Calvin Cobb


I just finished reading Roy Underhill’s fictional novel Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker. It came in the usual Lost Art Press quality but besides being a nice looking book it was a great read. I tend to read a lot of nonfiction; books, magazines, blogs, so this was a nice diversion from the usual diet. And it’s hilarious too! Here is the description from Lost Art Press:

Roy Underhill of PBS’s “The Woodwright’s Shop” has written what could be the world’s first-ever woodworking novel: “Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker!” It’s a screwball comedy set in 1937 about a woodworker who heads the U.S. government’s agricultural “Broadcast Research” division.

Along with his staff of four women (all severely injured WWI volunteers), Calvin studies “broadcast seed, nutrient and amendment distribution technology and practice” – that is, what happens when the poop actually hits the fan.

But the four women are more interested in developing the world’s first supercomputer (using abandoned punch-card machines), and Calvin is more interested in woodworking…and in one particular woman: Kathryn Dale Harper, host of the radio program “Homemaker Chats.”

How best to woo her? Why, a radio show: “Grandpa Sam’s Woodshop of the Air!”

It’s an almost-overnight sensation (for measured drawings, write to “Grandpa Sam’s” and be sure to include a 3-cent stamp to cover the cost of duplication). But – as Calvin discovers – success breeds jealousy… a dangerous thing when one’s enemy has friends in high places.

Can Calvin and his friends save the world through woodworking, one listener at a time? Perhaps – but first, they’ll have to save themselves from Nazis, the clutches of the FBI, bureaucracy and wooden legs that break at inopportune times.

Like all Lost Art Press books, “Calvin Cobb” is produced entirely in the United States. The 6″ x 9″ hardbound book is casebound with sewn signatures. It is wrapped in a beautiful full-color dust jacket designed by Canadian artist Jode Thompson.

I won’t ruin the story by adding more to it but when advertised as “screwball comedy” they mean it…literally.

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