New Arrivals, Current Reading July 29 – August 4, 2013

It continues to be hot here, the hottest, driest summer in a decade. Both our water and electric bills will soar; it’s a good thing there are plenty of books here to read for free!

The Post Office delivery person bumped our communal mail box structure (eight houses at the top of the street share one of those one-stop mail set-ups you see in condos and apartments) and wrecked the door on the back, so all the mail is being held at an inconvenient Post Office halfway across town. Supposed to be fixed Monday but we’ve had to pick up a couple of times already. Hassle. 

Of the books this week, two are even better than expected, one was a disappointment.

Benchmarks: Galaxy Bookshelf 1965 – 1971 by Algis Budrys [Southern Illinois University Press, 1985 hardcover, used] – fiction reviews and criticism. After Todd Mason in this post made me aware of this book, and the next one listed below, and George Kelley’s post about these here, I finally got up off my duff and got copies. I bought a used copy of this (I was lucky to find a very nice one). Erudite, opinionated, well written, and contextual, these reviews-criticisms-opinion essays are a delight to read, often challenging the reader to think. Good stuff!

Benchmarks Continued volume 1: 1975 – 1982 by Algis Budrys [Ansible Editions 2012 trade paper, POD via Lulu, new] – reviews and criticism. See previous listing, above. As noted, it’s a Print on Demand volume which can be ordered through Lulu HERE. Take my advice: click, order, pay, wait eagerly. When it comes, dip right in. That’s what I did. After dinner on the day it arrived I decided to take a peek, then go back to the short story I was halfway through. I never got back to that story, reluctantly putting the book down after 11:00. I spent easily a third of the time rereading a sentence, or paragraph, or  just staring off into space, simply letting my brain bump against the concepts Budrys put forth. I’m very, very impressed. Yes, there are two more volumes, but this is enough for me right now.

Dragonwriter edited by Todd McCaffrey [Smart Pop 2013 trade paper, new] – biographical essays, reminiscences and tributes. The book contains 21 essays, most of them about author Anne McCaffrey. I say “most of them” because there are a few that, cloaked in the guise of I remember Anne, are really just about the writer of the essay and his or her personal agenda. There are some excellent entries here, and I enjoyed them, but I certainly would have preferred a bit more about Anne McCaffrey and a bit less about me, me, me.

I read Dragonwriter, listed above with my opinion of it, when it arrived. It made me want to reread some of the McCaffrey Pern books. I reread Shapechanger, last week’s Forgotten Book, and Mouse Guard: The Black Axe which may be the best Mouse Guard story arc yet, and that’s saying something. I finished  The Song of the Sky, which was the first book on the Summer reading plan (here), so now I’ve finished three of the 18 books and am continuing to make my way through the huge Black Mask Stories collection. If I followed the plan I’d be starting Caliban’s War but haven’t been in the mood for it, so I reread Dragonseye by Ann McCaffrey, a Pern book. Now I’m starting on Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern.

Have any comments on any of the above?
What did YOU get, new, used or from the library, and
what have you been reading?

About Rick Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
This entry was posted in Current Reading, mystery, New Arrivals, Non-fiction, science fiction and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to New Arrivals, Current Reading July 29 – August 4, 2013

  1. Jerry House says:

    Budrys was an insightful reviewer, always able to get to the nub of the matter. His novels and stories were always near the top of my reading pile, although I was never able to get into his hastily-written book about Harry Truman. I also found his columns about writing to be among the best I have ever read.

    Another slow week for me, I’m afraid: my FFB this week, THE DREAM DETECTIVE by Sax Rohmer; two novellas published as novels by Lester del Rey — BADGE OF INFAMY and THE SKY IS FALLING (both of which seemed to me to be the wrong length; each would have worked better either shorter or longer, IMHO); and Alison Wilson’s 1983 AUGUST DERLETH: A BIBLIOGRAPHY, which I spent several days going over. The bibliography was a remarkable, albeit dated and incomplete, work with some — not many — flaws.

    Coming up are a number of library books: the two-volume COLLECTED STRANGE STORIES OF ROBERT AICKMAN, four — count ’em, four — Nameless Detective novels by Bill Pronzini, two collections by Ed Gorman, and Derleth’s WISCONSIN WRITERS AND WRITING.

    Still waiting to be picked up at the library is Robert Weinberg’s horror anthology FAR BELOW AND OTHER HORRORS, two more Gorman collections, and a pseudonymous Gorman novel. I’ll need all these to keep my mind off of a very minor (and very dreaded) foot procedure a week and a half from now.

  2. Richard says:

    Jerry, I’m assuming youve read or at least scanned these two Budrys books, then. I’m enjoying them more than his fiction, at least what I remember of it. As I said on your site, Dream Detective sounds interesting. You’re behind 4 Nameless novels, eh? I’m at least that far, probably further. I like them a lot, but there are so may books.

    Best of luck with and speedy recovery from that foot procedure!

  3. I just finished reading “All the Lonely People” (1991) by British crime writer Martin Edwards, his debut novel and my first by him. I’m reading a James Hadley Chase’s “Vulture is a Patient Bird” for old time’s sake.

  4. Richard says:

    Prashant, I tried one of Edwards’ other books but didn’t get through it. I don’t remember why just now. Chase is always fun. I’m curious, how many of Frederick Brown’s mysteries have you read?

  5. The Budrys review collections are wonderful! I’m working my way through the third volume of his F&SF reviews. Todd Mason deserves all the credit for championing these great collections. I’m still reading Big Fat Books, but I go back to work in three weeks. Then it’s back to quick reads.

  6. Jeff Meyerson says:

    The Budrys books do sound interesting, I must admit. I read Rohmer’s DREAM DETECTIVE in the 80’s so don’t remember much other than it was a Dover edition and I liked it.

    The only new book was the one you reviewed the other day, Van Gulik’s JUDGE DEE AT WORK, though in an older paperback edition. I thought I’d read it but I hadn’t.

    Books read: after reading a couple of raves for it on Patti Abbott’s blog (too lazy to go check who it was, sorry), I got (from the library) and read DARWIN’S BLADE by Dan Simmons, which I liked a lot. Darwin Minor is an expert in figuring out how accidents (some of which aren’t) happen and though it is never directly spelled out why he is targeted by ruthless killers, it has to do with that. But he also has survival skills. Good book, though I never did warm up to “Dar” as a nickname.

    I suddenly realized that though I’d read Bill Crider’s fun juvenile MIKE GONZO AND THE SEWER MONSTER (a gator, of course) some years back I’d never read his others in the series, so this week I read MIKE GONZO AND THE ALMOST INVISIBLE MAN and MIKE GONZO AND THE UFO TERROR. They’re short, they’re fun and they’re a fast read. Check ’em out.

    My big problem has been too many books that I’ve had trouble getting involved in. The latest (and I am perfectly willing to admit the problem is mine) is J. K. Rowling’s pseudonymous mystery, THE CUCKOO’S CALLING by Robert Galbraith. It’s well written, the protagonists are fairly interesting characters, it’s certainly readable, but when I reached page 114 I just gave up. This was only a quarter of the way through a 450 page book, very little momentum was apparent (a week had passed in the case with little to show for it), there were few characters and fewer clues, and frankly I just didn’t care enough about whether the dead supermodel jumped or was pushed to her death to keep forcing myself to read something that wasn’t riveting when I have so many other things I could be reading.

    Your Mileage May Vary and I am perfectly willing to say it’s my loss but there it is.

  7. Patti Abbott says:

    And we are having the wettest, coolest summer ever. Hardly a day without rain. Being away all week, I read nothing. And bought nothing although an armful is waiting at the library. But I saw five movies and two plays. Does that count for something? And I listened to half of the audiobook of CALIFORNIA GIRL.

  8. Richard says:

    George, yes I’m glad Todd brought these to our attention. Also, I’m getting more and more curious just what these BFBs you keep mentioning actually are.

  9. Richard says:

    Jeff – I really liked Simmons’ Hyperion books, but thought the first mystery of his I tried – name not coming to me now – was not as good by far, so I haven’t tried more. I admit I haven’t read any of the Gonzo books. Maybe I should pick up these at the library. I doubt I’ll ever get around to the Cuckoo Calling book. Out of curiosity, I looked and of course there is a long wait for it at the library.

  10. Richard says:

    Patti, I hope you had a good trip. That T. Jefferson Parker novel is an interesting, if not his best by far, novel of a time and place. Since I spent most of my life in Orange County, I usually enjoy his books as I recognize all the places and in their time frames. I still like Pacific Beat as well as any that I’ve read – I’ve missed quite a few – though Laguna Heat, his first, is a favorite because I lived there for so may years.

  11. I’ll be posting reviews of the Big Fat Books in the coming weeks. Right now, I’m concentrating on filling boxes of books for my latest donation to SUNY at Buffalo’s Kelley Collection. I’m up to 24 boxes of books and magazines right now. I’m shooting for 30 boxes by the pickup date of August 14. They’re sending out a truck!

  12. Richard says:

    George………… WOW!

  13. Trust me, Rick, even after 30 boxes of books leave my basement, I have thousands of books on the shelves. Too many books, too little time…

  14. Frank Denton says:

    As nice as the Budrys reviews may have been, it only encourages one to hunt for books by those older authors and acquire them…at some cost. Then you end up like George, having a truck come to load thirty boxes of books and haul them away. Recently read Richard’s blog about finding Van Gulik and the Judge Dee books. I just this week finished Poets and Murders, in a pb retitled The Fox-Magic Murders. Van Gulik is always enjoyable. Jeff, I did read Rowling’s A Casual Vacancy and didn’t care much for it; not sure I’m going to try her mystery. Lots of new good authors and many older ones to read.

  15. Todd Mason says:

    Always glad to be such a useful proximate cause! And I hope you turn to Budrys’s better fiction sooner rather than later, Rick–the devastating THE DEATH MACHINE/ROGUE MOON, the thoughtful WHO?, the woefully underrated HARD LANDING, the short story collections…

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