Monday, January 25, 2021

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 1/23/21

This week, all of the books came in the mail, and they were all things I bought. I got some money out of the couch cushions from That Hegemonic Internet Retailer (back in the fat days of this blog, I'd get a few affiliate bucks every month, but now it only hits their threshold every two years, if that), and spent that on these things:

Prosper's Demon by K.J. Parker -- I think we all know by now that Parker is the same writer as Tom Holt, but it was secret for a long time. (I liked the rumors that Parker was female, one strand of which actually attached to Holt's wife, but they did not turn out to be true.) The Holt books have been mostly humorous fantasy -- I think his first two, way back, were myth-flavored fantasy of a different sort -- but the Parker books are darker fantasy. I really liked the Scavenger trilogy, which I bought for the SFBC early in Parker's career, but haven't read much of his work since. (I do have two Parker novels on the shelf, along with so much else.) This one is a novella and it looks to be strongly driven by voice, so I think I can get to it much faster. No promises, though.

Hunting Buffalo with Bent Nails is a random nonfiction collection written and published by Lawrence Block, best-known for writing mysteries and thrillers. As his intro explains it, he assembled one book of all of his writings about crime fiction, and another book of all of his writings about philately (we all have our hobbies) and then this book was every else he had left over. That sounds sufficiently random for me -- a whole bunch of short pieces by a writer I like on things that are neither stamps nor writing.

Giant Days, Vol. 12 by John Allison, Max Sarin and Whitney Cogar -- My library system has all of the Giant Days books...except this one. They have 1-6, which I didn't need. They have 7-10, which I've already requested, received, and read. They have 11 and 13 and 14, which I'll be asking for soon. But they did not have this one, because libraries -- like so many things in the USA, to its detriment -- are organized and run entirely at the lowest possible governmental level, with the barest minimum of oversight and planning, so that no one actually ever keeps track of things like that across what should be a unified, useful system.

(On the other hand, that messy uncontrolled system is getting me seven books of Giant Days that I don't have to buy myself. It's not bad, it's just another example of ways Americans refuse to work together whenever given an option, because something something socialism.)

Trese, Vol. 1: Murder on Balete Drive by Budjette Tan and KaJo Baldisimo -- I read and reviewed this, a decade ago, and loved it then. It's now actually generally available on my side of the Pacific, so I'm going to read it again -- and, I hope, buy and read the rest of the series as they're all republished by US-based Ablaze. It's the first in an urban fantasy series of graphic novels, about Alexandra Trese, a paranormal investigator in Manila. The art is dark and lush and enveloping, and the world is equally so: this is an urban fantasy set in a specific place, using Filipino myth and folklore to tell its stories in a rich and resonant way. (So much urban fantasy is a thin soup of fifth-hand random European tropes -- all the same werewolves and vampires and maybe a banshee for spice.)

Also, this is being turned into a TV series for Netflix, so read it now and you can be one of the annoying hipsters once everyone else loves it.

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