Sunday, February 15, 2015

Incoming Books: Week of February 14

I haven't managed to get into a good groove with this unemployment thing -- I don't want to, for one thing, and am hoping and working to make it as short as possible -- which means I'm feeling uneasy and jittery for much of my days. (And that's without ever drinking coffee!) I know I'm not being as productive, on any of the things I want to, as I'd like: not reading much at all, not writing enough here, spending too much time refreshing my e-mail and researching jobs that are completely wrong for me.

But the cat-vacuuming did lead to two trips to stores that sold books last week, where I traded in a lot of old stuff and got a bunch of new(ish) stuff, much of it at wonderful prices. And, since Antick Musings does devolve into a series of annotated lists of books when I'm not careful, here's yet another one of those. My hope here is that some of this stuff will look enticing and new to at least a few of you; this is all stuff I was willing to spend the moral equivalent of money on.

First up, from my long-time local used book store (with some new stuff as well), the Montclair Book Center, were fifteen very random titles.

The inevitable stuff to feed ongoing or possible reading projects:
  • George MacDonald Fraser's Flashman and the Dragon -- I'm still not sure if I will re-read these, but I now just need two or three of them.
  • Ukridge by P.G. Wodehouse, in the wonderful Overlook edition, which I'm trying once again to collect (I lost fifty or so of them in the 2011 flood, and am back to around forty at this point -- but Overlook is closing in on having published all of Wodehouse's roughly hundred books by now.) This, I believe, is a collection of stories all concerning Stanley Featherstonehaugh Ukridge, who is one of Wodehouse's lesser-known great comic creations. And I'm sure there will come a time when I'll need it to lift my spirits.
  • Five more Vintage Contemporaries, for that ongoing project:
    • Platitudes by Trey Ellis
    • Within Normal Limits by Todd Grimson
    • November by Janet Hobhouse (author of Dancing in the Dark)
    • Saigon, Illinois by Paul Hoover
    • Something to Be Desired by Thomas McGuane (author of The Bushwhacked Piano)
  • And two books by Helene Hanff, which I originally read more than a decade ago (before this blog) and was reminded of when I recently read her Underfoot in Show Business: the inevitable 84, Charing Cross Road and its lesser-known sequel The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street.
Another website-into-book, destined to be read in the smallest room, with one of the highest doses of Schadenfreude ever detected in a single volume: F My Life, edited by Maxime Valette, Guillaume Passaglia, and Didier Guedj. (Yes, F My Life was originally French -- with a title that roughly translates to "the Shit Life" -- and only came to the English language after a first initial success there. The things you learn from quirky little books.)

Temple Grandin's Thinking in Pictures, which was her second memoir/collection of essays. She's an interesting figure anyways, and I also want to understand my older son better -- he's "on the spectrum," as they say, though exactly where is a fuzzier thing.

And an interesting book from the thriller writer James W. Hall -- whom I think I read once or twice in my book-club career -- about the bestselling books of the 20th century, Hit Lit. I may end up back in the fields of mass-market publishing, soon or eventually, and that kind of thing has always fascinated me: why do so many people decide they want this, right now?

An encyclopedic book of things that Americans used to consider funny -- from anvil and falling safes to rolling-pin wielding wives and pay toilets -- under the title American Cornball, from Christopher Miller. I heard about this somewhere and knew I had to have it: I love weird encylopedias, the quirky side of history, and humor.

Sidney Harris's cartoon collection Einstein Simplified, from 1989. If you're a SF or science person, you've seen his work many times -- you may even have a Harris up on the door of your office right now.

The big book The World of Ice & Fire, by George R.R. Martin with Elio M. Garcia, Jr. and Linda Antonsson. Since I'm not commuting at the moment, if I can ever make myself sit down and read, I'd be able to sit down and read this big thing. And I'm always fond of fake nonfiction, which this more-or-less is. (I think there's some actual fiction in there, too.) [1]

As a palate cleanser, I also got a book from a Kickstarter I backed this week -- Rick Geary's The True Death of Billy the Kid. It's yet another one of his historical re-creations, which he's so good at, and this one is a larger-format book in hardcover, unlike the main sequence. (Also, since I backed it, I get a couple pieces of related ephemera, and Geary signed the book to me personally! It's amazing what can make someone happy.)

And then a bunch of comics from the packed and quirky Time Warp Comics and Games, which probably would be my regular comics shop if I still had such a thing. (My younger son semi-regularly attends a Magic The Gathering tournament there on Friday nights, and it's the closest good comics shop I know of -- oddly organized, as all comics shops are required to be, but full of interesting things all over the place.)

The first collection of Sinfest by Tatsuya Ishida. Yes, it's all online, and there's no reasonable chance the whole series will ever be collected in book form. But sometimes I just want things between two covers, OK?

Chew, Vol. 5 by John Layman and Rob Guillory -- I think I now have three of these lined up, so I might run through them quickly and write one post. (Or run through them slowly or quickly and bury them in an end-of-month roundup: could go either way.)

Scott McCloud's Zot, Book 1 -- the 1997 Kitchen Sink edition that's the only time the first ten color issues of the series were collected, and what looks like the only time they ever will be collected. (Seriously, they're not vastly different from the later black and white issues -- they're not training-wheel comics or anything.) Another book I'm very glad to have back in my hands.

A small pile of Hellboy-verse collections from Mike Mignola and his merry band:
A book that Alan Moore wishes we'd stop listing his name in connection with: Miracleman Book 2: The Red King Syndrome, by Moore (here laughably credited as "The Original Writer") with artists Alan Davis, Rick Veitch, Chuck Adams, and John Ridgway. It's still one of the better arguments that it's possible to take superheroes seriously.

Swallow Me Whole is one of the great graphic novels of our time, though I don't see it mentioned with Blankets or Ghost World or Bottomless Bellybutton all that often. (It did win the Eisner for Best GN for Nate Powell in 2009 though, which is something.) I had a rough galley before the flood -- I reviewed it for ComicMix when it was published -- but this is the first time I have a real finished book.

I've heard good things about Cameron Stewart's Sin Titulo, though I couldn't tell you where or when. But it's a horizontally-formatted book, collecting what was oriignally a webcomic, and with any luck I'll read it soon.

I think Dynamite only published these two collections of Tim Truman's excellent '80s comic Scout -- Vol. 1, with the first seven issues, and Vol. 2, collecting up to #16 -- which is a shame, since only one more would finish off the original series. (And another one would collect the mini-series, and two more would get all of War Shaman between covers. Heck, as long as I'm wishing, how about a world where Truman either can now do Marauder and Blue Leader, or one where he got to them around 1990ish?) Well, at least these two books exist, and I have them now.

And last was Fairest, Vol. 1, the beginning of the latest spin-off from Bill Willingham's Fables series. (This one was written by Willingham with Matthew Sturges with pencil art mostly by Phil Jimenez and inks more often than not from Andy Lanning.) I'm not really sure what angle this takes from the original, but I do want to catch up on this and Fables, though I'm clearly already missing the big finish.

(Speaking of big finishes, that was mine. Another week is beginning, and I hope to get more organized here -- but we'll have to see if that actually happens.)

[1] Interestingly, Amazon doesn't allow affiliate links to the print edition of this book -- the first time I've ever seen that message in their link-building tool. Probably the first pebble of the avalanche, though: they don't need any of us to send them traffic at this point.

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