Friday, September 29, 2017

FFB: Kit Reed, 1932-2017 and some of her peers

Kit Reed died this past week; energetic up to the point where her inoperable brain tumor got the better of her over the last month or so, at age 85 she left us a final novel and a final short story (unless something turns up in papers that her kids think she might've wanted to see in print). 
  The New York Times obit:
Kit Reed, Author of Darkly Humorous Fiction, Dies at 85, though it manages to not mention her contemporary fiction, it does mention her work as a professor and writer in residence.

Colette Bancroft in the Tampa Bay Times.
Locus magazine (unsigned)

Her new novel:
And her new short story, both on sale now:

Reed, as noted here last year, started her writing career as a professional journalist, and made a mark, winning industry awards before selling her first short story to The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in 1958, "The Wait" (collected in her first shorter works volume as "To Be Taken in a Strange Country") rather pathetic colleague at the New Haven Register, she recounted not too long ago, would make a point of pulling her office typewriter off her desk and taking it over to a corner where he would type out his own attempts at stories, and claimed, upon learning of her F&SF sale, to have sold a story to The New Yorker, which would be appearing Real Soon Now. Reed continued to place fiction with F&SF, and branched out to the Yale Literary Magazine, Robert Lowndes's  Science Fiction, Joseph Payne Brennan's Macabre, and by 1960 Redbook...while her colleague had slunk off somewhere to await his further stories' appearance in equally imaginary issues of The Dial and Scribner's, no doubt.

In the previous Reed review-essay, I noted that Reed was a member of an (in the latter 1950s) emerging school of women writers not too worried about sticking within expected boundaries in their writing, whether it terms of "genre" or attitude toward their subjects, which I suggest also included Kate Wilhelm, Carol Emshwiller, Lee Hoffman, Joanna Russ and, starting just a bit later, Joyce Carol Oates...all were publishing in several fields at once, and impressively so. The NYT obituarist  attempts to suggest Reed "evokes Stephen King" (as opposed to the other way around) as well as Shirley Jackson, a rather better guess, but Reed noted to me last year that Evelyn Waugh was perhaps her greatest influence. 

Courtesy Kate Maruyama, who notes on FaceBook: "Mom mailed this to me, gleefully, noting 'I thought you'd enjoy this little artifact.'"
But that wasn't the only "celebratory" slight she would see in her early fiction-writing career, as the World Science Fiction Convention was moved to attempt a third award in the category best new writer...the first Hugo ceremony in 1953 bestowed Best New Writer or Artist on Philip Jose Farmer, apparently by fiat of the convention committee (though not unreasonably so); in 1956, "Most Promising New Author" was voted upon and Robert Silverberg took home the Hugo, with the rest of the shortlist composed of Harlan Ellison, Frank Herbert and a relatively obscure writer these days, Henry Still, apparently a friend of convention organizers; and in 1959, the Hugo ballot featured the following impressive set of nominees for Best New Author, listed alphabetically:

Brian W. Aldiss
Pauline Ashwell (Pauline Whitby)
Rosel George Brown
Louis Charbonneau
Kit Reed

...and the ungrateful bastards voted "No Award" the winner. Which is perhaps why there was no more attempt at Best New Author-style awards till the establishment of the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, itself never officially a Hugo but voted on and awarded at the same convention ceremonies, in the early 1970s. (The voters in '59 did have the flexibility to give an sf award to Robert Bloch's humorous dark fantasy "That Hell-Bound Train" for best short story, but also chose No Award rather than favor any of the three ballot choices for best sf/fantasy film: The Fly, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, and The Horror of Dracula...worse A/V presentations have won before and since.)
All five went on to notable careers, even if Brown's was cut very short by cancer fifty years ago, when she was 41; Ashwell died two years ago, and Charbonneau and Aldiss both died earlier this year. Three women and two men on a ballot in 1959 might've bothered some idiots; Aldiss and Ashwell were British, which might somehow have offended Yankee chauvinists; who knows why the voting populace was so honest and/or churlish as to not  care enough about any of these reasonably new writers to vote for any  (Charbonneau had written some radio drama before becoming a professional journalist, which would be his primary work while writing novels on the side; Aldiss had been the literary editor for the newspaper The Oxford Mail; Ashwell had been precocious, publishing her first short story in the British, and misleadingly titled, magazine Yankee Science Fiction at fourteen and publishing a children's fantasy chapbook at 15). 

Kit Reed (when not signing her suspense novels Kit Craig and publishing one horror novel as Shelley Hyde) and Brian Aldiss have been hugely prolific, often challenging (never more to the reader than to themselves) writers in the decades since; Rosel George Brown wrote increasingly impressive short fiction and a few novels before her early death; Pauline Ashwell, sometimes publishing as Paul Ash, was not hugely prolific but published consistently impressive work--her perceived audience was such that a short novel she saw published in Analog has never been reprinted in book form, but her work is widely respected and enjoyed by those in the know; Louis Charbonneau, not the Canadian Human Rights Watch executive and bilingualism advocate (IMDb currently confuses them), went on to write several sf novels in the 1960s, novelized at least one unproduced film script and wrote the treatments for two episodes of  the original series of The Outer Limits, published westerns as Carter Travis Young beginning in 1960, and eventually moved more in the direction of writing horror and particularly suspense novels in the 1970s, along with the westerns/historicals under his own name Down from the Mountain and Trail: The Story of the Lewis and Clark Expedition: A Novel.
Rosel George Brown, 1966
There is something to be said for honoring the work of living writers while they're living, and perhaps praising some writers too young will discourage growth, but somehow I suspect the encouragement will more often be worthwhile. I'm glad I got to meet Kit Reed and tell her how much I've enjoyed her work over the years; didn't seize what opportunity I had with the others (though of course Brown had died before I was reading much beyond Seuss and Golden Books). More to say soon. 

For more typical book reviews this week, please see Patti Abbott's blog. 

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Underappreciated Music: September 2017: the links to the sounds

The (frequently) 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: Nightly Music

Brian Arnold: The Hollywood Palace (1966) as hosted by Adam West as Batman

Jayme Lynn Blaschke: Friday Night Videos

Paul D. Brazill: A Song for Saturday

Jim Cameron:  Charles Earland's Living Black!: Recorded Live at the Key Club; Bill Saxton Quartet: Atymony; A Loud Minority: Deep Spiritual Jazzon Mainstream Records 1970-73

Sean Coleman: Elvis Costello and the Attractions: Imperial Bedroom; Black Sabbath: Paranoia; Supertramp: Paris

David Cramner: Thelonious Monk: Solo Monk

Bill Crider: Song of the Day; Forgotten Hits; Forgotten Music: Marty Robbins and more

Greg Deocampo:

Jeff Gemmill Top 5; Stephen Sills: Manassas; Linda Ronstadt: Simple Dreams; Niel Young: Hitchhiker

Jerry House: The Child Ballads; Oscar Brand; Utah Phillips; Hymn Time; Music from the Past

George Kelley: Rolling Stones: Their Satanic Majesties Request; Bob Dylan and the Band: Blonde on Blonde; NPR's best albums by women; The Best of James Ingram: The Power of Great Music 

Tom Kraemer:

Kate Laity: Song for a Saturday

B. V. Lawson: Your Sunday Music Treat

Evan Lewis: Nick Adams

Steve Lewis, Jonathan Lewis and Michael Shonk: Music I'm Listening To

Todd Mason:

The Jazz Loft Radio Series: "Monk at Town Hall" (link)

Kliph Nesteroff: The Johnny Cash Christmas Special with special guest stars Roy Clark, Roy Orbison and Andy Kaufman (1977)

Becky O'Brien: Miklos Rozsa: Ben Hur (1959)
Andrew Orley: Nobody's Listening

Lawrence Person: Shoegazer Sunday

James Reasoner: Middle of the Night Music

Charlie Ricci: Glen Campbell: "The William Tell Overture"

Friday, September 22, 2017

Friday's "Forgotten" Books: the links to the reviews and more...added links and images

This week's selections, reviews of the books and more cited below, include a few duplicates, whether due to review of reissues or announcement of them, or a couple of quick looks at a key, vintage fantasy anthology. Patricia Abbott will be back to hosting next week, before going on to see if she and her daughter Megan win the first parent-and-child duo of Anthony Awards at the world crime-fiction convention in Toronto, the Bouchercon...thanks to all the contributors, and all you readers...

Sergio Angelini: The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes

Yvette Banek: Death Has Deep Roots by Michael Gilbert

Mark Baker: Murder on Gramercy Park by Victoria Thompson

Bernadette: Plantation Shudders by Ellen Byron

Les Blatt: Cat of Many Tails by "Ellery Queen" (Frederic Dannay and Manfred B. Lee)

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

Ben Boulden: Project Jael by Aaron Fletcher

Brian Busby: Comeback by Dan Hill

Alice Chang: The House of God by "Samuel Shem" (Stephen Bergman)

Bill Crider: Daddy's Gone A-Hunting by Robert Skinner; ReDemolished by Alfred Bester (compiled by Richard Raucci); The Winter is Passed by Harry Whittington (unpublished)

Newell Dunlap and Bill Pronzini: Wycliffe and the Scapegoat by W. J. Burley

Martin Edwards: The Pyx by John Buell

Barry Ergang: Oh, Murderer Mine by Norbert Davis

Will Errickson: The Inquistor series by "Simon Quinn" (Martin Cruz Smith)

Peter Enfantino and Jack Seabrook: DC war comics, August/September 1970

Curtis Evans: reissue programs for Detection Club members  "Christopher Bush" (Charles Christmas Bush) and Edith Caroline Rivett (aka "ECR Lorac" and "Carol Carnac")
Paul Fraser: The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, June 1962, edited by Avram Davidson

Barry Gardner: Corruptly Procured by Michael Bowen

John Grant: The Detective by Roderick Thorp

Christy H: The Bake-Off by Beth Kendrick (courtesy Kevin Tipple)

Rich Horton: The Octangle by Emanie Sachs

Jerry House: Keep the Baby, Faith by "Philip DeGrave" (William DeAndrea)

Nick Jones: Diamond Dogs by Alistair Reynolds (among other Revelation Space novellas)

Tracy K: Hammett by Joe Gores

George Kelley: Swords & Sorcery edited by L. Sprague de Camp

Joe Kenney: Dragon Slay: Nick Carter: Killmaster #261 (and last) by "Nick Carter" (in this case Jack Canon)

Margot Kinberg: Another Margaret by Janice MacDonald

Rob Kitchin: After You Die by Eva Dolan

Richard Krauss: Suspense, Winter 1952, edited by Theodore Irwin

Kate Laity: Truth Always Kills by Rick Ollerman

B. V. Lawson: The Comfortable Coffin edited by Richard S. Prather

Evan Lewis: Bat Masterson (tv-tie-in LP spoken word album) written by Michael Avallone (read by Eddie Bracken)

Steve Lewis: Black Money by "Ross Macdonald" (Kenneth Millar); "The Holes in the System" by Marcia Muller

Gideon Marcus: Galaxy, October 1962, edited by Frederik Pohl

Todd Mason: early 1960s fantasy anthologies: The Unexpected edited by Leo Margulies; The Unknown edited by D. R. Bensen; Swords & Sorcery edited by L. Sprague de Camp; Beyond edited by Thomas Dardis; The Fantastic Universe Omnibus edited by Hans Stefan Santesson

Karin Montin: Grand Trunk and Shearer by Ian Truman
   Early one morning D’Arcy Kennedy gets a call: one of his friends reports that his brother Cillian has been found dead in the canal that serves as a border between Pointe St. Charles and the rest of the city. The very brief police investigation finds that Cillian died of drowning, with a mix of drugs in his system, along with “ammoniated bleach.” It’s an accident, in other words. End of story.
   D’Arcy refuses to believe it was anything but murder. Cillian was a mixed martial arts fighter who followed a strict no-drugs policy. If the police won’t bring the killer to justice, he will. And so D’Arcy and his three loyal friends go on a mission. As they retrace Cillian’s whereabouts on his last night, they tour Montreal’s underbelly--the crack houses, the outdoor drinking spots, the afterhours clubs--talking to punk musicians, neo-Nazis, antiracist skinheads, security guards and many others who live by night.
Flashbacks paint a picture of the Point in the Kennedy boys’ youth, a time when Irish kids fought French kids, just because, and doubly because they hated being called English. Those were the good old days. Today the area is being gentrified, and the long-time residents have dead-end jobs that mean they’ll soon be priced out of the neighbourhood.

   Truman has a knack for dialogue and vivid descriptions of streets. You can get to know the Point by following D’Arcy’s movements on a map and picturing the buildings he visits. He also tells a coherent story.
   Unfortunately, the book is marred by dozens of errors of every possible kind, in French, English and even Irish Gaelic.
   As I wrote in my review of Truman's self-published The Factory Line, I had hopes that Down & Out would have a copy editor. Apparently they don’t. And that's why I haven't given it four stars.

Neeru: A Revolutionary's Life by Bandi Jeewan

Steven Nester: Where Murder Waits by E. Howard Hunt

Juri Nummelin: Rafferty's Rules by W. Glenn Duncan

John ONeill: The Spell of Seven edited by L. Sprague de Camp

Matt Paust: Seldom Disappointed by Tony Hillerman

Mildred Perkins: Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw

James Reasoner: The Wench is Wicked by "Carter Brown" (Alan G. Yates); Exciting Western, September 1952, edited by David X. Manners

Gerard Saylor: Fender Lizards by Joe R. Lansdale

Victoria Silverwolf: Fantastic: Stories of Imagination, October 1962, edited by Cele Goldsmith

Doug Skinner: Grump magazine, edited by Roger Price

Kerrie Smith: The Good People by Hannah Kent

"TomCat": The Perfect Murder Case by "Christopher Bush" (Charles Christmas Bush)

Prashant Trikannad: "Booty for a Badman" by Louis L'Amour (The Saturday Evening Post, 30 July 1960; reprinted in L'Amour's War Party)

ISFDB index: (cover painting by Ed Eshmwiller)

Friday, September 15, 2017

FFB: some entry points: THE COMPLETE [sic] HUMOROUS SKETCHES AND TALES OF MARK TWAIN edited by Charles Neider (Doubleday 1961); STORIES OF MARK TWAIN, recorded by Walter Brennan and Brandon de Wilde (Caedmon Records 1956); OFFICIAL GUIDE TO THE FANTASTICS/FANTASTIC LITERATURE by Michael Resnick (House of Collectibles 1976)

The HarperAudio omnibus re-issue. Possibly packaged first by 
Caedmon before they were bought out by HarperCollins.

Well, this week was going to be devoted to the last long fictions published by Joanna Russ and Michael Shaara, but reading about the frustrations of their later careers ended up squeezing out the rereading of the novellas in week, perhaps, while I host FFB while the Abbott family gets ready for the run up, we can hope, to picking up a few Anthony Awards at Bouchercon in Toronto.

I first encountered Mark Twain in very adulterated form, I think...Sid and Marty Krofft offered a typically surreal serialized sequel to Twain's four notable Sawyer/Finn stories as a part of The Banana Splits tv series...and perhaps one or another of the televised film or tv adaptations of the actual Twain stories. But not long after I started reading anthologies, I started reading Twain, and one of the first big fat adult books I tackled was Charles Neider's remarkably foolishly titled Complete Humorous Sketches and Tales (R. Kent Rasmussen notes in his review of the Library of America volumes of Twain's short work, and their predecessors such as Neider's volumes including the sketch and story collection Mark Twain: Life as I Find It, also published in 1961: 'One wonders, incidentally, if Neider recognized the strangeness of calling his Humorous Sketches anthology "complete" while simultaneously issuing another volume [Life as I Find It] which contained sketches that the "Complete Sketches" lacked.'). Nonetheless, even given a similarly ponderous introduction, it was quite the Book of Gold:

Table of Contents: 
  • Curing a cold 
  • Aurelia's unfortunate young man 
  • Info. for the million 
  • Killing of Julius Caesar "Localized" 
  • Lucretia Smith's soldier 
  • George Washington's boyhood 
  • Advice to little girls 
  • "After" Jenkins 
  • Answers to correspondents 
  • Mr. Bloke's Item 
  • From California almanac 
  • Scriptural panoramist 
  • Among the spirits 
  • Sketch of George Washington 
  • Complaint about correspondents 
  • Re. chambermaids 
  • Honored as a curiosity 
  • About insurances 
  • Literature in the dry diggings 
  • Origin of illustrious men 
  • The recent resignation 
  • Washington's negro body-servant 
  • Information wanted 
  • My late senatorial secretaryship 
  • Playbill 
  • Back from "Yurrup" 
  • Benton house 
  • Fine old man 
  • Guying the guides 
  • Mental photographs 
  • Beecher's farm 
  • Turkish bath 
  • George Fisher 
  • Article 
  • History repeats itself 
  • John Chinaman in New York 
  • Judge's "Spirited Woman" 
  • Late Benjamin Franklin 
  • Map of Paris 
  • My bloody massacre 
  • Mysterious visit 
  • Note on "Petrified man" 
  • Post-mortem poetry 
  • Riley-Newspaper correspondent 
  • Running for Governor 
  • To raise poultry 
  • Undertaker's chat 
  • Widow's protest 
  • Inspirations of "Two-year-olds" 
  • About barbers 
  • Burlesque biography.
  • Danger of lying in bed 
  • Fashion item 
  • Interview with Artemus Ward 
  • My first literary venture 
  • New Beecher Church 
  • King William III 
  • "Blanketing" the Admiral 
  • Deception 
  • Genuine Mexican Plug 
  • Great landslide case 
  • How the author was sold in Newark 
  • 110 tin whistles 
  • Lionizing murderers 
  • Markiss, King of Liars 
  • Mr. Arkansas 
  • Nevada Nabobs 
  • What Hank said to
  • Horace Greeley 
  • When the buffalo climbed a tree 
  • Curious pleasure excursion 
  • Rogers 
  • Speech 
  • Poems by Twain & Moore 
  • Encounter with an Interviewer 
  • Johnny Greer 
  • Jumping frog 
  • Office bore 
  • "Party cries" in Ireland 
  • Petition re. copyright 
  • Siamese twins 
  • Speech at the Scottish banquet 
  • Speech on accident insurance 
  • Facts re. recent carnival of crime in Connecticut 
  • Letter 
  • Punch, brothers, punch 
  • Notes of an idle excursion 
  • Speech on the weather 
  • Whittier birthday speech.
  • About magnanimous-incident literature 
  • O'Shah 
  • Great revolution in Pitcairn 
  • Speech: the babies 
  • American in Europe 
  • American party 
  • Ascending the Riffelberg 
  • Awful German language 
  • Great French duel 
  • King's encore 
  • Laborious ant 
  • My long crawl in the dark - Nicodemus Dodge 
  • Skeleton for a Black Forest novel 
  • Telephonic conversation 
  • 2 works of art 
  • Why Germans wear spectacles 
  • Young Cholley Adams 
  • Plymouth Rock & the Pilgrims 
  • Re. the American language 
  • Legend of Sagenfeld in Germany 
  • On the decay of the art of lying 
  • Paris notes.
  • Art of inhumation 
  • Keelboat talk & manners 
  • Intro. "The new guide of the conversation in Portuguese & English" 
  • Petition to the Queen of England 
  • Majestic literary fossil 
  • About all kinds of ships 
  • Cure for the blues 
  • Enemy conquered ... 
  • Traveling with a Reformer 
  • Private history of the "Jumping Frog" 
  • Fenimore Cooper's literary offenses 
  • Hell of a hotel at Maryborough 
  • Indian crow 
  • At the appetite cure 
  • Austrian Edison keeping school again 
  • From "London Times" of 1904 
  • My first lie... 
  • My boyhood dreams 
  • Amended obituaries 
  • Does the race of man love a Lord? 
  • Instructions in art 
  • Italian with grammar 
  • Italian without a master 
  • Petrified man 
  • Dutch Nick massacre.
Some of the most famous items before this book was assembled were unsurprisingly among those which have stuck with me the longest, such as "Punch, Brothers, Punch" (my introduction to the notion of "buff" as a color), "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses", "Carnival of Crime in Connecticut" (where my family and I lived at the time) and of course the Jumping Frog, but no few others were more than fitfully amusing, even when they more thoroughly sent me scrambling to fill in data points (aside from what aide Neider provided in his notes). This one I borrowed (several times to get through it) from the Enfield library and not long after, at a yard sale, I picked up a battered copy of Neider's earlier The Complete Stories of Mark Twain (similarly misleading a title) and made my more leisurely way through that volume, as a fine complement to my reading the Sawyer/Finn/Jim stories and the single novels in the Signet Classic editions I gathered while still in elementary school...finishing most of his work in the summer before my 7th Grade matriculation into a new school in Londonderry, NH. The Enfield Central Library also had no few spoken word LPs for members to dig into, and one Caedmon item featured Brandon de Wilde narrating a couple/few chapters of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn on the flipside of Walter Brennan reading "Jumping Frog" and "Jim Baker's Bluejay Yarn"--this was one of the many I dubbed on cassette or open-reel tape and listened to repeatedly over the years...
One of the few times the HarperAudio package
is better than the Caedmon.

Here's Brennan reading "The Celebrated Jumping Frog"...which was released, despite the assertion of the WFMU blogger who posts the audio file, by Caedmon Records in 1956, the year before Brennan began his run with The Real McCoys television series.

And here's Brennan reading "Jim Baker's Bluejay Yarn" (from A Tramp Abroad, not "Tramps Abroad") and there's a weird little second-long glitch in this YT post recording that isn't present in this slightly scratchy WFMU post taken from a copy of the lp.

One development that came along with the relocation to New Hampshire was the discovery of how many interesting fiction magazines were still being published in 1978, and I gathered most of those I could find at a store in Derry called Book Corner, which also had a small alcove of remainders in the back, one of which was stray copy or so of this item (with one title on the cover and another on the title page), by a writer I hadn't previously encountered, before he was most likely to sign himself Mike Resnick, providing us with a price guide full of warnings that prices in this field were widely variable and extremely dependent on condition...but which, along with such other purchases as Brian Ash's The Visual Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, gave a vivid sense of the history of these fascinating magazines and their stablemates and fallen fellow-travelers over the years. Resnick also missed a trick or two, noting without explication that the great expense of the citation for The Ship That Sailed to Mars by William Timlin was no mention of the gorgeous artwork in the one published edition then extant being part of the allure. But it was useful and fun for a catalog,,,and I, not long after picking this book up for 50c, started collecting older back issues with a grab-bag from dealer and small-press publisher Gerry de la Ree at not Too much more per good-to-reading-copy items.

For somewhat less capsule, and perhaps less nostalgic, reviews of this week's books and more, please see Patti Abbott's blog.

Some illustration from The Ship That Sailed to Mars: