May Reading Thread

Read while away from the computer the previous time (which I forgot to list the previous time, if you follow me):L

The Big Book of American Humor: The Best of the Past 25 Years (1990) edited by William Novak and Moshe Waldoks. Title tells all. Some stuff will amuse you, some won't.

The Annotated Wizard of Oz: Centennial Edition (2000 update of 1975 [if memory serves] original), text (of course) by L. Frank Baum, tons of additional material and notes by Michael Patrick Hearn. Very informative.

Read while away from the computer the most recent time (if you see what I mean):

Is He Dead? A Comedy in Three Acts (written 1898; never published until 2003, never performed until 2007) by Mark Twain. Farce in which a group of friends of an artist fake his death to increase the value of his work. He has to dress in drag as his imaginary sister. The oddest thing is that Twain makes the artist the real-life painter Jean-Francois Millet (creator of famous rural paintings like "The Man With the Hoe") who was already dead in 1875, and makes mention of some of his real paintings. I have no idea why he didn't just use a fictional painter.

Gentle Ben (1965; my copy is a 1992 reprint) by Walt Morey. A boy and his bear, set in pre-statehood Alaska. Lots of local color, which makes it even weirder that the very loose movie and TV adaptations changed the setting to Florida.

The March 1988 issue of Amazing Stories magazine. Not that great. A decent Arthurian fantasy by John Brunner, a few forgettable stories, and nearly half the issue wasted with a lousy sword-and-sorcery novella. Best story in the issue, by Paul J. McAuley, is a reprint from Interzone.
 
William Shakespeare plays: Henry VI: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

Also, Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
This is a strange novel, but I enjoyed it immensely. It might even be better on a second read. I find it impossible to write something coherent about Harrow the Ninth that doesn't provide too many spoilers. I will say that the novel is crazy and weird, but also intriguing because WTF?! And that the reader may be confused (but only if they are not paying attention), but then again so is Harrow. Some of the chapters are written in second person narration, which may be off-putting to some, but after about 3 paragraphs I stopped noticing. There is a very good reason for this choice of narration style too. Muir doesn't do any hand-holding and dumps the reader right into the action. I feel the world-building suffers a bit from this tactic, but Muir has provided a glossary which may help readers who need more information. I love the character of Harrow, and I loved getting to know more of her. The poor thing has been dumped in the deep end, has a brother Lychtor trying to kill her, currently resides on a haunted space station, and the Emperor/God is a guy named John who insists on serving tea with bikkies.​
 
I've begun a second reading of Caxton's edition of Malory's Morte d'Arthur (old orange-spine Penguin Classics edition in 2 volumes). Posting comments at the Camelot Clearinghouse thread (for pre-1600). I'm reading Owen Barfield's comic look at a law office, This Ever Diverse Pair. I'm completing the unabridged Grimms' Fairy Tales that I began 15 years ago. I'm reading a commentary (Steinmann) on 2 Samuel. I've begun to reread Barfield's History in English Words. I'll be spending time with Max Hastings' Bomber Command. And I have a short story collection by Walter de la Mare from the library, The Wind Blows Over. So I'm really feasting on interesting and worthwhile reads.
 
Don't Fear the Reaper (Indian Lake Trilogy #2) by Stephen Graham Jones

Jennifer "Jade" Daniels is back in Proofrock, Idaho after four years away and, as expected, not all is well.

Jones does a great job of orienting the reader to the changes in Proofrock since My Heart Is a Chainsaw, summarizing Jade's experiences since the Independence Day festivities of 2015, drawing parallels with Jade's favorite kind of movie and setting the reader smack in the middle of a rocket fast plot: A serial killer has come to Proofrock during a debilitating blizzard and only Jade and a few survivors from 2015 recognize the signs. As bodies start falling, the question of who steps up to contend with the killer -- among other threats -- comes down to who is left standing.

This read is not good because it's effectively unsettling, but because Jones knows how to make the cost of being in this place at this time explicit while developing his characters. No puppets here, just people trying to survive threats human and -- otherwise. And some do survive, and some don't.
 
THE HOLOGRAPHIC UNIVERSE, by
Michael Talbot, 1991,Audio.

Alternative physics.
 
The Long Game, a novella by K. J. Parker (aka Tom Holt).

Like all Parker stories, the plot is clever and the style wryly (often darkly) humorous. The unnamed narrator/protagonist is a travelling exorcist. He hates the job, but he's so very good at it, his superiors back at the Studium (if you've read much of Parker's short fiction you already know about the Studium) find him more useful doing this than going back to his former job as a research fellow, which is what he would prefer.

Over the course of his career he has encountered the same demon so many times, he's begun to consider him (he thinks of the demon as male though more properly it's an "it") as something akin to a friend. He can't trust his colleagues, because they're his rivals, and as likely as not to stab him in the back in the interest of their own advancement, but the way he figures it, with the forces of the Enemy, things are more clear-cut and he at least knows where everyone stands. So whenever he and the demon meet, they exchange pleasantries, feed each other false information, he exorcises the demon, and each goes on his (or its) way.

Except . . . this time there are complications. A rare female adept from a country so distant it's probably mythical is on a mission to capture a demon and take it back home to Idalia, to be used as a weapon. A local official has been murdered under mysterious circumstances. And there is a shady deal being negotiated between the Idalians (if they exist) and the Abbot back at the Studium. What is a relatively conscientious fellow like our hero supposed to do?

As in so many of Parker's stories, it turns out that short term victories are less significant than who has a clear sense of the Long Game. (Hint: that's not the side that doesn't live forever.)
 
Just finished The Green Mile and to answer the question posed by @Orcadian I’d say the film followed the book quite closely. As for reiligious overtones, I didn’t think there was too much in either film or book but, when you think about it, the setting of 1932 is a time when folk were more god fearing and more likely to attribute strange events to the power of a creator. With that in mind, I think any religious aspect would be both understandable and acceptable regarding a story of this nature.

All-in-all, a thoroughly recommended book that displays what a very fine writer King is.

Now starting a short history of the exceedingly short lived Weimar Republic.
 
Just finished The Green Mile and to answer the question posed by @Orcadian I’d say the film followed the book quite closely. As for reiligious overtones, I didn’t think there was too much in either film or book but, when you think about it, the setting of 1932 is a time when folk were more god fearing and more likely to attribute strange events to the power of a creator. With that in mind, I think any religious aspect would be both understandable and acceptable regarding a story of this nature.
Yep; I'd forgotten the book is set around 1930. Agree re religiosity, given the date. Not sure whether King includes religion is his novels set in more recent times (where there's certainly no shortage of strange events ;)).
 
I am about to start Voyagers in Time (1967) edited by Robert Silverberg. Time travel stories, ranging from an excerpt from The Time Machine by H. G. Wells (1895) to a couple of stories from 1965. I've already read about half of them, and some are very familiar.

The ad in the back pages of this paperback for something called the Young America Record Club -- "Free 15 rock records $13.35 value -- when you join Young America Record Club for only $1.00" -- is interesting. So is the fact that the ad listing other books from the publisher mostly consists of books about sports.
 
I got about half way with this very many years ago. It was long-winded. I'm wondering if I should give it another go?
It is without doubt long winded but then it is all about atmosphere not action so long winded is probably fairly inevitable. I enjoyed the first two book many years ago but, like many others, I didn't get on with the third book.
 
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