Friday, August 28, 2015

FFB: I CANNOT TELL A LIE, EXACTLY and other stories by Mary Ladd Gavell (Random House 2001)

Most collections of short crime fiction or fantastic fiction, and collections prepared by people who also work in those fields (thus many western story collections, for example) are usually scrupulous about listing previous publication credits, usually magazines that were the first to publish the fiction collected. In contemporary mimetic fiction, for no good reason I'm aware of, one is lucky, usually, to find a small paragraph or sentence tossing off a quick list of magazines that were the sources of the stories, with no indication of the issue or even which stories appeared in which magazine, with, usually, the exception of detailed citations of The New Yorker, in American books...whether as an attempt to toady to that magazine or in some sort of attempt to pretend that it is the exceptional newsstand source of fiction, I'm not sure (perhaps they have a policy of asking for explicit credit when granting reprint rights). 

Sadly, this task was not really necessary for this, the first and

presumably only collection we'll see from Mary Ladd Gavell, who was managing editor of the journal Psychiatry at the time of her death in 1967, at the age of 47, and whose first published short story was in that magazine as a sort of memorial. "The Rotifer" was an excellent tripartite metaphor for the difficulty, to say the absolute least, in attempting to aid others in their lives, and somehow Martha Foley was made aware of its publication in the journal, and liked it enough to reprint in The Best American Short Stories 1968; in going through the volumes in the course of editing The Best American Short Stories of the Century in 1999 (or, more likely, in reading the galleys of what the series editor had provided for him from the volumes), John Updike tapped "The Rotifer" for inclusion in that latter volume, so every blurb and review writer dutifully notes that Updike "discovered" the Gavell story, a feat somewhat similar to Discovering a donut in a box of donuts. Foley's not mentioned, because why would we? None of the other stories had been published until this book appeared in late summer, 2001, just in time for a certain tragedy in NYC, and the often less remarked-about corresponding ones in Pennsylvania and Virginia, to capture most chattering-class attention.

I'm not sure I understand the excess of modesty that led Gavell to make no effort to publish any of her short stories during her life, if she didn't...as they are polished, pointed and remind everyone (including me) of Katherine Anne Porter and almost as often of Lorrie Moore; I'm put in mind of John Cheever and Theodore Sturgeon and Joan Aiken in certain moods as well, and that's good company to travel in...also Wilma Shore, though while these stories share a similar generous feminist spirit, they usually aren't quite as fraught or blatantly pointed as Shore's or Muriel Spark's. The first story, "The Swing," turns out to be a fantasy of loss...the inevitable loss not of a child, but of the relation between a doting mother and her son as a child, as he grows into a man. Gavell delicately traces the slow diminishment of the lives of the protagonist and her ailing husband in their late lives, and what seems at first to be a sort of waking dream of her son as a preschooler returned to her for nocturnal chats at the backyard swing. Bradbury would've made this adorable; Vonnegut wry, but with some flippant asides. Instead, it's pared down but not stark, and utterly deft.


Among the more common criticisms of contemporary mimetic fiction as it's published in The New Yorker and similar venues these years is that it tends to be about superannuated adolescents who have difficulty taking seriously the effects of their actions and behavior on others; self-involvement rules OK to such a degree that alternate approaches to character are almost unseen. Happily, in such stories as "The Rotifer" and "The Infant," Gavell manages to gracefully impart not only, for example, the need for some post-partum recuperation for the mother but also the fierce devotion she can feel simultaneously with the resentment of the world too much with her and moving through her.


Kaye Gibbons, in her introduction, wants you to know that this kind of fiction is still needed, that which manages to see the weight of human interaction as more than just a set of guilty oppressions, means of keeping people from their better lives that Were Gonna Be Like Paris. True, but it's notable how often this kind of fiction is rather shunted aside, as it was, apparently, even by its author at time of creation...perhaps because she thought she'd be able to get to that novel when she retired. 


Too often, it just doesn't happen that way, of course, though usually not as severely as it has for Mary Gavell.


Clay Smith's fine piece about Gavell and her book in the Austin Chronicle, which, however, tells you Much too much about "The Swing" beforehand, if one hasn't yet read it. Mike Ashley let members of the FictionMags list know about that article, after Barry Malzberg brought up Gavell and the book. Thanks, folks.

For more of today's books, please see Patti Abbott's blog.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

August's Underappreciated Music: the links









The monthly assembly of undervalued and often nearly "lost" music, or simply music the blogger in question wants to remind you reader/listeners of.

Patti Abbott: Nick Cave (the sound-suit Cave)

Brian Arnold: Japanese SF television series theme music

Love: Da Capo

Side A
1. Stephanie knows who 00:00
2. Orange skies 02:38
3. ¡Qué vida! 05:32
4. Seven & seven is 09:16
5. The castle 11:43
6. She comes in colours 14:49
Side B
1. Revelation 17:37

Jayme Lynn Blaschke: Friday Night Videos

Paul Brazill: A Song for Saturday

Jim C.: Sonny Criss


Sisters of St. Nicholas Convent Choir: Great-Lenten Chants: "Open to me the doors of penance..." (courtesy Anon.)


Sean Coleman: Motherload: "When I Die"


Bill Crider: The "5" Royales: Forgotten Music; Song of the DayForgotten Hits: Local Charts

Cullen Gallagher: rediscovering vinyl

Sonny Criss Orchestra: "Sonny's Dream"


Jeff Gemmill: Juliana Hatfield: 20 Questions; Top 5sPaul McCartney: Wingspan Documentary; 3 Girls...


Jerry House: The Arthur Godfrey Show; Daily Music+; Hymn Time

George Kelley: Jackie DeShannon: All the Love: The Lost Atlantic Recordings


RiffTrax: "Coffeehouse Rendezvous"


Kate Laity: early Springsteen; The Original Beekeepers: How the River Runs Dry

Jacqueline T. Lynch: western film theme music

Todd Mason: for Gunther Schuller: Orchestral Third Stream Music; sinister songs

Patrick Murtha:  "Olympus 7-0000" and other Larry Blyden musicals


The Virgin-Whore Complex: "I See More" (nsfw lyrics)


Lawrence Person: Shoegazer Sunday

Charlie Ricci: Black 47: New York Town


Vienna: The Sound of Hitchcock

Deanta: "The Lakes of Pontchartrain" 
(for the people of New Orleans and Biloxi)




Wednesday, August 26, 2015

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

The Night Watch
The selections (reviews, interviews and citations at the links below) of undeservedly (and a few deservedly) under-appreciated audio/visual experiences...apologies to Bill Crider, whose primary review had a bad link last week (now fixed and also linked below), and this week what might be the last previously-missed review from the late Randy Johnson; adios, indeed. As always, thanks to all the contributors and you readers... 

Aaron West: My Life as a Dog

Allan Fish: The Tin Drum (aka Die Blechtrommel)

Allison Whitmore and Adam B. Very: 22 Films to See (courtesy Bill Crider)
Jodorowsky's Santa Sangre

Anne Billson: Alejandro Jodorowsky

Anonymous: Comanche Station

Bill Crider: Slow West; Tales of the Gold Monkey [opening credits for the series]; "Stop Driving Us Crazy"

Brian Arnold: The Jaws cycle

Brian Busby: Without Warning part 2

Brian Lindemuth: the dialog flow of Deadwood

BV Lawson: Media Murder

BNoirDetour: Red Wind; Odds Against Tomorrow


Colin: Walk a Tightrope

Comedy Film Nerds: Stephanie Wilder-Taylor

Cynthia Fuchs: Out in the Night; best of 30 for 30

Dan Stumpf: Chloe, Love is Calling You

David Cramner: Gunsmoke (tv): "Mannon"

David Schleicher: The Tree of Life

Johnny Come Lately
David Vineyard: The Elgin Hour: "The Sting of Death"

Dorian: Charade

Elgin Bleecker: Johnny Come Lately

Elizabeth Foxwell: The Upturned Glass; John Gray on Eric Ambler and the films from his novels

Evan Lewis: The Lady in the Lake
The Lady in the Lake

Gary Deane: The Scarlet Hour

Gary Dobbs: Melody Patterson

George Kelley: Batman Unlimited: Monster Mayhem

Gilligan Newton-John: I Dream of Jeannie: "Jeannie the Matchmaker"; The Love God?; Confessions of a Driving Instructor

Harlan Ellison: Mike Hodel's Hour 25: "Robert Silverberg" (KPFK/Pacifica Radio) incomplete but worthwhile recording from multiple cassette flippings; early static eventually is eradicated/better-tuned.
The Strip

How Did This Get Made?: Theodore Rex

Iba Dawson: Show Me a Hero

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.: Information Please (radio); Adventures by Morse

Jack Seabrook: Alfred Hitchcock Presents: "Guilty Witness"

Jackie Kashian: Sex and the City 2; Paul Gilmartin of The Mental Illness Happy Hour

Jacqueline T. Lynch: Mary Wickes

Jake Hinkson: The Winning of Barbara Worth

James Reasoner: Knockout

Janet Varney: Felicia Day


Jerry House: great television comedians

J. Kingston Pierce: Madigan

Paper Orchid
John Grant: "Web of Lies"; Paper Orchid

Jon Warner: Shane

Jonathan Lewis: Stories of the Century: "Joaquin Murietta"; The Scarlet Coat

Judy Geater: Dinner at 8

Juri Nummelin: Split Second

Karen Hannsberry: Finishing School

Kate Laity: Tangential Deviation

Kelly Robinson: Charles Loeb

Ken Levine: Midnight in Paris

The Odyssey
Kliph Nesteroff: Della: Sandy Baron, Lou Alexander  (Della among Kaiser Broadcasting System programming)

Kristina Dijan: Dangerous Corner; The Man They Could Not Hang; The Man with Nine Lives; The Odyssey (1968-70 European television), etc.

Lance Charnes: The Strip (Australian television)

Laura: Preston Foster; Spenser for Hire: second season; Gentleman's FateA Global Affair

Lawrence Block and Robert Silverberg in conversation, 2011:

Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5 these have some gaps, but are worth the look and listen.

Lindsey: Her Sister's Secret; The Great Man's Lady; Housebound

Lucy Brown: The Night Watch

Mark Evanier: Fred Astaire at the 1970 Oscars Ceremony

The Avengers
Michael Shonk: The Avengers seasons 3 vs. 4

Martin Edwards: Twisted Nerve

Marty McKee: Blood and Lace; Scalpel (aka False Face)

Mystery Dave: Bay of Blood

Paddy Lee: Raton Pass; The Big Country

Patrick Murtha: The Black Museum (Orson Welles radio series)

Patti Abbott: Paula Prentiss and Richard Benjamin speaking about love

Pop My Culture: Wayne Federman and Jaime Fox

Randy Johnson: Killer, Adios (aka Winchester, uno entre mille)

Raquel Stecher: Christopher Plummer honored
The November Man

Richard Moore: Pulpfest 2015

Rick: The Horsemasters; Hostile Witness; Grizzly; The Mark; Twilight of Honor 

Rod Lott: The November Man; Extreme Jukebox; Police Story: Lockdown; Death Walks at Midnight; House of Terror

Ruth: John Barrymore

Sam Juliano: A. I.

Sanford Allen: Spring

Scott Cupp: Zombeavers

52 Pick-Up
Sergio Angelini: 52 Pick-Up

Stacia Jones: West of Zanzibar

Stephen Bowie: The Defenders: "The Benefactor"

Stewart Galbraith IV: being interviewed for The Tonight Show

Victoria Loomes: Intruder in the Dust

Vienna: early Robin Hood films

Walter Albert: The Student of Prague

Yvette Banek: "Krakatoa Katie"
Zombeavers

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Hugo Awards Ceremony 2015 video feed and link to Hugo results...

Locus magazine list of winners and runners up...

A pretty good roundup of the arguments in Wired magazine, albeit featuring a foolish
misrepresentation early in the article that most sf has been about white male zap-gun engineers...arguably true in, say, 1930s magazines...

For a while, the Nominations video was the only one up and feeding at this link, now supplemented. (And the recording of the noms starts several minutes in as presented, and their PA system seemed to be picking up a local radio station, or at least it's audible on the audio as a background undercurrent.)


Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

Friday, August 21, 2015

FFB: NIGHT'S BLACK AGENTS by Fritz Leiber (Arkham House 1947; Ballantine 1961; Berkley 1978)

Fritz Leiber's first book (as opposed to his first two novels, first published in magazines in 1943) was this brilliant collection, which has seen three major variant editions over the decades in the U.S.: the original Arkham House edition, with the jacket by Ronald Clyne below; the Ballantine paperback, part of their loose horror line around the turn of the 1960s, featuring (as did the other horror titles) a Richard Powers cover (at right) (and with the novella "Adept's Gambit" dropped so as to result in a rather thin paperback, much cheaper for Ballantine to produce in those years and thus easier to offer at the 35c price-point); and the Berkley edition, with a Wayne Douglas Barlowe cover, at bottom, and two stories added to the original contents, the important early story "The Girl with the Hungry Eyes" and the impressive mid-career "A Bit of the Dark World"...whether these additions were made at Leiber's request or that of Berkley editor David Hartwell is a question I'll have to ask the latter.  This certainly leaves the Berkley as in some ways the best edition to have, in terms of value, and the Gregg Press 1980 clothbound library edition (on acid-free paper) is a facsimile reprint of the Berkley pages (with an introduction by Richard Powers's son, the historian Richard Gid Powers).

Even without the extra stories, all three variants would be eminently worth the reading even if they contained only the extremely seminal story "Smoke Ghost," one of the several stories where Leiber can be seen to be expanding the palette of fantastic fiction and pointing to new areas for exploration that he and many others would colonize over the next several decades; a very modern sort of haunting (even as "The Girl with the Hungry Eyes" is a notable extrapolation of and new approach to vampirism). Others here are almost as influential and as entertaining, not least one of the three stories (including "Adept's Gambit") originally published in the Arkham House edition, "The Man Who Never Grew Young"--a neat inversion of the conceit at the heart of F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" and similar fantasies...and the novella itself, one of the key stories in, and the best of the early contributions to, the Fafhrd and Gray Mouser series of sword and sorcery fantasies, often with autobiographical elements, Leiber would write throughout his career.

Night’s Black Agents Fritz Leiber (Arkham House, 1947, $3.00, x+237pp, hc)
    Ballantine 1961 edition omits “Adept’s Gambit”.
    • ix  Foreword · fw
    • 5  Smoke Ghost · ss Unknown Worlds Oct 1941
    • 21  The Automatic Pistol · ss Weird Tales May 1940
    • 38  The Inheritance · ss Weird Tales Jan 1942, as “The Phantom Slayer”
    • 53  The Hill and the Hole · ss Unknown Worlds Aug 1942
    • 66  The Dreams of Albert Moreland · nv The Acolyte Spr 1945
    • 83  The Hound · ss Weird Tales Nov 1942
    • 99  Diary in the Snow · nv *
    • 127  The Man Who Never Grew Young · ss *
    • 137  The Sunken Land [Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser] · ss Unknown Worlds Feb 1942
    • 155  Adept’s Gambit [Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser] · na *
The 1977 Sphere (UK) edition TOC, with the subsection breakdowns.
    Night’s Black Agents Fritz Leiber (Ballantine 508K, Jun ’61, 35¢, 143pp, pb)
    Omits “Adept’s Gambit”.  "For Jonquil, My Wife." on page 2. 
    • 7 · Smoke Ghost · ss Unknown Worlds Oct 1941
    • 22 · The Automatic Pistol · ss Weird Tales May 1940
    • 37 · The Inheritance · ss Weird Tales Jan 1942, as “The Phantom Slayer”
    • 52 · The Hill and the Hole · ss Unknown Worlds Aug 1942
    • 64 · The Dreams of Albert Moreland · nv The Acolyte Spr 1945
    • 80 · The Hound · ss Weird Tales Nov 1942
    • 94 · Diary in the Snow · nv Night’s Black Agents, Arkham 1947
    • 119 · The Man Who Never Grew Young · ss Night’s Black Agents, Arkham 1947
    • 127 · The Sunken Land [Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser] · ss Unknown Worlds Feb 1942
    Night’s Black Agents Fritz Leiber (Berkley, Mar ’78, $1.75, xii+275pp, pb) This edition adds two stories not in the Arkham House ed. Note: it reverses the order of the subsections of the Arkham House edition.

Good things of day begin to droop and drowse; 

Whiles night’s black agents to their preys do rouse. 
--William Shakespeare, Macbeth

Indices courtesy of ISFDB (which see for original magazine-issue contents) and Homeville.  
For more of today's books, please see Patti Abbott's blog.