Thursday, August 28, 2014

Mail Bag

I actually bought some honest-to-goodness physical books this past summer. Two, actually. One's thin and one's thick.

The thin one's The Fox Valley Murders, one of Jack Vance's mysteries. I've never read one. I enjoy his sci-fi/fantasy work immensely and expect good things of this. I'm anxious to see how someone I know for black humor and ornate prose handled what looks like a small-town mystery.

The replacement was a Norton Critical Edition of Othello. I've read a decent amount of Shakespeare over the years and took a class in college but I've never read this (or The Tempest). I pick up Norton Critical Editions pretty much whenever I find them in decent shape. Even when I don't read the plays or stories right away I read through the attached essays and criticism.

I also bought several e-books over the past season. For $1.98 I got all four Captain Blood books by Rafael Sabatini. Sure, you can get 'em for free on Project Gutenberg, and sure Odyssey is misspelled on the front cover, and sure there are typos, but what the heck, they're full formatted and have workable ToC so I'm happy enough for my two dollars. I'm well into the first book, a collection of linked stories titled Tales of the Brethren, and it's great. Blood's a much more pragmatic and dangerous character than Errol Flynn portrayed him.

Last year I became aware of Laird Barron thanks to James McGlothlin's review of The Croning  over at Black Gate. Deciding to see if I'd like Barron's work I bought The Imago Sequence and was hooked. At some point in the story "Hallucigenia" I found myself feeling I should never bother writing again. Maybe I wouldn't be as affected if I reread the story tonight but in that moment, Barron's prose made clear to me what great writing is.

McGlothlin cost me some more money this August when he reviewed the new anthology of Barron-inspired stories, The Children of Old Leech. Unlike most books I mention in these Mail Bag post, I've already read this one. I'd give it a solid 3.5 stars. The good stories are great, gut-wrenching things. The last line of John Langan's "Ymir" will haunt me for long time. Unfortunately, the weak stories really stink. They're the sort that are all vague, and more dreamy than nightmarish. The sorts of dull stuff that too often haunts anthologies you otherwise love and makes you drop your rating down a notch or two.

Finally, after Howard Andrew Jones' post, Pulp Swashbucklers, I sprung for two Wildside collections, the Pirates Megapack and the H.Bedford Jones Megapack, again at a total cost again of $1.98. Looking at the contents along with all the other stuff I'm supposed to be reading this fall I'm starting to feel a little overwhelmed. But in a good way. 


  1. Utterly self-interested comment follows. You should probably just ignore it.
    While you're on a pirates kick...

  2. uh, no, I'm not sure I'm capable of ignoring a link that brings me to a pirate anthology with a Howard Pyle cover. thanx!