Goodenough Gismo

  • Gismo39
    This is the classic children's book, Goodenough Gismo, by Richmond I. Kelsey, published in 1948. Nearly unavailable in libraries and the collector's market, it is posted here with love as an "orphan work" so that it may be seen and appreciated -- and perhaps even republished, as it deserves to be. After you read this book, it won't surprise you to learn that Richmond Irwin Kelsey (1905-1987) was an accomplished artist, or that as Dick Kelsey, he was one of the great Disney art directors, breaking your heart with "Pinocchio," "Dumbo," and "Bambi."

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Michael Reynolds

I liked it. Good for him.

We ended our long-running book series A------ without a final resolution, with a dangling plotline, and everyone hated it. But we were right, and so is Chase.

Sopranos was always about dread and anticiption and edgy expectation. That's how David Chase left it. He was true to his story. Like a good writer should be.


You can't even be 100% sure Tony got blown away. 99%, okay. 95%? But it's also possible Chase just pulled the plug.

I had the same interpretation: That the guy who'd been sitting at the counter watching them and had gone into the men's room came out and shot Tony.

My sister-in-law's boyfriend thought they left the ending ambiguous so that they could bring the characters back for the movie.

My sister-in-law thought something had happened to the sound on their TV.

Michael Reynolds

I think that's a leap. I don't think Tony's necessarily dead.


I think it was his way of saying "life goes on" for all we know nothing happened. It leaves lots of options for the movie.


Hi, thank you for the link! I love your blog, but I really disagree about Tony's death. Remember a few weeks back when Prof Althouse had that long, brilliant rumination about how all the signs in the Christopher's death episode pointed to the realization that Tony had died in the crash, too? It was a great post, and made a lot of sense, except of course Tony hadn't died and he showed up in the next episode just fine. That seems to me to be Chase's style - fill his episodes with lots of seemingly deep, but ultimately meaningless, symbolism, so that very smart people like yourself or Prof Althouse are compelled to read great things into it, when in fact there's nothing there. You are accustomed to Shakespearian, Dickensian works of art, so you are naturally inclined to see similar artistry in other, lesser works - and Chase recognizes and preys on that, builds a reputation on that. You could see how desperate he was to create the illusion of deeper meaning in the allusion overload in the final episode, from all the songs, to the tv shows in the background, to even a clip of Little Miss Sunshine. If he throws enough at us, he figures, something might resonate and we might think we glimpse something profound. Yet there is very little actual profundity, just a superficial attempt at it. Anyway, that's my take at least, I think there is more than a little of the naked emperor about him.

michael Reynolds

I think Adrian has a point. But I'd soften it somewhat by suggesting that some of that is inadvertant on Chase's part, not deliberate.

I've often found myself writing something and halfway through realized, "Oh, man, someone's going to think this is a metaphor." I'm 100 pages into the second book of my current series and realized it looks like some kind of Iraq metaphor.

As Adrian suggests, the reader often sees subtleties that the writer only inadvertantly created.


Heretical, Michael. Don't you know that what some academic later chooses to read into your work is more relevant and true than what you were actually writing about?

michael Reynolds

Hey, I'm happy to let them. Makes me look smarter than I am. I just have to remember to nod wisely and say, "Yes, I conceived of this as a subtle commentary on the human condition," as opposed to the truth: "I thought it was a neat story that'd keep kids up all night and make me a pile of money."


It goes to show that we writers are actually instruments. We hold the pen or the computer, but what holds us?


Adrian -- Although I don't share it, I really enjoy your contrarian view that Chase has conned us all into thinking he's a great artist when he's not. I think we should treat him as roughly as he treats his audience -- like Jews talking back to God. Familiarity breeds contempt. The groundlings threw plenty of rotten tomatoes at Shakespeare, if he showed his face. We regard him with reverence today, but he was just a working hack back in the day.


Well, I obliquely weighed in on this elsewhere. I'm not prepared to weigh in either way with regard to "Chase is a great artist" or Chase is not a great artist."

But I do think the Shakespearian/Dickensian prism is not the one I'd choose (which is not to say anyone else is using those, or to comment specifically on that use for anyone else). I'm not sure I'd even use literature as the primary referent--again, speaking strictly for myself.

I could also be full of shit, of course. Wouldn't be without precedent.


There's one obvious thing wrong with the literature comparison, and that is that glorious language is not Chase's medium. (The camera has screwed language. You no longer have to describe things when you can show them. Pacing, mood, detail, and ambiguity are all carried by visuals instead of words. But I think you could argue that Chase uses the camera in a literary way.) His characters are inarticulate, and speak in a mixture of malapropisms (which are marvelous and hilarious, because you know what they mean to say) and accidentally felicitous metaphors drawn from everyday life -- the folk expressions of peasants who live in the midst of technology rather than nature. They're mostly happily wrestling the serpents of the low, but every once in a while his discomfort prods Tony, at least, to grope a little higher. He's like the one guy with his head stuck out through the spheres (you know the picture I'm referring to?).

To me, what makes a work great rather than just good is that feeling of expansion and of incurable ambiguity, making you see that life is big beyond grasping, but worth grasping at, and not letting you decide whether someone's way of getting through it is all good or all bad. This was my signal experience of that. It's not a mental judgment; it's something I feel in my lungs.


But I think you could argue that Chase uses the camera in a literary way.

And that would explain why so many of us who love to read (you included? or not? I'm not sure) found ourselves loving television for the first time.

Donald Trump

David Chase --- YOU'RE FIRED !


LOL. Also perfect!

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