Just bringing this discussion over to ning...

What books are you reading right now that don't have a narrative driven by images as well as words?

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Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

I decided to take a little break from Piers Anthony and just finished reading The Little Sister by Raymond Chandler. Its been a while since I've read any Chandler, and it was a fun little diversion. Marlowe is hired by a Midwestern girl to find her brother, and gets involved with gangsters and Hollywood. A recipe for disaster to be sure.

I'm almost finished with the Executed by R R Haywood, which is the second book of the "Extracted" trilogy. This is a really good time travel story. Although it does make your head hurt sometimes. This book had a surprising death (to me), and something so obvious to me happens, I thought the character who didn't see it coming must be really dumb. I already bought the third book, and can't wait to finish it. I bought it digitally on Amazon.

I am also now back to Piers Anthony's "Incarnations of Immortality" series, and just begun Wielding a Red Sword which deals with the incarnation of War

It's October, so I'm back to my annual Halloween-oriented reading.  Currently working on:

  • The Vampire in Lore and Legend by Montague Summers.  Summers may (or may not) have been a Catholic priest.  He was definitely either a well-read and eccentric crank, or a very committed hoaxster.
  • Dracula's Guest, a collection of Victorian era vampire stories.  The collection includes the first chapter of Rymer's Varney the Vampyre, which is now on my "must read" list.  It's so over the top -- grandly putting the dreadful in penny dreadful -- that it's an absolute hoot (although I'm guessing best in small doses).
  • H.P. Lovecraft's Book of Horror, a collection of short stories referenced by Lovecraft in his essay "Supernatural Horror in Literature" (which is also included).

Re. 19th c. vampire fiction, Black Coat Press has published translations of some French examples: French Lord Ruthven plays and novels by Paul Féval.

Robert Southey's poem Thalaba the Destroyer has a vampire sequence.

Heinrich Marschner composed a vampire opera, Der Vampyr.

Wordsworth Editions published an edition of Varney, the Vampyre a few years ago. The text can be found online, of course. Librivox.org has a sound version, and I've listened to a large part of it. I think two writers were likely involved as some chapters seek to explain away the supernatural element while others embrace it.

Paul Barber's Vampires, Burial and Death: Folklore and Reality traces vampire folklore to the facts of bodily decay. It's a striking interpretation.

Cool! Thanks for the recommendations, Luke.

Still working on all of the above (although, once Halloween has come and gone, I'll most likely stick in a bookmark and set them aside until next October).

Meanwhile -- since I clearly have the attention span of a gnat -- I've also started Dr. Bowdler's Legacy: A History of Expurgated Books in England and America by Noel Perrin.

Meanwhile -- since I clearly have the attention span of a gnat -- I've also started Dr. Bowdler's Legacy: A History of Expurgated Books in England and America by Noel Perrin.

And now things are getting weird.

In a chapter on the decline of bowdlerism after the First World War, Perrin mentions the release of an unexpurgated edition of the works of (previously taboo) novelist and playwright Aphra Behn, including a quote from the editor's preface to that book mocking the "absurdities and falsities" of Victorian bowdlerists.

That editor?  Montague Summers, author of the book on vampire lore sitting in my satchel right now.


BRIEF ANSWERS TO THE BIG QUESTIONS by Stephen Hawking: This is the third Stephen Hawking book I have read following A Brief History of Time and The Universe in a Nutshell. The most recent book of this type I have read is Neil de Grasse Tyson’s Astrophysics for People in a Hurry last year. The introduction by Hawking’s colleague, Kip Thorne, al,ost lost me, but in his own introduction, Hawking pulled me back, saying, “but most people can understand and appreciate the basic ideas [of science] if they are presented in a clear way without equations.” (He said this 11 pages before presenting a “simple” formula for expressing the measure of entropy in a system.) Actually, it was quite easy for the layman (such as myself) to understand, but even so, when he starts discussing concepts such as imaginary time and M-theory and 11-dimensions, my mind starts to fog over.

I'm finally reading Song of Kali (1986). I have some issues with Dan Simmons, but when he's on, he's on.

My non-fiction reading has included Dream Tower, a 1988 history of the rise and fall of Rochdale College, an intriguing and notorious chapter in Toronto history. I've still not seen the more recent documentary inspired by the book.

Doctor Who should set an episode at Rochdale during its heyday, maybe a combination monster-on-the-run/social commentary. Most viewers would just assume the "Dream Tower" was just an imaginary SF setting.

I'm reading Thin Air, the latest science fiction novel by Richard K. Morgan (his debut novel was Altered Carbon, which Netflix made into a series). I've seen the series, but haven't read the novel. I can say the setting is another dystopian future, but this time the setting is Mars. There is a major political battle brewing, and a juicy missing person mystery developing. So far, so good.

Apparenly I need a longer break from Piers Anthony as those books have a lot of sameness to them. So, I re-read The Friends of Eddie Coyle, which is simply a masterpiece. I love it.

Now I'm reading The Tin Collectors by Stephen J Cannell, I'm barely into it, so I'm not quite sure what it is about. I do know Tin Collectors are members of Internal Affairs who try and get fellow officers fired to further their own careers.

I just finished V.E. Schwab's Vicious (a book club selection I probably wouldn't have thought of reading otherwise). Very enjoyable take on mutants, and a fast read. I'll certainly read the sequel, which just came out in September.

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