Friday, January 19, 2018

FFB: HEAVEN AND HELL edited by Joan D. Berbrich (McGraw-Hill 1975); SUPERFICTION, OR THE AMERICAN STORY TRANSFORMED edited by Joe David Bellamy (Random House/Vintage 1975)

Two 1975 textbooks, more or less.

Though Joe David Bellamy's anthology SuperFiction was published in Random House's "prestige" paperback line Vintage (and to be published in 1975 as a slightly beefy mass-market paperback with a pricetag of $4.95, without color plates inside or anything else very expensive about its production, was to trade very heavily on that notion of prestige), and was available in at least some bookstores as a regular trade item, it clearly was from inception meant to be sold primarily to a limited audience, and often as not as a textbook (in 1975, a mass-market paperback from Random House's recently-acquired Ballantine paperback line, of similar dimensions and page count, would be printed on slightly thinner, less acid-free paper and probably go for $1.50). It, however, is a rather charming anthology demonstrating some of the various means US fiction had been exploring fantasticated approaches, in form and content, to cope with the world and the human condition since mid-century.  

Anatole Broyard didn't like this book. But, even as late as 1975, perhaps except at Vintage's sales department (and even there maybe with mixed emotions), it wasn't really expected or hoped that Broyard and (perhaps even more) those he could be seen to represent in the cultural establishment would like the book or the fiction it hoped to showcase, even given that the contributors were often not the youngest of young lions, even if on average a bit younger and more untraditional than even such peers as Saul Bellow or Mary McCarthy or Philip Roth. 

While (with this third example of the high school-oriented "Patterns of Literary Art" series of textbooks I've dealt with over the last three weeks, as examples of of what McGraw-Hill and other explicit textbook publishers decided they had latitude to experiment with by the 1970s), Joan Berbrich was attempting something perhaps even a bit more "subversive" than what Bellamy hoped to suggest, in moving in her book  from religious texts and similar matter to various sorts of intentional fantasy fiction, and treating with folklore and myth also treated as such at time of writing, to both engage young student readers and also to get at the underlying currents of literature, and, like Bellamy, to demonstrate how this fantasticated material was taking on, in its various ways, the largest questions facing humanity that are or can be explored by art. And doing so via the inclusion, in a 1975 text, of not only a poetical play for voices by Robert Frost, but also a radio play, classics by Tolstoi and Dante (as translated by John Ciardi) and Benet and Beerbohm and John Collier  (and less-well-known gems by Alice Laurance and Robert Arthur and Stephen Goldin and Bruce Elliot),  and Julian Lester's retelling of the Stagolee/Stackolee/Stagger Lee folktale...Lester having just died yesterday, after an eventful and accomplished life and a short illness. Berbrich also includes a fine "first story" by Joyce Winslow, "Benjamen Burning" (the name as presented), which had been in the 1969 Best American Short Stories, after publication in a University of Michigan campus magazine and reprint in R. V. Cassill's "best of the young writers" anthology Intro 1 the previous year. (Most sources cite the Cassill as the source of the story, which is incorrect, as I was able to confirm with Ms. Winslow yesterday; after her own rather impressive career so far, focusing in large part on various sorts of public relations nonfiction writing, she's looking forward to seeing in print her first collection of her short stories for adults, to include this and other Pushcart Prizes-reprinted, National Press Club Prize-winning and other short stories she's been publishing over the years.) It's also notable how this book recapitulates the "multiple stories from one source" trope evident in the Leo P. Kelley volumes in the series: the Laurance and the Goldin stories come from the same all-originals anthology Protostars; amusingly, between the two 1975 books considered this week, the Joyce Winslow and the Joyce Carol Oates stories were in the same 1969 volume of BASS. 

More to come about all this, as personal events are intruding on each other...and I wasn't even able to finish the the revised index of the Berbrich anthology yesterday, though I did improve considerably and correct a few omissions in the Contento Anthology Index listing for the Bellamy.

Heaven and Hell edited by Joan D. Berbrich (McGraw-Hill 0-07-004837-1, Patterns in Literary Art series, 1975, 268+vii pp, trade paperback)

vi · General Introduction · Joan D. Berbrich · in

· Heaven and Hell and All That · Joan D. Berbrich · es

· The Last Judgment · Cynewulf · pm
· African Heaven · Francis Ernest Kobina Parkes · pm · New World Writing #15 1959
12 · Stagolee · Julian Lester · folktale Black Folktales (Grove Press 1969)
25 · What Price Heaven?  · Howard Maier · radio play
48 · The Last Ghost · Stephen Goldin · (ss) Protostars, edited by David Gerrold and Stephen Goldin (Ballantine, 1971)
56 · Chances Are · Alice Laurance · (ss) Protostars, edited by David Gerrold and Stephen Goldin (Ballantine, 1971)
67 · The Grey Ones · J. B. Priestley · (nv) Lilliput Apr/May 1953
85 · The Dead · Denise Levertov ·  (pm) With Eyes at the Back of Our Heads (New Directions, 1959)

 · The Paths of Good and Bad Intention · Joan D. Berbrich · es
93 · Our Lady's Juggler · Anatole France · (ss) Mother of Pearl (translated by Frederic Chapman; John Lane/The Bodley Head 1909)
100 · Benjamen Burning · Joyce Madelon Winslow · (ss) Generation V. 19 N. 2 1968
118 · The Devil Grows Jubilant · Daniel B. Straley · (pm) Said the Devil to His Wife and Other Poems (Normandie House 1944--Chicago-based vanity press?)
120 · How the Devil Redeemed the Crust of Bread · Leo Tolstoy · folktale (translated by Leo Weiner) What Shall We Do Then?... (The Complete Works of Count Tolstoy, V. 42)(The Colonial Press, 1904)
124 · The Happy Hypocrite · Max Beerbohm · (nv) The Yellow Book October 1896
150 · A Ballad of Hell · John Davidson · (pm) 

157 · Bargains with the Devil · Joan D. Berbrich · es
160 · Ballad of Faustus · Anon. 
· song
164 · The Devil and Daniel Webster · Stephen Vincent Benet · (ss) The Saturday Evening Post Oct 24 1936
180 · Satan and Sam Shay 
· Robert Arthur · (ss) The Elks Magazine Aug 1942
196 · The Devil and the Old Man · John Masefield · (ss)  The Green Sheaf #6, 1903
203 · Thus I Refute Beelzy · John Collier ·  (ss) The Atlantic Monthly October 1940 (third and final ending version...Collier kept adding to the last lines)
· The Devil was Sick · Bruce Elliott ·  (ss) The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction April 1951

· Reward and Retribution · Joan D. Berbrich · es
224 · The White Stone Canoe · Henry Rowe Schoolcraft and John Bierhorst · folktale/myth (The Fire Plume: Legends of the American Indians, Dial Press 1969)
228 · Go Down, Death! · James Weldon Johnson · pm (God's Trombones, The Viking Press, 1927)
232 · from The Inferno, Canto V, The Carnal · Dante Alighieri · The Inferno (translated by John Ciardi; Mentor Books/New American Library 1954)
239 · The Devil and Tom Walker · Washington Irving  · (ss) Tales of a Traveller, John Murray, 1824
252 · Right and Wrong · Hesiod · pm (translator?)
254 · A Masque of Reason · Robert Frost · verse play (Henry Holt, 1945)

Revised from the Contento Index:

    • Fantasy • Fabulation • Irrealism
    • 23 · Unready to Wear · Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. · ss Galaxy Science Fiction April 1953
    • 40 · The Elevator · Robert Coover · ss Pricksongs & Descants (Dutton 1969) --possibly reprinted rather than first published here
    • 54 · Quake · Rudolph Wurlitzer · ex Quake (Dutton 1972)
    • 76 · Chiaroscuro: a Treatment of Light and Shade · Ursule Molinaro · ss TriQuarterly Winter 1974
    • Neo-Gothic
    • 91 · By the River · Joyce Carol Oates · ss December 1968
    • 113 · The Universal Fears · John Hawkes · ss American Review #16,  February 1973 (Bantam)
    • 129 · Manikin · Leonard Michaels · ss Massachusetts Review Winter 1968
    • 137 · In Which Esther Gets a Nose Job · Thomas Pynchon · ex V (Lippincott 1963)
    • Myth • Parable
    • 157 · Queen Louisa · John Gardner · ss The King’s Indian (Knopf 1974)
    • 173 · Order of Insects · William H. Gass · ss The Minnesota Review 1962
    • 182 · One’s Ship · Barton Midwood · ss The Paris Review Winter 1966
    • 187 · Saying Good-Bye to the President · Robley Wilson, Jr. · ss Esquire February 1974
    • Metafiction • Technique as Subject
    • 197 · Life-Story · John Barth · ss Lost in the Funhouse (Doubleday 1968)
    • 213 · Sentence · Donald Barthelme · ss The New Yorker, March 7, 1970
    • 221 · The Moon in Its Flight · Gilbert Sorrentino · ss New American Review #13 1971 
    • 234 · What’s Your Story · Ronald Sukenick · ss The Paris ReviewFall 1968
    • Parody & Put-On
    • 259 · The Loop Garoo Kid · Ishmael Reed · ex Yellow Back Radio Broke Down (Doubleday 1969)
    • 274 · A Lot of Cowboys · Judith Rascoe · ss The Atlantic Monthly November 1970
    • 282 · At the National Festival · John Batki · ss Fiction, Fall 1972
    • 289 · Under the Microscope · John Updike · ss The Transatlantic Review. #28 Spring 1968 · illustrations by Ann Haven Morgan
For more of today's books, please see Patti Abbott's blog.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Friday's "Forgotten" Books (and more): the links to reviews and more

This week's books, unfairly (or sometimes fairly) neglected, or simply those the reviewers below think you might find of some interest (or, infrequently, to be warned away from). Patti Abbott will probably be hosting again next week, watch this space for further developments...

Frank Babics: The Fiction Desk 10: Separations edited by Rob Redman

Mark Baker: The Forgotten Man by Robert Crais

Yvette Banek: Triple Zeck: And Be a Villain; The Second Confession; In the Best Families by Rex Stout

Les Blatt: The Bar on the Seine by Georges Simenon (currently in-print version, as The Two-Penny Bar, translated by David Watson)

Robert Briney: The Three Coffins by John Dickson Carr

Brian Busby: "Nemesis Wins" by Grant Allen

Bill Crider: The Long Haul by Anthony Johnston and Eduardo Barreto

Jose Cruz, Peter Enfantino, Jack Seabrook: EC Comics, August 1954

Martin Edwards: Burn This by Helen McCloy

Barry Ergang (hosted by Kevin Tipple): Hardy Boys: Secret of the Red Arrow by "Franklin W. Dixon"

Will Errickson: Descent by Ron Dee

Curtis Evans: Hours to Kill by Ursula Curtiss

Paul Fraser: Science Fiction Monthly, March 1976, edited by Julie Davis

Barry Gardner: Pictures of Perfection by Reginald Hill

John Grant: The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa (translated by Stephen Snyder); God's Spy by Juan Gomez-Jurado (translated by James Graham); Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks: A Librarian's Love Letters and Breakup Notes to the Books in Her Life by Annie Spence

Rich Horton: Lieut. Gullivar Jones: His Vacation, by Edwin L. Arnold

Jerry House: Lieut. Gullivar Jones: His Vacation, by Edwin L. Arnold

Tracy K: Where There's a Will by Rex Stout

George Kelley: Rise of the Terran Empire by Poul Anderson

Joe Kenney: Venus on the Half-Shell by "Kilgore Trout" (Philip Jose Farmer)

Margot Kinberg: The Fortunate Brother by Donna Morrissey

Rob Kitchin: Midnight in Berlin by James McManus; A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

Evan Lewis: The Oscar by Richard Sale

Todd Mason: Fantasy: The Literature of the Marvelous edited by Leo P. Kelley; Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery MagazineAugust 1964, edited by Richard Decker, with Victoria S. and Ned Benham, G. F. Foster and Patricia Hitchcock

James Nicoll: Anthonology by Piers Anthony

John F. Norris: Bill "Ironsides" Cromwell and Johnny Lister novels by "Victor Gunn" (Edwy Searles Brooks)

Juri Nummelin: Night Film by Marisha Pessl

John O'Neill: First World Fantasy Awards, edited by Gahan Wilson; The World Fantasy Awards, Volume Two, edited by Fritz Leiber and Stuart David Schiff   [Mason on First World Fantasy Awards; The World Fantasy Awards, V. 2]

Matt Paust: The Fever Tree by Richard Mason  [Neeru on The Fever Tree]

Mildred Perkins: Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt; A Very British Murder by Lucy Worsley

James Reasoner: "The Lost End of Nowhere" by Gordon McCreagh

L. J. Roberts: Bryant & May: Wild Chamber by Christopher Fowler

Gerard Saylor: Britten and Brulightly by Hannah Berry

Steven H. Silver: "A Thousand Deaths" by Jack London; "The Holes Around Mars" by Jerome Bixby

"TomKat": Cat's Paw by Dorothy Blair and Ellen Page

Prashant Trikannad: 2017 reading in review

David Vineyard: "Flight to Singapore" by Donald Barr Chidsey

Morgan Wallace: Three Miles from Murder by Frederick C. Davis (aka Clark Aiken)

FFB/M: FANTASY: THE LITERATURE OF THE MARVELOUS, edited by Leo P. Kelley (McGraw-Hill 1973); ALFRED HITCHCOCK'S MYSTERY MAGAZINE, August 1964, edited by Richard Decker, with Victoria S. and Ned Benham, G. F. Foster and Patricia Hitchcock (HSD Publications)

As with the Leo P. Kelley high-school-targeted textbook in the same Patterns in Literary Art series I dealt with last week, the Fantasy companion is an interesting mix of chestnuts and some classics, with a fair amount of relatively obscure material (in 1973 and today) including a story by Kelley himself...but even more than the Supernatural volume, or the earlier Themes in Science Fiction anthology published the previous year, this one strikes me as assembled off the top of his head, featuring as it does two stories by Gahan Wilson (wrapped around the John Collier entry, no less), no fewer than four reprinted from Harlan Ellison's notable (and in 1973 very much in-print) anthology Dangerous Visions (1967), and two stories by August Derleth (for all that one is among the "posthumous collaborations" Derleth would spin out from fragments of manuscripts left among H. P. Lovecraft's papers at the time of the latter's death--as always, Derleth writing for and as himself is superior). And exactly two folktales are included...both out of collections of Irish folklore from the third decade of the 1800s...definitely giving the impression of Kelley pulling things off his shelf and putting this together rather hastily, or at least with less considered judgment than he demonstrates with the other two volumes. Also notable is the amount of arguable science fiction in this fantasy volume, particularly given his juxtaposition of potentially opposing camps of sf and fantasy in his preface. Kelley does manage to include stories by two of the more brilliant and multifarious women writers of our time in this one, however, if only two: Carol Emshwiller and Josephine Saxton.

Meanwhile, the Hitchcock's issue, coincidentally one dated with the month I was born, is otherwise a fairly typical issue of this magazine in the shank of its time as the independent "second" magazine in the English-language crime-fiction market (Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine being the best-selling and most traditionally respected in those years, and most years before and since; the second publisher of EQMM, Davis Publications, founded around the purchase of Queen's in 1958, would buy AHMM in 1976), and as such it suggests a few thoughts about the magazines in the field and AHMM's place among them.

Contents: courtesy the Contento/Locus Index to Anthologies, with links to ISFDB as well:

    (McGraw-Hill 0-07-033502-8, 1973, $3.96, 305pp, tp) 

One can suspect the degree to which Kelley saw some of these stories in the same venues I would, aside from Dangerous Visions:  a number were collected in Judith Merril's Year's Best Science-Fantasy/Speculative Fiction anthologies of the latter '50s into the latter '60s (it's probably not altogether irrelevant that DV arose from the ashes of an anthology Ellison commissioned from Merril when he was editing the Regency Books paperback line), while others probably were, rather sapiently, plucked from other anthologies, including probably Playboy's series of books collecting their fiction. As is the John Collier classic collected here only more so, David Ely's "The Academy" is outre but not actually fantasy by most definitions, for all that it was adapted for a mildly effective Night Gallery tv series segment. Any book that includes such stories as Davidson's "Or All the Seas with Oysters" and Bloch's "The Cheaters" and Finney's "Of Missing Persons" isn't actually cheating the young readers who might've been assigned this text, and the likes of Hensley's "Lord Randy", while also barely fantasy if at all, does have a built-in appeal to young readers. That the surreal Emshwiller and the similarly edge-of-science-fiction Asimov  stories might be brought together in this context is actually pretty useful, even if this book thus doesn't become a compilation of consistently brilliant work it might've been. George Malko in, and Jack Vance or Shirley Jackson or Joan Aiken or Jorge Luise Borges or Fritz Leiber or Muriel Spark or Margaret St. Clair not in, is a somewhat eccentric choice, and one wonders what specifically drove it.

Barry Malzberg somewhere once made an offhanded joking reference to, close paraphrase, "a plot stupid enough to sell to Hitchcock's" in the HSD years, and the desire to feature twist endings as a default did lead AHMM to offer some pretty damned dense semi-idiot plots. Richard Deming's "Escape Routes" (this one, as opposed to the other one, as Douglas Greene is careful to help us distinguish) is an unfortunate example of this...a fleeing criminal accidentally hijacks another fleeing criminal's car and loot...and, knowing that the other fleeing criminal had a risky plan of escape from his own current perplex, decides to go ahead and impersonate the second criminal and steal the latter's false identity and escape plan, rather than contenting himself with stealing the considerable cash and car and making his own way to a no-extradition haven.  It's cute, and has good detail, but is indicative of a weakness for this kind of story that it's also the lead story for the issue. Jack Ritchie's "Captive Audience" is more clever, if relatively slight, in its tale of a kidnapping survivor who gets to bite back at his former captors, including supposed friends. Jonathan Craig's "Bus to Chattanooga" is rather better yet, for all that it posits a rather too stereotypical abusive situation for its backwater young woman and her adoptive, thuggish uncle...her means of getting around this, however, are reasonably well thought out and the story makes emotional sense as well, however much we might wish it didn't, even given she wins in the the end.  Arthur Porges's story is part of a series of his, and in one of his default modes--it's another update on Sherlock Holmes, and the kind of notional story Porges would also tend to write in his science-fictional work, where there is a simple but baffling problem that can be addressed by some technological approach that can make for amusing, but usually rather light at best, fair-play detection or dealing-with-the-aliens kinds of story...Porges was usually a bit better in fantasy contexts, where his cleverness with this kind of gimmick lent itself to even greater wit and charm, as with his relatively famous deal-with-a-minor-demon story "$1.98". Ed Lacy lives down to my expectations with his story, marginally better than what I've seen from him elsewhere (in marginal magazines), but also referring to whites and "natives" in the Caribbean...when he means whites and blacks, as opposed to actual native nation folk. I somewhat idly wonder if there's any familial connection between Jonathan and Douglas Craig. 

AHMM was the Other consistently good-paying short crime fiction market in the 1960s, along with Queen's; I gather The Saint Mystery Magazine as well as knowing Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine and the dying Manhunt were rather less well-funded and thus less generous; not sure about the London Mystery Selection and John Creasey's, but this was also a period where crime fiction might appear, for very good money indeed, in not only The Saturday Evening Post and Playboy still, but also Cosmopolitan or The Ladies Home Journal...even if a sale to the UK Argosy or Strand were somewhat more attainable could make decent-enough money from at least AHMM and EQMM. The talent gathered in those issues, even if not always working to its fullest extent, remains pretty impressive. 

Saturday, January 6, 2018

book received: Floyd Mahannah: THE BROKEN ANGEL; BACKFIRE AND OTHER STORIES forthcoming from Stark House

Floyd Mahannah is one of our Lost writers of crime fiction, as detailed in Bill Pronzini's fine introduction to this omnibus comprising one of his several novels and the apparently complete published short stories...we're told that ambition and alcoholism put paid to his career not too far into the 1960s, his handful of stories most notable in Manhunt, and reprinted in Manhunt as it went through its own tough times.

Just after the ARC of this one arrived last week, I started reading a 1964 issue of Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, and damned if I didn't think I remembered one of the stories had Tuckerized Mahannah's name for one of the story's characters. But perhaps I just dreamed that, as I was reading the magazine issue into the very small hours, and put the issue down and went directly to sleep. 

Lots of broken dreams in this life. Cover makes a nice companion to one of Patti Abbott's.