September 28th, 2004

Tea-drinker par excellence

Book Log I

Yeah, yeah, copied of course but I'm interested to see just how much I read in a year.

So this month I've read:

  1. Town Smokes by Pinckney Benedict.  His first book: short stories set in the poor South. I just like his voice, it's what I imagine white trash to be and for some reason it speaks to me as if from Radio 4. I blame Alistair Cooke.

  2. The Dealings of Daniel Kesserich by Fritz Leiber. A shortish novel that comes across as a mixture of HP Lovecraft and HG Wells. I quite enjoyed it, and reading the back have just realised that Brian Lumley said pretty much the same thing. I hate to agree with Lumley, but he's right in this case.

  3. Skirt and Fiddle by Tristan Egolf. This is no so much a story as a roleplaying session. All kinds of nasty shit happens for no apparent real reason in a very short time to an unlikely down and out hero. Not as good as the NY Times reckons, and not really a patch on Withnail but quite enjoyable all the same.

  4. High Cotton by Joe R. Lansdale. A set of short stories from another writer of the poor South. This time there's no Hap and Leonard and pretty much every story contains some disgusting death, which got a bit wearing by the end. Maybe I should have read it more off and on. But he's a class writer.

  5. The Peculiar Memories of Thomas Penman by Bruce Robinson. Talking of Withnail, here's one by the writer and director of that soiled jewel. This is coming of age for a teenager in the 50s rather than an adolescent. It reads like an autobiography that has been souped up to make the truth more interesting, He tries too hard sometimes but it's pretty readable.

  6. The Ghost-seer by Friedrich von Schiller. Hesperus are publishing a motley crew of stories from afar (Who killed Zebedee? by Wilkie Collins anyone?). So I picked this up for the spirtitualism and the séance. These are the high points of the book and it goes down hill rapidly after this but it's only 100 pages so I hung in there and it didn't hurt too much. And besides, I only had the one book with me on the train.

  7. Full Dark House by Christopher Fowler. I'm not really sure why I bother with Fowler, he can't really write. He has some nice ideas and the germ of decent characters (even if the heroes are called Bryant and May for God's sake) but apart from the odd action scene he is firmly in the tell don't show camp. But he does write about the London I know so I keep reading his dubious output.

  8. Veniss Underground by Jeff Vandermeer. I was a bit disappointed by this. I was hoping for some gritty urban fantasy and I got sort of cyberpunk fantasy, Dunsany meets Gibson. They have a few joints and write a novelette. It was better than Fowler of course, Vandermeer can write, but the story never really seemed to make enough sense. He had all these kewl ideas and so the story seems to be more about linking together his ideas than bothering about what the reader migh want. The narrative seems to be an afterthought, something that Gibson also suffers from sometimes.

  9. Wigu Volume2 by Jeff Rowland. More comic lunacy from the man who said that "Monkeys represent sharing". There's an online version at

  10. BPRD The Soul of Venice and Other Stories by Various. More non-Hellboy stories of varying quality and artwork. I do like the Lobster Johnson story and the one about Venice but I'd rather be reading the real thing.
  11. Enemy Gods by John Wick. Annoyingly a game that I planned on writing some years ago. I'd made a stab at it but never got very far. It does have the odd typo and the Wounds rules is not very clear (and not really a rule) but only the whole it looks to be a cracking little game. The idea is that whilst each of you plays a hero (in the Greek mold perhaps), you also each take the position of a god who can influence the game and promote your own dude (or any hero that takes your fancy). Nice.

  12. Captains Outrageous by Joe R Landsdale. The latest Hap and Leonard story. Hap comes into some money and the go on a cruise and get caught up with Mexican gangsters. This is the least satisfying of the East Texas books and I really think it should be the last on this kind of form. Very tired.

  13. Less Than Heroes by David Yurkovich. In a world of corporate sponsorship for superhero groups, Threshold, Philly's only official team get drunk and goof off as the world goes to hell in a handbasket. A great take on the real hero theme, much weirder than Powers and just a good.

I've forgotten a few but that's it for this month.