Friday, February 5, 2016

FFB: THE LITTLE MAGAZINE IN AMERICA: A MODERN DOCUMENTARY HISTORY edited by Elliott Anderson and Mary Kinzie (TriQuarterly 43/Pushcart Press 1978)

When a little magazine has a 750-page issue, the nature of little magazines might need explication. Happily, issue 43 of TriQuarterly amply demonstrated what (however arguably) little magazines were, at least, in the 20th Century...and its influence in the field when it was published was sufficient that the University of Chicago Press, down the street and across the way from Northwestern, the latter still the home of the online echo of the heroic years of TQ, has published last year a new, shorter collection that echoes this one in content and title, The Little Magazine in Contemporary America (which also struggles to clearly establish, if not quite define, what a little magazine is)(in case you're on tenterhooks, some would insist, or at least would in 1978, that any college/university-sponsored magazine, such as TQ itself, didn't qualify as a little magazine...when I was appointed to editorship of Hawai'i Review, I had to explain to one ex-schoolmate why a "little" magazine wasn't a "mini" magazine, but instead the adjective referred to the circulation rather than the dimensions of the issue itself).

The contents of this issue/volume (Pushcart Press basically took the camera-ready pages of the magazine issue, added a not quite good index, and replaced the unusually unimpressive TQ cover with the funereal image at left, on their hardcover and trade paperback editions) are an interesting array of memoirs, interviews, survey essays and similar materials, from movers and shakers in the small-press literary magazine world, stretching back to the early years of the likes of transition and The Sewanee Review, from the no-budget mimeographed beginnings of Story magazine and the complete run of Neurotica, to the fairly elaborate productions of  magazines published as multiple pieces of literary art, shipped in a box (a concept emulated from time to time over the years since) and the at-first  well-produced paperback issues and eventual slick and Beat-erotic Evergreen Review.
And how people loop in and out of  the magazine culture as documented here...August Derleth, the Wisconsin regionalist, horror fiction writer, Lovecraft devotee/Arkham House editor and publisher, and Solar Pons (ersatz Sherlock Holmes) chronicler, was also a bit of a labor radical early in his literary career, and a contributor in the 1930s to The Anvil, the Proletarian litmag which was merged with (and co-opted by) Partisan Review; Derleth reappears in 1958 as a force for reaction, as the sole prosecution witness from the literary community against the (rather slick) magazine Big Table, founded to feature contents of a suppressed issue of Chicago Review, which was pulled from publication by the University of Chicago after Chicago Daily News complaints of the Beat literature and other Filth published there; the Post Office censors decided, in those immediately pre-Lenny Bruce-prosecution years, to get upset about The Naked Lunch excerpts and Kerouac contributions in the new magazine (speaking of  those who recur in history: Judge Julius J. Hoffman found in favor of Big Table as not obscene, a decade before presiding over the Chicago Seven trial). 

Just another example of the ambitious and impressive projects tackled by TQ in the 1970s, before the gibbons of reaction at Northwestern U. made their resentment of the vital nature of the magazine manifest. 

The WorldCat index: 
Prefatory note / Elliott Anderson & Mary Kinzie --
Of living Belfry and Rampart: on American literary magazines since 1950 / Michael Anania--
Academia and the little magazine / Charles Robinson --
Felix Pollak, an interview on little magazines / Mark Olson, John Judson, Richard Boudreau --
Little magazine in its place : literary culture and anarchy / Robert Boyers --
Kenyon Review, 1939-1970 / Robie Macauley --
Southern review and a post-southern American letters / Lewis P. Simpson --
On editing Furioso / Reed Whittemore --
On Anvil / Jack Conroy --
On Partisan review / William Phillips --
Memoir of a 50 year old publisher on his voyage to outer space
/ Seymour Lawrence --
Orl : hallelujah on a straw / Theodore Weiss --
Manifesto (sotto voce) / James Boatwright --
Karl Shapiro, an interview on Poetry / Michael Anania, Ralph J. Mills, Jr. --
Care and funding of Pegasus / Joseph Parisi --
Origin / Cid Corman --
On Black Mountain review / Robert Creeley --
Daisy Aldan, an interview on Folder / Dennis Barone --
Kulchur : a memoir / Lita Hornick --
Neon, Kulchur, etc. / Gilbert Sorrentino --
Leroi Jones, an interview on Yugen / David Ossman --
Backward glance O'er beatnik roads / Krim --
On Big table, Chicago Review, and the Purple Sage / Peter Michelson --
On Trace / James Boyer May --
Gall of Wormwood in printing over 66 issues and still continuing / Marvin Malone --
Robert Kelly, an interview on Trobar / David Ossman --
El corno emplumado, 1961-1969: some notes in retrospect, 1975 / Margaret Randall --
Dust: a tribal seed / Len Fulton --
On Kayak / George Hitchcock --
Doing caterpillar / Clayton Eshleman --
Blue suede shoes, issue (Babe Ruth essay) / Keith Abbott --
History of Io, 1964-1976 / Richard Grossinger --
Discussion of little magazines and related topics / Anne Waldman, Larry Fagin --
On Fiction / Mary Jay Mirsky --
Enterprise in the service of art / George Plimpton --
Stridency and the sword : literary and cultural emphasis in Afro-American magazine / Eugene Redmond --
Little magazine/small press connection : some conjecture / Tom Montag --
Behind the writer, ahead of the reader : a short history of Corinth Books / Ted Wilentz, Bill Zavatsky --
On Pushcart Press / Bill Henderson --
Who do they think they are? A personal history of the Fiction Collective / Jonathan Baumbach --
Report on the Fiction Collective / Gene Lyons --
The little magazine today / Felix Stefanile --
Annotated bibliography of selected little magazines / Peter Martin.

Please see Patti Abbott's blog for more of today's books.






















Friday, January 29, 2016

Friday's Forgotten Books: TEENSPELL edited by Betty M. Owen (Scholastic Book Services 1971); BENCHMARKS REVISITED by Algis Budrys (Ansible Editions 2013); Damon Knight issue, F&SF, November 1976

The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards...among the training programs for the young creative and/or intellectual aspirant, there have been worse batting averages. Actress Frances Farmer won for an essay in 1931; the next year, Robert McCloskey and Bernard Malamud were among the winners, after the founding of the contest in 1923; in the period of 1954-1956, awards went to Roger Zelazny, Robert Redford, Peter Beagle, Joyce Carol Oates, Peter Steiner; Redford's award was for a painting. (Earlier in the decade, Alan Arkin won with a sculpture; the next year, abstract filmmaker Stan Brakhage won with a short story.) 1947 was a bumper year: Edward Sorel, Sylvia Plath (rather less traumatically than her Mademoiselle win); Langston Hughes was one of the judges. And Scholastic has published with fair frequency collections of the awarded work, though in the 1970s the volumes weren't annual as they have been of late, after the 2005 folding of Literary Cavalcade, the flagship Scholastic Magazine (albeit one of a handful) for the awards for a half-century. 

Betty M. Owen edited two of those volumes from the 1970s, this one collected work from the turn of the decade, and it demonstrates a lot of promising work. Not any of it first rate, but there are glimmers of what these youngsters will eventually be able to do, if they kept at it...Joyce Maynard, perhaps the most consistent award-winner in the contest's history (picking up an award for every year from 1966-1971 except for 1969; Stephen King won in '65, Carolyn Forche in '67), offers the best single story here, "Do You Wanna Dance?"; she gets her New York Times Magazine essay and extended date with Salinger in '71, and goes on from there. Most of the fiction, essays and to some extent the poetry is reminiscent of what Joanna Russ once described in a critical essay as one of several species of mechanical rabbit...those by young amateur writers being rabbitoids with pieces obviously missing, but put together with endearing earnestness. And occasionally there's a telling line, such as in Michele Kitay's "Wings" (about a younger college-student son visiting his aging parents on their farm after the elder, farmhand-by-necessity son was killed in an accident), at their first reunion dinner together: "Everywhere you looked, there was that empty chair." Aside from Maynard, I'm not aware of any of the 1967-71 contributors to this volume (Forche is not included) having had a sustained literary career (though Kitay might be the Kitay listed in LinkedIn). 

The Russ essay appeared in the special Damon Knight issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, which is about as good as transition as there is to considering the second collection of Algis Budrys's similar review essays for that magazine; Russ was stepping away from F&SF reviews at this point (though she'd return with four columns in 1979-80) even as Budrys was coming out of retirement from his half-decade of Galaxy columns in 1970 to begin his decade and a half as a Knight-influenced essayist for this somewhat less unstable magazine (F&SF continues publishing today; Galaxy folded, with weak attempts at revival to follow, in 1980).  David Langford and Greg Pickersgill, the proprietors of Ansible Editions or at least the joint presenters of this project with help from several others, did us all a great service in taking on the project of reprinting all of Budrys's F&SF review essays, in three volumes titled in recognition of the collected Galaxy essays, Benchmarks: Galaxy Bookshelf (SIU Press 1985).  Budrys, in a footnote:

'There was never such a thing as one "pulp fiction"; the standards of fiction would vary from medium to medium and genre to genre and sometimes from issue to issue, and the famous hack of folklore has been vanishingly rare, but never mind; if we don't simplify these matters, we'll be here all day in the hot sun."

Re-reading these, since I would read them as they appeared in the magazine, is revealing in part because of how much they nudged my own thought along, how much his challenge to all sorts of conventional thought about speculative fiction and all sorts of other matter suited me down to the ground.  You can see the beginning, in this volume, of what drew the Scientologists to hire him to administer the Writers of the Future contest and edit the anthologies from it (Budrys, who was never afraid to note how popular if not always good Hubbard was as a writer in the 1940s, took the opportunity to review together the new, deeply-flawed novels by Hubbard, Asimov  and Clarke--Battlefield Earth, Foundation's Edge and 2010: Odyssey II--and noting how their flaws and strengths were more similar than one might at first think)--among the most controversial things Budrys did during his career, even if it can be seen as taking some of the CoS's money and putting it to a useful (and Scholastic-esque) purpose. (The first Writers of the Future anthology featured the fledgling writers Karen Joy Fowler, well before Sarah Canary much less The Jane Austen Book Club, Nina Kiriki Hoffman and David Zindel, among others; Budrys didn't shrink from describing its assembly in one of the columns.) Conversely, younger hands such as George R. R. Martin and Stephen King have their work similarly sapiently anatomized and assessed, as do the then very new, such as Zoe Fairbarns, and the not so new at all, including particularly useful essays on the memoirs of Lloyd Arthur Eshbach and Jack Williamson, and a then-new translation of Zamaytin's We that marked a vast improvement on previous attempts. (Because her review was appended to one of Budrys's essays, the YA lit specialist and then associate editor of F&SF, Anne Jordan, gives us a fine review of  a notional volume by Hildebrandts mixing fantasy illustration and some fictional content with cookbook recipes.) The third volume, Benchmarks Concluded, carries some of the last, relatively tired columns written when Budrys was feeling the burn-out that had also afflicted him while turning out the last Galaxy columns, but not so much here, when his essays were appearing nearly every month and at times last such length as to make this one of these essentially 250ish pp. volumes the one which covers the shortest period of time. They are frequently brilliant, and one can mostly regret not being able to ask Budrys the next question when he is just a bit vague (when so, usually intentionally so, though not always--these were written to publishing deadline) or referring to something just a bit beyond the periphery of the eyepiece he provides. They are always worth reading.

For that matter, one might as well make note of the November 1976 Damon Knight issue of F&SF for its totality, with its brilliant Knight story (and appreciation by Theodore Sturgeon), fine and notable stories by David Drake and Russell Kirk, a solid L. Sprague de Camp, and another of the series of stories by Philip Jose Farmer purporting to be written by Kurt Vonnegut characters.


  • 5 • I See You • shortstory by Damon Knight
  • 17 • Damon Knight: An Appreciation • essay by Theodore Sturgeon
  • 26 • Damon Knight Bibliography • essay by Vincent Miranda
  • 29 •  Cartoon: "... but then I realized in order to make it work I'd have to invent a socket and God knows what else." • interior artwork by Gahan Wilson
  • 32 • Saviourgate • [Ralph Bain] • shortstory by Russell Kirk
  • 48 • Children of the Forest • novelette by David Drake
  • 66 • Books (F&SF, November 1976) • [Books (F&SF)] • essay by Joanna Russ
  • 66 •   ReviewThe Clewiston Test by Kate Wilhelm • review by Joanna Russ
  • 70 •   ReviewMillennium by Ben Bova • review by Joanna Russ
  • 70 •   ReviewStarmother by Sydney J. Van Scyoc • review by Joanna Russ
  • 71 •   ReviewComet by Jane White • review by Joanna Russ
  • 72 •   ReviewCloned Lives by Pamela Sargent • review by Joanna Russ
  • 72 •   ReviewStar Trek: The New Voyages by Sondra Marshak and Myrna Culbreath • review by Joanna Russ
  • 74 • Moses • shortstory by Ken Wisman
  • 95 • Films: See Logan Run • [Films (F&SF)] • essay by Baird Searles
  • 98 • The Coronet • [Incorporated Knight] • shortstory by L. Sprague de Camp
  • 109 • The Comet That Wasn't • [Asimov's Essays: F&SF] • essay by Isaac Asimov
  • 120 • The Doge Whose Barque Was Worse Than His Bight • [Ralph von Wau Wau • 2] • novelette by Philip José Farmer [as by Jonathan Swift Somers, III ]

  • Everyone's more prompt than I am with their reviews at Patti Abbott's blog.


    Friday, January 22, 2016

    FFM: TRIQUARTERLY #49: SCIENCE FICTION edited by Jonathan Brent, David G. Hartwell, Elliott Anderson and Robert Onopa (Northwestern University Press 1980)

    TriQuarterly #49 was meant to be another of the series of adventurous theme issues the Northwestern University-based little magazine had been publishing through the latter '70s; Elliott Anderson and Robert Onopa had put together issues devoted to western fiction and "Love and Hate" and their immediate predecessor (with whom they'd served as assistant editors) had helmed an issue subtitled "Prose for Borges"...so putting together an issue devoted to sf didn't seem too outlandish a project, particularly since Onopa had already published an sf novel, The Pleasure Tube, which had been purchased for publication by Berkley Publishing by their then editor, David Hartwell, in 1978, though Hartwell had left Berkley to begin the Timescape imprint at Pocket Books by the time the novel had been published in 1979, and the new administration took as little care getting it into presentable shape as a publishing package as possible, with the almost comically inane blurb, "Beyond the Star Range: Infinite Sex and Ultimate Horror" plastered prominently across the shoddily-concocted cover of a seriously-intended and rather innovative novel that, among other things, had no part of itself taking place Beyond the Star Range, wherever that might reside. Hartwell, for his part, had been editing and publishing, with others originally as QuestThe Little Magazine for fifteen
    years, beginning a half-decade before he began contributing to the academic literature about sf in the early '70s, simultaneously embarking on his impressive editorial career in sf and fantasy fiction, which was abruptly terminated by his accidental death on 20 January of this year.  This would be Hartwell's only credit with the magazine, and Onopa would be separated from it after this issue, with Anderson and Brent both out the door as well by 1981 so that insurgent editor Reginald Gibbons could instead run the magazine into a Safe mediocrity with solemn promises never to do something so outlandish as a theme issue devoted to sf again.  But seeking this out at the University of Hawai'i library, while I was in high school down the street in Honolulu, was my first conscious interaction with the work of Onopa or Hartwell, though I'd seen some of the other books Hartwell had put together for Berkley, of course, including their edition of Fritz Leiber's Night's Black Agents. (Or nearly so, as I'd seen Hartwell's brief article in First World Fantasy Awards some years before; I was aware of his editorial work with Gregg Press and the quickly-folded magazine Cosmos, as well.)

    So, a quick look at the contents of the issue that would so nettle some the subscribers to and defenders of the faith around TQ at Northwestern (courtesy ISFDB):



  • 4 •  Paradise Charted • interior artwork by Algis Budrys
  • 5 • Paradise Charted • essay by Algis Budrys
  • 76 •  On Science Fiction • interior artwork by Richard Powers [as by Richard M. Powers]
  • 77 • On Science Fiction • poem by Thomas M. Disch [as by Tom Disch--as he usually signed his poetry]
  • 80 •  Small Mutations (excerpt) • interior artwork by Vincent Di Fate [as by Vincent DiFate]
  • 81 • Small Mutations (excerpt from Blakely's Ark) • shortfiction by Ian MacMillan
  • 116 •  In Looking-Glass Castle • interior artwork by Carl Lundgren
  • 117 • In Looking-Glass Castle • shortstory by Gene Wolfe
  • 130 •  Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand (excerpt) • interior artwork by Jack Gaughan
  • 131 • Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand (excerpt) • shortfiction by Samuel R. Delany
  • 162 •  When They Find You • interior artwork by Michael Whelan
  • 163 • When They Find You • (1977) • novelette by Craig Strete
  • 178 •  Ginungagap • interior artwork by Don Maitz
  • 179 • Ginungagap • novelette by Michael Swanwick
  • 212 •  The Pressure of Time • interior artwork by Frank Kelly Freas [as by Frank Kelly Frease--a typo]
  • 213 • The Pressure of Time • (1970) • novelette by Thomas M. Disch
  • 258 •  The White Donkey • interior artwork by Rowena Morrill
  • 259 • The White Donkey • shortstory by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • 262 • Contributors: • essay by uncredited
  • The long essay by Budrys is brilliant (and, as was his wont, not as kind to the general run of academic writing about sf as he could have been) and the fiction contributions, including the reprints by "Craig Strete" and Thomas Disch, as well as the new fiction by Michael Swanwick (his first story, and widely hailed) and such veterans of literate sf as Wolfe, Le Guin and Delany...and the novel excerpt by MacMillan, a fellow professor of Onopa's at the University of Hawai'i, who had already had a story from TQ in a The Pushcart Prizes volume, and would soon have another in the 1982 volume of The Best American Short Stories but hadn't yet been praised by Kurt Vonnegut as "the Stephen Crane of World War II"--that would happen after he published Proud Monster, his second novel, fixed up from a series of vignettes he wrote at Onopa's suggestion ("In the middle '70s, Bob Onopa and Elliott Anderson ran TriQuarterly, which was the best literary magazine of that decade" as Macmillan noted in a 1990 interview, in which he mentioned studying at the Iowa Writer's Workshop with R. V. Cassill and Vonnegut)...all an utterly creditable package. Onopa, having heard that I had already had a bad run-in with MacMillan, thought it best to shoo me toward the 600-level graduate writing seminar rather than take MacMillan's 400-level course after Onopa's 300-level, which I'd taken in my second semester as a freshman...the grad seminar had been set to be taught by humorist Jack Douglas, who'd tapped out, and Hawai'i-resident writer A. A. Attanasio had been recruited by Onopa to take it on (among much else, Attanasio had published poetry in the 1970s in The Little Magazine). Life can be full of improvisation, and last-minute, fateful decisions...and had been delivering not a few aggressively improvised decisions at the turn of the '80s to Robert Onopa's literary career...and I certainly benefited from some of his rather more benevolent professorial improvisations.

    For more of today's books rather than magazines, and more formal reviews than elegies, please see Patti Abbott's blog.

    Friday, January 15, 2016

    FFB: Richard S. Prather Week: SHELL SCOTT'S SEVEN SLAUGHTERS (Fawcett Gold Medal 1961)

    Barry Ergang proposed a Prather Friday Books, and as one of the best-selling crime-fiction writers we've had so far...in the same league with Christie and MacDonald and however you want to account James Patterson, that seemed to Patti Abbott not the worst idea.

    And it's not. Prather wrote most of his work, or certainly that published under his name, about Shell (Sheldon) Scott, a tall ex-Marine Hollywood/LA-based private detective, who seemed to have a lot of money to throw around despite not (in the fiction I've read) managing to worry too much about getting paid for his work, falling into bed with at least a woman or three in any given story (one gathers never for too long, as there's no steady carrying over), and, as Bill Crider notes in his review of this collection today, getting bashed in the head (and shot, but only nicks and flesh wounds) at least as often as Mike Shayne, Mannix, Blimmix or anyone else you'd like to cite in the history of crime fiction. 

    I've yet to read a Prather or Scott novel...I'd come across the short stories in anthologies, but never had gotten around to reading a book of Prather's, either, so as someone who's bought a bunch of Barry Ergang's books over the years (at The Title Page, a fine secondhand store in Bryn Mawr or arguably more in Villanova, PA), and who almost never throws in on the theme weeks, I meant to check into one or another of his many uncollected stories, figuring someone (like Bill) would've snapped up his collections (I was vaguely aware of two...turns out there are four, as The Thrilling Detective informs us:
    • Three's a Shroud (1957; three novellas) 
    • Have Gat, Will Travel (1957) 
    • Shell Scott's Seven Slaughters (1961) ...Buy this book
    • The Shell Scott Sampler (1969)
    --but I can't find the box where I tucked my several handfuls of issues of Manhunt, typically the most common market for bestselling hardboiled CF writers of the 1950s to drop their shorter works, at least if they were clients of the Scott Meredith Literary Agency, which controlled the magazine. Not a few of my 1960s Mike Shayne Mystery Magazines and any copies I might have (two?) of Shell Scott Mystery Magazine are probably in the same box.  So, having dawdled as I often do, I ended up "borrowing" this anthology from the Internet Archive...and am slightly surprised that it doesn't seem to have gone into as many editions as nearly all of Prather's other books, even given the bias toward novels too many readers regrettably share.

    I've always thought of Prather as the next-gen version of Robert Leslie Bellem, best remembered for his Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective, famously written up by S. J. Perelman in The New Yorker in the essay "Somewhere a Roscoe...".
    Like Bellem, only perhaps a bit less consistently humorously, Prather is well-known (where he still is) for fast patter and sometimes rococo slang, rather improbable incidents, more sexuality than many of his contemporaries (in Prather's case, even given the relatively leeway the post-Spillane generation were able to engage in), and nonetheless a sense of genuine love and respect for the art of the detective story (if Prather actually titled the anthology, I have to wonder if he, or whoever, did so with a nod to Paul Cain's Seven Slayers). Along with that, Scott and the other male characters have a tendency to be utterly gosh-wow floored by sudden female nudity that seems to be more reader-service than anything resembling actual behavior of any such bed-hoppers, but can also be seen, I think, as somewhat endearing, given his superhuman ability to recover from head trauma, his otherwise larger-than-life behavior, and his occasionally nasty irritability with the women characters...who are remarkably likely to be either very pretty to jaw-droppingly so, or rather painfully plain, and guess which class tends to be, if not always, the helpful and virtuous set.

    With citations from the Crime Fiction Index:
    is a good start for the book, with much of the color of the story coming from a gimmicky nightclub, the Haunt, with essentially a Hallowe'en year-'round theme (hence the alternate title, from somewhere)...Prather refers to one of the effects affected by the club being achieved with fluorescent lights, by which he means black/UV lights...though Scott has a rather less common term for them in today's parlance ("gook lights" is presumably not meant to be any more an ethnic slur than referring to a spy as as "spook" is...). (I will disagree with Bill here slightly, as the story offers three Best Motives, jealousy being only one, and the final one settled on being rather arguably the best, indeed.)

    is damned near plotless, in the thin and aggressively ridiculous nature of the plot such as it is (as Bill suggests as well), but mostly pleasantly enough evocative of the kind of fun, and "fun" trouble, Scott finds himself in even when trying to relax. The alternate title is rather On the Nose, or at least in the pit. Tiki culture fans will enjoy the setting here.
    Even if the women in the Scott stories can be snapped at by our hero for trifles, at times, and Scott isn't afraid, as in this story, to rough up a woman who's involved in trying to hurt him (while, you know, at least half-willing to still sleep with her), Prather takes great care to make his male villains mean furniture, and the various medium-level mobsters in this story do give him some reasonable trouble before the rather Over The Top ending...one which wouldn't be out of place in a present-day explosion movie and which would almost ensure a multi-directional bloodbath (moreso than it does) if played out in today's reality...or, I suspect, in that of the 1950s.
    Bill fears this one might be, at least in resolution, too un-PC for most readers, and I suspect that's not quite as true as he thinks, albeit what Prather probably thought was a solid clue to the eventual revelations is a lot less likely to make today's reader stop and assume as it might've been in the mid 1950s. It is the most brutal and least lighthearted of the stories by some distance, very much in keeping with the nihilism that tended to pervade Manhunt at its height. As frequently, a fair amount of broad assumptions about humanity are tossed around here, some of which are a lot less likely to be taken for granted or blandly agreed with by today's readers...but the story sticks, particularly as Scott is somewhat less improbably unstoppable in this one.

    is a short novella that I didn't have a chance to finish, though it certainly starts well enough, with Scott dismissing even the reasonably attractive...but Fifty Years Old!...client who has engaged him. One wonders how old Scott is supposed to be...perhaps as dewey as his mid 30s?
    is perhaps the best story as story in the book, despite having a plot that is, in part, even more ridiculous than most, reaching toward Michael Avallone (or his earlier correspondent, Harry Stephen Keeler) territory...while in description of the confidence tricksters Scott goes up against, Prather is unsparing through his protagonist in not sharing any sense of appreciation for the clever scamps they are, even when actually clever and charming, and paints a rather good picture of the kinds of folks whom they can most easily con. The bit of the budding romance in the story is some of Prather's best writing here. 
    The seventh story in the book might well get the actually PC (of many different spectrum positions) crowds a bit riled, as a young woman and Scott are in their own little world of rhapsody, over her stripping/exotically dancing for Scott to see and shoot with his new, expensive film camera...only to have their fun intruded upon by a murder in the background. One which causes Scott to abruptly try to intercede, with his friend rather improbably pouting because he ran from her, off somewhere, just as she was getting completely naked...and for some reason, you know, that chick's logic thing or lack of it, not realizing that there was no place else he'd rather be, but, c'mon, babe, duty called. Which, of course, Scott at least manages to eventually prove to her, though by improbably dragged out-means even while he's toting a film camera with a bullet in it. This leads to complications and a remarkably ridiculous plan to catch the criminal, which only succeeds because both criminal and Scott can be depended upon to go all Gosh Wow, as the woman in question figures out at the last minute how she can both help catch the thug and protect Scott, while being Only a Woman, doncha know. 

    So...these are smoothly written, and fun for the most part even when mildly annoying (or amusing) in their attitudinal antiquity and offhanded improbability (the latter, of course, at least probably intended).  Donald Westlake and Elmore Leonard and Joe Lansdale, among others, might've improved on the model set here, in varying degrees at various times, but they had a fine model to draw from. 

    Please see Patti Abbott's blog for this week's list of books.

























    Wednesday, January 13, 2016

    Tuesday's Overlooked Films and/or Other A/V on Wednesday: more links

    The Roommates
    A Tale of Two Sisters
    The delay in this theoretically Tuesday list of links to reviews, citations, interviews and more of and about A/V media was even more pressing than usual (medical, dental and veterinary concerns) but for all of that still regrettable. See below, for the small and not so small gems gathered (even when about items that aren't even good paste), and if I've missed your or someone else's useful and or entertaining and insightful post, please let me know in comments. Thanks! 

    Adam Wagner: In Bruges

    Anne Billson: First Person in film

    Anonymous: Man in the Moon; Sherlock, Jr.; The Best Years of Our Lives


    Bhob Stewart: Walter Gibson on writing The Shadow and more; Art Spiegelman (and Wacky Packs) at Angouleme; The Kerouac Archive and On the Road (the film); The Hobbit (1966 animated film); "Moebius" animation

    The Big Broadcast: 10 January 2016

    Bill Crider: Bowfinger [trailer]

    B.V. Lawson: Media Murder

    Colin: Apache Rifles

    Comedy Film Nerds: Matt Belknap

    Cynthia Fuchs: Chuck Norris vs. Communism; Dreams Rewired; Heroin: Cape Cod USA

    Dan Stumpf: Enemy of Women

    David Vineyard: The Lone Wolf Returns; Arsene Lupin Returns

    Dorian Bartolucci: House of Cards (1968 film)

    House of Cards (1968) 1/2 by heapsoflovehide
    Part 2

    Elgin Bleecker: Favorite Films, 2015

    Elizabeth Foxwell: Seven Keys to Baldpate (1917 film)

    Evan Lewis: Annie Oakley: "Shadow at Sonoma" (pilot; 1956 tv)

    Gary Deane: Eddie Macon's Run; Thompson's Last Run

    George Kelley: The Big Short

    "Gilligan Newton-John": Beyond the Time Barrier; Massacre in Dinosaur Valley

    How Did This Get Made?Kazaam

    Iba Dawson: The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938 film)

    Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.: The Captive City

    Jack Seabrook: Alfred Hitchcock Presents: "One for the Road"


    Jackie Kashian: "Fishy Dwarrows" on fanfic; Jackie and Laurie Kilmartin on crushes on comedians and underappreciated women in comedy, etc.

    Jacqueline T. Lynch: Manifesto: The subtext of classic films

    Jake Hinkson: The Clock

    James Clark: The American

    James Reasoner: The Mummy's Hand

    Janet Varney: Hal Lublin

    Jerry House: Young Bill Hickock; "The Five Jars"

    "John Grant": Third Time Lucky; Sally of the Subway; Passage à l’Acte 

    Jonathan Lewis: Submarine Raider; The Doolins of Oklahoma

    Karen Hannsberry: The Smiling Lieutenant

    Ken Levine: Sitcom 101 part 1; part 2; Golden Globe Awards part 1; part 2
    The Glass Slipper

    Kliph Nesteroff: Dinah! (1970s Dinah Shore daytime talk/variety tv series): David Bowie, Henry Winkler (1976)

    Kristina Dijan: Madmen of Mandoras; Let 'Em Have It; Jewel Robbery; Show Them No Mercy!; January Film Diary; Le Samouraï 

    Laura G: Get Your Man; The Blazing Trail; The Long Gray Line; 3 Men in White; The Glass Slipper; Fred MacMurray; Hitler's Madman
    The Dark Mirror

    Lucy Brown: The Dark Mirror

    Marty McKee: The Wild Racers; The 27th Day; The Roommates; The Sender; The Executioner, Part II

    Mildred Perkins: Limitless

    Mitchell Hadley: TV Guide listings, Pittsburgh, 13 January 1954

    Mystery Dave: The Good, the Bad and the Beautiful
    Kim Novak during filming The Man with the Golden Arm

    Patricia Nolan-Hall: Kiss of Death

    Patti Abbott: The Man with the Golden Arm

    Pop My Culture:  The Best, and Worst of 2015 

    Prashant Trikannad: Revolutionary Road

    Rick: The Blue Dahlia

    Batgirl presentation film (not a pilot...most pilots run more than 8 minutes...)

    Robert/Television Obscurities: the legacy of Batman (1966 tv)

    Rod Lott: Avenging Angel; Angel; The Green Inferno; Hitman: Agent 47; Invasion U.S.A.; Death Do Us Part

    Time After Time
    "Rupert Pupkin": The American Friend

    Ruth Kerr: Du Barry was a Lady

    Scott A. Cupp: Time After Time

    Spontaneanation: Paul F. Tompkins and Susanna Hoffs, with the cast of No, You Shut Up!

    Stacia Jones: Chic!

    Steve Lewis: Half a Sinner

    Vienna: Lena Horne; Dewey Martin

    Walter Albert: Houses That Go Bump in the Night, Part 1; Part 2








    "The Queen of Code":