Friday, May 29, 2015

ffb: JOY IN OUR CAUSE: Short Stories by Carol Emshwiller (Harper & Row, 1974)

Carol Emshwiller has been a sophisticated prose artist from, at latest, not long after first publication in 1954, and this fact became impossible to miss by the appearance of her first stories to gain widespread attention, such as "Hunting Machine" (1957), "Pelt" (1958). and "Day at the Beach" (1959); one might correctly gather she's had a keen interest in analyzing the expression of cruelty from the first two titles. This volume, from 1974, was her first collection, and with about half the contents published here for the first time, the book is among a number of other things partially autobiographical fiction (at times verging on essay) and not solely in those aspects a rumination on love, marriage, and the lives of women who are both artists and domestically wives and mothers. Emshwiller had begun publishing fiction with a short story in a regional general-interest magazine, then published nearly all of her next dozen or so stories in the crime fiction and science fiction magazines edited by the adventurous Robert Lowndes, to whom her husband had been steadily selling his illustrations (Emshwiller and Edward Hoch can be said to be Lowndes's chief writer discoveries in those years). By the mid/late 1960s, Emshwiller had begun placing notable stories with the likes of avant-garde anthology series New Directions and the little magazines such as TriQuarterly and Epoch, and so she would continue in these modes, though adding more fantasy and dropping crime fiction per se, and eventually writing highly unusual western novels in the 1990s, beginning with Ledoyt. This volume has only seen the Harper hardcover first edition; ridiculously, no paperback nor foreign editions...rather too much like another excellent collection I've reviewed here before, Wilma Shore's Women Should Be Allowed.

The contents of this book are also included in (the previously cited here) The Collected Stories, Volume 1, but they are arranged here for desired effect rather than by date of publication in the later volume, and this furthers the effect of the often linked nature of the stories in Joy


from the Contento/Locus indices, with a few added citations:
For more of today's books, please see Patti Abbott's blog.

4 comments:

R.K. Robinson said...

As if recall from my reading of it a year or two after it was published, these stories are very much of their time and might seem a bit dated these days, to "todays reader" (whatever the hell that means). Good stories, though, and my memory may be faulty.

Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

Splendid teview Todd - sorry to say that I have not read any of her stuff ... yet. Thanks chum.

Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

PS that was definitely supposed to be 'review' - and on with the typos we go ...

Todd Mason said...

That's cool, Sergio...the review part still to come, and with as few typos as possible!

But, Richard, I can say interns of critique that the stories are no more dated, while of their time, than the similarly witty and probing stories of Kate Wilhelm (who blurbs on the back cover), Donald Barthelme, or John Cheever...well, more consistently than Cheever,,,