Monday, July 29, 2019

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 7/27/19

So I ordered books recently from the organization that doesn't seem to be called Edward R. Hamilton anymore. (I do wonder who was Hamilton, if he's still around, and who actually runs that business these days -- but I don't wonder all that much.)

Hamilton is a great remainder dealer; they have a wide and ever-changing stock at excellent prices. It's not a place to go buy one particular book, but they're wonderful if you feel like finding a bunch of books you vaguely want at great prices. That's what I felt like; that's what I did; those books arrived this past week.

Note: I'm providing links to that other online bookseller, in hopes that you click on those for more details or other people's reviews, set a cookie, and so I get a few pennies the next time you buy something there. But if you're actually interested in just buying any of these books, the link to Hamilton above is your best bet.

The Drowned World by J.G. Ballard -- one of his earliest novels, from that initial cluster of early-60s disaster stories. This is a fiftieth anniversary edition, in hardcover, with an introduction by Martin Amis.

The Skill of Our Hands by Steven Brust and Skyler White -- the sequel to their earlier novel The Incrementalists, which I managed to miss when it came out in 2017. The first one is a story about the immortals who secretly guide the world -- and I do mean "guide," since they nudge it oh-so-gently and not all that often -- and this looks to be another story of the same people, and still not about controlling the world all that much.

Winter Tide by Ruthanna Emrys -- a recent (2017) Lovecraftian novel about the survivors of a government prison camp, what the government demands of them years later, and the potential end of the world. So not topical at all.

The Pigeon Tunnel by John Le Carre -- a memoir by the well-known (and now aged) author of spy thrillers: probably mostly about his research and how that intersected the short time he actually spent in the intelligence world, rather than a how-I-write book.

The Last Days of New Paris by China Mieville -- a slim 2016 novel by a writer I feel like I should be much further behind on than I actually am. (I think he's been doing other things than writing novels a lot this past decade, as I've been doing other things than reading his novels: I'm not sure if that's comforting or sad, a statement on that decade as a whole or just how life goes.)

Thesis: Oh, Florida! by Craig Pittman -- an examination of that interesting character "Florida Man," and how he has made his home state such an odd place, in the typical "this one thing explains everything" non-fictional style.

Antithesis: Best. State. Ever. by Dave Barry -- in which the transplant from Philadelphia explains why his adopted state is actually totally awesome, though he seems to do so by examining the same kind of weird things that Pittman does in his above "Florida is weird" book.

It is possible these two authors are loudly in agreement.

The Liberation by Ian Tregillis -- finale of the "Alchemy Wars" trilogy; I read The Mechanical soon after it came out and still have The Rising on the shelves of things I really want to get to as soon as I feel up to reading a four-hundred-page-plus book. (Which hasn't been a lot, lately.)

Last is a new expanded edition of Calvin Trillin's 1984 journalism collection Killings. This one has an introduction and author's note that don't say if they're from the old edition or new now, and what seems to be six stories that were originally published (in The New Yorker, like all of these pieces) in 1985 or later. I don't recall the old Killings being particularly short, so some of the old pieces may have been removed for this new edition. As usual, the book makes none of that clear.

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