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An Acquaintance with Darkness by Ann Rinaldi
Animal Kisses by Barney Saltzberg
The Bunnies' Counting Book by Elizabeth B. Rogers
California Girl by T. Jefferson Parker
Daddy and Me by Neil Ricklen
Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems
Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late by Mo Willems
Encyclopedia Brown Finds the Clues by Donald Sobol
Encyclopedia Brown Keeps the Peace by Donald Sobol
Encyclopedia Brown Strikes Again by Donald Sobol
The Gashlycrumb Tinies by Edward Gorey
The Little Green Caterpillar by Yvonne Hooker
Little Lost Puppy by Margaret Glover Otto
Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare
Mouse Tales by Arnold Lobel
My Little Opposites Book by Bob Staake
Number 9 by Wallace Wadsworth
On the Night of the Seventh Moon by Victoria Holt
Picture Me Colors by Deborah D'Andrea and Kaycee Hoffman
Picture Me Numbers by Deborah D'Andrea and Kaycee Hoffman
The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog by Mo Willems
Pokémon 2000 by Tracey West
Russell and the Lost Treasure by Rob Scotton
Russell the Sheep by Rob Scotton
Slide 'N' Seek Shapes by Chuck Murphy
The Spider King by Lawrence Schoonover
The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin
The Straw Men by Michael Marshall
The Tokaido Road by Lucia St Clair Robson
The Top of the World by Ethel M. Dell
Watch Me Grow Kitten by DK Books

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The Stepford Wives: 12/03/06

The Stepford Wives

Ira Levin's Stepford Wives, a story that has inspired two films and entered the lexicon is little more than a long novella. It comes in around 30,000 words and therefore wouldn't even qualify for a winning Nanowrimo entry. It's the sort of thriller where no words are wasted; the narrative is more like a transcript of someone telling a story than a well crafted narration. It can be read in about ninety minutes and even with knowing the punchline (or being able to figure it out) it is still a very satisfying read.

I love Levin's books. They are in my "go-to" pile when I need something both creepy and humorous at the same time. My husband says the book doesn't seem plausible (probably because he's so much like the geeks who turn against their wives). His main complaint is: "If they had the sex bots at the club, doesn't it seem superfluous to off their wives at home?" But that's part of the book's cheesy charm. Only one family per month ever moves into Stepford, so clearly the men are being recruited. They want to replace their wives long before they come to Stepford.

The edition I read ends with a short essay by Peter Straub who analyzes the book's origins against the time when it was written when Betty Friedan's The Feminist Mystique was nine years old and probably owned by most twenty to thirty-something women and the equal rights amendment had passed congress only to be stalled in the state ratification process (though its looking like it might now be poised to pass). Was Levin writing a social satire akin to Swift's A Modest Proposal or was he writing a parody of the NOW movement? Yes. I think that the news of the day (the opening of Disney World, ERA, the closing of the space race, etc) came together to inspire a story that was fun to write and now fun to read. That it inspires discussion: all the better.

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