More research reading for various projects

Reading SNOW IN AUGUST by Pete Hamill I can see why I didn’t get very far with it when it came out in the 1990s. “Coming of Age In Recent Historical Period” has always gone over with me like a lead balloon and this story of an Irish Catholic kid becoming friends with a rabbi doesn’t transcend its subgenre. I read this because the climax involves the protagonist making a Golem to stop a local street gang about to torch the Jewish neighborhood and probably kill the kid and his mom as well; while the Golem crushing the bad guys is satisfying, it also feels more a revenge fantasy than about preventing future damage. And the Golem’s powers stretch beyond anything I’m aware of in folklore, such as melting steel and causing the snowstorm of the title.

Although I remembered Barbara Anson’s 1978 GOLEM as what my friend Ross calls “drugstore horror” (not meant as a compliment) it’s actually much better than that: Anson’s really done her research on the relevant kabbalistic mysticism, even if she ignores some of it when convenient (rather than having a spiritually evolved mystic create the golem, the protagonist just has to recite the appropriate rituals while stoned enough on his meds not to be thinking how ridiculous this is). The protagonist, a paraplegic Jewish Vietnam veteran realizes his rabbi father’s electrocution death was no accident (“My father was devout — he’d never have changed a fuse on the Sabbath.”) but can’t convince anyone that a Satanic cult is making regular sacrifices of religious leaders every Halloween. Not classic, but I liked it more than I remembered. However the protagonist is an unpleasant boatload of disability cliches.

SAUCER ATTACK! Pop Culture in the Golden Age of Flying Saucers by Eric and Leif Nesheim is a look back at flying saucers from Keith Arnold’s initial sighting (it came out on the 50th anniversary) on into the early 1970s. Unfortunately this relies primarily on pictures (toys, magazine covers, movie poster) with very little analysis, and the text covers stuff I’m already familiar with. Fun to browse, though.

#SFWApro. Art is uncredited, all rights to image remain with current holder.

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