Monday, April 05, 2021

Reading Into the Past: Week of April 3, 2006

There were no new books coming into the house last week, which means that I fill the Monday slot on this blog by digging into my old reading notebooks and seeing if I can remember the books I read at the same time in some random year from 1990 to 2010. The RNG this time gave me 2001, so here I go:

Matthew Hughes, Fool Me Twice (bound galleys, 3/28)

I read Fools Errant, the first book, the day before, and eventually turned the two into an omnibus for the SFBC (as Gullible's Travels). Hughes at the time looked a bit like the second coming of Jack Vance - which itself would be an amazing and wonderful thing, since he really did live up to that - and has since broadened his palette and written a lot of great books that not enough people have bought.

These two are Hughes in his most purely Vancean mode and his lightest, funniest style - I think they're wonderful and I really should re-read them one of these days. They're books set perhaps an era before the Dying Earth: the Earth is not yet on its deathbed, but is definitely getting up there in years, needing regular colonoscopies and winded by going up a short flight of stairs. The hero is a young man with a good heart, bad luck, and perhaps not quite as many brains as he needs, doing the will of his uncle, the utter master of this depleted, bizarre world.

You all need to read more Matt Hughes, and so do I: I have an electronic proof of his authorized sequel to "The Demon Princes" that I could be reading instead of typing this.

Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima, Lone Wolf & Cub, Vol. 7: Cloud Dragon, Wind Tiger (3/29)

Every so often I get pissed off all over again about my 2011 flood: when I realize I probably would have re-read all 28 volumes of Lone Wolf & Cub at some point in the past decade, straight through, is one of those times. I obviously have no idea what happened in this particular volume: I assume Ogami Itto slaughtered a whole lot of people in slow-motion beautifully, but the context is what matters. Someday I hope I will have an excuse and a chance to re-read the whole series, but I doubt it will be this decade.

Jim Mullen, It Takes a Village Idiot (bound galleys, 3/30)

Before I google for it, I'm going to guess it was a quickie humor book - maybe related to the 2000 election - and that I got it from the groaning giveaway shelves at what I think was called Bookspan at that moment in time.

Nope: I was wrong. (Well, it probably came from the giveaway shelves, but that's a gimme.) This was a "I moved to West Bumfuck, and was way out of place there" humor book, written by the guy who did "The Hot Sheet" for Entertainment Weekly for more than a decade and other funny stuff (including a column named after this book) before and since. I started out in suburbia, never managed to live in any city, and have remained stuck in the same small starter tract house for twenty-seven years, so the "selling a Village apartment, too small but convenient to everything in the world, in order to move to a big interesting house in the land of Colorful Rustics" is appealing to me from both ends of the equation. This was a finalist for the Thurber Prize and I tend to remember books I hated, so my guess is that it's both good and pretty funny - humor often doesn't remain long in the memory.

Loren D. Estleman, Sugartown (4/2)

I miss reading mystery novels the way I used to. I miss reading as much as I used to, but working in a business does really help prioritize doing things related to that business. This one was the fifth in Estleman's series about Detroit PI Amos Walker, originally published in 1984 and reprinted in 2001 by ibooks. (Which had a great design sense and some real editorial flair, especially on the reprint side, though Byron Preiss, the founder and animating force, was, should I say divisive?)

There's no way I can tell you what the plot is after twenty years: Amos investigated some mystery, probably some people got killed and Amos was hit on the head at least once, femmes did some fatale-ing but Our Hero was stalwart, and all was made right in the end: that's my best guess. This is a solid series, and there's a lot of books in it, so I do recommend it for people like me who like that kind of meat-and-potatoes American PI style.

Eric Garcia, Casual Rex (bound galleys, 4/4)

Surely I didn't read this for work, did I? I guess it counts as speculative fiction, but I thought it was published way out of genre and the SFBC would have looked down-market and declassee to the publishers. (Although: money is never declassee.) This series - this is the second of three books - was published as mysteries-slash-mainstream, and were about the secret society of dinosaurs living in the modern day in complicated human-suits, focused on our PI hero. They were deeply goofy, in a way I appreciated, but were not books to be taken seriously in any way, shape or form. I vaguely remember that Garcia had Hollywood ties and...I just deleted two lines about how crazy the idea of filming these would be once I realized it happened in 2004, with a backdoor pilot for a Skiffy Channel series that never happened once the adults woke up and realized what they had done. My god: a movie of this book exists. I will never, ever watch it.

So what happens in this book? I dunno. It's the second published but chronologically first, and it has a bunch of secret dinosaurs living in modern LA in meat-suits: wacky stuff, I assume. Totally wacky.

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