Abandoned Books

Reviews of books and authors not much discussed on the web.

Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Farris and Gardner - information

I decided to try to put this housecleaning to an end today. I'm gonna skip over both Mary Stewart and Joseph Heller, both of whom do not lack for a presence on the web. (I'm all for discipline, but one must engage one's common sense at points, anyway.)

Again, my take on Stewart is that The Crystal Cave is a fine book but the trilogy steadily loses interest from there; and my take on Heller is that Catch-22 is a great classic but to my mind something of an intellectually dishonest book, while Something Happened, while nowhere near Catch-22's class, is more likable, in some strange ways.

For Mr. Farris. I understand they're going to remake The Fury. I gotta see the original one of these days.

Here's his website, which doesn't look like it's been updated in awhile. Interestingly favorable piece from David Schow -- as always, I'm amazed at the people who plump for this guy.


Here's a piece from the esteemable Mystery File:


In answer to why nobody's ever heard of Farris, well, he kinda sucks, Mr. Lewis. And honestly your review is well meaning, but suggests a lot of special pleading here, too.

This is an interesting piece from Crider on Farris's early stuff. One of these novels will be republished by Hard Case -- I'll probably check it out because I'm an idiot, but, well, my expectations are low.


As for Gardner, there's stuff online about him, but I felt like digging for some info on what I think is easily his best book, The Sunlight Dialogues.

Here's something from NPR. I didn't click the link, but apparently you can hear Gardner's son read a passage from the book:


Here's a wise man agreeing with me as to Sunlight's qualities:


This is an extremely nice piece on the novel, suffering only from an odd willingness to be taken in by the Sunlight Man's folderol. Part of the point of the book, after all, is that underneath the two extremes of Clumly and the Sunlight Man lies only chaos, and that's true even if you are a hippie taking it to the man. Outside of this odd blind spot, though, this is a very nice piece, particularly good at pointing out how well everyone's sketched in the novel. (An aspect of the book not well known, for some reason -- it's extraordinarily readable.)


Another nice quote from the book:


That's enough.


Saturday, April 26, 2008

Kingsley Amis -- information

My take on Amis is that he's a typical late Twentieth Century writer -- that is, rather good but not really great, and certainly overrated in many respects. Lucky Jim is a lot of things, including sporadically amusing, but it's not exactly the comic masterpiece it's represented to be, for instance. (Much like Peyton Place, though, it's historically important and influential, and probably deserves to be read for that alone.) Most of Amis's other "serious" books are equal parts sexual obsession and self-loathing -- personally I think his best effort, and maybe his best book, is Girl, 20, where he manages to get outside himself, for a bit, but in a manageable way unlike say Take A Girl Like You.

His genre pieces are more formally experimental and more engaging to read; I think his other "best book" is The Green Man, his take on the traditional English Ghost Story. Again, anything that kept the self-involvement down is generally good with him -- I haven't read them but suspect he was quite a fine essayist.

A very nice Wikipedia piece:


Steyn on Amis. Steyn not good on Amis. Steyn has big talent, but me no think literary criticism one of them.

http://www.newcriterion.com/archives/25/03/the-old-devil/ (You gotta register to get the full piece of this.)

An example of the endless apologetics certain folk -- in the UK especially -- make for this guy. I rather like his boorishness myself, but at least I understand that's a weakness in my character.


This is interesting only in that I graduated from Williams and I think I might've had a run-in with this guy. (I had a run-in with almost all the literature people there.) If I remember right, it was a novel survey course, some of it good -- he was good on Tom Jones -- some of it not. This particular piece is notable for it's dullness.


And this is interesting for a mention of Paul Fussell writing on Amis, I am very curious what a contrary appreciation might look like. Oh, and that he liked Flashman -- that's the kind of thing that would endear any man to me.


There's others, including what looks to be a big glossy article on Kingsley and Martin Amis, but I didn't really feel like poking around any further.

Grace Metalious - information

Here's a typical piece of puffery on Peyton Place. The kind of thing aspiring writers do to pay their dues before they get to be big and important and on the Huffington Post and stuff like that.


A nice picture of Ms. Metalious, staged in that way that has passed looking "fake" and now looks "quaint".


A variety of links:


I remember reading this some time ago. It's a very good piece on the whole Peyton Place phenomenon, and makes me want to see any biopics of her that might be made.


Expect more when they finally do the movie.