Books (#SFWApro)

Where the first Year’s Best Fantasy Stories was heavily sword and sorcery, THE YEAR’S BEST FANTASY STORIES 2 tends more to Lord Dunsany’s poetic style of fantasy. Editor Lin Carter still gives himself two short stories (though I really liked “The City in the Jewel”) but we also have brand new authors Tanith Lee and C.A. Cador (whose “Payment in Kind” is very good, but he or she hasn’t done much else since). Like the first volume, the introduction is very much a time capsule: Carter’s still waiting on The Silmarillion to come out, and the Conan books were in limbo (Lancer, which had published the paperbacks I read as a teen, was out of business leaving the copyrights tangled up).
LET THE GREAT WORLD SPIN by Colum McCann is a novel of New York in the Seventies using Philippe Petit’s tightrope walk between the Twin Towers to tie together the stories of a hooker, an Irish radical priest, the grieving mother of a Vietnam KIA and others. McCann is an excellent stylist, but the broad sprawling panorama didn’t grab me.
THE DORRINGTON DEED BOX by Arthur Morrison has a young Australian hunted by the Camorra fall in with London private investigator Dorrington, who generously offers to pose as him to lure the killers off his trail—oh, and will you give me all your letters of introduction and those valuable deeds so I can put them into a safe place? After the scam fails to come off, the Aussie then gets to tell us the history of the unscrupulous Dorrington, who’s just as happy to use his profession for murder or blackmail as for legitimate gigs. Much better than Morrison’s Martin Hewitt stories, though the Victorians preferred the former.
LAST CALL: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition by Daniel Okrent starts in the 19th century as the Prohibition movement gathers steam and eventually morphs into its most formidable manifestation, the Anti-Saloon League. The ASL used the then novel tactics of picking off “wet” politicians to build a legislative majority and embracing bedfellows ranging from suffragettes (assuming women who vote would vote dry) to the KKK (which like many nativist Americans linked booze to Germans, Italians and other foreigners). As the saying goes, what’s shocking isn’t the illegal response to Prohibition but what was legal, the Volstead Act having loopholes you could drive a beer truck through including medicinal use, sacramental wine, wine for Jewish Sabbath drinking and just-over-the-border bars. While Okrent argues Prohibition had a huge impact on the way and how we drink (respectable women now becoming barflies, for instance, rather than guzzling gin at home) he also argues that some of the supposed effects were due to the impact of the Great War (“You can’t blame Prohibition for the nightclub scene in Berlin or London.”) instead. This also covers lots of once famous figures ranging from hatchet-wielding Carrie Nation through ASL head Wayne Wheeler and Martha Willebrandt, the Department of Justice official who ran Volstead prosecutions. A very good job and nicely written.
FLAMING CARROT: Inappropriate Behavior by Bob Burden collects the five issue series he did at Image where his goofball super-hero battled a haunted house, a scheming reporter (“Don’t you know the Flaming Carrot is the man the liberal media most want to destroy?”), a pocket thief and an outlaw eight-foot long hot wing. Typically absurd fun so I hope it’s not the Carrot’s last appearance.

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Filed under Comics, Reading

3 responses to “Books (#SFWApro)

  1. Pingback: Comics and Books (#SFWApro) | Fraser Sherman's Blog

  2. Pingback: I kept my nose in some books this week (#SFWApro) | Fraser Sherman's Blog

  3. Pingback: Gladiators, Drag Queens, Mystics and Victorian Detectives: movies and TV (#SFWApro) | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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