Joey Hi-Fi's Weirdness Rodeo
Film 101: Army of Darkness (1992)

Way too long

Secret Mission to BangkokI'm not sure if you've missed these shopping posts or not, but I assure you, I've missed the shopping. Between the holidays, work and scheming, I hadn't looted a bookstore since... mid-December. Which is a bit like going six months without, I dunno... lungs.

So when I had an hour last Wednesday - in town, after work-work, before some Jurassic-work - I took advantage of it. A few new acquisitions for our household:

Lots of charming new vintage paperbacks - Georgette Heyer's The Toll-Gate (lovely old Pan), Hervey Allen's Anthony Adverse in America (Dell Mapback), Haynes Johnson's The Bay of Pigs (Dell), Louis Trimble / Brian Garfield's Trouble at Gunsight / Trail Drive (Ace Double), F. van Wyck Mason's Secret Mission to Bangkok and The China Sea Murders (Pocket).

The van Wyck Mason books are pretty intriguing - both feature a Colonel Hugh North (based vaguely on Mason's own life - a proper Mary Sue with a name that history would later make deeply unfortunate). They sound trashy and fun.

On the hardcover side, I found two collections of John O'Hara short stories - Assembly and The Hat on the Bed. O'Hara feels like the literary John D. MacDonald to me - I don't mean that in the qualitative sense, more than, like JDM, JOH writes characters, drama, settings that all excel at the minutaie. And both are pretty much forgotten, which is a shame.

Work of DarknessI picked up Jack Karney's Work of Darkness almost on a whim - 90% of the time when you find an old book with that sort of title it turns out to be a staid period drama about a pastor wrestling wrestling with, I dunno, the damming of a local brook or something. (The other 10% of the time it is a forgettable 1970s horror about Satanists.) In this case, it bucked all the odds and turned out to be a book about teens and gangs in 1950s New York. Fiction of this sort - "J.D. Fiction" - is is really popular (books like Jailbait are the stuff of postcards and fridge magnets everywhere), which generally prices it out of the "I actually just like reading this sort of thing" market. It turns out Karney wrote a lot of gritty urban mysteries, including at least one for Gold Medal. A skim through Abebooks says this isn't a particularly common book, but nor is it valuable. Still, I'm glad to have it. (It does, however, showcase the addiction to random capitalisation "A Novel of youth..." that has always existed in the publishing industry. Why spend so much time proofing the interior only to go wacky with the cover copy?)

Randomly, also found a pristine copy of K.J. Parker's The Company, which was nice - being slightly silly about the Parker collection, it is good to have one to keep mint.

[As an aside, thanks to everyone that's poked me about the release of Academic Exercises from Subterranean. I've definitely ordered my copy. I share the sadness of the UK's other KJP fans, as the shipping effectively double the price of the book: $75 (plus customs) is a lot more than $40. I've personally weaseled around that by having it sent to family in the states. One virtue of it being a reprint collection is that although I want to have it, I'm in no rush to read it. Anyway, all that aside, I'm curious how this does. The fact that Subterranean are including both of their existing Parker novellas is particularly intriguing - like there's a belief that Parker is now popular enough to sell a collection (750 copies thereof!), but not so popular to justify reprinting the novellas. I'm also a little underwhelmed by the cover art - and that's speaking as a huge fan of Vincent Chong's work. I'm guessing the primary brief was to match the two previous novellas (although, if they're reprinted inside... why?), and the result is just a little too sedate for me.]

Speaking of obsessive collecting... and reprints... I've picked up copies of Patrick Ness' The Crash of Hennington and Topics About Which I Know Nothing. I'm delighted they're both back in print. Topics is still one of my favourite single author collections of all time, and the new edition comes with a new story, making it that much better.

Cover - deakinsAnd, finally, a couple of Jurassic-related oddities - a copy of the 1923 Sears Roebuck catalogue (not the real thing, but a 1973 abridged reprint that someone did for some reason or another). Kind of a blast, and hopefully helpful for period detail as I tackle editing The Streets of PandemoniumAnd I've got the proof of Will Hill's The Sad Tale of the Deakins Boys. One perk of being a (very) small press publisher is that you get to make your own collectibles. And I like having a teeny, tiny collection of the print proofs for the Jurassic books. It is utterly selfish, completely indulgent and really very fun.

And... one longish note on the reading front. One month in, I'm on track (barely) with this year's challenge - trying to split my reading between categories I've dubbed "new" (2000+), "old" and "oldish". The latter two are sort of informally split, but the divide seems to be around 1920. It has been fun, and I read at least two books this month that I discovered by randomly entering words into

Two quick 'fun facts' from my January reading:

  • I read far more women than men - 16 women, 8 men and 4 anthologies. I suspect that has less to do with any sort of intent (because, honestly, there hasn't been) and more to do with a shift in genres, because...
  • I read almost no crime or SF/F in January. Instead, lots of YA and literature. I guess the weirdest thing of all (for me) was that I read one (count 'em: 1) frontlist SF/F title in the entire month: Claire North's The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August (review coming closer to pub date, but a fantastic book).

If I had a Sacred Duty as a SF/F Blogger, I've failed in it. I don't think this is a sign of any sort of larger trend (the "exhaustion of the genre [blogger]"). I do, however, think it is interesting that, in a busy month, my default 'entertainment read' was YA, not epic fantasy. I can only guess it is because the former is still new to me. I'm reluctant to look into this further, as psychoanalysing my own choice of reading material is dodgy ground. I'll see how the stats add up at the end of February. Who knew Goodreads would be so useful for bibliographic navel-gazing?