One of my favorite local St. Pete hangouts is Haslam’s Book Store. I never seem to tire of browsing and buying used books there (or anywhere else, for that matter). Sometimes, the rattier the look and smell and feel of the books the better. Here are my first three hits of 2019. All of them wonderfully well-worn, as you can see.
Pseudo-People is a collection of science fiction android stories originally published in 1965. It includes tales by Ray Bradbury, Harry Kuttner, Isaac Asimov, Richard Matheson, and more. Most of the pieces were originally published in the 1950s. Classic stuff. I was surprised to find a page for it on goodreads. If you want to check it out, here it is.
(Rating: A Rocket Blast From the Past!)
Lewis Shiner was, for a while in the 1980s, one of my favorite authors. I first fell in love with his short stories. I held onto his novel Deserted Cities of the Heart for a long time as a treasured artifact from when I was learning how to write fiction. It was originally published in 1988. I’m not sure what happened to my copy. I probably loaned it out and never got it back. I can’t wait to re-read it — after 30 years! (Sigh.)
(Rating: The 1980s Weren’t All Bad!)
Zane Grey is well known as the master of the western genre. Most people are familiar with his novel Riders of the Purple Sage (1912), which has lived on in film and print. But it was The Mysterious Rider that caught my eye in the bookstore. I dashed through it in a few sessions of casual late-night reading. The language, style, dialogue, and especially the characters and their sensibilities were delightfully reflective of the Old West as well as Grey’s own time (original publication date 1921). I was surprised to find an annotated version of it on Kindle. Read and enjoy!
I wanted to write one last blog before the end of the year, so in the spirit of our shrinking 2018 timeline, I’ll make it a quickie.
First, for those of you who love short fiction as much as I do, my last literary journey of the year is Ottessa Moshfegh’s Homesick for Another World. It’s a fabulous short story collection filled with quirky characters in search of their own perfect worlds. The stories are often as odd as the people who inhabit them. I love how creepy the author makes me feel inside my own skin as she explores the inner workings, troubled minds, and secret longings of her characters. Fans of the bizarre hiding inside realism will quiver with joy.
If you’re a true coffee lover like I am, I’m sure you get a kick out of discovering new brews. Nothing goes better with reading and writing than a good cup of java. In November I foundWicked Joe, a family owned coffee company that appears to be both socially conscious and Earth friendly. They offer several varieties. I tried their Wicked Italian (naturally!)—organic fair trade, whole bean, dark roast—and brewed it French press style as recommended. (Rating: Delish!)
While enjoying Wicked Joe’s delizioso Italian dark roast, you might as well pair it with some savory Jewish folk tales.Jonathon Keats delves into ancient Jewish lore in The Book of the Unknown: Tales of the Thirty-Six. You won’t need a course in Judaism 101 to get a kick out of these short fantasy tales of unruly magic and the truly bizarre. Just an open mind, a vivid imagination, and a willingness to suspend all manner of disbelief. (Rating: Great fun!)
No book could be more timely than Omar El Akkad’sAmerican War, offering a speculative glimpse into the next American Civil War (circa 2074). What will become of our society if we can’t put an end to our anger, hatred, and divisiveness? Akkad’s extrapolation, frightening as it is, is probably not the worst case scenario. If you’ve been following the decline of American politics and civil discourse lo these recent years, this novel won’t make you feel any better about it, but it’s a thought-provoking journey nonetheless. (Rating: Go there if you dare!)
October gave me two great books. First, hats off to Mary Shelley and the 200th anniversary of the novel Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus. If you haven’t read the book in a long time, get the recent Penguin editionthat reprints the original 1818 text with a new intro. Then, as a companion piece, watch the National Theatre’s live stage play on the big screen,Frankenstein, 2018 Encore. I saw it with friends at The Little Theatre during my visit upstate. You might need to hunt around for a theater that’s showing it, but it will be worth the effort. Promise!
I became a Michael Connelly fan a few years ago, and he’s now my favorite working writer of detective fiction. I’ve been knocking off his books in no particular order. I recently readThe Concrete Blonde,a Harry Bosch novel, the third if you’re counting (originally pubbed in 1994). It’s one of the best I’ve read in the series so far. If you aren’t familiar with Connelly, check out his work, and read this exquisite feature piece in The Guardian.
One final note to my cherished few readers. Here are the ordering and social media links for the Nov/Dec F&SFwhere my Italian folktale “The Baron and His Floating Daughter” appears. It’s a great issue. Enjoy!
Happy to announce that the 2018 Nov/Dec issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction has landed, and my story is in it. I’m thrilled to be among some of the finest short fiction writers in the field, including one of my personal favorites, Jeffery Ford. Special thanks to editor C.c. Finlay and all the readers who love the short form as much as I do—and still don’t mind reading stuff in print. : )