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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

You thought because of the holidays, I was too busy to rip off Nick Hornby's playbook. You were wrong (though I didn't think I was going to post this before today). Last week, I read...
  • Fritz Lieber, "Gonna Roll the Bones"
  • Robert J. Sawyer, "Biding Time"
  • J. Robert Lennon, "Dead Roads," "Election," "The Current Event," "Claim," "Opening," "Copycats," "Town Life," "Rivalry," "Get Over It," "Composure," "Silence," "The Pipeline," and "Leaves"
  • Susanna Clarke, "John Uskglass and the Cumbrian Charcoal Burner"
  • M. Rickert, "The Christmas Witch"
I just had to read something seasonal but I viewed the title "The Christmas Witch" with the same trepidation as last year's DOCTOR WHO special "The Christmas Invasion." Of course, I liked WHO better, but this story wasn't so bad. Not at all what the title or even the cover of the issue of F&SF it came in would imply. It was an engaging novelette but stories that try to keep you ostensibly guessing tend to wear me out. The ones that tell you such and such a character or situation is supernatural...possibly. I liked another tale from that issue much better, Susanna Clarke's "John Uskglass..." and I know next to nothing about her JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR. NORRELL. It's definitely on my reading list for 2007--yes, 2007: The Year I Go Back to Reading Novels...Maybe.

The more I read from the SLIPSTREAM anthology, the less of it I like. I can't argue with the plot and pacing Sawyer's "Biding Time." It's a short, easy-to-follow detective story, solved by the end whereupon the bad guy is on his way to getting his just desserts. Only, I found that I couldn't care less about any of it. I never doubted for an instant that the detective would succeed.

I have to read more Fritz Leiber because "Gonna Roll the Bones" rocked. Like everything else in DANGEROUS VISIONS, there's so much more to it than the typical "gambling with the Devil/Death/Boogeyman" storyline. I'm definitely giving it a second read sometime soon.

I mentioned before that I purchased the collection PIECES FOR THE LEFT HAND by J. Robert Lennon. The thing was imported from the UK since it hasn't been published in the U.S. of A. as of yet. The bookstore wanted a little more for it and rightly so. Luckily, I chose to buy it on the day the store was giving a 10% discount off of any book with five or more words in the title. I would've (reluctantly) paid full price, so you know...gift horses and all that. And, it's certainly been a gift. --waitaminute, I guess I almost did pay full price, damn New York sales taxes! Doesn't matter. Needless to say I've been enthralled by the pieces I've read so far. A lot of them could provide endless fodder for the debate on whether short-shorts are too short to be short stories. From the first section, I'd say Lennon succeeds more often than not. Plus, well, I live in the same area he does so a lot of his "anecdotes" from the "Town & Country" section absolutely resonated.

PASSAGE OF THE WEEK
As Joe lowered hs gaze all the way and looked directly down, his eyes barely over the table, he got the crazy notion that it went down all the way through the world, so that the diamonds were the stars on the other side, visible despite the sunlight there...and so that if a cleaned-out gambler, dizzy with defeat, toppled forward into it, he'd fall forever, toward the bottommost bottom, be it Hell or some black galaxy.

-Fritz Leiber, "Gonna Roll the Bones"
Next Week: Now, where'd I put that Cheever collection...?
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