Monday, August 20, 2018

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 8/18

This morning's post will make up for a lot of those scanty weeks recently: I have a lot of books to list today.

One thing actually came in the mail from a publisher, so that will be first. Then I'll talk about a new book I bought via that Internet retail outlet that's currently trying to take over the DoD. And then...well, I got to a used book store this week -- actually, three of the four locations of the massive Book Barn empire of Niantic, CT -- and got quite a lot of things there.

So let's get to it, shall we?


Nick Mamatas's new collection is The People's Republic of Everything: it collects fourteen stories from the past decade, plus the preferred text of his 2007 short novel Under My Roof. It's out now from Tachyon in a spiffy trade paperback.

South American Rivers!

Three Sisters is the fourteenth volume in "The Love and Rockets Library," the current uniform reprint series for the long-running comics from Los Bros Hernandez; Fantagraphics published it earlier this month. This is a Gilbert book, collecting more stories from the early Aughts. (Yes, just like the previous two Gilbert books, Luba and Her Family and Ofelia -- he was really busy that decade, apparently.)

Book Barns!

Five Rings, Six Crises, Seven Dwarfs, and 38 Ways to Win an Argument is a book of lists -- not the Book of Lists, if you're old like me and remember that '70s bestseller, but a later book along the same lines -- compiled by John Boswell and Dan Starer. It looks like excellent smallest-room-in-the-house fodder.

A Tale of Time City is supposedly one of Diana Wynne Jones's best novels, and one I haven't read yet. And it was only a buck!

The Goodbye Look is a middle-period "Lew Archer" detective novel by Ross Macdonald; I'm trying to get all of them in the '90s Vintage Crime editions (which I had, before my 2011 flood) so I can eventually re-read them all in order. This is one of the great mystery series: I'd recommend anyone at least read The Underground Man, which I think is the best of them.

Cruel Shoes was Steve Martin's first book, back in 1979, and I think is basically a book version of his early "wild and crazy guy" standup act. It was cheap, it's short, it's a weird historical artifact, and Martin turned into a very good writer somewhere along the way, so why not?

I used to have a lot of S.J. Perelman books -- I'd read nearly everything by him after I discovered him in the '90s -- but I lost those, too, in my 2011 flood. And I've been thinking it's getting to be time to re-read some Perelman. I saw this attractive little hardcover called The World of S.J. Perelman, which seems to be someone's collection of his best work, so I nabbed it.

The Realm of Prester John is one of the serious nonfiction books that Robert Silverberg wrote in the '60s and '70s either when he was retired from SF or in between fictional projects -- this is an examination of the medieval legend of a fabled Christian king who supposedly reigned somewhere in Asia or Africa. (Medieval Europeans could be very vague about geography.) I found a 1990 UK edition with a then-new afterword by Silverberg bringing the scholarship up to date.

A Man Lies Dreaming is a SF novel by Lavie Tidhar that won or was shortlisted for several awards; it's some kind of alternate-world Holocaust novel (which, phrased like that, does not sound promising, I admit). I've never read Tidhar, and I probably should do that one of these days.

Curious Customs is another one of those odd facts books suitable for reading in odd moments; it's by Tad Tuleja and from the late '80s. I have a vague sense I've read a similar book by Tuleja at some point -- he had a career like that -- but not this one, as far as I can tell.

I found the complete "Sam Holt" series by Donald Westlake in their recent reprints -- he wrote these four mystery novels in the mid-80s pseudonymously, and they were published as by Holt, the vaguely Magnum, PI-ish actor main character:

As I recall, I read the first three (from libraries and in now-lost paperbacks), but hadn't managed to find the fourth until now. I may just re-read them all.

Two more P.G. Wodehouse novels in those wonderful Overlook Press hardcover editions: Uncle Fred in the Springtime and Much Obliged, Jeeves. Uncle Fred is also one of his best books, though the Jeeves is one of the slighter works from his nineties.

This next cluster requires a little explaining -- for a long time (probably ten years) I've been vaguely thinking about doing a big reading project of Robert Silverberg's explosive period -- the decade from 1967's Thorns to 1976's Shadrach in the Furnace where he wrote about two dozen mostly pretty ambitious novels before retiring from SF forever. (He came back with Lord Valentine's Castle four years later. Retiring forever is rarely as final as it seems.) I'd collected a bunch of them before the 2011 flood, lost it all, and had put this deeply on the backburner for a few years. But this year has been good for my reading projects, so I'm thinking about it again -- and I just got about half of the books I'd need for that project:
We're hitting the comics now, so it's the home stretch -- I found three volumes in the Nexus Archives series I needed, by Mike Baron and Steve Rude: Volumes Six, Eight, and Nine.

The Four Elements is a book of Roz Chast cartoons from the 1980s. Some of it seemed pretty familiar, but I've been reading a bunch of Chast lately, and she has a distinctive voice. (Not to mention that later collections often bring back good materials that's been mouldering in thirty-year-old out-of-print books, like this one.)

And I found the first two collections of American Century, a Howard Chaykin project I'd missed when it originally came around about fifteen years ago. He co-wrote this with a David Tischman, with art by Marc Laming and John Stokes -- none of those names are familiar to me, which means nothing. The two books are Scars & Stripes and Hollywood Babylon.

What a Long Strange Strip It's Been is a collection of Keith Knight's "K Chronicles" comic strips from 2002. I've been reading this strip recently, but I started long after 2002, so this will be interesting.

The Imitation Game is another comic about science written by Jim Ottaviani, who specializes in that -- this one is about Alan Turing, and drawn by Leland Purvis (whose work I've seen in the "Resistance" trilogy of historical graphic novels for younger readers). What I found is a bound galley -- I'm going to keep calling them that, rather than "Advance Reader Copies," and you can't stop me -- so it's missing color and maybe some other elements. But, hey, cheap!

And last is Oddjob: The Collected Stories by Ian and Tyson Smith. I had never heard of this before, but I bought it because it was published by SLG (always a good sign), the cover is nifty, and the art inside looks quirky in a fun way. Why not?

1 comment:

Johanna said...

Curious Customs came in handy when my cousin was teaching overseas and got lots of questions about, for example, how and why Americans celebrated Christmas the way they did. I also have his Fabulous Fallacies, I think it was called. Used to love those kinds of books, before the internet.

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