Friday, July 28, 2017

FFStories: Mickey Spillane Parodies and Pastiches by Jean Kerr, Fritz Leiber and Howard Browne

Three stories this week that are meant to be parodic pastiches of Mickey Spillane, at least in part. I'd first read all these before I'd actually read Spillane, but the degree of his influence on the literary culture and beyond was already felt sufficiently that I could see where they were coming from. (I might be one of the relative few modern readers who read Spillane's great model, upon whom he improved, Carroll John Daly, before reading Spillane as well. Three writers, all playwrights at various points in their careers, and all prone toward the satirical when the mood struck). (The hotlinks below take you to the texts of the Kerr and Browne stories, and to a reading of the Leiber, the most widely-reprinted of the three.)
Jean Kerr's "Don Brown's Body" was the first I'd read, in her Please Don't Eat the Daisies,collection of essays and fictions, which might (unfairly) mostly bring to mind the Doris Day film (and subsequent tv series) based on the coping-with-children title entry, very much in the Shirley Jackson/Erma Bombeck "safe" mode of such writing, though perhaps a bit less anodyne than they could be. Spillane is one of two primary targets here, the other the pomposity of staged readings, particularly when devoted to such at times heavy going as the epic poetry of Stephen Vincent Benet...a genius, but definitely one better remembered for his shorter works.  (Kerr was a playwright as well as prose writer, and Kerr's husband was a prominent stage drama critic, Walter Kerr, and presumably not a little time not spent with the children was devoted to accompanying her husband to some lesser as well as greater performances, when she wasn't attending or attending to productions on her own). "Don Brown's Body" was my favorite piece in the book, deft and certainly with a Harvey Kurtzmanesque insouciance taking down her mash-up subjects. Sally's beverage of choice, and the reason it was, was perhaps my favorite single joke in the piece.
Fritz Leiber's "The Night He Cried" uses Slickey Millane as a character (who both writes about a Hammer character and is himself "the dispenser of sex and justice" in these parts), rather than Mike Hammer himself, albeit Millane is clearly more a stand-in for the Hammer Geist than for Spillane as person or even perhaps as prime mover of the genre. Another Maddish parody, in this one an alien observer is sent down to try to encourage the arrested-development case Millane to realize that he might relate to a woman as something other than punching bag, sex target and bullet repository, when not simply barking at them...Leiber having a rather complex set of reactions to the Spillane school of hardboiled writing. Leiber was a rather pro-feminist man, as such work as Conjure Wife and, perhaps less blatantly, The Big Time makes very clear, but also felt at least somewhat henpecked from early on (see "Gonna Roll the Bones" as well as his autobiographical essay in the late collection The Ghost Light) when raised by highly controlling aunts and such while his parents toured with their Shakespearean company; his relation with his wife was both very close and intermittently interdependent, as explored in such work as "The
Secret Songs" and a story in part a memorial for her, "Ill Met in Lankhmar".  So, even though he could and did write in a Spillane mode less parodically (see "I'm Looking for 'Jeff'"--a story, published in Howard Browne's Fantastic, which upset James Blish by its apparent faithfulness to a Spillane template), his desire to parody the extremity of Spillane's black and white judgment of his women characters was strong, and elegantly expressed in this novelet, originally in the first volume of Frederik Pohl's anthology series Star Science Fiction. The imagery of the alien creature, slightly inebriated and with all loving intent losing the ability to control its woman-like appearance, has stuck with me, as it understandably upsets the already somewhat unmanned Millane in the story.  I first read it in The Best of Fritz Leiber, where Leiber has a brief comment on it as he does on all the contents. 
And Howard Browne's "The Veiled Woman" is the least (on its face) parodic, and perhaps even the least fond (though the misogyny Leiber chides and Kerr gleefully mobs in their stories is slightly more played along with, in some ways and less in others, in this novella than in the others). Browne famously ghosted this story, much to Spillane's initial displeasure, after Spillane's "The Green Girl," the contracted-for story for the third issue of Browne's new magazine Fantastic, was described in some detail by Spillane in the course of a photo-profile in Life magazine, released at about the same time as the Fantastic issue was going to press. Faced with the "scoop" of the actual Spillane story by one of the largest-circulation magazines in business, and, as Browne would later admit, because he absolutely hated "The Green Girl" as a story, Browne hurriedly wrote a Spillane pastiche that also gathered up a favored trope of Browne's predecessor editor at Ziff-Davis's fiction magazines, Ray Palmer, who always was ready for another Lost Civilization, Hidden from Human Ken, story. "The Veiled Woman" also allowed Browne, a not untalented crime fiction writer in his own right (and capable of competent if uninspired copy in sf, and sometimes more-engaged fantasy), to take a whack at McCarthyism and the Cold War, from the same sort of Benevolent Visitor perspective as Leiber had employed...only, to keep it true to the Mike Hammer-and-company canon, things turn out much less well for everyone involved. (The not-quite nihilist vigilantism of Spillane's stories would certainly be amped up the next year in another magazine that got of to a popular start in part due Spillane's by-line on new fiction within, Manhunt.)  One imagines that Browne was enjoying mocking Spillane's work to some extent, and perhaps more acutely than some feeling envious of Spillane's market for the work he wanted to do...while Browne increasingly sought to find time to write, eventually letting his editorial duties go by the wayside to do so as Ziff-Davis cut the resources they made available to their fiction magazines. However sliced, this third issue of Fantastic is still legendarily the best-selling single issue of any fantasy or sf magazine published so far (I've been looking for an image with the banner-wrap that announced the "Spillane" story...the  usual citation is that the third issue of Fantastic sold about 300,000 copies, between the demand for Spillane fiction and the boost, ironically, the Life profile might have given to reader curiosity...).

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

Friday, July 21, 2017

FFB: Heist Week: ODDS AGAINST TOMORROW by William P. McGivern (Dodd, Mead 1957); YA birthday bonus heistlet: FROM THE MIXED UP FILES OF MRS BASIL E. FRANKWEILER by E. L. Konigsburg (Antheneum 1967)

William P. McGivern is a writer who shouldn't need rediscovery, but he consistently is being reintroduced, as publishers keep proudly offering his work (with good reason) with notes of just how good he was (with good reason) and yet you probably don't know him except indirectly, as the source of one or another brilliant film or television episode. Despite having written a number of other well-received novels, including her first, published as was From the Mixed Up Files  in 1967 and a runner up for the 1968 Newbery that Frankweiler won, E. L. Konigsburg is remembered almost exclusive for this one novel, which (with good reason) has stayed in print consistently since 1967, even if the film adaptation, The Hideaways, a Rather Good Try starring Ingrid Bergman as Frankweiler, fizzled as a commercial property and was pulled down from YouTube not long ago mostly so Warner's burn on demand Archive label would have a clearer field in which to sell it to you. It's the 60th anniversary year for the McGivern novel  the 50th for the Konigsburg.

William McGivern began publishing as part of the cluster of writers around Ziff-Davis's Chicago-based fiction magazines in the 1940s, in fact with a collaboration with David Wright O'Brien, along with McGivern the best of the writers to break into print thanks to Ziff-Davis editor Ray Palmer (such other ZD Chicago/landers as Robert Bloch and eventually Fritz Leiber had Been Invented or at least first published elsewhere). Both of those young men went off to World War II, and McGivern was able to come back...he would grind out reasonably good copy for Palmer magazines, which were not on balance looking for anything beyond routine light adventure fiction too much of the time, along with the rest of the writer stable, but, in the manner of Bloch when also providing mere copy, even McGivern's routine stories often demonstrated a certain sophistication of technique or ideation that helped set them slightly apart from the typical Chester Geier or Paul Fairman  story, or Howard Browne banging out just another page-filler...Browne, of course, being one of the other genuinely talented writers often simply grinding away for Palmer's magazines, and who eventually became the fitfully better successor editor to Palmer for ZD fiction magazines; Paul Fairman succeeded Browne in that position, and arguably averaged even worse than Palmer as editor, despite having an even more talented, on balance, cast of page-fillers turning in most of the copy in his tenure, and their work augmented by the occasional actually good story his eventual successor Cele Goldsmith pulled out of the slush pile as Fairman's assistant. (Fairman's Usual Suspects in terms of delivery of routine to occasionally better material, published apparently without anyone reading it first, in the mid '50s were Milton Lesser, not yet legally Stephen Marlowe, Robert Silverberg, Harlan Ellison, Randall Garrett and, increasingly by the end of Fairman's tenure, Henry Slesar; among the items Goldsmith found was Kate Wilhelm's first published story.) But by the mid '50s, McGivern had already given up on supplementing his income as police reporter among other things for the Philadelphia Bulletin with hacking for Ziff-Davis, as his crime fiction was starting to get consistently good reception from better-paying markets such as The Saturday Evening Post and Blue Book, and from Hollywood, with film adaptations of his novels The Big Heat, Shield for Murder, Rogue Cop and Hell on Frisco Bay released in 1953-55, following television adaptations of his shorter work on Lights Out, Studio One and Suspense in 1950-52. Cosmopolitan became a consistent market for McGivern's fiction for at least a decade, starting with a novella version of Odds Against Tomorrow, published ahead of the novel in hardcover, also in 1957. 

Odds Against Tomorrow would also be filmed, for 1959 release, rather well but in a sort of hothouse manner, with one of the most over-the-top climaxes in film history; the novel is more subtle, and with a much more realistic ending that has its own dramatic heft. Like most of McGivern's 1950s crime fiction, the novel is set in and around Philadelphia, but the author is intentionally circumspect about that; one early tipoff is that an elevator operator wonders if one of the primary cast knows the score of the Eagles game in progress. But like the film, the novel deals intensely with race relations and the tensions along those lines brought out by the alienation of the working people in this country, as well as tensions between the hothead former soldier Earl and his cohabitating womanfriend, and current financial support, Lorraine. Earl and another lost veteran, Ingram, a compulsive gambler with no one left in his life, are recruited for a bank job by Novak, who is setting up a small crew for the purpose. Unlike in the film, Ingram is not the musician Harry Belafonte plays, but is nearly as desperate and impulsive, and is African-American and not afraid to mock anyone who wants him to take a slight because of that; Earl is Texan out of grinding poverty, and Caucasian, with both a compulsive sense of honor and rigid sense of How Things Ought to Be, including relations between the races, that that background inculcated. As with the film, most of the most important parts of the story will revolve around Ingram and Earl, and Earl and Lorraine, as the crime doesn't quite resolve itself they way Novak and company hoped, nor do the protagonists behave quite the way the police pursuing them quite expect. It's a serious novel of character as well as a tense account of a crime not quite foolproofed, and while the main characters don't end up where they hoped they might, they do have somewhat more to say for themselves than their even more debased correspondents in the film adaptation. 

Bill Crider this week is considering Ross Macdonald, and McGivern isn't too far in his talent and appeal from Kenneth Millar's crime fiction; as I reread this for the first time in almost thirty years, I was also reminded even more than I was then of Algis Budrys's almost exactly contemporary novel The Death Machine, originally published and usually reprinted as Rogue Moon, though the Budrys novel is more satirical as well as then near-future science fiction, rather than contemporary crime fiction; both have a small group of damaged people about to undertake a very dangerous task requiring expert team effort, and both make rather important and not too dissimilar points about what in and how lives matter, even when it seems that the characters have lost sight of such guiding principles. The tone even feels similar, hardboiled without resort to the cliches well in place by the late '50s, and the mix of conscious and less-conscious understanding of just how the characters are getting at each other, that is not merely simply a matter of the tension of the job at hand or clashing personality. 

I'm also a bit amused about how I first came to this novel, after seeing the film, which I was first drawn to because of the soundtrack; I knew of McGivern's work, and had read a little of it in anthologies, but was a hungry fan of the Modern Jazz Quartet beginning in the latest '70s, and one of my early used-LP purchases was Patterns, the MJQ's interpretation of the score the quartet's pianist John Lewis had written for the film (some of which was also on the soundtrack, though mostly mixed in with larger-group recording). The film and the book are both eminently worthy of your time (as is the album), even as they diverge rather profoundly by their end. And both works have been, I think, more influential on similar work which has followed than is often mentioned. 

To be reconstructed later today after a catastrophic crash. Grr.


Friday, July 14, 2017

Friday's "Forgotten" Books: the links to the Reviews: 14 July 2017

This Friday's (evening) crop of reviews of books, and magazines and more, that the contributors feel might warrant more attention than they've received or received of late (except for those which are warnings).  A few contributors might be added over the course of the day, as they upload their reviews...if I've missed yours or someone else's, please let me know in comments. Thanks, everyone! And please spare a thought for those feeling the weight of poor health and other burdens, near and dear to several contributors this week.  
Patti Abbott will be collecting the links (much more promptly!) next week, and as always, it's been a pleasure to gather them while she and her husband tend to other business.

Frank Babics: An Eye for an Eye: The Doll by John Saul 

Mark Baker: Demolition Angel by Robert Crais

Yvette Banek: Cue for Murder by Helen McCloy

Joe Barone: Watchers of Time by "Charles Todd" (Caroline and Charles Todd)

Les Blatt: The Four Just Men by Edgar Wallace

John Boston: Amazing: Fact and Science Fiction Stories, August 1962 edited by Cele Goldsmith

Alice Chang: The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski (translated by Danusia Stok)

Bill Crider: The Impossible Virgin by Peter O'Donnell (a Modesty Blaise novel); Edge #1: The Loner by "George G. Gilman" (Terry Harknett); Another Man's Claim by "Henry Whittier" (Harry Whittington)

Jose Cruz, Peter Enfantino & Jack Seabrook: EC Comics for June 1953; Enfantino and Seabrook: DC War Comics October/November 1969

Scott Cupp: Mexican Pulp Art edited by Bobbette Axelrod and Ted Frankel

William Deeck: Six Minutes Past Twelve by "Gavin Holt" (Charles Rodda)

Martin Edwards: Death by Two Hands by Peter Drax

Will Errickson: Burnt Offerings by Robert Marasco

Curtis Evans: Plot It Yourself by Rex Stout

C. Coleman Finlay: The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, July 1958, edited by Anthony Boucher

Fred Fitch: Transgressions edited by "Ed McBain" (Evan Hunter)

Paul Fraser: Astounding Science Fiction, July 1953, edited by John W. Campbell, Jr.

John Grant: Grim Tales by E. Nesbit

Rich Horton: The Road to Frontenac by Samuel Merwin (Sr.); Fantastic: Stories of Imagination, February 1962, edited by Cele Goldsmith

Jerry House: The Woggle-Bug Book by L. Frank Baum

Tracy K: Passing by Nella Larsen

George Kelley: The Wench is Wicked; The Blonde and Blonde Verdict by "carter brown" (Alan Yates)

Joe Kenney: Death Flight by Charles Miron

Margot Kinberg: A Morbid Taste for Bones by "Ellis Peters" (Edith Pargeter)

Rob Kitchin: Midnight in Berlin by James MacManus

Richard Krause: Suspense, Fall 1951, edited by Theodore Irwin

Frank Lawrence: A Crown of Violets by Renée Vivien (translated by Samantha Pious)

B. V. Lawson: A Crime Remembered by "Jeffrey Ashford" (Roderic Jeffries)

Evan Lewis: Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini

Steve Lewis: Stalker by Liza Cody; "How Sere Picked Up Her Laundry" by Alexander Jablokov; Deadly Like a .45 by "Reese Sullivan" (Giles A. Lutz); "Not Far Enough" by Martin L. Shoemaker

Gideon Marcus: Galaxy Science Fiction, August 1962, edited by Frederik Pohl

James McGlothlin: The Best of John W. Campbell, Jr. edited by "Lester Del Rey" (Leonard Knapp)

John F. Norris: Something about Midnight by D. B. Olsen

John ONeill: Sisters of Tomorrow: The First Women of Science Fiction edited by Lisa Yaszek and Patrick B. Sharp; Modern Classics of Fantasy edited by Gardner Dozois

Matt Paust: The Dolly Dialogues by Anthony Hope

Mildred Perkins: Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

Cally Phillips: The Azure Hand by Samuel Rutherford Crockett


James Reasoner: The Paradise Time Forgot by "John Peter Drummond" (a Ki-Gor novella from Jungle Stories, Fall 1940)

Richard Robinson: Miraculous Mysteries edited by Martin Edwards; Hard Ground by Joseph Heywood

Gerard Saylor: Cairo Affair by Olen Steinhauer; The Story the Soldiers Wouldn't Tell: Sex in the Civil War by Thomas P. Lowry

Art Scott: Slit My Throat, Gently by Michael Brett

Kerry Smith: Stormy Cove by Bernadette Calonego (translated by Gerald Chappie)

Dan Stumpf: Talk of the Town aka Stain of Suspicion by Charles Williams

Kevin Tipple: The Ghost Fields by Elly Griffiths

"TomCat": Cased Closed #61: Shoes to Die For by Gosho Aoyama (translation uncredited)

David Vineyard: Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang by Mike Ripley 

Samuel Wilson: "All Roads Lead to Hell" by "Mallory Storm"













































Friday, July 7, 2017

FFB: PULLING OUR OWN STRINGS: FEMINIST HUMOR & SATIRE edited by Gloria Kaufman and Mary Kay Blakely (Indiana University Press 1980)

This 1980 volume somewhat unsurprisingly gathers materials from the 1970s and earlier...one might be surprised by the eclecticism of those materials, including short stories, essays, novel excerpts and others from longer works, one-panel cartoons, comic strips, poetry, quip quotations, letters to editors of various publications, transcripts of a couple of standup duo Pat Harrison and Robin Tyler's comedy routines, and songs, some with the actual sheet music included along with the lyrics. C0-editor Gloria Kaufman in her introduction draws a distinction between what she sees as "female humor" and feminist humor: the former is usually full of bitterness, as it is mostly about the impossibility of the improvement of women's plight in society, and if anything celebrates working around while accepting rather than working against traditional limitations, while feminist humor is predicated on the possibility of change for the better, for liberation and equality, and highlights the absurdity of misogyny as well as its not at all necessary evil; Mary Kay Blakely in her introduction notes that feminist humor is often tasked with being the only humor of an oppressed group that really shouldn't ever hurt anyone's feelings in any way, and the impossibility of that task. While some of what is collected here, being satire and other comedy from a disadvantaged group and the wits within that group and their sympathizers, is at times bitter or angry, that's justified, and not all of it is by any means...a fair amount of whimsey and gentle observation appear alongside, or even within the same works.


In large format, and with pages laid out in a manner more reminiscent of a magazine than more traditional books (but less busily than most slick magazines are today), the editors gather their selections under several chapter-headings, as transcribed from their table of contents in WorldCat thus:

192 pages : illustrations, music ; 29 cm
Contents:

"Dear Gloria" / by Mary Kay Blakely --
Introduction / by Gloria Kaufman --

PERIODIC HYSTERIA --
Becoming a Tampax junkie / by Ivy Bottini --
Ragtime --
Periodical Bea / by E.M. Broner --
Splat / by Marilyn French --
A person who menstruates is unfit to be a mother / by Hadley V. Baxendale --
A crowd of commuters / by Mary Ellmann --
If men could menstruate / by Gloria Steinem --
Walking the knife's edge / by Lisa Alther --
Mosquitoes and menses --
New discoveries hailed as birth control breakthroughs / by Jane Field --
Superpower sought on the contraceptive front / by Carol Troy --
Jumbo, colossal and supercolossal --
To the editor / by Shirley L. Radl --
The natural masochism of women / by Hadley V. Baxendale --
Revolutionary contraceptive / by Roberta Gregory --
The perfect job for a pregnant woman --
A few words about breasts / by Nora Ephron --
Mammary glands / by Kristin Lems --
What do you say when a man tells you, You have the softest skin / by Mary Mackey --
Keeping abreast of what men want / by Mary Kay Blakely--

UNTYING THE MOTHER KNOT --
On sleeping with your kids / by Alta --
The day's work / by Barbara Holland --
The pee-in / by Sheila Ballantyne --
Fairyland Nursery School / by Sheila Ballantyne --
Molly's beginnings / by Rita Mae Brown --
The Christmas pageant / by Rita Mae Brown --
Needle-and-thread envy / by Sheila Ballantyne --
Raising sons / by Elizabeth Cady Stanton --
The pros and cons of motherhood / by Mary Kay Blakely --

CLICKING, CLUNKING, AND CLOWNING --
Clicking --
A bargain with the judge / by Florynce Kennedy --
Don't you wish you were liberated too / by Shirley Katz --
The man was right / by Ellen Goodman --
Clunks / by Jane O'Reilly --
Pandephobium / by Sue Held --
Clothes make the man / by Sally Sertin --
Untitled / by Alta --
On stage with Harrison and Tyler --
Clowning with Ivy Bottini --
Monumental prophylactic --
Men: beware the ATR --

WE MEASURED 56-480-47-277-30-19, AND NOW WE MEASURE MORE! --
Carrie Chapman Catt --
When taxes are taxing --
A consistent anti to her son / by Alice Duer Miller --
The woman question in 1872 / by Fanny Fern --

Predictions for 1979 / by Yenta --
A Flo Kennedy sampler --
The lifting power of woman / by Joan Honican --
Why we oppose votes for men / by Alice Duer Miller --
How the women sang their way out of jail / by Mary Harris Jones --
The human-not-quite-human / by Dorothy Sayers --
I laughed when I wrote it / by Nikki Giovanni --
Liberation of the Yale Divinity School library men's room / by Carol P. Christ --
We need a name for Bernadette Arnold / by Joan D. Uebelhoer --
On a different track / by Sharon McDonald --

RAPE AND OTHER BIG JOKES --
The Saturday night special / by Naomi Weinstein --
How to avoid rape --

LABORING UNDER FALSE ASSUMPTIONS --
A great satisfaction / by Dorothy Sayers --
The aroma of "Miss" / by Virginia Woolf --
Marginal workers / by Hadley V. Baxendale (
David Frank Phillips II?) --
Letter to the editor / by Joan D. Uebelhoer --
A writer's interview with herself / by Mary Ellmann --
Crooked and straight in academia / by Susan J. Wolfe and Julia Penelope --
The conference / by E.M. Broner --
MLA / by Mary Mackey --

HERE COMES THE BRIDLE --
Lady in red / by Ntozake Shange --
Sterner stuff / by Sue Held --
Marriage quickies --
Dishwashing & suicide / by Maxine Hong Kingston --
The politics of housework / by Pat Mainardi --
We don't need the men / by Malvina Reynolds --
Of bikers, brides & butches / by Sharon McDonald --
What Mother never told me / by Sharon McDonald --

FOR ALL THE "CRAZY LADIES" --
No one has a corner on depression but housewives are working on it / by Gabrielle Burton --
Multiple penis envy / by Hadley V. Baxendale
 --
What God hath wroth / by Charlotte Painter --
Mother's Day poem / by Pauline B. Bart --
I'm sorry, you're sorry / by Mary Kay Blakely --

Don't wear your guitar, darling Mother / by Shirley Katz--
Football / by Crazy Hazel Houlihingle --
Aaaaaaaaaargh! / by Sheila Ballantyne --

ONCE UPON A MYTH --
Application for employment / by Rhoda Lerman --
The creation of man / by Rhoda Lerman --
To whom it may concern / by Rhoda Lerman --
Quips of a high priestess / by Zsuzsanna Budapest --
You are what is female / by Judy Grahn --
The House of Mirrors / by Mary Daly --
Norma Jean's theory / by Sheila Ballantyne --
Honk if you think she's Jesus / by Mugsy Peabody --
Why little girls are sugar & spice and when they grow up become cheesecake / by Una Stannard --

S/HE-IT --
A feminist alphabet / by Eve Merriam --
"Him" to the weather / by Judith K. Meuli --
Overcoming a man-nerism / by Naomi R. Goldenberg --
Talkin' gender neutral blues / by Kristin Lems --
An eight-letter word / by Mary Ellmann --
Letter to the editor / by Patricia Miller --
Dear Colleague: I am not an honorary male / by Joanna Russ --
Another name for "down there" / by Sue Held --
Pickups, puns, & putdowns --
Josie takes the stand / by Ruth Herschberger.

As one can see, there's quite a mix of mostly fairly contemporary writing and other art, along with some classic examples, many from 19th Century feminists and some few from earlier yet (you can't leave out Mary Wollstonecraft), and the TOC doesn't cite the comics contributions, including multiple items by Jules Feiffer, Gary Trudeau and Johnny Hart as well as Nicole Hollander and Bulbul. And, given that Kaufman taught in South Bend and Blakely lived in Fort Wayne, Indiana, at time of assembly, certain bits of locally-published material appear at various points in the book that editors elsewhere would likely not've seen, giving this somewhat unusual university press item a regional flavor that probably didn't hurt in getting through the approval process. Certainly the Nora Ephron essay has since become a bit of a classic itself, and others here should've; excerpts from now largely overlooked former bestsellers as Kinflicks and The Women's Room are useful to have at hand, as are the multiple excerpts from Sheila Ballantyne. Those who remember Joanna Russ's "Useful Phrases for the Tourist" fondly will find "Dear Colleague" cuts a similar path rather closer to home. Inexpensive copies of the 1980 and 1994 reprint editions (I hope the later printing had better binding than mine does) are to be had from the usual sources, and one can definitely do worse.

This very late entry in Friday's Books hopes to join Patti Abbott's selection of same as detailed and linked here; next week, I will be gathering the list again.