Friday, November 30, 2012

FFB: LUCKY COME HAWAII by Jon Shirota (Bantam 1965)

My copy is of the original edition.
Jon Shirota's novel Lucky Come Hawaii (in the local Pidgin, as you might reasonably guess, [you] are fortunate to have found yourself in Hawaii) is a book of some literary merit, considerable innovation at time of publication (in capturing Hawaiian Pidgin as it was spoken at the time of World War 2 and not altogether differently in succeeding decades, in being apparently not just among the first "bestselling" novels by an Asian-American but the first specifically by an Okinawan-American, from an oppressed minority in Japan that found itself in a somewhat recapitulated position in the Hawaiian social strata, even as "mainstream" Japanese-Americans found their fortunes and collective power rising in post-War and -statehood Hawaii, and in being the first novel, I believe, to deal with the "neighbor island" locals' experience during and after the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor), and the object of abiding love in Hawaii...its paperback original (from Bantam, a relative rarity) edition has been out of print for decades, but a small press, Bess Press (as in, Pidginly, "best press") did an edition in 1985, and the University of Hawaii-sponsored little magazine Manoa reprinted it as the bulk of the content of an issue in 2009, essentially offering the Winter issue as a new edition/reprint of the novel.

Bess Press edition.
And the backstory of the novel is pretty interesting, as well, as Jon Shirota was a somewhat troubled American-born high school student on Maui on 7 December 1941, whose parents had been fresh off the boat from Okinawa not so very long before his birth, so while the novel isn't quite autobiographical, it was very much of his experience at that time. Shirota dropped out, was drafted into the immediately postwar Army, and eventually was posted to Japan; after the war, he served as an IRS accountant, though, having read From Here to Eternity at the time of its release, decided that he wanted to write, and became a constant petitioner to the Handy Writer's Colony, which in its larval form had been the eccentric program in which James Jones had finished his first novel, and to which Jones had returned as primary example and chief financial sponsor (as well as having been the paramour of the founder and guiding spirit, Lowney Handy; her husband was a co-founder, and apparently withstood serial affairs--as hard as that might be to envision, bed-hopping in an artists' colony, particularly a rather culty one). Handy, having consistently rejected Shirota over a stretch of years, finally decided in 1963 he'd "developed" enough to enjoy the ministrations, including still-liquid Jell-O-drinking, of the Colony, and let him in, and presumably it was due in some part to Handy and Jones that the book was taken by Bantam, which not for nothing also compares it in the cover blurb to another Colony project, Jere Peacock's US Korean War vets in Japan novel Valhalla.

So, while Shirota's ear for dialog is good (he's been more successful as a playwright than novelist over the decades, publishing and seeing produced an adaptation of this as well as several non-adapted plays, but publishing only one other novel, Pineapple White, with a small press in 1972), the prose in the book is readable without being compelling...but it's still a fine corrective to James Michener or Hawaii Five-0 or that series' children for giving a more grounded sense of life in that place and time, even if the adorableness of certain aspects can be laid on a bit thick. As a regional novel, its fame within its native archipelago is still pretty sound, while it's perhaps a footnote in the history of American literature deserves better than the latter.

For more of today's books, please see Patti Abbott's blog (and happy birthday to her grandson, Kevin).

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Tuesday's Overlooked Films and/or Other A/V: yet more links

Thanks, as always, to the contributors of these reviews and citations (and links to the complete works online), and to you readers...there might well be additions to this list over the course of the day (I haven't yet written up my own item for this week).

If I've missed your or someone else's Overlooked A/V item, please let me know in comments, and thanks again.

Bill Crider: Wake Me When It's Over

Brian Arnold: Home for the Holidays (aka Deadly Desires)

Ed Gorman:  Story of Women; Libeled Lady

Elizabeth Foxwell: Deadly Harvest (1972)

Evan Lewis: Kid Galahad (1937)

George Kelley: Elvis: Prince from Another Planet; The Ides of March

Iba Dawson: Don't Bother to Knock

James Reasoner: discount public domain dvds: The Cisco Kid and more

Jeff Flugel: Mysterious Island (1961)

Jerry House: The Werewolf of Washington

John Charles: Italian answers to Raiders of the Lost Ark

Juri Nummelin: KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park; Smokin' Aces

Kate Laity: NoirCon and donkeys and more; "Rook"

Laura: Rails into Laramie

Lawrence Person: Vampire Effect 

Marty McKee: The Time Tunnel: "The Day the Sky Fell In"

Michael Shonk: Cool Million

Patti Abbott: Magic Town

Peter Rozovsky: Red Cliff

Prashant Trikannad: The Ross Sisters in Broadway Rhythm 

Randy Johnson: early silent films; The Unholy Four; Eyes in the Night 

Rick: Avanti; The Goodbye Girl; Harold and Maude

Rod Lott: Hell House (2001, the documentary)

Ron Scheer: El Dorado (1967)

Scott Cupp: Mongolian Death Worm

Sergio Angelini: top 20 spy movies

Todd Mason: The Crimson Petal and the White 

Vicki Hendricks: NoirCon 2012

Yvette Banek: A New Leaf

November's Underappreciated Music: the links

Patti Abbott: Alabama Shakes

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Saturday Music Club on Sunday: some sounds of Philadelphia

Marian Anderson

John Coltrane, McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones, Jimmy Garrison

A survey of concert footage from various Coltrane bands.

Bill Haley and the Comets

Dee Dee Sharp

Séamus Egan


The Max Roach Quartet with Odean Pope, Tyrone Brown, Cecil Bridgewater (Pope and Brown Philly's own)

The Roots (and Erykah Badu)

a leisurely live version with Jill Scott singing powerfully instead of Badu

Jennifer Higdon, composer (on commission from the Philadelphia Orchestra)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Friday's "Forgotten" Books--*more* post T-day Limited Edition set of links

Patti Abbott wanted to take the weekend off from hosting duties, at least in the FFB sense while presumably doing the feast thing (but enough people asked her to post a list that she did anyway)...those of us with just enough strength to type at a keyboard but not quite enough to drive to Virginia and back step in to gather those links that have passed out into the webderland for this least the ones I've seen...feel free to let me know if I've missed yours. It's a big week for Gilbert Parker, a phrase that might not've been uttered in the last half-century, at least; Woolrich is apparently a T-day favorite as well (albeit one each of these reviews is from far beyond our City on a Hill).

Sergio Angelini: Nightmare by Cornell Woolrich

Brian Busby: The Lane that Had No Turning by Gilbert Parker

Bill Crider: Tales from Super-Science Fiction edited by Robert Silverberg 

Scott Cupp: Rip Hunter, Time Master by Jack Miller, et al.

Martin Edwards: The Sweepstakes Murders by J. J. Connington

Barry Ergang: Sharks Never Sleep by William F. Nolan

Curt Evans: One Murdered, Two Dead by Milton M. Propper

Cullen Gallagher: The Friday Nocturne by Scott Phillips; Unfaithful Wives by Orrie Hitt

Ed Gorman: Deadlier than the Male by James Gunn

Jerry House: The Green Queen by Margaret St. Clair; World's Great Mystery Stories edited by Will Cuppy

Randy Johnson: Seal Team 666 by Weston Ochse 

Nick Jones: Assignment to Disaster by Edward S. Aarons

George Kelley: Centipede Press editions of Cornell Woolrich

Margot Kinberg: The Big Kill by Mickey Spillane, etc.; vignette

Kate Laity: NoirCon, donkeys, and all

B.V. Lawson: Red Christmas by Patrick Ruell

Evan Lewis: Branham's Due by Richard Prosch

Steve Lewis: Last Hunt by Luke Short

Todd Mason: The Meteor by Friedrich Dürrenmatt; anthologies from Amazing, the sf magazine
Marty McKee: The Suicide Plague by Ed Naha

John F. Norris: Challenge to the Reader trivia contest

Juri Nummelin: Midnight's Last Bow by David Hume

Richard Pangburn: best Thanksgiving novels (and a slice of cheesecake)

James Reasoner: Blonde Bait by Ed Lacy

Karyn Reeves: The S-Man by "Mark Caine"

Ron Scheer: Northern Lights by Gilbert Parker

Michael Slind: The Secret of Chimneys by Agatha Christie

Kerrie Smith: Perfect Hatred by Leighton Gage

Prashant Trikannad: Saddle on a Cloud by Frank C. Robertson

"TomCat":  The Tree of Death by Marcia Muller; The Gold Frame by Herbert Resnicow

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Tuesday's Overlooked Films and/or Other A/V: more links

With Thanksgiving two days away in the U.S., as opposed to Canadian T-day, the temptation to baste some turkeys was resisted by most of the contributors (not all!) in today's roundup of insufficiently attended-to items (and in Jerry's case, one Entirely too attended). Thanks as always to our contributors and to you readers, and if I've missed your or someone else's review or citation, please let me know in comments. And may your holiday be festive...

Bill Crider: Casino Royale (1967); trailer

Brian Arnold: Mego-brand superhero doll/action figure commercials; "The Thanksgiving That Almost Wasn't"

Brian Busby: The Kidnapping of the President

Ed Gorman: The 25th Hour

Elizabeth Foxwell: "Private Eye Popeye"

Evan Lewis: Dick Tracy (1937) and other early Tracy films and serials

George Kelley: Do The Movies Have a Future? by David Denby; Emily Owens, MD

I Love You Again
Iba Dawson: I Love You Again

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.: My Favorite Brunette and other p.d. films in good new dvd packages

Jack Seabrook: Ray Bradbury on Alfred Hitchcock Presents: and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour

James Reasoner: The "Slap" Maxwell Story

Jerry House: response to the obscure indy release Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Part 2
The Falcon and the Co-Eds

John Charles: Super Fuzz

Juri Nummelin: KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park

Kate Laity: NoirCon

Laura: The Falcon and the Co-Eds 

Lawrence Person: Night Gallery: "Ruin"

Patti Abbott: A Day of Thanks on Walton's Mountain

Peter Rozovsky: Since Enter the Dragon...
Tennessee Nights

Prashant Trikannad: Tennessee Nights; The Mating Game; Fargo

Randy Johnson: Eyes in the Night

Rick: Judge Dee and the Monastery Murders

Rod Lott: Calamity of Snakes

Ron Scheer: The Young Land

Scott Cupp: The Devil’s Bride (aka The Devil Rides Out)

Sergio Angelini: Telefon

Todd Mason: "You're No Good" (please see below)

Yvette Banek Seven Days in May (1964)  The Ghost Breakers

A 1965 Canadian short film, both like and unlike Nobody Waved Good-Bye in some of its earnest awkwardness, yet much more indulgent in the emerging "mainstreaming" of surrealist technique in film, particularly angry young person film, of the mid 1960s. An early role for Michael Sarrazin, not looking 18 (he was in his mid-twenties) at a time when (I guess) Canada, like the States, still had legal majority beginning at age 21. Interesting, and actually almost good, and worth seeing once...particularly for students of this kind of film-making. It would make a good double-feature with The White Bus as well as with the other NFB production.
You're No Good by George Kaczender, National Film Board of Canada

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Saturday Music Club: some further sounds of DC

The Washington Bach Consort (Scott Dettra and J. Reilly Lewis)

Coral Cantigas

The Orioles (formed in Balto, but based in DC)

Roy Clark

Elizabeth Cotten

John Fahey

Blue Rose

Roberta Flack

Eva Cassidy

Ron Holloway & the Gil Scott-Heron band

The Young Senators

The Pietasters

Government Issue

Minor Threat


Shudder to Think

The Nation of Ulysses

Burning Airlines




previously: Some Sounds of DC
Some More Sounds of DC

Friday, November 16, 2012

FFB: THE DARK DESCENT edited by David Hartwell (Tor, 1987)

The first of Hartwell's survey anthologies (the sfnal The Ascent of Wonder would, as I didn't quite note correctly before, would follow in 1996,  with a title echoing that of this volume), today's bug-crusher was issued at the height of the "horror boom" of the latter '80s, an efflorescence of horror publishing of brilliant to horrible but entirely too often indifferent work that Tor as a publisher was to no small extent a contributor...albeit Tor's offerings did lean in the brilliant to indifferent direction, while the batting average of, say, Zebra Books was considerably worse (but, boy, did Zebra know how to deploy a shiny foil cover).  The Dark Descent tries to be a reasonably comprehensive attempt to encompass the literary history of its field, and its successes are mostly in that it's a good, if idiosyncratic, collection of fiction, mixing chestnuts with some very odd, if at times gratifyingly challenging, selections from canonical writers in the field, and capped with a remarkably unbalanced historical survey article as introduction, which agrees heartily with Stephen King, already ridiculously over-represented in such a book by three stories in a volume that can find room for only one each from Robert Bloch, Fritz Leiber, Manly Wade Wellman, Dennis Etchison, Joyce Carol Oates, John Collier or, for goodness's sake, Ambrose Bierce, Algernon Blackwood or M. R. James (and an odd selection from Poe): that horror is at heart a reactionary approach to fiction, one which defines The Other as inherently monstrous and which must be destroyed for a return to normalcy. This is woefully incomplete as an assessment of horror fiction (or horror in art generally), and indicative of the kind of limitation of insight which mars King's work (among other factors) entirely too Rosemary Jackson, and not she alone, has noted, horror fiction is as liable to highlight the monstrous inherent in society, and how the Other is victimized by that normalcy (see the most obvious Shirley Jackson chestnut, albeit I'd class "The Lottery" as more akin to horror than horror per se, or the Gilman chestnut included here--arguably ditto!) well as, as with every other mode of art,  horror having the ability to take even more points of view which take neither position explicitly.

To ignore, say, Philip Dick's "Upon the Dull Earth" or "The Father Thing"  for "...Tempunauts" or Sturgeon's "It" or "Shottle Bop" for "Bright Segment" is to make an interesting argument, and certainly two inclusions each by Jackson, Thomas Disch and Robert Aickman are both more justified than three from King and, at least in Disch or Aickman's case, less commercially savvy, and should be applauded...but this is not an impeccable selection as a result, and its use as a text seems to have receded...I hope to suggest that the overpraise it received at time of release, such as the late Charles Brown's capsule review included with the index below, and its relative obscurity a quarter-century later (if in-print status), in the wake of such newer rodent-crushers as (George Kelley's selection this week) the VanderMeers' The Weird, are both unfair...if not as unfair as the greater obscurity such near-contemporaneous volumes as the Pronzini, Malzberg and Greenberg item have fallen into (perhaps in part due to the fact that Tor survives, and Arbor House doesn't--and the Pronizini, et al., is also in print, if under slightly different title than it was).

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

The Dark Descent ed. David G. Hartwell (Tor 0-312-93035-6, Oct ’87, $29.95, 1011pp, hc) Massive anthology of horror stories. It attempts to trace the history of horror short fiction as well as covering the contemporary field. There is also a long, insightful introduction, and the head notes to each story actually try to say something about the literature and the author’s place in it. This should be considered the reference work on horror short fiction, and will probably remain so for many years. Highly recommended. (CNB)
  • 1 · Introduction · David G. Hartwell · in
  • 15 · The Reach [“Do the Dead Sing?”] · Stephen King · ss Yankee Nov ’81
  • 31 · Evening Primrose · John Collier · ss, 1940
  • 40 · The Ash-Tree · M. R. James · ss Ghost Stories of an Antiquary, Edward Arnold, 1904
  • 50 · The New Mother · Lucy Lane Clifford · ss Anyhow Stories, Moral and Otherwise, Macmillan and Co., 1882
  • 59 · There’s a Long, Long Trail A-Winding · Russell Kirk · nv Frights, ed. Kirby McCauley, St. Martins, 1976
  • 85 · The Call of Cthulhu [Inspector Legrasse] · H. P. Lovecraft · nv Weird Tales Feb ’28
  • 108 · The Summer People · Shirley Jackson · ss Charm Sep ’50
  • 118 · The Whimper of Whipped Dogs · Harlan Ellison · ss Bad Moon Rising, ed. Thomas M. Disch, Harper & Row, 1973
  • 132 · Young Goodman Brown · Nathaniel Hawthorne · ss New England Magazine Apr, 1835
  • 142 · Mr. Justice Harbottle [“The Haunted House in Westminster”; Martin Hesselius] · Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu · nv Belgravia Jan, 1872
  • 167 · The Crowd · Ray Bradbury · ss Weird Tales May ’43
  • 175 · The Autopsy · Michael Shea · nv F&SF Dec ’80
  • 203 · John Charrington’s Wedding · E. Nesbit · ss Temple Bar Sep, 1891
  • 209 · Sticks · Karl Edward Wagner · nv Whispers Mar ’74
  • 225 · Larger Than Oneself · Robert Aickman · nv Powers of Darkness, Collins, 1966
  • 245 · Belsen Express · Fritz Leiber · ss The Second Book of Fritz Leiber, DAW, 1975
  • 255 · Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper · Robert Bloch · ss Weird Tales Jul ’43
  • 268 · If Damon Comes · Charles L. Grant · ss The Year’s Best Horror Stories: Series VI, ed. Gerald W. Page, DAW, 1978
  • 278 · Vandy, Vandy [John] · Manly Wade Wellman · ss F&SF Mar ’53
  • 291 · The Swords · Robert Aickman · nv The Fifth Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories, ed. Robert Aickman, Fontana, 1969
  • 312 · The Roaches · Thomas M. Disch · ss Escapade Oct ’65
  • 321 · Bright Segment · Theodore Sturgeon · nv Caviar, Ballantine, 1955
  • 339 · Dread · Clive Barker · nv Clive Barker’s Books of Blood v2, Sphere, 1984
  • 368 · The Fall of the House of Usher · Edgar Allan Poe · ss Burton’s Gentlemen’s Magazine Sep, 1839
  • 382 · The Monkey · Stephen King · nv Gallery Nov ’80
  • 410 · Within the Walls of Tyre · Michael Bishop · nv Weirdbook #13 ’78
  • 431 · The Rats in the Walls · H. P. Lovecraft · ss Weird Tales Mar ’24
  • 445 · Schalken the Painter · Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu · nv Ghost Stories and Tales of Mystery, James McGlashan, 1851; revised from an earlier story in Dublin University Magazine May ’39.
  • 460 · The Yellow Wallpaper · Charlotte Perkins Gilman · ss New England Magazine Jan, 1892
  • 472 · A Rose for Emily · William Faulkner · ss The Forum Apr ’30
  • 480 · How Love Came to Professor Guildea [“The Man Who Was Beloved”] · Robert S. Hichens · na Pearson’s Magazine Oct, 1897
  • 513 · Born of Man and Woman · Richard Matheson · vi F&SF Sum ’50
  • 516 · My Dear Emily · Joanna Russ · nv F&SF Jul ’62
  • 532 · You Can Go Now · Dennis Etchison · ss Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine Sep ’80
  • 541 · The Rocking-Horse Winner · D. H. Lawrence · ss The Ghost-Book, ed. Cynthia Asquith, London: Hutchinson, 1926
  • 553 · Three Days · Tanith Lee · nv Shadows #7, ed. Charles L. Grant, Doubleday, 1984
  • 576 · Good Country People · Flannery O’Connor · ss Harper’s Bazaar Jun ’55
  • 591 · Mackintosh Willy · Ramsey Campbell · ss Shadows #2, ed. Charles L. Grant, Doubleday, 1979
  • 602 · The Jolly Corner · Henry James · nv The English Review Dec ’08
  • 629 · Smoke Ghost · Fritz Leiber · ss Unknown Oct ’41
  • 641 · Seven American Nights · Gene Wolfe · na Orbit 20, ed. Damon Knight, Harper & Row, 1978
  • 680 · The Signalman · Charles Dickens · ss All the Year Round Christmas, 1866
  • 690 · Crouch End · Stephen King · nv New Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos, Arkham, 1980
  • 712 · Night-Side · Joyce Carol Oates · nv Night-Side, 1977
  • 731 · Seaton’s Aunt · Walter de la Mare · nv The London Mercury Apr ’22
  • 753 · Clara Militch · Ivan Turgenev · nv Dream Tales and Prose Poems, Macmillan, 1897
  • 793 · The Repairer of Reputations · Robert W. Chambers · nv The King in Yellow, New York & Chicago: F. Tennyson Neely, 1895
  • 817 · The Beckoning Fair One · Oliver Onions · na Widdershins, Secker, 1911
  • 864 · What Was It? · Fitz-James O’Brien · ss Harper’s Mar, 1859
  • 874 · The Beautiful Stranger · Shirley Jackson · ss Come Along With Me, Viking, 1968
  • 880 · The Damned Thing · Ambrose Bierce · ss Tales from New York Town Topics Dec 7, 1893; Weird Tales Sep ’23
  • 887 · Afterward · Edith Wharton · nv The Century Jan ’10
  • 909 · The Willows · Algernon Blackwood · na The Listener and Other Stories, London: Eveleigh Nash, 1907
  • 944 · The Asian Shore · Thomas M. Disch · nv Orbit 6, ed. Damon Knight, G.P. Putnam’s, 1970
  • 970 · The Hospice · Robert Aickman · nv Cold Hand in Mine, Scribner’s, 1975
  • 995 · A Little Something for Us Tempunauts · Philip K. Dick · nv Final Stage, ed. Edward L. Ferman & Barry N. Malzberg, Charterhouse, 1974

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tuesday's Overlooked Films and/or Other A/V: the links

Pieces of April
Thanks as always to all the contributors and all you readers; if I've overlooked your contribution this week or someone else's. please let me know in usual, there are likely to be additions to this list of links to reviews and citations over the course of the day...and particularly notable this week, the NoirCon report posts are often (at least in Peter and Cullen's cases) simply the first of several which track away!

Bill Crider: The Bowery Boys Meet the Monsters [trailer]

Carole King
Brian Arnold: Carole King, Harry Nilsson, Neil Diamond: demos and personal recordings of Monkees songs;  Monkees screentests; Pieces of April; and more

Charlie Ricci: The Rise of Alternative Rock FM Radio

Cullen Gallagher: NoirCon 2012

Ed Gorman: Anthony Boucher hips Alfred Hitchcock to Robert Bloch's Psycho (see also this)

Morning Joe
Elizabeth Foxwell: "Backward, Turn Backward" (from the Dorothy Salisbury Davis story; Alfred Hitchcock Presents:)

Evan Lewis: The Public Enemy

George Kelley: Jekyll and Hyde: The Musical; Morning Joe

Iba Dawson: Ladies in Lavender

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.: You Bet Your Life

James Reasoner: Death Valley Days

Jerry House: Queen for a Day

John Charles: The Bubble (the last Arch Oboler film)

Juri Nummelin: End of Watch;  Death Weekend

Laura: Easy Living (1949)

Lawrence Block: NoirCon 2012, the NYC Vintage Paperback Show, etc.

Lawrence Person: Daisies (aka Sedmikrásky); "Why Doesn't MTV Play Music Videos Any More?"

Michael Shonk: More Harry O

Patti Abbott: Movie Movie

Peter Rozovsky: Project Noir Songs/NoirCon 2012

Randy Johnson: Cleopatra (1934)

Richard Pangburn: Firefly and the 10th Anniversary Reunion

Rick: Isn't It Shocking?

Two Undercover Angels
Rod Lott: Two Undercover Angels

Ron Scheer: Young Billy Young

Scott Cupp: The Gorgon 

Sergio Angelini: Two O'Clock Courage

Yvette Banek: Beauty and the Beast (aka La Belle et La Bete); East of Eden

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Saturday Music Club: Carter and some of his contemporaries

Elliott Carter: A Symphony of Three Orchestras

Alan Hovanhess: "Prayer of St. Gregory for Trumpet and Organ"

Paul Hindemith: "Sonata for Bassoon and Piano"

Morton Gould: "Boogie Woogie Etude"

Aaron Copland:  Inscape

Nancy Van de Vate: Dark Nebulae

John Adams: "China Gates"

Elliott Carter at Pierre Boulez's birthday concert:

Friday, November 9, 2012


Harlan Ellison's achievements are at least three-fold: he has written excellent work in prose and in scripting comics and a/v work; he has been an inventive and energetic editor, for publishers and of anthologies (and, early on, in fanzines); and he has demonstrated new means and approaches for writers to promote themselves, in an environment in which publishers (and others) certainly have consistently been less than intent on promoting writers who don't seem to be the flavor of the moment...and if he's come off not as grandly as he might in this last on occasion, one might simply point to the public self-promotion of the likes of Norman Mailer to see that there are great depths which Ellison at his most thoughtlessly prankish has not come close to plumbing.  Meanwhile, here are some quick takes on five books, two of which have been out of print for some years, and the other three spottily in and out of print, now available as ebooks and all available in either their original or omnibus forms (from the Edgeworks series).  

The Book of Ellison, edited by Andrew Porter (Algol Press, 1978)

  • Introduction (by Isaac Asimov)
  • The Book About Ellison
    • Essence of Ellison (by Lee Hoffman)
    • Harlan Ellison (by Ted White)
    • The Jet-Propelled Birdbath (by Robert Silverberg)
    • 7,000 More Words About Harlan Ellison (by David Gerrold)
    • Harlan Ellison and the Formula Story (by Joseph Patrouch Jr.)
  • The Book By Ellison
    • Ellison on Ellison
    • School for Apprentice Sorcerors
    • Getting Stiffed
    • A Time for Daring
    • A Voice From the Styx
    • The Whore with a Heart of Iron Pyrites; or, Where Does a Writer Go to Find a Maggie?
    • Voe Doe Dee Oh Doe
    • Hardcover
    • A Walk Around the Block
  • Harlan Ellison: A Nonfiction Checklist (by Leslie Kay Swigart)
The first collection of nonfiction by and about Ellison aside from the two volumes gathering his regular column, The Glass Teat, television criticism for the LA Free Press and elsewhere. The appreciations at the front of the book are of varying quality, with Gerrold's being the least, and Silverberg's perhaps the best (certainly the most dramatic in incident). "Ellison on Ellison" might be his first quick survey of his own life at length, up through the mid-'70s; other essays address his standing in the sf/fantasy community, accounts of his work at the Clarion writers' workshops and similar bits of instruction, and a returned favor of an appreciation of Robert Silverberg. This item was already hard to find in the pre-WWWeb days of the earliest 1980s when, as a high-school student, I was able to locate a copy at the University of Hawaii's more comprehensive Hamilton Library; Ellison and editor/publisher Andrew Porter (neither the most temperate of personalities when irked) had some sort of falling out over the book and little of its content has been reprinted since, particularly a pity given some of the rarity of some of its initial publication sources (fanzines such as Inside and Abstract, special publications for conventions, etc.).

Sleepless Nights in the Procrustean Bed: Essays by Harlan Ellison, edited by (Ms.) Marty Clark (Borgo Press, 1984)

Editor's Introduction (by Marty Clark)
  • You Don't Me, I Don't Know You
  • Stealing Tomorrow
  • Down the Rabbit-Hole to TV-Land
  • Revealed at Last! What Killed the Dinosaurs! And You Don't Look So Terrific Yourself
  • Epiphany
  • Rolling Dat Ole Debbil Electronic Stone
  • A Love Song to Jerry Falwell
  • Science Fiction: Turning Reality Inside-Out
  • Defeating the Green Slime
  • How You Stupidly Blew $15 Million a Week, Avoided Having an Adenoid-Shaped Swimming Pool in Your Back Yard, Missed the Opportunity to Have a Mutually Destructive Love Affair with Clint Eastwood and/or Raquel Welch, and Otherwise Pissed Me Off
  • Fear Not Your Enemies
  • Face-Down in Gloria Swanson's Swimming Pool
  • From Alabamy, with Hate
  • Leiber: A Few Too Few Words
  • Serita Rosenthal Ellison: A Eulogy
  • Centerpunching
  • Voe Doe Dee Oh Doe
  • Robert Silverberg: An Appreciation
  • Cheap Thrills on the Road to Hell
  • True Love: Groping for the Holy Grail
  • Notes
  • Index
A rather more comprehensive collection of the work in nonfiction Ellison was proudest of, as also selected by Marty Clark, who essentially served as his administrative assistant through the '70s; "Voe Doe Dee Oh Doe" reappears from The Book along with a more conventionally-titled take on Silverberg, and some of the same matter addressed in the earlier collection is dealt with in newer essays here, such as his fraught relation with his more importunate fans and other literary sorts ("You Don't Know Me...").  The Eulogy for his mother is followed by a profile of Steve McQueen; and "How You Stupidly Blew..." was his formal announcement of withdrawal from the fantasy/sf community (as with most such announcements of withdrawal and/or retirement, as from Ellison's friends Silverberg and Barry Malzberg or Donald Westlake or even Kurt Vonnegut, it didn't take). I'm finally replacing my copy of this one, having essentially traded it for a copy of the hardcover of Shatterday (one of Ellison's retrospective collections) with my aunt Beverly, a certified Ellison fan who was visiting and had never heard or nor seen the Borgo Press item, but happened to have the fiction collection with her for re-reading. I was happy to be able to pick up for her a signed copy of the first collection from Harlan Ellison's Dream Corridor, the comics title, a few years later; Ellison wasn't quite sure what to make of my Spitboy t-shirt, and gently mocked my first published short story, in the same issue of Algis Budrys's Tomorrow Speculative Fiction magazine as Ellison's "Attack at Dawn." 

Stalking the Nightmare Harlan Ellison (Phantasia 0-932096-16-6, 1982, hc)
  • 1 · Foreword · Stephen King · fw
  • 15 · Introduction: Quiet Lies the Locust Tells · in
  • 25 · Grail · nv Twilight Zone Apr ’81
  • 55 · The Outpost Undiscovered By Tourists · ss F&SF Jan ’82
  • 63 · Blank... · ss Infinity Science Fiction Jun ’57
  • 75 · The 3 Most Important Things in Life · ar Oui Nov ’78
  • 95 · Visionary · Harlan Ellison & Joe L. Hensley · ss Amazing May ’59
  • 111 · Djinn, No Chaser · nv Twilight Zone Apr ’82
  • 135 · Invasion Footnote [as by Cordwainer Bird] · ss Super Science Fiction Aug ’57
  • 145 · Saturn, November 11th [installment 6 of An Edge in My Voice] · ar Future Life Mar ’81
  • 159 · Night of Black Glass · ss Beyond #1 ’81
  • 171 · Final Trophy · ss Super Science Fiction Jun ’57
  • 187 · !!!The!!Teddy!Crazy!!Show!!! · ss Adam Oct ’68
  • 199 · The Cheese Stands Alone · ss Amazing Mar ’82
  • 217 · Somehow, I Don’t Think We’re in Kansas, Toto · ar Genesis Jun ’74; revised
  • 237 · Transcending Destiny [revised from “School for Assassins”, as Ellis Hart] · nv Amazing Jan ’58 
  • 265 · The Hour That Stretches · ss F&SF Oct ’82
  • 289 · The Day I Died [inst. 10 of The Harlan Ellison Horn Book] · ar Los Angeles Free Press Jan 5 ’73
  • 301 · Tracking Level · ss Amazing Dec ’56
  • 313 · Tiny Ally · ss Saturn Oct ’57
  • 319 · The Goddess in the Ice · ss Adam Bedside Reader Dec ’67
  • 327 · Gopher in the Gilly · ss *
This was by no means the first Ellison collection to mix fiction and nonfiction by him to a considerable degree (that might've been Partners in Wonder) but it was the first to do so in such a ratio (albeit some of the essays become by design more speculative and fictional, such as "The Day I Died"...or include, one hopes, some fictionalized aspects, such as the murder described in "The 3 Most Important Things..."). "Somehow..."  is Ellison's first extended take on his protracted battles with the producers of the quickly-cancelled Canadian tv sf series The Starlost;  "Saturn, November 11th" is rather straightforward, and excellent, participant reportage of the Voyager mission encounter with that planet and its satellite system. Frankly, the fiction in this collection, as good as it can be, has difficulty in matching the best of the nonfiction and borderline nf here; "Grail" is an exception (and even such less than superb Ellison fiction as "The Hour That Stretches" remains charming, in this case in part due to the setting in the Pacifica Radio series Hour 25, a Los Angeles institution Ellison helped to preserve for some years after the death of founding producer and host Mike Hodel).

Strange Wine Harlan Ellison (Harper & Row, 1978, hc); Also in pb (Warner Jun ’79), includes author’s introduction to each story.

· Introduction: Revealed at Last! What Killed the Dinosaurs! And You Don’t Look So Terrific Yourself · in

  • · Croatoan · ss F&SF May ’75
  • · Working with the Little People · ss F&SF Jul ’77
  • · Killing Bernstein · ss Mystery Monthly Jun ’76
  • · Mom · nv Silver Foxes Aug ’76
  • · In Fear of K · ss Vertex Jun ’75
  • · Hitler Painted Roses · ss Penthouse Apr ’77
  • · The Wine Has Been Left Open Too Long and the Memory Has Gone Flat · ss Universe 6, ed. Terry Carr, Doubleday, 1976
  • · From A to Z, In the Chocolate Alphabet · ss F&SF Oct ’76
  • · Lonely Women Are the Vessels of Time · ss MidAmeriCon Program Book, Kansas City, MO., 1976
  • · Emissary from Hamelin · ss 2076: The American Tricentennial, ed. Edward Bryant, Pyramid, 1977
  • · The New York Review of Bird [original version] · nv * (a heavily edited version appeared in Weird Heroes)
  • · Seeing · nv Andromeda 1, ed. Peter Weston, London: Futura, 1976
  • · The Boulevard of Broken Dreams · vi Los Angeles Review #1 ’75
  • · Strange Wine · ss Amazing Jun ’76
  • · The Diagnosis of Dr. D’arqueAngel [“Doctor D’arqueAngel”] · ss Viva Jan ’77
A collection of Ellison's stories from the mid 1970s that only occasionally demonstrates Ellison at his absolute best, and yet his mastery of the short-story form allows his work to be powerful even when it hasn't quite achieved all his ambitions. For example, the opening passage of the title story, Ellison's contribution to the 50th anniversary issue of Amazing, is a devastating account of a father brought to an auto accident scene to identify the corpse of his daughter, killed in the mishap, with the interior monolog revelation that the father, wracked with grief, at least believes himself not to be in the proper situation, beyond the obvious..."This should be happening to a human." The rest of the story, while making its point, has difficulty in matching the opening passage, which frankly I haven't spoiled even by giving this revelation, so deftly is it observed and constructed. Ellison can be seen to be challenging himself as well as the reader in most of what's collected here, whether technically (can one write a genuinely engaging and cohesive set of 26 vignettes such as "From A to Z..."? Yes, one can, particularly with wit and sharp observation, even if some are inevitably much more slight than others...can one sensibly challenge even some of the most deeply held beliefs of most of the audience, at very least? Yes..."Hitler Painted Roses" is both memorably and justly provocative, somewhat in the way Lenny Bruce's routine about Hitler and the MCA is, and in somewhat deeper ways, as well). And the introduction is among Ellison's best polemic writing.

Medea: Harlan’s World ed. Harlan Ellison (Phantasia 0-932096-36-0, Jun ’85 [May ’85], $50.00 signed numbered 475-copy special edition; $20.00 725-copy trade edition, 532pp, hc) [Medea] This small-press version is simultaneous with the one from Bantam Spectra and is the only hardcover. The special edition is sold out. It’s a fine job of bookbinding and should be a highly prized collector’s item. (Charles N. Brown)
Fletcher Pratt had attempted something similar to this project in the early 1950s, with The Petrified Planet, only, in that case, after John D. Clark had worked out the world in which the stories for the anthology were meant to be set, Pratt, H. Beam Piper and Judith Merril contributed a novella each. This, in comparison, was a much more hands-on effort by a wide range of contributors, even including, as not quite noted in the table of contents above, audience participants at a public seminar discussing the shared world setting for the stories commissioned. These stories were appearing in the first year I was regularly reading the sf and fantasy magazines, and I generally found them quite entertaining...particularly in seeing how differently Jack Williamson, Frederik Pohl and Thomas Disch might take on the same raw material of setting and to some extent incident...unlike most so-tagged "sharecropper" fiction since, the contributors were encouraged to be as much themselves in the work in question as the project allowed, and for the most part they succeeded, though none of the stories would qualify as the best work by the writers involved...a number of the better "shared-world" projects since have emulated this aspect. And for some folks, such as former planetary science majors who had been thinking about writing fiction for years even at the time of this book's publication, the essays and discussion transcripts laying out the groundwork had their own fascination...a fascination that I think would be shared by most fans of all or any of the writers participating. I'm not sure why this volume has been out of print since its initial editions, but it's a pity it's so. (For that matter, The Petrified Planet deserves reprinting...)

For more of today's books, please see Patti Abbott's blog.  Contents listings from the Contento/Locus indices and the Islets of Langerhans site.