Joey Hi-Fi's Weirdness Rodeo
Underground Reading: Malice by John Gwynne

Losing It, Judy Blume and John Fowles

Losing ItA few new books in this week:

Judy Blume's Wifey. Weirdly, I don't actually remember reading any Judy Blume as a kid. I'm sure I did - and certainly her presence as a cultural juggernaut hasn't escaped me. But, I can't distinguish if I have memories of "reading Judy Blume" or memories of "hearing about Judy Blume so much that it feels like I read them myself". Anyway, Wifey showed up on this Flavorwire list of "40 Trashy Novels You Must Read Before You Die" and it sounded, well... fun.

Irving Wallace's The Second Lady. Another find from the same list. A thriller from 1980 about Soviet plot to replace the First Lady with an identical Russian agent. I honestly can't think of any concept that's a) more ridiculous or b) more immediately appealing. This should be awesome.

Edward S. Aarons' Assignment Carlotta Cortez. A Sam Durrell mystery - these are... ok. They're no Chester Drum (Stephen Marlowe), but they'll do in a pinch. Nice to find in hardcover, even if the paperback covers are better. Interesting the 'dame's' hair colour seems to have changed for this edition. I'm curious if there are multiple women involved, or if the publisher of this edition decided that gentlemen prefer blondes. (Is 'blondewashing' a word?) (Also, how cool is this cover? I'm jealous.)

Losing It - edited by Keith Gray. A collection of short stories by young adult authors about the "first time". It is a mixed bag. Patrick Ness, unsurprisingly, hits it out of the park with "Different for Boys". Jenny Valentine's "The Age of Consent" is funny (with a bit of a twee ending), and I'm interested to read more of her work. Ditto Sophie McKenzie, who's "The Way It Is", actually out-Burgesses Melvin Burgess' own contribution to the collection. Mary Hooper's "Charlotte" is a grim tale of Victorian prostitution and just... doesn't seem to fit? I'm not sure about either Keith Gray's "Scoring" or Bali Rai's "The White Towel", but I think it is because they're actually, I dunno, "more young adult", if that makes sense - the two stories are more direct, less subtle than the other entries. I have the opposite issue with Anne Fine's "Finding It", which is for adults, about adults; more focused on discussing the difference between generations. I can kind of see what it is doing (and a skim of reviews shows that [adult] reviewers really like this one), but, for me, it never actually talks to the book's (intended) audience about things relevant to them

That turned into a mini-review, so, to conclude - a fast read and an oddly valuable one, especially compared to the awful mess that most genre titles make of same subject matter (yes, I'm looking at you, Rothfuss, with your sex-fairies). The Ness alone is worth the purchase price, and the Valentine, McKenzie and Burgess stories are an added bonus.

Also in - a box of books (cue the appropriate Kuzco quote: "It's my birthday gift to me. I'm so happy!"). A random Abebooks search turned up a bookshop with, for lack of a better term, the literary flotsam of John Fowles' personal collection. I treated myself to a handful of the weirdest (and cheapest) ones. Most of these are bookplated and/or signed - a few even have (very short) scribbles from the man himself. My box includes Edward Gorey's The Epiplectic Bicycle, Thoreau's Walden (a Dover Thrift Edition, no less!), Brian Aldiss' The Airs of Earth, an exhibition catalogue "The Tree of Life", Conan Doyle's A Study in Scarlet, two of Fowles' own books (The French Lieutenant's Woman and A Maggot), a slim volume of poetry by Maria Luisa Carino and two literary SF proofs sent to Fowles for review: Geoff Ryman's Was and M. John Harrison's The Course of the Heart. (The latter includes the letter from the publisher, but, sadly, no notes from Fowles. Boo.) Anyway, as far as a stack o' association copies, this is tough to beat, and I'm delighted to have them.

<blows out candles>

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