Monday, February 07, 2022

Reading Into the Past: Week of 2/5/94

This is Monday. (I know, I know.) On Mondays, if I got any new books, I write about them here. If not, I write about the old books I read "this week" in some past year.

This time out, the past year is...1994! And the list is both short and weird, which suits me.

James Morrow, Towing Jehovah (1/30)

When I was an editor at the SF Book Club, my boss Ellen Asher and I used to regularly discuss putting together a "blasphemy flyer," collecting all of the books we offered that could offend the Mrs. Grundys of the era. Sure, there were some other books, like God: The Autobiography (which sold well for us for years but I otherwise never saw or heard anywhere else in the world), but it would largely be a Jim Morrow collection, which might be why we never did it.

(Another reason being that it would be designed to offend people, which is not generally a good idea to do in a business context.)

Morrow had already won the World Fantasy for Only Begotten Daughter, which is probably a better, definitely a more popular, and absolutely a friendlier novel than the chilly, doom-laden, deliberately anti-theistic Towing Jehovah. So he was clearly doubling down at this point in his career, focusing on one of his major themes really tightly - did I mention this was the beginning of a trilogy, in which God's gigantic dead body is found floating in the Atlantic, and things get weirder from there? It is.

So: this is a good book, a major book, a powerful book. I don't know if I can recommend it to all readers, though. For some of you, you might just burst into flames upon trying to read it, and I wouldn't want that on my conscience.

Jim Thompson, Cropper's Cabin (1/31)

Vintage Crime/Black Lizard was reprinting all of Thompson's novels in somewhat unified trade dress (they had a batch for each season, and, as art directors will, the design tended to drift over the course of a few years), and I was buying and reading all of them. This was one: I'll have to look it up to see which one it was.

OK. This is a 1952 novel, about the son of a sharecropper in Oklahoma (where Thompson was born and lived) who was in love with the daughter of a man he hates. I think Thompson used that same vague plot - not the sharecropper part; the "obsessed with the wrong girl" part - more than once, but I have a vague memory of this book, and it's too-headstrong-for-his-own-good hero. (All Thompson heroes are tragic, one way or another, either for themselves or others.) Core-period Thompson is always good.

Macintosh User's Guide for Macintosh Performa Computers (2/3)

This was the manual that came with my first "real" computer (I had a TRS-80 Color as a teen, hence the qualifier), which I bought sometime that winter from an office-supply store on Route 46 in Totowa. (The one that was previously a movie theater, and is now some kind of women's-clothing emporium; I think it was an OfficeMax back in the day. This will mean nothing to those of you who aren't local.)

And, yes, I did read it cover-to-cover; we were serious about our computers in my day!

Jon A. Jackson, The Blind Pig (1/4)

This was some variety of mystery novel; I know I read a couple by Jackson and I may have read everything he published. Let me go check - maybe I'll find out he's had a booming career since then, and this series now has thirty books, including a bunch of award winners. (I write that down, since it's always my hope: I want things to have gone well while I wasn't paying attention.)

OK, this is Detective Sergeant Mullheisen - I seem to remember he had some nickname (aha! It's "Fang") - and this was the second of ten novels. They were quite hardboiled, especially for a series with a cop protagonist, and set in a mob-riddled Detroit, with a lot of great recurring characters and wonderfully sleazy atmosphere. The Diehard was the first one; this was the second. They might feel out-of-date these days, but I enjoyed all the ones I read. 

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