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Nicole Hollander is a National Treasure: Thirty Years of Sylvia | The Nation

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Katha Pollitt

Katha Pollitt

Politics, feminism, culture, books and daily life.

Nicole Hollander is a National Treasure: Thirty Years of Sylvia

It was a sad day last year when the Chicago Tribune  ignored the pleas and protests of Nicole Hollander fans and cancelled her Sylvia cartoon strip. I guess it got to be too much for the Trib to run a regular feature in which women’s humor was based on something cleverer than Does this Make Me Look Fat? and Will I Every Get Married? Sylvia, who looks  like a cross between a tough-talking telephone operator from a 1940s screwball comedy and a gypsy fortuneteller,  is shrewd and cynical and drily, wittily, outrageously attitudinous;  she writes in the bathtub, explains Rush Limbaugh to her extraterrestrial friend,  talks back to  her TV (and her cat talks back to her. Even her cat is smarter than the other cartoon cats out there.)  

The New Press has just brought out The Sylvia Chronicles: 30 Years of Graphic misbehavior from Reagan to Obama.  I can’t figure out how to put up pictures here, so  take a look at Audrey Bilger”s illustrated review  from the Ms. Magazine blog. 

Buy, read, laugh! 

And while you're buying Sylvia for yourself,  can you help make sure some middle schoolers in Louisiana can enjoy reading too?  Read on...

 St. Bernard Parish, three miles from downtown New Orleans, was hard hit by  Hurricane Katrina. All its buildings were damaged, and all its schools were destroyed.  Amazingly, little by little, the district is coming back, and on August 11,  the last of its public schools, Andrew Jackson Middle School, will reopen with 350 students. Just in time for the BP oil disaster, you may be thinking.  Yes. This is indeed a community that  has been hit by catastrophe.  And that’s where you come in.

ReadThis is a volunteer organization of people who love books and want to spread the joy of reading.  (Truth in advertising: I’m on the board.)  We collect new and gently used books for public  schools and other underbooked places; we’ve sent books to a pediatric AIDS center, a homeless shelter and  to  troops in Iraq.  This summer, we’ve taken on a big task: gathering 1400 books for the Andrew Jackson Middle School’s library, which was ruined along with everything else.  Imagine a school library with no books and no money to buy books!  Can you chip in by buying a book or two from the  excellent and varied wishlist prepared by the school librarian? It has lots of terrific choices, from Harry Potter to Walter Dean Myers.  As a bonus good deed, you’ll be helping the Garden District  Book Shop, an independent book store.

Find out more about ReadThis here. If you’d like to get involved—collecting books and mailing them to the school, helping out at our table at the Brooklyn Flea on July 24 , or, if by some miracle you happen to be a publisher, donating  a box or two shiny new age-appropriate books --   email us at readthisorg@gmail.com.  For latest updates, join us on Facebook.

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