Friday, February 16, 2018

Friday's "Forgotten" Books: the links to the reviews and more: 16 February 2018

This week's books, unfairly (or sometimes fairly) neglected, or simply those the reviewers below think you might find of some interest (or, infrequently, you should be warned away from)--certainly, this week we have a few not at all forgotten titles. Patti Abbott will host again in two weeks and recommends Alessandra Stanley on Alistair MacLean; we have an unusual degree of contributors and former contributors having their own books reviewed this week...and this week is of course dedicated to the memory of Allen Billy aka Bill Crider, Rest in Glory.


Yvette Banek: They Came to Baghdad by Agatha Christie

Bernadette: The Perplexing Theft of the Jewel in the Crown by Vaseem Khan

Les Blatt: Smallbone Deceased by Michael Gilbert

Elgin Bleecker: They Shoot Horses, Don't They? by Horace McCoy

John Boston: Amazing: Fact and Science Fiction Stories, March 1963, edited by Cele Goldsmith

Ben Boulden: Brothers by Ed Gorman and Richard Chizmar

Brian Busby: The Land of Frozen Suns by Bertrand W. Sinclair  Ron Scheer on Bertrand Sinclair

Martin Edwards: The Woman in the Sea by Shelley Smith

Peter Enfantino and Jack Seabrook: DC war comics, February 1972

Barry Ergang (hosted by Kevin Tipple): Pattern for Panic by Richard S. Prather

Will Errickson: Lovers Living, Lovers Dead by Richard Lortz

Curtis Evans: Untimely Guest by "Marian Babson" (Ruth Marian Stenstreem)

Paul Fraser: The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, July-August 2017, edited by C. Coleman Finlay

Barry Gardner: Coyote Wind by Peter Bowen

John Grant: Letter of Intent by Ursula Curtiss; The Scent of Blood by Raymond Miller

Bev Hankins: Avalanche by Kay Boyle

Don Herron: "The Flitcraft Parable" by Dashiell Hammett

Rich Horton: Amos Judd by J. A. Mitchell

Jerry House: The Descent of the Sun by F. W. Bain

Tracy K: The Last Billable Hours by Susan Wolfe

Kate: Third Party Risk by Nicolas Bentley

Colman Keane: "Keller the Dogkiller" by Lawrence Block

George Kelley: Oh, For the Life of a Writer's Wife by Elizabeth Brown

Joe Kenney: The Baroness #2: Diamonds are for Dying by "Peter Kenyon"

Margot Kinberg: The Anderson Tapes by Lawrence Sanders

Rob Kitchin: The End of the World in Breslau by Marek Krajewski (translated by Danusia Stok)

D. F. Lewis:  The Egotist by Philip Fracassi

Evan Lewis: Shiloh by James Reasoner

Steve Lewis: "The Crawling Horror" by Thorp McClusky; Please Pass the Guilt by Rex Stout

Todd Mason: The Spitboy Rule: Tales of a Xicana in a Female Punk Band by Michelle Cruz Gonzales

James Nicoll: Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord

John F. Norris: Clay by David Almond

John O'Neill: The Snail on the Slope by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky (translated by Alan Meyers)

Matt Paust: Of All Sad Words by Bill Crider

J. Kingston Pierce: Bill Crider

James Reasoner: Oh, For the Life of a Writer's Wife by Elizabeth Brown

Gerard Saylor: A Little More Free by John McFetridge; Bleed for Me by Michael Robotham

Steven H. Silver: "Rings Around the Moon" by Jack Dann; "A Gift from the Culture" by Iain M. Banks

Victoria Silverwolf: Worlds of Tomorrow Science Fiction, April 1963, edited by Frederik Pohl

Kerrie Smith: The Stranger by Melanie Raabe

"TomCat": "A Stretch of the Imagination" by Randall Garrett

David Vineyard: Night Film by Marisha Pessl (Juri Nummelin on the book)

FFB: THE SPITBOY RULE: Tales of a Xicana in a Female Punk Band by Michelle Cruz Gonzales (PM Press 2016)

Spitboy was a feminist, all-women hardcore punk rock band in the 1990s notable for being one of those bands, and perhaps the one most widely respected in the hardcore punk community within the punk subculture, who didn't consider themselves a part of Riot Grrl, which was developing in the same years Spitboy and its successor band Instant Girl flourished, largely focused at first around the bands with roots in Olympia, Washington, including Bikini Kill. As Michelle Gonzales notes several times in her memoir here, Spitboy's members felt they were women rather than girls or even grrls, and they didn't feel like recording the more pop-influenced music, or the lyrics exorcizing childhood/early adolescent demons, most of the RG bands favored...a rift that wasn't mended any when one of the more prominent Riot Grrls accused Spitboy of "cultural appropriation" for calling their third released record, an EP ("extended play" multi-song 7" vinyl disc), Mi cuerpo es mio ("My body is mine")...a not atypically white young RG woman, from an economically comfortable background, looking at Spitboy and not fully seeing Gonzales among them, a Mexican American from a small, mostly run-down and impoverished small town in Southern California. Perhaps "thrown" by Gonzales going by her punk-scene nickname "Todd"...


When I heard and saw Gonzales's reading and presentation of her memoir at an anarchist book fair, in the video above, it certainly augmented what I'd known about Todd the drummer, singer (usually backup, or co-lead on the songs she wrote) and general presence in the bands she was in when I was an appreciative fringer in the harDCore scene in Washington in the '80s and '90s, and a dj doing a show called Sweet Freedom, with my then womanfriend Donna Wilson and later solo, first at WGMU-AM, the college station at George Mason University, then at WCXS (later WEBR), the community cable access radio/web radio also in Fairfax County in the DC suburbs (and briefly after my relocation on WPPR-FM in Philadelphia). 

As a kid, Gonzales had loved Annie Ross's "Twisted", as performed by Joni Mitchell, and had been inspired to take up guitar, then drums, by the Go-Go's originally, after playing flute in school bands...I could certainly relate to that, though I played the trombone she was glad to have not picked up and lugged around. While I still lived in the DC burbs in Virginia, I met Adrienne Droogas, the lead singer of the band, a couple of times (though on both occasions Droogas seemed depressed and withdrawn, and I didn't seek to intrude...according to Gonzales, this was not the usual case with Adrienne, perhaps the most social of the band's members--and down possibly because she was leaving the band, leading to their name change to Instant Girl), but never met Todd/Michelle, though did see her with the band on a couple of occasions.  In her book, she mentions several times how insecure she usually felt about her looks, particularly in the largely white punk scene and in an otherwise all-white band, and would assume the only reason men she didn't know in the punk scene might be attracted to her was her playing in her bands, Bitch Fight and Kamala and the Karnivores before Spitboy and Instant Girl. She was incorrect, but it felt true at the time, apparently. 

The book is a collection of essays, rather than a continuous narrative, so Instant Girl is barely mentioned at all, as is just a passing note that Spitboy had relocated from the San Francisco Bay Area to DC, perhaps just before Droogas dropped out, and not for long, as far as I know (I should look into this)(amusingly, Bikini Kill also relocated to the DC area for several years...thanks to Dischord Records and other, often related factors, such as Positive Force DC, the dc space and 9:30 Club concert venues, and a thriving scene, DC was for a while comparable to the Bay Area as a punk Mecca). But the recurring themes run to Gonzales coming to grips with various sorts of chauvinism--sexism faced alone and with her bands, racism within and outside the punk community, sometimes subtler than others, ethnicitism even among the Hispanic members of the punk community and even just the occasional awkwardness of being the only Xicana in a band otherwise made up of white women--mixed in with the camaraderie she usually feels with her bandmates and others in punk community, how often they would startle those who knew them for their fierce sound and to some extent look, their willingness to call out bad behavior from the stage and their uncompromising lyrics, that they were friendly women who would prefer to play Travel Scrabble between sets to getting drunk and Fucking Shit Up. Also noted: the pitstop perils of menstrual synch-up while touring by van, adventures in screen-printing t-shirts, not worrying about Punk Points and listening to and singing along with Liz Phair on the cd player in the vans on those tours, and more individualized matters such as how much fellow-feeling she had with Linda Ronstadt, in a way Gonzales could relate to trying to recapture her own family cultural legacy performing songs in Spanish with lyrics Ronstadt could barely understand when younger. Not too much kiss and tell, and what there is is charming. And the last thing she expected from their Japan tour, toward the end of the band's run, was to find herself widely accepted and reasonably comfortable in the country...even when first disembarking at the airport, she was seen by a number of small children as being Disney's Pocahontas in the flesh.

It's a good book, and mostly won't leave the reader adrift even if unfamiliar with the punk scene in the '80s/'90s...I do wonder about a few matters, though. Mostly how the Instant Girl experience went...

Perhaps their most famous single song...


The first song, instigated primarily by Todd/Gonzales, written by Spitboy:


In concert:

Friday, February 9, 2018

Friday's "Forgotten" Books: the links to reviews and more 9 February 2018

This week's books, unfairly (or sometimes fairly) neglected, or simply those the reviewers below think you might find of some interest (or, infrequently, you should be warned away from)--certainly, this week we have a few not at all forgotten titles. Patti Abbott will host again in three weeks.

Yvette Banek: Swan Song by Edmund Crispin

Bernadette: Breakheart Hill by Thomas Cook

Les Blatt: The House Without the Door by Elizabeth Daly

Elgin Bleecker: Art in America by Ron McLarty

Ben Boulden: Fallout by Kevin J. Anderson and Doug Beason

Brian Busby: Margaret Millar in translation (en français)

Martin Edwards: The Paddington Mystery by John Rhode

Peter Enfantino, Jack Seabrook and Jose Cruz: EC Comics, September 1954

Barry Ergang (hosted by Kevin Tipple): The Lost Get-Back Boogie by James Lee Burke

Will Errickson: Echoes from the Macabre by Daphne du Maurier 

Curtis Evans: By Hook or By Crook by "Emma Lathen" (Martha Henissart and Mary Jane Latsis)

Paul Fraser: Stirring Science Stories, March 1942, edited by Donald A. Wollheim 

Charles Gramlich: The Kreutzer Sonata and Other Short Stories by Leo Tolstoi

John Grant: Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin  (translated by Megan McDowell);  Death in the Garden by Elizabeth Ironside

Bev Hankins: The Pink Camellia by Temple Bailey

Don Herron: Prague Noir edited by Pavel Mandys and featuring “The Cabinet of Seven Pierced Books” by Petr Stančík...and Avram Davidson

Rich Horton: Time Bomb by Wilson Tucker

Jerry House: Shrine by James Herbert

Tracy K: Death in the Stocks by Georgette Heyer

Kate: The May Week Murders by Douglas G. Browne; Fire in the Thatch by E. C. R. Lorac

Colman Keane: The Shooting Gallery by Hugh C. Rae  and more Scottish crime fiction

George Kelley: The Best Science-Fiction Stories · 1949 edited by Everett E. Bleiler and T. E. Ditky

Joe Kenney: Taurus Four by Rena Vale

Margot Kinberg: Laura by Vera Caspary 

Rob Kitchin: Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

BV Lawson: Science and the Detective by Brian H. Kaye

D. F. Lewis: Theaker's Quarterly Fiction #61, edited by Stephen Theaker and John Greenwood

Evan Lewis: Flight to Darkness by Gil Brewer

Steve Lewis: Please Pass the Guilt by Rex Stout; "Vampire's Honeymoon" by Cornell Woolrich

Gideon Marcus: Worlds of If Science Fiction, March 1963, edited by Frederik Pohl

Todd Mason: US science fiction magazines, Autumn 1978 (and crime fiction magazines and others)

Francis M. Nevins: Donald A. Yates, editor and translator of Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges and much more...  

James Nicoll: Report from Planet Midnight by Nalo Hopkinson

John F. Norris: Mix Me a Person by John Trevor Story

John O'Neill: The Exile Waiting by Vonda N. McIntyre

Matt Paust: And Be a Villain; The Second Confession; In the Best of Families by Rex Stout (inspired by Yvette Banek's review of Triple Zeck)

James Reasoner: The Black Ice Score by "Richard Stark" (Donald Westlake)

Gerard Saylor: Cogan's Trade (also published as Killing Me Softly) by George V. Higgins; Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes

Jack Seabrook: Oh, for the Life of a Writer's Wife by Elizabeth Brown

John Self: Berlin Alexanderplatz by Alfred Doblin (translated by Michael Hofmann)

Steven Silver: "Always" by Karen Joy Fowler 

Kerrie Smith: 10 Short Stories You Must Read This Year edited by Sandra Yates

W. Royal Stokes: 140 or so recent Jazz, Blues and Related Books of interest
 
"TomCat": The Case of the Chinese Gong by Christopher Bush; Death of an OddFellow by Eric Wood

David Vineyard: "Werewolf" by "Max Brand"

 




Features a revised "Vampire's Honeymoon"



















This week's list dedicated to the memory of Camilla Mason, whose 81st birthday today would be, and Niki Chang-Mason, a cat who was euthanized yesterday, after mostly doing well despite cancer till the last month or so, but cancer won. 

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Niki the Cat, 2005?-8 February 2018

She's been surviving cancer for two years, and has lived with us for ten. (She was called Anna by the family who surrendered her to the shelter we got her from.) In the last month or so, she'd been suffering the recurrence (for the second time after the initial cancer surgery on her lip) of the initial tumor, and she'd contracted leukemia (not the feline infectious sort, but the same kind we apes also get). A very intelligent cat, she loved meeting people, though was less generous with fellow cats; in her first year's residence here, the tomcat who a few months previous had been inherited from a colleague at one of the clinics Alice worked at, Domino, did his best to bully her...and Niki, after muscling up with the affection and better diet she had with us, figured out how to beat him up, and for the next nine years he's never won a fight, and eventually stopped trying to start them.  But that also meant she was Very proactive in making sure the two rescued females we later brought into the house, Emma/Emmy and Ninja, also knew that Niki was Top Cat. But aside from her regrettable lack of love for the late Emma or for Ninja, very much with us, Niki was a very good cat to live with, and I miss her already. Alice does terribly. 

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Underappreciated Music: January 2018

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: Louis Prima and Keely Smith: "Just a Gigolo"; "I Ain't Got Nobody"

Jayme Lynn Blaschke: Friday Night Videos

Paul D. Brazill: A Song for Saturday


Jim Cameron: Pete (La Roca) Sims: Turkish Women at the Bath

Sean Coleman: Gordon Lightfoot: Old Dan's Records; Men at Work: Cargo; Stealers Wheel: Stealers Wheel

Jeff Gemmill: Top 5s; Diane Birch: "The End";  Albums of the Year: 1978-2017; First Aid Kit: Ruins; Courtney Marie Andrews: May Your Kindness Remain; Linda Ronstadt: Heart Like a Wheel

Jerry House: Theodore Bikel; Hymn Time; Music from the Past

George Kelley: Growing Up Too Fast: The Girl Group Anthology; Barb Jungr: Every Grain of Sand: Barb Jungr Sings Bob Dylan

Kate Laity: Song for a Saturday; Mark E. Smith/The Fall

Evan Lewis: Louie Fest 2003

Marc Maron: Rita Moreno; Don Was

Todd Mason: Some Sounds of DC; Some More Sounds of DC; Some Further Sounds of DC

Laura Nakatsuka: Blue Heron: "Ecce, quod natura"


Becky O'Brien: Maurice Jarre: Lawrence of Arabia: Henry Mancini: Breakfast at Tiffany's from The Sword in the Stone: "A Most Befuddling Thing"

Andrew Orley: Mark E. Smith

Dave Pell's Jazz Octet: A Pell of a Time (RCA 1957)

Lawrence Person: Shoegazer Sunday


























Charlie Ricci: Brubeck Quartet/Tony Bennett Combo: The White House Sessions, Live 1962

Prashant Trikannad: Chandrashekhar Phanse, Joslyn Braganza +: "Come September"