Saturday, October 11, 2014

Incoming Books: Week of 10/11

I've been on two business trips in the last two weeks -- one for five days to Miami for a big annual meeting for my whole division, and then the front half of this week to Boston for the Predictive Analytics World show. That's been exhausting, but at least the latter show gave me the opportunity to detour a bit on the way home to do some book shopping.

I'd originally intended to hit two or three shops in Connecticut, but, as it turned out, I spent enough money (and time) and got enough books at the first place: the Book Barn in Niantic. Although "first place" is a misnomer: this store is practically a Hay-on-Wye all by itself, with a main barn and three outbuildings (plus several kiosks in the landscape among them) packed with books, plus two other substantial storefronts in town down the street, plus a fourth store near the first that I didn't even make it to.

This is an amazing store, with great breadth and good prices. In particular -- since I know a lot of you folks like your SFF -- they have a large and excellent SFF section in their Downtown store. You know how most used-book stores have lousy small SFF sections -- maybe one bookcase of random David Eddings and Arthur C. Clarke books? This isn't like that -- it's most of a room, and has a great mix of older books and newish ones. I chatted with the guy working there, and he says it turns over a lot, too. So, if your reading tastes are anything like mine, and you find yourself in Connecticut, this place is definitely worth a detour.

Since I got so many books, I'm going to divide them into clusters to get through them all.

Reading Projects:

Two more milestones for my eventual run through Robert Silverberg's classic period:
  • The World Inside, in the recent Orb trade paperback edition
  • and a nice hardcover of Shadrach in the Furnace -- it's the Book Club edition, but I can hardly be a snob about those, can I? And it's a nice tight clean copy, very similar to the one I lost in the flood of '11.
And a cluster of books for the ongoing Vintage Contemporaries project -- my current thinking is that I'll try to read one a month, but we'll see how that goes:
  • The Debut by Anita Brookner
  • Cathedral by Raymond Carver
  • A Virtuous Woman by Kaye Gibbons -- from 1990, so outside the period I'm reading now, but what the heck
  • To Skin a Cat and Nobody's Angel by Thomas McGuaine, who was a real favorite of the VC series in those early days -- he had four books from them in less than that many years
These are all books I owned, in one edition or another, before the flood. And some things you just want to have in the house, in case you want to read them suddenly.

Sky Coyote by Kage Baker -- the second "Company" novel, from back in 1999. I've got all of them in the SFBC omnibuses I did, and all but two in publisher hardcovers, too. This was one of the missing ones, though the edition I got was the later Tor reprint. Yes, buying this doesn't entirely make sense, but I did it anyway.

Rogue Moon by Algis Budrys -- the SFBC edition from the mid-90s that I acquired, with a nice Paul Youll Cover. (I actually have a copy of this, but my now-sixteen-year-old son went through a phase at about age three where he took a letter opener and "opened" a bunch of dust jackets. It's proof of how much parents can love their children that he's still alive today.)

Three "Flashman" novels by George MacDonald Fraser -- Flashman, Flash for Freedom!, and Flashman and the Mountain of Light. I'll want to re-read this series one day, so I need to lay them in like firewood against that eventuality.

Brian McNaughton's The Throne of Bones, which is a wonderful collection of secondary-world fantasy stories with a horror flavor -- I'd say it was forgotten, but it was incredibly obscure to begin with -- written in a lovely style, wordy and erudite and casually cruel, somewhere in between Jack Vance and Tolkien and the nastier end of Robert Bloch. I "discovered" it at the book club -- Ken Abner of Terminal Frights did the hard work of real discovery; I just picked it up and loved it -- and sold it not-too-horribly there for a while. It's a great book of stories that should be better known.

5 Novels by Daniel Pinkwater -- it's got Young Adult Novel in it, and one of the "Snarkout Boys" books, and three other great Pinkwater books. I think I'm going to give to my younger son and dare him to read Young Adult Novel.

Temporary Agency by Rachel Pollack -- Pollack wrote at least two really good contemporary fantasy novels in this and Unquenchable Fire. I have the sense that she was so good at conveying the everydayness of the magically-transformed world of those two books because she deeply believed personally in the magic system, but that really doesn't matter: the books are wonderful.

Heroes Die, the second in Matthew Woodring Stover's Caine series. Another book club edition that I bought, back in the day, and a great series that should be vastly more popular than it is.

The Ax, one of the nastiest, funniest, truest novels ever written. It's by Donald E. Westlake, and it's about job-hunting.

And four books by Roger Zelazny -- I told you this store had a great SFF section, didn't I? They had another half-shelf that I didn't buy -- because he's another writer I want to have on hand for emergencies:
  • Lord of Light, which is probably his best single novel -- we always thought he'd get ambitious again and top it, but he settled into a commercially successful groove for the next two decades and never did. This could be a warning to younger writers.
  • The First Chronicles of Amber, the omnibus I did for the clubs in 1999 with a great Ron Walotsky cover.
  • Damnation Alley, in a decent trade paperback from the ill-fated ibooks imprint. (And how I wished Byron Preiss lived long enough to sue Apple over that name -- 'cause you know he would have done it.)
  • And Madwand, the second half of a two-book series that we all expected (for the 1980s, at least) would turn into something bigger and never did.
 Prose Works I Haven't Read Yet:

There needs to be some new stuff in any bookstore haul, right? These are the books that might take me a decade to get to, but they'll be on the shelves when I'm ready:

Gaudeamus by John Barnes -- I don't think I read this the first time around. (I seem to remember it looked too weird for the SFBC in 2004, but I grabbed a copy for myself and it sat on my groaning to-be-read-shelves for a decade until the flood.) But Barnes is a smart and interesting writer who's always doing something new in his books, so I want to support that.

The Whatchamacallit by Danny Danzinger & Mark McCrum -- one of those disposable little books about trivial topics; this one covers odd little things -- philtrums, fascinators, aglets; the usual -- and explains what they are and what they do.

Jeffrey Ford's A Portrait of Mrs. Charbuque. I used to run across Jeff at conventions for a while, and he's a great guy -- almost exactly the opposite guy from the one you might expect from his books, but equally great. He writes at the literary end of fantasy -- or the fantasy end of literature -- and I should have read more of his books than I have.

Underfoot in Show Business by Helene Hanff -- the woman who wrote 84, Charing Cross Road also wrote a whole bunch of other short books, mostly memoirs of other aspects of her life, through the '50s and '60s. This one is about how she didn't become a star playwright.

Good as Gold by Joseph Heller -- Catch-22 is so good, that I feel I really should try to read some of Heller's other books one of these days. (I did read God Knows, way back in college, and remember enjoying it -- but I don't know how much I trust that guy's literary opinions.)

Nam-A-Rama by Phillip Jennings -- a satirical novel about Vietnam published about a decade ago, whose editor (Moshe Feder, an old publishing friend) pushed it on me at the time. I didn't manage to read the first copy I had, but this time for sure!

A Voyage to Arcturus by David Lindsay -- this is one of the great famous works of outsider art in the SFF field, a planetary romance from the 1920s by someone who was never before or again heard from. I've heard about it for years, and now I can read it if I feel like.

The Names of the Dead, an early novel by Stewart O'Nan, whose work I am reading very, very slowly.

Son of Gun in Cheek, the second of two books collecting examples of "differently good" mystery writing and edited by Bill Pronzini. As I recall, this and Gun in Cheek are screamingly funny in spot, so I want to read them again someday.

Don't Get Too Comfortable by David Rakoff -- a slim nonfictional look at the consumer goods of the very, very rich.

And Bejing Doll by Chun Sue -- one of those thinly-veiled autobio novels about growing up rough and angry and rock-and-roll, this time from China. (Where it was banned, naturally.) I should read more books in translation, I should read more books by women, I should read more books by people younger than myself -- I feel virtuous just thinking about reading this.


A couple of these at the end are ringers -- I got them from that hegemonic online bookseller -- but most of these are books I found at that same Downtown location of the Book Barn in Niantic:

The Collected Sequential by Paul Hornschmeier -- as I understand it, these are his earliest comics, collected from the minicomics series of the same name.

Big City: The Complete Oblivion City Saga by Andy Garcia -- one of my favorite obscure '90s comics, in a collection I didn't think I'd ever find again after I lost my first copy in the flood.

Hearts of Gold by Milt Gross -- a wordless graphic novel from 1930; it's a hoot and a half. (I reviewed it under an alternate title, He Done Her Wrong, a few years back.)

The Best American Comics 2006 edited by Harvey Pekar -- I kind-of want to collect this whole series, since I've already read most of them, and there aren't that many yet. So I'll buy missing ones when I find them cheap.

Cypher by Brad Teare -- I've never heard of this or seen it before; it's a 1997 book from Gibbs, Smith in a scratchboard-looking style that's a bit like Eric Drooker.

Bigg Time by Ty Templeton -- a standalone graphic novel by a creator I've liked since way back to Stigg's Inferno, and who I wish was able to spend more time on non-licensed books like this. Buying a used copy doesn't help him, of course.

Omnibooth by George Booth -- one of the things I can dependably find in used-book stores is collections of old single-panel cartoons, usually of the New Yorker school. This is one such, a 1984 collection of the best smirking dogs and grumpy old ladies of Booth.

The World of George Price -- and this is much the same kind of thing, from a different cartoonist named George. This one, though, is in hardcover and has a foreword by Alistair Cooke (!)

And last are two books by Mike Mignola: the Hellboy Library Editions, volumes 1 and 4. They're replacements for paperbacks I lost in the flood: it's nice to be able to upgrade, since I know these fancy hardcovers would have been enticing me even if I still had the old paperbacks.

No individual links this time around; this post has already stolen too much of my Saturday as it is. If you have a burning need to buy a used book immediately, you can click this link and give me a kickback or go to (which I recommend in most cases), which has the slight flaw of not giving me a kickback.

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