Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Book Review: The Notebooks of Lazarus Long

The Notebooks of Lazarus Long
Robert A. Heinlein
Illuminated by D. F. Vassallo

The character Lazarus Long is the star of two Heinlein novels, Methuselah’s Children and Time Enough for Love. He also appears in The Cat That Walks Through Walls, The Number of the Beastand To Sail Beyond the Sunset, the story of Lazarus’ mother. Lazarus is rich, wise, and extremely long-lived. He attributes his wealth to the fact he knew to never draw to a pair of deuces, and his long life to never giving anyone the chance to shoot him in the back. The Notebooks of Lazarus Long are a collection of Long’s aphorisms for wealth, happiness, long life, and love. They are also funny.

“Rub her feet” is among the best of Heinlein’s aphorisms. It appears many times in Long’s Notebooks and in the novels. “Don’t try to have the last word. You might get it” is clearly key to a long life. Wealth and love are well-served by “Money is a powerful aphrodisiac, but flowers work almost as well,” as is human happiness by “Always yield to temptation. It may never pass your way again.”

Reading Heinlein one comes to believe that his protagonists are different versions of Heinlein himself. Jubal Harshaw from Stranger in a Strange Land, and Johan Sebastian Bach Smith of I Will Fear No Evil are essentially the same character, cranky, very rich and very old men with hearts of gold down deep. One reads these books for the pleasure of their company, their quips, and useful wit. The Notebooks of Lazarus Long is a collection of Heinlein’s wit distilled, and as his character, Lazarus Long, once said, “A motion to adjourn is always in order.”

Before I adjourn this blog entry, let me assert that this brief title should not be missed for its entertainment sake, if not for any other reason. While the illuminations may not compete with those of The Book of Kells and other ancient illuminated manuscripts, they are compelling as well.

Check it out and enjoy.

David Blake
Fiction Department
Central Library

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