Friday, November 21, 2014

FFB: QUARK/4 edited by Samuel R. Delany and Marilyn Hacker (Popular Library 1971); THE SATURDAY EVENING POST for January 25, 1969

Forty-five years ago, more or less...The Saturday Evening Post hadn't quite collapsed, though it would soon (to be reborn as an infrequent nostalgia magazine, rather than the Last truly general-interest magazine that wasn't a collection of reprints). Over at Paperback Library, not the most prominent house in the well-established field, a young married couple who had already made serious literary reputations for themselves (and who were utterly open about being bisexual well before the Bowies were to make it futuristically chic for masses a half-decade later) were preparing the first volume of a new anthology series devoted to speculative fiction, mostly sf and fantasy but in the same wheelhouse as such avant garde publications as Evergreen Review, New Directions Quarterly and, in fantastic fiction, New Worlds, Orbit, and Dangerous Visions.  Quark would produce four quarterly volumes in a year.  This last is led off by a brief, interesting editorial, and one of the more free-form, quasi-autobiographical (writer in Greenwich Village) stories that Avram Davidson was writing in those years, such as "Selectra Six-Ten" (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, October 1970) and, toward the end of this run, "Hark! Was That the Squeal of an Angry Thoat?" (Fantastic, December 1977), discursive asides and wordplay run rampant (a minor if notable example is that a James Baldwin analog becomes Jacobo Gaintestes here)...this particular story is more pleasant than major, and has yet to be reprinted (unlike those better examples), but was more than enough to compell me to read this part of the book first, even given all the tumult in progress around me at the moment.  The Charles Platt choose your own adventures in the counterculture cartoon is amusing enough, as well...I will return to this book for the other work soon.

Quark/4 ed. Samuel R. Delany & Marilyn Hacker (Paperback Library 66-658, Aug ’71, $1.25, 240pp, pb, cover by Martin Last)
Meanwhile, that issue of the SEP referred to above features not only a cover story on Barney Rosset, he of the aforementioned Evergreen Review and Grove Press and its offshoots, then in full flower, but also Joan Didion mulling over the student strikes and Hayakawa/Reagan/Unruh response at San Francisco State and related campuses, Gary Wills on the private Richard Nixon (about to be inaugurated), Tom Wicker on the outgoing LBJ, Arthur Miller hanging with more upfront criminals, and assorted other items of continued pertinence. One does see why Lewis Lapham was striving to make his Harper's as much as possible a slightly less demotic echo of the SEP of this era.

For today's more thorough reviews, please see Patti Abbott's blog.


Todd Mason said...

Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...
Amazing stuff Todd - what makes me grieve is that I didn't pay more attention to these when I had the time and the necessary energy ... Thanks for the reminder of headier, more challenging days when the mind was still a place worth traversing!

November 21, 2014 at 6:05 PM

Blogger Todd Mason said...
Thanks, Sergio...I think you're commenting on the QUARK and SEP citation, yes? (The next, later post.) This kind of thing still goes on, but in other venues.

November 21, 2014 at 6:32 PM

Richard said...

Just thinking of your and yours as this Thanksgiving week begins. I'm sure thankful for your blog, your knowledge of jazz, broadcast media, books, periodicals and critics.

Hope things are cheering up for you, Todd, and that you can have a good Thanksgiving.

Todd Mason said...

Thanks, Richard, and back at you! Things are somewhat better than they were, say, a week ago, but it's still touch and go. I hope to finally resume regular blogging Real Soon Now.