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Sunday, November 26, 2006

You'll forgive me if my weekly copying/butchering of Nick Hornby's playbook is a little sparse this week with the holiday and all.

This year I'll spare all of you the sarcasm about the celebration of colonial White oppression. No rants on the great U.S. of A.'s foundations on the principles of rejected religious extremists. No, not even "Happy Thanksgiving--have a blanket!" jokes. Just last week's reads:
  • Isaac Babel, "My First Goose"
  • Orson Scott Card, "A Cross-Country Trip to Kill Richard Nixon"
  • Carrie Richerson, "...With By Good Intentions"
  • Isaac Babel, "Guy de Maupassant"
Two Book Sales ago, I got an old edition of Isaac Babel's COLLECTED STORIES. This was back when I got hooked on Raymond Carver, someone who worshipped Babel. It all seemed beyond me at first and it wasn't until I read Lessing's "Homage to Isaac Babel" last week that I had a context in which to finally open up one of Babel's story and actually get it. It's not for nothing that folks often quote "No iron can stab the heart with such force as a period put just at the right place." from Babel's "Guy de Maupassant."

Back on the skiffy/fantasy tip, I dug out another one from Card's MAPS IN A MIRROR anthology. Even a casual reader could look at the title "A Cross-Country Trip to Kill Richard Nixon" and dread the hundred-and-one different things that could go wrong with a story with that premise. Thing is that any problems the story had, IMO, didn't have much to do with the premise. Just things that seemed unlikely to me, even in a fantasy tale.

The one thing that "Nixon" and the story "...With By Good Intentions" from the Oct/Nov F&SF had in common were the simple plots and premises drawn into simple, crafted tales. One might debate whether they were good or bad--I liked them both. But I'll be damned if Card and Richerson made it look so damn easy it almost made me sick.

Next week: probably some stuff from Harlan Ellison's DANGEROUS VISIONS anthology.
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