This is now my favorite volume of the many, many Akashic Noir series. It’s a high quality collection without a dud in the bunch. A few things struck me. Three that I’ll talk about here. First, I was surprised to find so little crime in Mississippi Noir, edited by Tom Franklin. Does an actual crime have to take place for a story to be considered … Continue reading Mississippi Noir is for Lovers
I’ve got a couple of daily reading projects going on lately. I’m working my way through Laozi’s Dao di Jing for the second time. Laozi was a philosopher who lived in China about the time of Confucious. According to legend, Laozi was asked to write his philosophy down by a border gaurd who insisted on it as payment for allowing him to leave China. The … Continue reading Sunday Salon: Elizabeth Bishop vs. Frank O’Hara and Several Other Projects I’m Rambling Through
There is some damn fine writing in Ted Chiang’s volume of short stories Arrival originally published as Stories of Your Life and Others. So much than the next time you hear someone say that fantasy and science fiction tend to be badly written, you should direct them to any of Ted Chiang’s stories. They may not be your cup of tea, but they are all very well … Continue reading Arrival by Ted Chiang
Two very entertaining thriller/mysteries by an author you’ve probably never heard of translated here by J. Keith Vincent. Both stories, “The Devil’s Disciple” and the novella length “Did He Kill Them” are really psychological studies as much as noir detective thrillers. In both, the “killer” has already been caught so there’s not that much of investigating to be done. However, in each the confession is … Continue reading The Devil’s Disciple by Shiro Hamao
It’s long been my belief that you should never revisit the things that most impressed you when you were young. My number one object lesson for this belief is the 1972 science fiction movie Silent Running starring Bruce Dern. (I’ve posted the trailer for it below.) I was nine-years-old when I saw it. The special effects, the ecological message, the robots, the final shot of … Continue reading The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury
The least likable character wins. The losing set of stories was still very good though. For this round of my tournament of short stories I read two from The Apocalypse Triptych by Charlie Jane Anders. Both feature the same set of characters, young people who become famous for the on-line movies they make featuring absurd stunts that typically end with the main character getting himself hurt. … Continue reading Tournament of Short Stories, Science Fiction Edition: “Lot” by Ward Moore vs. “Break! Break! Break!” and “Rock Manning Can’t Hear You” by Charlie Jane Anders.
Strike one up for the barbarian. So often, you just need the right story at the right time. I first read Cordwainer Smith last year and loved him. He’s excellent. However, the two I read for this round just didn’t do the trick. For some reason, Conan the Barbarian, did. The two by Robert E. Howard that I read for this round, “The God in … Continue reading Tournament of Short Stories: Robert E. Howard vs. Cordwainer Smith
I’ve devoted this round of my tournament of short stories to science fiction and fantasy tales. I’ve just enough anthologies to make it interesting, though I’m going to stretch the genre to include magical realism and people who included some SF/F in their books. It may be a challenge, but it should be fun. Science fiction and fantasy, even at their darkest, are fun. For … Continue reading Tournament of Short Stories SF/F Edition: Ted Chiang vs. The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Vol. VII
I was drawn to this book by the cover. When You’re Down by the River was published by BatCat Press in a hand bound edition of 100 numbered copies, each featuring a unique cover, that’s the marbled paper you can see inside the “RIVER” cut out on the cardboard casing the book comes in. Mine is #85. It’s a small work of art as well as … Continue reading When You’re Down By The River by Christopher Lowe
Raymond Carver wins! Patrick Ryan beat out Randall Jarrell’s Book of Stories in the semifinal round, but I don’t think anyone in the English-speaking world could have done better than the final three stories in Raymond Carver’s collection Cathedral. For the last couple of years I have been reading short stories from different authors in competition with each other, a tournament of short stories sort of thing. … Continue reading Tournament of Short Stories: Patrick Ryan’s “The Dream Life of Astronauts” vs. Raymond Carver’s “Cathedral”
I’m going to stick to my guns here, enforce my long time rule for selecting the top ten list which is “Do I want to read this book again someday?” The answer must be yes to qualify. Which means there are many books that I loved reading that will not make the list. Lots of books are great books, great reads, but not something I’ll … Continue reading Top Ten Favorite Reads for 2016.
I know it’s a cop-out, but I can’t really pick a best this time. Raymond Carver and Elizabeth Hardwick are both masters of the short story. Anyone who loves the short story should read them both, read as much of them as you can. For this round I read “A Season’s Romance” and “The Oak and the Axe” by Elizabeth Hardwick and “Where I’m Calling From” and “The Train” by Raymond Carver. … Continue reading Tournament of Short Stories II: Elizabeth Hardwick vs. Raymond Carver