in their innocence brushed aside when a heavy rain arrived about the same time as their 35 small guests. The bedlam which they expected along with the party ensued, but it ensued inside their home and it ensued from 4 in the afternoon until 2 the next morning.
That the Dodges had fun in Guatemala is evident. That the visit did a great deal to further Mr. Dodge's mystery output is not quite so evident however. At least, any ideas he picked up for new whodunits haven't achieved print thus far. But since the trip has produced "How Green Was My Father" and "How Lost Was My Week End," the time was extremely well spent. And the last chapter of this second volume puts the Dodges on a plane bound for Chile, so maybe this time next year ...
San Francisco Chronicle, vol. 166, no. 113 (May 7, 1948), p. 22
(reviewed by Edith James)
HOW LOST WAS MY WEEKEND. By David Dodge....247 pp. ...New York: Random House....$2.75.
This vivid account of a mystery writer's semi-holiday in Guatemala is complete with incidents, accidents and the usual troubles involving customs officials, auto licenses and Latin-American ways in general. The descriptions of the blue canaries, whistling blackbirds and sompopos ("big, brawny leaf-cutting ants") are diverting, but on the whole one hopes that the Dodge family's future adventures will be not so loud and will be funnier.
New York Herald Tribune Weekly Book Review, vol. 25, no. 13 (Nov. 14, 1948), p. 38
Dodge, David. How Lost Was My Weekend: a Greenhorn in Guatemala. Random. 4/23. $2.75.
How Green Was My Father chronicled a motor trip through Mexico to Guatemala. This book continues the family's hilarious adventures as residents of Guatemala. It is really funny, often brash, but gives real information and some excellent pictures of life in Central America. Will be popular. JEAN L. ROSS, Head, Ref. Dept. New Rochelle, N.Y.P.L.
Library Journal, vol. 73, no. 7 (Apr. 1, 1948), p. 554
The Crazy Glasspecker
Laughs in Arequipa! 'Crazy Glasspecker' Rivals M. Twain
South America, except its extreme northern section, has not been among my stamping-grounds--once in my youth aboard a lumber steamer I found myself in Guayquil, and once again I was beached at Baranquilla. But two books have come along to give me South American fever--the fever that starts with an itch in the feet.
People who see the name "David Dodge" on the jacket of a book buy it because they know Dodge will make them laugh--as a gloom-chaser Dodge is almost without a peer, as any one who read "How Green Was My Father" or "How Lost Was My Week-End" will admit. But the fellow is also an expert travel propagandist, with the ability to make even the bad smells of Peruvian callejons picturesque. If you run across a book called "The Crazy Glasspecker" buy it at once. It is probably true that Mark Twain's "Innocents Abroad" is still secure as the funniest travel book ever written, but David Dodge is edging up--he's edging up. His present book stars David Dodge, his wife and daughter, in Arequipa, which is an oasis with streetcars in the Southern Peruvian desert and a perfectly wonderful place to live if you have dollars and don't mind fleas or beautiful girls who drop paper bags full of colored water on your head. The Dodge family were on their way to Chile when they discovered Arequipa and so fascinating did they find this city, with office buildings dating back before the Declaration of Independence, that they remained for months, and Carnaval. Of this latter institution Mr. Dodge states, "I had been in San Francisco on VJ Day, when the mob broke every piece (sic) of plate glass on Market-St., but for real knockdown, drag-out, catch-as-catch-can, take-your-life-in-your-hands-and-run-with-it, ferocious festivity, you can have San Francisco, New Orleans and Times Square. I'll take Arequipa during Mardi Gras ... " At last reports the Dodge family were moving relentlessly eastward into Bolivia--and I can hardly wait... (P.S. A glasspecker is a bird that pecks at windows. And the book is illustrated by Irv Koons and published by Random House to sell at $2.75.)
San Francisco News, v. 47, no. 236 (Dec. 3, 1949), p. 8
(reviewed by Basil Woon)
Some years ago David Dodge, an accountant with a full-time job, got an idea for a detective story. He was busy enough; he had a wife and daughter and his accounting business. But somehow he managed to get the story down on paper. A tax expert himself he wisely used as background a field he knew, and the resulting murder yarn was good enough so that a big New York publisher took it immediately. It came out as "Death and Taxes" in 1941.
Then came the war and Dodge had Navy business. Nevertheless, in spare moments and times he could snatch in between assignments, (his work was mostly ashore) he wrote another murder yarn, "Bullets for the Bridegroom." That one appeared in 1944. Then, in 1947 came his third; he was out of the Navy now. It was "It Ain't Hay" and concerned some of the violence and gangsterism that surrounds the illegal business of peddling marihuana. He was now firmly set as a mystery story writer.
But writers are an odd lot. And Dodge was never known for strict predictability. At that point he decided he was going to try something new.
With success, his income was looking up, and it seemed to him he'd rather be a full-time writer than a full-time accountant, writing around the edges of what spare time he could find.
With his wife and daughter he took off for Mexico.
Out of that trip, on which everything happened to the Dodges that could very well happen to any single family, he got a book. (Writers get books out of anything.) It was a new kind of travel book--one that gave the reader quite a bit of information about Mexico but much more about the Dodges themselves and the scrapes they got into. He called it "How Green Was My Father," and it was a resounding hit.
That book appeared in 1947. In 1948 Dodge followed it with another of the same type, this time from Guatemala where he lived for about a year. It was titled "How Lost Was My Week End."
Now comes his new one, the result of a year's sojourn in Peru, "The Crazy Glasspecker." Those who liked his other two travel books will find this the best of the three.
For the record, though, those who have yet to read this wildly funny book had better know first what a glasspecker is.
In Arequipa, Peru, high in the Andes, everything seems just a bit different from the way it is anywhere else. So Dodge was not surprised to find, each morning, a furious bird attacking the panes of the bedroom window. The bird never succeeded in breaking the window, but he never gave up trying, either. He was Dodge's alarm clock; regular as a railroad man's watch. What kind of bird was it? Well Dodge admits he is no ornithologist. But if a bird that hammers at trees is a woodpecker, what is a bird that tries insanely to break a window pane? A glasspecker, obviously. The bird so amused the Dodge family that when he finished his book about their adventures and misadventures in Peru there was only one title for it: "The Crazy Glasspecker."
This World (San Francisco Chronicle), v. 13, no. 31 (Dec. 4, 1949), p. 4MB, 11MB (special Macy's book section)
Sojourn in Peru
THE CRAZY GLASSPECKER. By David Dodge. Illustrated by Irv Koons. 249 pp. New York: Random House. $2.75.
A glasspecker, to clear that up right away, is Mr. Dodge's term for a woodpecker who looks like Harpo Marx and pecks at windows instead of at trees or telephone poles. Mr. Dodge was an unwilling host to one during a two-year sojourn, with time out for explorations, in Arequipa, Peru. Along with his wife and young daughter, he had headed for Chile to escape the sandflies in Panama and had got stranded in Lima. Lima was too misty. Arequipa, described as an oasis with streetcars, was a short hop away. Everybody sweats there, but living was pretty reasonable. He climbed history-laden mountains and braved hand-hewn mines. He outfaced a revolution. He wrote this quite funny book.
The New York Times Book Review, vol. 54, no. 45 (Nov. 6, 1949), p. 22
THE CRAZY GLASSPECKER, by David Dodge (Random House). In this, the most fortunately titled of Mr. Dodge's three books on life in Central and South America (the others were "How Lost Was My Weekend" and "How Green Was My Father"), he stresses the more fantastic aspects of a family sojourn in Arequipa, Peru, a city noted both for its climate and its favorable rate of exchange. A great deal of his material, which has to do with such matters as earthquakes, carnavals, South American red tape, and the difficulties of mountain climbing in rarefied atmospheres, is fairly fresh. However, readers who are acquainted with Mr. Dodge's mysteries, set against much the same South American backdrop, will find themselves yearning for the straightforward approach that characterizes his fiction and that is replaced here by consistent overstatement.
New Yorker, vol. 25, no. 45 (Dec. 31, 1949), p. 59-60
THE CRAZY GLASSPECKER, by David Dodge. Random. $2.75. By now it is clear that David Dodge is passionately determined to be flippant and funny all over Latin America. This time he dodges around Peru and Bolivia though mostly he stays put in the mountain paradise (with humorous drawbacks) of Arequipa, where he became involved with a persistent but frustrated glasspecker, skull-and-cross-bones rum, fiestas, carnivals, sellers of buried treasure maps, earthquakes real and imagined, a shrunken jivaro head, braying burros, and his unpredictable daughter. He is slap-dash funny on side trips to the impressive grandeurs of Cuzco and Machu Picchu, to La Paz, Puno, Iquitos, and other places. If you have ever been through a three-day highland carnival--or even if you haven't--you will be in stitches over the barbaric achievement. If you have ever sat by your wife on a train and received a loving telegram from black-eyed Conchita that you are the father of an eight-pound baby, you will realize that even a man called Dodge can't live up to his name all the time. Fortunately, proof of mistaken identity came to his rescue.
In this book, Mr. Dodge has learned Spanish, and there is more basic feeling for the texture of the land and the people, more light and shade, more pathos, one of the tear-jerking requisites for true humor. Only at one point does bitterness creep through his hilarity--when he tears the wings off Peruvian travel red-tape. But, brother, when Dodge gets to Chile (about book after next) he will discover a land which spends vast sums to promote tourist travel yet has the worst heart-breaking regulations on the planet. That should be the saddest, funniest book yet.
The Saturday Review of Literature, vol. 32, no. 52 (Dec. 24, 1949), p. 30
(reviewed by Carleton Beals)
It's Not Useful--It's Funny
THE CRAZY GLASSPECKER. By David Dodge. 249 pp. New York: Random House. $2.75.
David Dodge, after his earlier successful tilts with Mexican and Guatemalans, now takes liberties with the residuary legatees of the Incas. The fellow is really funny. Even his confounded glasspecker who tries to peck his way through the window pane in the Dodge's retreat in Arequipa. Everyone has such a good time with this Dodge. Even his wife, trying to twist foreign exchange to her purposes. Perhaps even his fellow tourists, among whom my favorite is his "authoress" of a travel book, of such stupendous sex-appeal that she was pursued by hungry males "eyes gleaming ravenously" from Ecuador to Peru, fighting off the beasts and their leers, protecting her virtue in magnificent fashion. The sons of the Incas themselves seem to have enjoyed Dodge as he moved down from Lima to Arequipa, up to Cuzco and Titicaca. We have some true reporting on plumbing, salesmen, revolutionists, archeological piles. It is all quite irreverent. The book will be of no earthly use to anyone save to make them laugh at themselves as they wander in unfamiliar lands.
New York Herald Tribune Book Review, vol. 26, no. 16 (Dec. 4, 1949), p. 32
Tramp Thru Andes, Amid Thick Corn
"THE CRAZY GLASSPECKER," by David Dodge. [Random, $2.75]
At least a pleasant looking volume, I thought, with its gay and foolish jacket, its clear typography, its scores of amusing sketches. It would make nice gift for ... for ... well, I don't know--let's just say it would make a nice gift.
With some hesitation I began to read; anyone who had written books called "How Lost Was My Week End" and "How Green Was My Father" had two strikes against him. And I grew gloomier and gloomier as I read about these adventures in the Andes. For Mr. Dodge was trying too hard to be a funnyman. His wit relies in part on a jaunty use of yesterday's slang: a crowded boat is a "damned teapot," a Peruvian fiesta a "clambake," a town is "a dusty little dump," jails are "clinks," a girl is a "red-headed cookie," or "some cupcake."
His ironies are heavy-handed: "the fine climate, a thick woolly fog which smelled of dead mussels"; a grim mountain-top is "a cheerful scene"; etc. He is not above crudities: "30 or 40 of them lined up ... their scalps hanging down over their eyes like banana skins. That reminds me, Mam. How about another piece of pie?" And everything is doused in hyperbole. To follow Mr. Dodge thru the Andes is to tramp thru some pretty thick corn--Andean corn, he might call it.
And yet one comes to find a certain charm in this brash and breezy travelog. Some of the people are engaging, especially the author's imperturbable 7 year old daughter, Kendal, and his wife, Elva, with her wifely tartness and easy going tolerance. And tho the adventures are shamefully overwritten there is enough solid beneath the slack to be interesting. There is a fine and rowdy description of a South American carnival, with its water-fights and ink-fights between revelers; some impressive sentences on the marvelous Incaic architecture, some harrowing accounts of ascents into dangerous altitudes. But Mr. Dodge seems afraid of treating even serious subjects seriously; domesticated among the llamas and vicunas of Peru we are disturbed to find, time and time again, the silly grin of the well known American yak-yak.
Chicago Sunday Tribune Magazine of Books (Nov. 20, 1949), p. 6
(reviewed by John Frederick Nims)
Andean High Life
David Dodge, a Californian, was a busy man for some years. He had a full-time job as an accountant and he wrote mystery stories. When he was doing neither of these things he was enjoying himself hugely on excursions here and there with his wife and small daughter.
What happened was that his mystery stories did a lot better for him than that kind of book ordinarily does; he didn't move up into the Erle Stanley Gardner class where sales were concerned, but he did very nicely. Magazines bought from him, too, and things were looking up.
A spell in the Navy during the war crystallized an idea that he and his wife had had for some time. With the start he had, why not go the whole way? Why not be a professional writer?
The way to do it, they figured, was to live somewhere in Latin America where American dollars might buy more. Another point was that their daughter would learn a second language automatically, as a young person does, almost without thinking.
The Dodges made the leap. And, since he was a writer by trade, Dodge wrote as he went along. More, he developed a new specialty. He continued to do his mystery stories; after all, he already had a market for those. But he worked out a new kind of travel book--an utterly subjective, personal kind of narrative of the Dodge family and what they were doing, flavored with his own brand of slightly fourth-dimensional, off-beat humor.
The first, about Mexico, "How Green Was My Father," had a big success. So did the second, "How Lost Was My Week End," which (perhaps because Dodge wasn't quite as well adjusted to Guatemala, where he wrote it), wasn't quite as funny. Now he brings out his third in this vein, and he is back in the same cock-eyed groove that made his first one such good entertainment. It is called "The Crazy Glasspecker" (Random; $2.75), and a madder travel book--if that's what to call it--you never read in your life.
What Is A Glasspecker?
The first thing to be made clear is the title. If a bird that pecks at a tree is called a woodpecker, Dodge reasons, why isn't a crazy bird that insists on pecking at the window pane a glasspecker? Obviously it is.
In Arequipa, Peru, where the Dodges went from Guatemala, their house had a glasspecker. That idiot bird (it looked a little like Harpo Marx) means Arequipa to the Dodges; they'll never think of one without remembering the other. Wherefore the title of this book.
At any rate, this is the story of the Dodges in Peru, in Arequipa chiefly--a city, writes Dodge, like "the Emerald City of Oz set down in the middle of the Deadly Desert." Things happened to the Dodges in Peru; things always do happen to them. They lived in Arequipa, but they took trips, saw the country, investigated the remains of Macchu Picchu, experienced the strenuous three days of the local carnival, even got mixed up in a minor revolution before they were through. Their child went to school, chattered Spanish like a native, loved every minute of it. Dodge listened to a stranger who had a code map to a buried Inca treasure (as you may recall, he got an adventure book out of that yarn; it appeared last spring as "Plunder of the Sun"). Eventually they decided to see what Brazil was like. Their take-off ends this narrative.
All this and a lot more is told with the utmost good humor, an eye for local color, a willingness to inform the reader about Peru--but never too much--and an extravagant sense of the ridiculous. (Dodge's account, for example, of the water-heating apparatus, the fumes from which made them all as drunk as lords every time they took a bath, is a bit you'll cherish and remember.) The pictures by Irv Koons are exactly right for the text, too, which rates a "A" for the Random House designer. My advice, if you want to be amused, informed up to a point about Peru, and to make the acquaintance of a family which seem to be doing exactly the kind of thing ninety-nine out a hundred of us have always thought we wanted to do, is to get hold of "The Crazy Glasspecker" and have an hour or two of chuckles. Dodge is a kind of crazy glasspecker himself, as you'll see, and if there's maybe a touch of the same in you, then you'll have a good time in his company.
San Francisco Chronicle, vol. 169, no. 123 (Nov. 15, 1949), p. 22
(reviewed by Joseph Henry Jackson)
The Crazy Glasspecker, by David Dodge. (New York: Random House. $2.75)
The author who scouted Guatemala for "How Lost Was My Weekend" flushed "The Crazy Glasspecker" in Peru. Living was easy in the Andes--if you had American dollars--but the Dodge family, like most families in humorous travel books, kept getting into predicaments. Chronicling these with a bright, colloquial pen, Mr. Dodge also manages to slip in a good bit of information on the bleak mountains, rich mines, and interesting people of the land which he says the natives call the Beggar Seated on a Bench of Gold. Irv Koons complements the text with some zany drawings. Though traveler Dodge writes mystery books too, he blithely reveals the identity of the glasspecker early in the game: it was a woodpecker gone wrong that looked "like Harpo Marx with wings."
The Christian Science Monitor, vol. 42, no. 24 (Dec. 22, 1949), p. 11
DODGE, David. The Crazy Glasspecker. Random. 11/18. $2.75.
Humorous account of the ups and downs of every day living chiefly in Arequipa, Peru, where the author, his wife and daughter passed more than one year. Their struggles with poor heating and sanitary facilities and their experiences during an earthquake and a revolution are captivating in interest and wit. The author, who incidentally possesses a keen eye for the foibles of human beings, gives much information on the social customs of the people: Indians, Peruvians, Foreigners. A delightful book which contains a few regrettable expressions such as "I was chasing my tail around town." JOSEPH BAROME, Ln., Burgess Lib., Columbia Univ.
Library Journal, vol. 74, no. 16 (Sept. 15, 1949), p. 1316