A Mile and a Half of Lines: The Art of James Thurber

Trillium. Sept. 2019. 248p. illus., notes. ISBN 9780814214008. $49.95; pap. ISBN 9780814255339. $29.95. FINE ARTS
Humorist, cartoonist, and author James Thurber (1894–1961) has been dubbed the Mark Twain of the 20th century. Rosen, a seasoned illustrator, writer, editor, and founding literary director of the Thurber House in Columbus, OH, collaborated with the Thurber estate and curated an exhibition of the same name at the Columbus Museum of Art. Commentary from daughter Rosemary Thurber, cartoonists and writers Ian Frazier, Seymour Chwast, Liza Donnelly, and Michael Maslin adds insider perspective to both Thurber’s work and life. Despite his art appearing in publications such as The New Yorker, on commissioned book covers, apparel, and more, Thurber’s renown faded after his death. Rosen’s massive effort is the first of its kind, and deserves to be the final word(s) on the artist/writer’s oeuvre, which remains, as suggested by Dorothy Parker, “infinitely beguiling, infinitely provocative.”
VERDICT With 260 drawings, chapters covering “The Line of Matisse or a Doodling Child?,” “Signs of the Hard Times,” “The Thurber Dog and Other Creatures,” a chronology of solo and group exhibitions, and exhaustive back matter, this volume is worthy of readers’ holy shelf and invaluable to Thurberites everywhere.
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