Friday, January 12, 2018

Friday's "Forgotten" Books (and more): the links to reviews and more

This week's books, unfairly (or sometimes fairly) neglected, or simply those the reviewers below think you might find of some interest (or, infrequently, to be warned away from). Patti Abbott will probably be hosting again next week, watch this space for further developments...

Frank Babics: The Fiction Desk 10: Separations edited by Rob Redman

Mark Baker: The Forgotten Man by Robert Crais

Yvette Banek: Triple Zeck: And Be a Villain; The Second Confession; In the Best Families by Rex Stout

Les Blatt: The Bar on the Seine by Georges Simenon (currently in-print version, as The Two-Penny Bar, translated by David Watson)

Robert Briney: The Three Coffins by John Dickson Carr

Brian Busby: "Nemesis Wins" by Grant Allen

Bill Crider: The Long Haul by Anthony Johnston and Eduardo Barreto

Jose Cruz, Peter Enfantino, Jack Seabrook: EC Comics, August 1954

Martin Edwards: Burn This by Helen McCloy

Barry Ergang (hosted by Kevin Tipple): Hardy Boys: Secret of the Red Arrow by "Franklin W. Dixon"

Will Errickson: Descent by Ron Dee

Curtis Evans: Hours to Kill by Ursula Curtiss

Paul Fraser: Science Fiction Monthly, March 1976, edited by Julie Davis

Barry Gardner: Pictures of Perfection by Reginald Hill

John Grant: The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa (translated by Stephen Snyder); God's Spy by Juan Gomez-Jurado (translated by James Graham); Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks: A Librarian's Love Letters and Breakup Notes to the Books in Her Life by Annie Spence

Rich Horton: Lieut. Gullivar Jones: His Vacation, by Edwin L. Arnold

Jerry House: Lieut. Gullivar Jones: His Vacation, by Edwin L. Arnold

Tracy K: Where There's a Will by Rex Stout

George Kelley: Rise of the Terran Empire by Poul Anderson

Joe Kenney: Venus on the Half-Shell by "Kilgore Trout" (Philip Jose Farmer)

Margot Kinberg: The Fortunate Brother by Donna Morrissey

Rob Kitchin: Midnight in Berlin by James McManus; A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

Evan Lewis: The Oscar by Richard Sale

Todd Mason: Fantasy: The Literature of the Marvelous edited by Leo P. Kelley; Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery MagazineAugust 1964, edited by Richard Decker, with Victoria S. and Ned Benham, G. F. Foster and Patricia Hitchcock

James Nicoll: Anthonology by Piers Anthony

John F. Norris: Bill "Ironsides" Cromwell and Johnny Lister novels by "Victor Gunn" (Edwy Searles Brooks)

Juri Nummelin: Night Film by Marisha Pessl

John O'Neill: First World Fantasy Awards, edited by Gahan Wilson; The World Fantasy Awards, Volume Two, edited by Fritz Leiber and Stuart David Schiff   [Mason on First World Fantasy Awards; The World Fantasy Awards, V. 2]

Matt Paust: The Fever Tree by Richard Mason  [Neeru on The Fever Tree]

Mildred Perkins: Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt; A Very British Murder by Lucy Worsley

James Reasoner: "The Lost End of Nowhere" by Gordon McCreagh

L. J. Roberts: Bryant & May: Wild Chamber by Christopher Fowler

Gerard Saylor: Britten and Brulightly by Hannah Berry

Steven H. Silver: "A Thousand Deaths" by Jack London; "The Holes Around Mars" by Jerome Bixby

"TomKat": Cat's Paw by Dorothy Blair and Ellen Page

Prashant Trikannad: 2017 reading in review

David Vineyard: "Flight to Singapore" by Donald Barr Chidsey

Morgan Wallace: Three Miles from Murder by Frederick C. Davis (aka Clark Aiken)

FFB/M: FANTASY: THE LITERATURE OF THE MARVELOUS, edited by Leo P. Kelley (McGraw-Hill 1973); ALFRED HITCHCOCK'S MYSTERY MAGAZINE, August 1964, edited by Richard Decker, with Victoria S. and Ned Benham, G. F. Foster and Patricia Hitchcock (HSD Publications)

As with the Leo P. Kelley high-school-targeted textbook in the same Patterns in Literary Art series I dealt with last week, the Fantasy companion is an interesting mix of chestnuts and some classics, with a fair amount of relatively obscure material (in 1973 and today) including a story by Kelley himself...but even more than the Supernatural volume, or the earlier Themes in Science Fiction anthology published the previous year, this one strikes me as assembled off the top of his head, featuring as it does two stories by Gahan Wilson (wrapped around the John Collier entry, no less), no fewer than four reprinted from Harlan Ellison's notable (and in 1973 very much in-print) anthology Dangerous Visions (1967), and two stories by August Derleth (for all that one is among the "posthumous collaborations" Derleth would spin out from fragments of manuscripts left among H. P. Lovecraft's papers at the time of the latter's death--as always, Derleth writing for and as himself is superior). And exactly two folktales are included...both out of collections of Irish folklore from the third decade of the 1800s...definitely giving the impression of Kelley pulling things off his shelf and putting this together rather hastily, or at least with less considered judgment than he demonstrates with the other two volumes. Also notable is the amount of arguable science fiction in this fantasy volume, particularly given his juxtaposition of potentially opposing camps of sf and fantasy in his preface. Kelley does manage to include stories by two of the more brilliant and multifarious women writers of our time in this one, however, if only two: Carol Emshwiller and Josephine Saxton.

Meanwhile, the Hitchcock's issue, coincidentally one dated with the month I was born, is otherwise a fairly typical issue of this magazine in the shank of its time as the independent "second" magazine in the English-language crime-fiction market (Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine being the best-selling and most traditionally respected in those years, and most years before and since; the second publisher of EQMM, Davis Publications, founded around the purchase of Queen's in 1958, would buy AHMM in 1976), and as such it suggests a few thoughts about the magazines in the field and AHMM's place among them.

Contents: courtesy the Contento/Locus Index to Anthologies, with links to ISFDB as well:

    (McGraw-Hill 0-07-033502-8, 1973, $3.96, 305pp, tp) 

One can suspect the degree to which Kelley saw some of these stories in the same venues I would, aside from Dangerous Visions:  a number were collected in Judith Merril's Year's Best Science-Fantasy/Speculative Fiction anthologies of the latter '50s into the latter '60s (it's probably not altogether irrelevant that DV arose from the ashes of an anthology Ellison commissioned from Merril when he was editing the Regency Books paperback line), while others probably were, rather sapiently, plucked from other anthologies, including probably Playboy's series of books collecting their fiction. As is the John Collier classic collected here only more so, David Ely's "The Academy" is outre but not actually fantasy by most definitions, for all that it was adapted for a mildly effective Night Gallery tv series segment. Any book that includes such stories as Davidson's "Or All the Seas with Oysters" and Bloch's "The Cheaters" and Finney's "Of Missing Persons" isn't actually cheating the young readers who might've been assigned this text, and the likes of Hensley's "Lord Randy", while also barely fantasy if at all, does have a built-in appeal to young readers. That the surreal Emshwiller and the similarly edge-of-science-fiction Asimov  stories might be brought together in this context is actually pretty useful, even if this book thus doesn't become a compilation of consistently brilliant work it might've been. George Malko in, and Jack Vance or Shirley Jackson or Joan Aiken or Jorge Luise Borges or Fritz Leiber or Muriel Spark or Margaret St. Clair not in, is a somewhat eccentric choice, and one wonders what specifically drove it.

Barry Malzberg somewhere once made an offhanded joking reference to, close paraphrase, "a plot stupid enough to sell to Hitchcock's" in the HSD years, and the desire to feature twist endings as a default did lead AHMM to offer some pretty damned dense semi-idiot plots. Richard Deming's "Escape Routes" (this one, as opposed to the other one, as Douglas Greene is careful to help us distinguish) is an unfortunate example of this...a fleeing criminal accidentally hijacks another fleeing criminal's car and loot...and, knowing that the other fleeing criminal had a risky plan of escape from his own current perplex, decides to go ahead and impersonate the second criminal and steal the latter's false identity and escape plan, rather than contenting himself with stealing the considerable cash and car and making his own way to a no-extradition haven.  It's cute, and has good detail, but is indicative of a weakness for this kind of story that it's also the lead story for the issue. Jack Ritchie's "Captive Audience" is more clever, if relatively slight, in its tale of a kidnapping survivor who gets to bite back at his former captors, including supposed friends. Jonathan Craig's "Bus to Chattanooga" is rather better yet, for all that it posits a rather too stereotypical abusive situation for its backwater young woman and her adoptive, thuggish uncle...her means of getting around this, however, are reasonably well thought out and the story makes emotional sense as well, however much we might wish it didn't, even given she wins in the the end.  Arthur Porges's story is part of a series of his, and in one of his default modes--it's another update on Sherlock Holmes, and the kind of notional story Porges would also tend to write in his science-fictional work, where there is a simple but baffling problem that can be addressed by some technological approach that can make for amusing, but usually rather light at best, fair-play detection or dealing-with-the-aliens kinds of story...Porges was usually a bit better in fantasy contexts, where his cleverness with this kind of gimmick lent itself to even greater wit and charm, as with his relatively famous deal-with-a-minor-demon story "$1.98". Ed Lacy lives down to my expectations with his story, marginally better than what I've seen from him elsewhere (in marginal magazines), but also referring to whites and "natives" in the Caribbean...when he means whites and blacks, as opposed to actual native nation folk. I somewhat idly wonder if there's any familial connection between Jonathan and Douglas Craig. 

AHMM was the Other consistently good-paying short crime fiction market in the 1960s, along with Queen's; I gather The Saint Mystery Magazine as well as knowing Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine and the dying Manhunt were rather less well-funded and thus less generous; not sure about the London Mystery Selection and John Creasey's, but this was also a period where crime fiction might appear, for very good money indeed, in not only The Saturday Evening Post and Playboy still, but also Cosmopolitan or The Ladies Home Journal...even if a sale to the UK Argosy or Strand were somewhat more attainable could make decent-enough money from at least AHMM and EQMM. The talent gathered in those issues, even if not always working to its fullest extent, remains pretty impressive. 

Saturday, January 6, 2018

book received: Floyd Mahannah: THE BROKEN ANGEL; BACKFIRE AND OTHER STORIES forthcoming from Stark House

Floyd Mahannah is one of our Lost writers of crime fiction, as detailed in Bill Pronzini's fine introduction to this omnibus comprising one of his several novels and the apparently complete published short stories...we're told that ambition and alcoholism put paid to his career not too far into the 1960s, his handful of stories most notable in Manhunt, and reprinted in Manhunt as it went through its own tough times.

Just after the ARC of this one arrived last week, I started reading a 1964 issue of Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, and damned if I didn't think I remembered one of the stories had Tuckerized Mahannah's name for one of the story's characters. But perhaps I just dreamed that, as I was reading the magazine issue into the very small hours, and put the issue down and went directly to sleep. 

Lots of broken dreams in this life. Cover makes a nice companion to one of Patti Abbott's.

Friday, January 5, 2018

FFB: THE SUPERNATURAL IN FICTION edited by Leo P. Kelley (McGraw-Hill 1973); THE ILLUSTRATED BOOK OF SCIENCE FICTION LISTS by Mike Ashley (Virgin Books 1982; Cornerstone Library/Simon & Schuster 1983)

Two good examples of painless education in fantastic fiction publishing, even if neither was given quite the support they could have used. Leo P. Kelley, as far as I know, was never a teaching academic, but nonetheless was tapped by McGraw-Hill to edit three volumes in their 1970s textbook series Patterns in Literary Art; they issued this one along with Fantasy: The Literature of the Marvelous (also 1973) and Themes in Science Fiction (1972), all three interesting selections of classics, chestnuts and amusing choices of a more unlikely sort, but not unreasonably so. Kelley was primarily a speculative fiction writer, while also an advertising copywriter for most of his daily bread, from 1955 into the early 1970s, and in later years turned most of his fiction-writing attention to western novels. Mike Ashley has been a notable anthology editor, in historical fiction, crime fiction and other matter as well as sf and fantasy, but might be even better known as an historian of sf and fantasy, crime fiction and also of fiction magazine publishing generally; he has also been active in local politics in his native England. Ashley's book of lists, by no means focused exclusively on sf but very much also on fantasy and horror, was first published in Britain a  year before its (I suspect) rather less-well-copyedited and -produced US edition (I've never seen the UK original), and after his first major work on the history of sf magazines had been published in both countries. Ashley's colleagues Malcolm Edwards and Maxim Jakubowski would offer The Complete Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy Lists (reprinted in the US as The SF Book of Lists) in 1983, theirs published in both countries in the same year, thus putting the two books head to head in their US editions. Both the Edwards/Jakubowski book and the further Kelley texts might be discussed in future FFB essays as I dig them back out of storage boxes; the McGraw-Hill series included at least one other volume of considerable fantastic-fiction interest, Heaven and Hell edited by Joan D. Berbrich. Both books are much of their time, as commercial properties...the Kelley an example of the new freedom and diversity in literature-textbook publishing aimed at high school and younger college students in the 1970s particularly, the Ashley and its companion volume part of the wave of books, including several  direct sequels to the immensely popular The Book of Lists (1977) assembled by Irving Wallace and his daughter Amy Wallace and son (who reverted to the pre-Ellis Island version of the family name) David Wallechinsky; Amy Wallace would be among the many to produce more specific Books of Lists, including compiling (with Dick Manitoba) The Official Punk Rock Book of Lists (2007) and (with Scott Bradley and Del Howison) The Book of Lists: Horror (2008). 

As noted above, a rather good mix of inarguable classics, those recognized by most readers and those recognized by those knowledgeable in horror and related fields, along with some interesting but more obscure items, including the rather opportune inclusion of one of Kelley's own stories. (Well, for writing  the discussion questions he appends to each of the entries in the book, certainly there's no better authority on "The Dark Door"...) Even the Lanier "Brigadier Fellowes" story is one of the less dull examples of that series. The notion of the "haunted house of Man's mind" would sound a bit less ponderously sexist, if not much less ponderous, in 1973, but even then the utter lack of women contributors to this volume might've been a matter for some discussion. 

Far more inclusive, even given the thus slightly misleading title, the Ashley compendium is good-natured, careening cheerfully from the factual to the arguably factual to the utterly opinionated (including sever writers' choices of their own best, and in Isaac Asimov's case also his worst, work and those other writers most influential on them and/or the larger literary world). For all that it is illustrated, the reproduction is sometimes poor, exclusively in black and white in the text of the book (color printing in 1983 still not as comparatively inexpensive  as it is today), giving some of the author photographs an almost cartoonish look and the cover reproductions muddy, and the headers to most lists, while rather well set-off from the rest of the text, are also at times poorly copy-edited or typo'd: Richard Lupoff's "Alternative Hugos" list is carefully revised incorrectly into "Alternative Heroes" in both the header on its page and in the rather detailed, but page-number-free, table of contents. Nonetheless, these examples of bad publishing practice don't detract too much from the enjoyment of the arguments one can have with the choices made (Baird Searles's selection of the best fantasy films seems much more sound to me than his selection of the best sf films, for example), the parameters accepted (in selecting the most valuable collectors' items among published books, for example) and the like, while also enjoying the assessments of those not so often heard from even in these days of the clickbait list and databases of opinion, such as Mary Elizabeth Counselman's choices of notable Weird Tales stories, or even Robert Bloch's selection of the best Lovecraft fiction. Not a few of the factual matters discussed have since been superseded, of course (tallies of awards won, largest sales figures, most issues of magazines published) , but that is inevitable, in a book such as this published when there was no quickly-accessibe web, and magazines and fanzines, and newsletters and newspapes when they would cover such matters, were the only sources for this kind of information...thus the vogue for this kind of book.

One kind of list where a blog has a Definite advantage...even given these would not be my choices, even from the artists in question (well...maybe the Brown Startling cover...), and I wish di Fate had given a bit of description of why he chose these particular works: 

Vincent di Fate's 10 favorite fiction magazine covers:

Astounding Stories, December 1934: Howard V. Brown:

 Astounding Science Fiction, October 1939, Hubert Rogers:

Startling Stories, November 1939, Howard V. Brown:

Astounding Science Fiction,  May 1951, Hubert Rogers:

Space Science Fiction, September 1952, Earle K. Bergey:

Astounding Science Fiction, October 1953, Kelly Freas:

Analog, September 1962, Yura "George" Solonevich:

Analog, May 1966, John Schoenherr:

Analog, December 1967, John Schoenherr:

Analog, July 1975, John Schoenherr:

Both books worth seeking out, and inexpensive, from the usual sources. 

ISFDB lists the three Kelley anthologies in the Patterns in Literary Art series (and the Contento/Locus Index lists only the fantasy and the sf volumes), but the Berbrich anthology Heaven and Hell is detailed among the indices I've seen only in WorldCat and derivative services:

General introduction.

Heaven and hell and all that: 
Cynewulf. The last judgment. 
Parkes, F. E. K. African heaven. 
Lester, J. Stagolee. 
Maier, H. What price heaven? 
Goldin, S. The last ghost. 
Laurance, A. Chances are. 
Priestley, J. B. The gray ones. 
Levertov, D. The dead.

The paths of good and bad intention: 
France, A. Our lady's juggler. 
Winslow, J. M. Benjamen burning. 
Straley, D. B. The Devil grows jubilant. 
Tolstoy, L. How the Devil redeemed the crust of bread. 
Beerbohm, M. The happy hypocrite. 
Davidson, J. A ballad of hell.

Bargains with the Devil: 
Anonymous. Ballad of Faustus. 
Benet, S. V. The Devil and Daniel Webster. 
Arthur, R. Satan and Sam Shay. 
Masefield, J. The Devil and the old man. 
Collier, J. Thus I refute Beelzy. 
Elliot, B. The Devil was sick. 

Reward and retribution: 
Bierhorst, J. The white stone canoe. 
Johnson, J. W. Go down, Death! 
Dante. The Inferno. 
Irving, W. The Devil and Tom Walker. 
Hesiod. Right and wrong. 
Frost, R. A masque of reason. 

And here's the cover of the UK original of the Ashley volume:

For more of today's books, please see Patti Abbott's blog.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

December's Underappreciated Music: December 2017

The monthly assembly of undervalued and often nearly "lost" music, or simply music the blogger in question wants to remind you reader/listeners of...

Patti Abbott: Nightly Music and What Makes for Happiness

Brian Arnold: Shirley Ellis: "You Better Be Good, World"; Kenny & Dolly: A Christmas Remembrance;  Al Alberts Showcase:  "Christmas Special 1979"; John Denver & the Muppets: A Christmas Together

The !!! Beat (1966): Barbara Lynn et al.

Recorded February 16,1966 
1. Intro by Hoss Allen, including The Beat Theme  
2. Barbara Lynn - What'd I Say 
3. The Kelly Brothers - I'm Falling In Love Again 
4. Little Gary Ferguson - I Got You
5. Gatemouth Brown - When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again 
6. Barbara Lynn - You'll Lose A Good Thing
7. The Kelly Brothers - I'd Rather Have You
8. Mighty Joe Young - Tell Me Why You Want To Hurt Me So
9. Gatemouth Brown - Fiddle Instrumental #4
10. The Kelly Brothers - Amen 

Jayme Lynn Blaschke: Friday Night Videos

Paul D. Brazill: A Song for Saturday

Jim Cameron: Nina Simone: "Trouble in Mind"

Kasey Chambers Band: "Rattlin' Bones"

Sean Coleman: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: She's the One; Bread

Bill Crider: Song of the Day; Mitch Margo (of the Tokens)
The Next Edition Quartet: Bill Crider, Ed Looby, Gary Logsdon and Richard Wolfe: "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"

Jeff Gemmill: Top 5s; Neil Young and Crazy Horse: Broken Arrowmost popular posts of 2017; Albums of the Year, 2017; Runners-Up, 2017; Concerts of the Year, 2017

Jerry House: The World Folk Music Association and their concerts; Hymn Time; Music from the Past; Bill Crider's band the Fabulous G-Strings

Jackie Kashian: Paul Sabourin on outsider music

George Kelley: Shelby Lynne & Allison Moorer: Not Dark Yet; Will Friedwald: The Great Jazz and Pop Albums; Katherine Jenkins: This is Christmas; Rolling Stones: On Air: Songs from the BBC 1963-65; Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy: A Celtic Family Christmas

Jim Kweskin Jug Band: "Hannah"

Kweskin Band featuring Maria Muldaur: "Ain't Gonna Marry"

Kate Laity: Song for a Saturday

B. V. LawsonRising star Thom Southerland is directing a new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Tony and Olivier-Award nominated musical, The Woman in White for a 12-week season at the UK's Charing Cross Theatre. The  tale of love, betrayal and greed, adapted from Wilkie Collins’ haunting Victorian thriller, sees Walter Hartright’s life changed forever after a chance encounter with a mysterious woman, dressed in white, desperate to reveal her chilling secret. The production will run through February 10, 2018.

Evan Lewis: The Bonanza Cast: Christmas on the Ponderosa; Michael Landon: "Linda is Lonesome" and other singles; the Five Worst Xmas songs?

Maltin on Movies: Mark Mothersbaugh

Barry Malzberg: NBC Orchestra conducted by Arturo Toscanini, Robert Shaw Chorale, Herva Nelli, Robert Tucker: Aida; 26 March 1949 broadcast
Clean, propulsive, fierce, an absolute revelation and the old man's modesty, deference, utter relinquishment of vanity in the curtain calls shows us something that has gone out of the world.  That might have never been in the world (but we used to lie that it was). Give it the two hours and thirty-one minutes.  Worth it.  The Triumphal March and all preceding are at that level where you just drop the knitting and everything else.

Marc Maron: Bernie Maupin & Kasper Collin; Jimmie Vaughn; "Little" Steven Van Zandt; Loudon Wainwright III

Todd Mason: Elegies and Lamentations

Becky O'Brien: Jim Nabors

Andrew Orley: Nobody's Listening

Lawrence Person: Shoegazer Sunday

Charlie Ricci: D. B. Reilly: Live from Long Island City; Robbie Robertson's "Christmas Must Be Tonight" (as recorded by The Band, by Robertson and by Hall & Oates); The Red Button: She's About to Cross My Mind; Roseanne Cash, et al.: Holidays Rule, Vol. 2

Keely Smith and Her Orchestra: "How High the Moon"

Ella Fitzgerald and Band: "How High the Moon"

W. Royal Stokes: The Best and Notable Jazz Releases of 2017

Joe Weinmunson: Best Music of 2017 on YouTube

A. J. Wright: Jackie Green and the Five Spirits of Rhythm (among other recordings of): "Alabamy Bound"; Wilhelm Iucho: "Alabama Waltz" (1835)

David Amram Band: Waltz from "After the Fall"