Monday, July 22, 2019

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 7/20/19

Every summer that I have summer hours -- which is been most of them since I got out of actual fiction book publishing (confusingly counter-intuitive but good for me) -- I end up taking at least one Friday afternoon to go book shopping. This summer I also still had the remnants of my Book-A-Day reading to get rid of: stacks and boxes and bags of books still sitting around what I sometimes call my office.

So I packed up some of those books this past Friday and took them to a local used-book store to see if they'd buy them. I've been selling books there for ages, since I long ago had access to the fabled Giveaway Shelves of Doubleday, and was getting review copies for a years after that. Those things are all in the past now, and my book-selling trips have dwindled to barely yearly, and each one is more feeble than the last.

This probably was the last; there's a Goodwill nearer to me that takes books, which much less hassle. I'll miss the swap aspect -- I like getting new books for my old books -- but it's not the '90s anymore, and I can accept that.

Anyway, here's what I found, at two different stores (one general used & new books, one a comics shop) where I had some credit to spend:

The Rub of Time by Martin Amis -- a big essay collection by an interesting and intermittently great British writer (son of Kingsley, champion of Ballard, once briefly scandalous for getting a big advance and using much of it to fix his very British teeth), who I've been reading for twenty-some years now...though I slowed down once I hit Night Train, which I still insist is a horrible book. This is the "sequel" to The War Against Cliche, I think: another whomping slab of Amis essays, meant to be a Big Serious Non-Fiction Book.

Jeeves and the Wedding Bells by Sebastian Faulks -- It took nearly forty years after Wodehouse's death for this estate to allow a sharecropped book, and another six for me to give in and buy it. (Hey, Wodehouse wrote nearly a hundred books in his career, so the argument that we need more of that but not as good is pretty thin.) I'm keeping my expectations as low as possible, and hoping to be mildly surprised...but I tend to be a curmudgeon in this area. (See: my dismissive post on the first ninety pages of And Another Thing....)

Hogs Wild by Ian Frazier -- a big new collection of reported pieces by the New Yorker mainstay. This is Frazier in serious mode, as opposed to the Dating Your Mom zany Frazier.

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller -- I recently started thinking that I should read this again. And I didn't have a copy, after that flood in 2011 I keep mentioning. So I picked up this 50th anniversary edition, with an introduction by Christopher Buckley that I have now already read. (So when I pick this up for real, I can jump right into the novel -- I'm one of those weird people who feels compelled to read all of the front matter in every book.)

Because I Said So! by Ken Jennings -- this is a collection of debunkings, or possibly re-bunkings if they turn out to be true, of standard Parental Advice of the mid-American, mid-20th century sort, from famed Jeopardy champion Jennings. I got it as fodder for the smallest room in the house, and it looks to be admirably well-suited for that use.

Totally Weird and Wonderful Words by Erin McKean -- This is another book for the same usage as the Jennings immediately above, a lexicon of oddball words that I will try to remember but probably fail.

Smile When You're Lying by Chuck Thompson -- every book-shopping trip should find something completely unexpected, and this was mine this time. This is some kind of sarcastic, cynical travel book, made up of the stories that Thompson couldn't sell to the magazines in his normal career for the usual sordid reasons. (In that the stories are about sordid things, not that the making of travel magazines is sordid. Or maybe both ways -- I'll have to see.)

To Have & To Hold by Graham Chaffee -- a graphic novel from 2017, by a creator I don't think I've read before. Chaffee, and this book, were the subject of a review post on TCJ a few weeks ago, I think -- the title and cover stuck in my mind. I deliberately didn't read that review carefully, since the book sounded interesting -- it's some kind of mildly noirish crime-and-bad-marriage story set in the early '60s.

Mind MGMT, Vol. 5: The Eraser by Matt Kindt -- I read the first two collections of this series earlier this decade, and plan to finish it up, though it seems to be mildly out of print at the moment. So I grabbed this one for half-price even though I don't have volumes three and four, since I expect I'll want it eventually.

Beanworld Omnibus, Vol. 2 by Larry Marder -- I came to Beanworld really late. (Like, last December late -- thirty-some years after Marder started.) But as I always say: I may be slow but I am trainable. And so I'm here for the second go-round.

Mage: The Hero Denied, Vol. 6 (or possibly 2) by Matt Wagner -- This is the grand ending of Wagner's most personal, and long-running, work. See my posts on Hero Discovered (the original '80s series), Hero Defined (the return fifteen years later) and the first half of Hero Denied, all from last year, for more details.

And that's what I got!

No comments:

Post a Comment