Sunday, June 28, 2020

Uncle Stalin’s a Satanic Sorcerer! (Or: Tyler Stalin’s Projekt нанесение увечья!)

To choose one’s victims, to prepare one’s plan minutely, to slake an implacable vengeance, and then to go to bed… There is nothing sweeter in the world.

Oh, Uncle Joe… (swoon!)

A recommendation! The Autobiography of Joseph Stalin by Richard Lourie (1999) I’ve ranted about it to friends, colleagues, and relatives—now it’s YOUR turn!
Here’s my “rave” copy-blurb for the back of the mass-market paperback edition (that will never be printed):

—A nihilistic former seminary student rebelling against EVERYTHING becomes a bank robber—and later uses his gangster skills to get to the very top of the blood-drenched New Revolutionary Russia!

Colin Wilson + James Ellroy + Chuck Palahniuk ÷ Early-Twentieth Century History = THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOSEPH STALIN!

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Tsundoku No More (or: “Reading Is Fun For Mentals!”)

This is all about having too many books in your collection….
In high school, Mr. Hayden, our intense, fascinating, essentially humorless, mean, and sometimes vindictive English teacher (and D-Day veteran), was really into drilling us with what he called “Spot Quotes.”
Mr. Hayden teaching us about
the Great Old Ones
It was a rote memorization technique (probably frowned on now by progressive pedagogical types—I’ll save my gripes about the modern education system for some other time…), but the famous and essential quotes from English-language literature were hammered into our heads. Yeah, yeah, yeah, lots of dead white guys, but it was the early-1980s. I think Mr. Hayden was right: You want to sound smart? Drop a famous (or infamous) quote from classic literature—

“…full of sound and fury/Signifying nothing….”
“I am his Highness’s dog at Kew/Pray tell me, Sir, whose dog are you?”
“To a green thought in a green shade….”
“Tyger, Tyger, burning bright…”
“Look upon my works ye mighty, and despair!”
“I’ll burn my books!”

Wait—huh? What was that last one? “I’ll burn my books!”? How can that be a famous quote? Is it from a revised Fahrenheit 451, where Montag recants, and rejoins the Fire Department? And what does it have to do with me owning too many books?

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Weird Science (Fiction on My Shelves)—More Summer Reading Recommendations!

Okay, so the Steve Ditko-illustration of happy guy in the easy chair meeting an alien? I’m featuring that illo because he’s reading!
he book in the man’s lap may not be a mass-market paperback,
but you could interpret the space creature as a symbolic representation
of the Spirit of Science Fiction Itself, coming to “take the Earthman away….”

Oh, happy day!

MORE Summer Reading Recommendations! With the PERSONAL seal of approval! Yep, I vouch for these books!
Summer’s Here!
Some summertime SF reading recommendations—
Five Five-Star Should-Be-If-They’re-Not-Already CLASSICS. (And that should be pronounced “KEY-Lass-IX!”)

In Order of Recommendation:
The Book of Skulls (1972) by Robert Silverberg
Farewell, Horizontal (1989) by K.W. Jeter
The Goblin Reservation (1968) by Clifford D. Simak
Jack of Shadows (1971) by Roger Zelazny
Lord Tyger (1970) by Philip Jose Farmer