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Rhys
Posted on Saturday, February 28, 2004 - 03:49 am:   

Thought it was about time I started a thread that has nothing to do with my own work...

Here I intend to talk about books which have captured (or are capturing) my imagination. There'll be no order to my ramblings!

Yesterday I received in the post two Mike Moorcock books -- TALES FROM THE TEXAS WOODS and THE SKRAYLING TREE. The man himself generously mailed them to me, because I've had difficulties obtaining them over here.

I'm utterly delighted with these volumes! I've only scanned them briefly so far, but already I can tell that both promise to be special. In particular TEXAS WOODS is the sort of book I love -- metafictional, playful, erudite, simultaneously complex and light, and just a damn good treasure chest of yarns!
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Luís
Posted on Monday, March 01, 2004 - 03:01 pm:   

TEXAS WOODS is much fun, if the few stories I read are anything to go by. Makes me want to read it all now, but unfortunately I want to read every other book I own now too. :-(

Best!
Luís
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red steve
Posted on Monday, March 01, 2004 - 03:44 pm:   

Today I went into a Madrid bookshop to see how many fishers they'd sold (none!) but I came out with (at last) Mike Moorcock's Dancers at the End of Time, so I didn't feel so bad. Read a few pages, sure I'm going to like it.

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Rhys
Posted on Wednesday, March 03, 2004 - 05:51 am:   

Steve:

DANCERS AT THE END OF TIME is an utterly marvellous work! If you haven't read it yet, I envy you -- standing on the threshold of an amazing reading experience!
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GabrielM
Posted on Wednesday, March 03, 2004 - 04:40 pm:   

Very true. Personally, I think it Moorcock's best. I should reread them, come to think of it....
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Rhys
Posted on Friday, March 12, 2004 - 03:07 am:   

Bought a few weeks ago:

THE COMPLEAT ENCHANTER by L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt. A linked series of wonderful comic fantasy novellas from the 1940s and 50s in one volume. Sort of like post-James Branch Cabell or proto-Terry Pratchett, but without the former's cynical nihilism or the latter's sugary tweeness.

I've enjoyed the work of Fletcher Pratt for many years (ALIEN PLANET is a great neglected SF novel and THE WELL OF THE UNICORN is a well written muscular heroic fantasy) but I'm not so familiar with the work of De Camp. Clearly these two writers worked very well together. I love the idea of the 'mathematics of magic' and I recommend this book as a good example of how fantasy writing can be humorous without losing its edge.
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Rhys
Posted on Thursday, July 08, 2004 - 04:01 am:   

Lately I've been going back to John Sladek -- something I do periodically.

I am currently reading one of his 'detective' novels -- BLACK AURA. Simultaneously a satire on the genre and a loving contribution to it...

One of the greatest strengths of Sladek as a writer was the way he never forgot his humanity even in his most vicious satires (the malignly brilliant TIK-TOK being the one exception). While perceiving the flaws and absurdities in systems, beliefs and characters his satire is never just a case of gleeful mockery.

BLACK AURA is a typical example of his complex attitude -- in this case to spiritualists and other mystic cranks. It also demonstrates Sladek's ability to bend plot around tangents rather than simply using tangents as subplots!
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steve r
Posted on Thursday, July 08, 2004 - 10:40 am:   

I'll be back when I've worked out that last sentnce...
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Rhys
Posted on Friday, July 09, 2004 - 06:02 am:   

When you've worked it out, maybe you'd let me know the answer as well?
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Matthew Rossi
Posted on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 09:06 pm:   

Hey, Rhys, just wanted to let you know that I managed to find a copy of The Best of C.L. Moore from Nelson/Doubleday, and it has a good selection of the Jirel stories. I'll let you know what i think of them after I get done, but since I know I like Shambleau I think we're in good shape.
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Rhys
Posted on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 05:56 am:   

Thanks Matthew. The C.L. Moore book I'm reading is *Black Gods and Scarlet Dreams*, one of the volumes in the Fantasy Masterworks series. Basically it's split into two sections: the first dealing with Jirel of Joiry, the second with Northwest Smith. Both cycles of stories are excellent! I'd never read any Catherine Moore before this and I'm kicking myself...

As this thread is concerned with 'Books I Love' I ought to mention that I've just discovered B.S. Johnson. More about him soon...
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Ronan Pronost
Posted on Wednesday, October 13, 2004 - 12:30 am:   

Rhys,
I'm just in the process of reading WRITTEN WITH MY LEFT HAND by Nugent Barker, and I couldn't help thinking of your stories when reading Gertie Macnamara (a tale of witches, love and bad chemistry) and Stanley Hutchinson (a tale of talking pig, piggy friendship and lust for gold coins)or the more known Curious Adventure of Mr Bond (a tale of inns, strange brothers and dyspepsia).

Have you read that book and was it an influence?

All of the stories are not as funny as the two I have mentioned. In fact some of them are really disturbing and haunting. But the collection, heterogenous as it is, is really a treat... It's a shame that this is the whole output of Barker, I would have wanted MORE!
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Rhys
Posted on Thursday, October 14, 2004 - 04:06 am:   

Hi Ronan!

No, sorry, I've never read any Nugent Barker. I'm intrigued by what you say -- so I may well seek out his collection. Seems he's another author I need to add to my list of 'required' reading!

I'm always behind schedule with my reading. At the moment I'm planning to finish reading six more books before the end of the year. Then in the New Year I can make a new list of books to read in 2005 -- a list which I'll probably only get half way down!
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jeff ford
Posted on Saturday, May 28, 2005 - 07:32 am:   

Rhys: I know you're tight with the folks at Tartarus Press. Have you ever checked out this reprint they've put out, Mrs. Hargreeves? I'm really digging this book.
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Rhys
Posted on Saturday, May 28, 2005 - 08:56 am:   

Thanks Jeff! I'm assuming that 'tight with' in the USA means 'friendly with'? Over here it means 'doesn't like spending money'... Both are true, I guess!

I haven't read Mrs Hargreeves. Thanks for the recommendation though!

How are you, by the way???
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jeff ford
Posted on Saturday, May 28, 2005 - 10:13 am:   

Rhys: Sorry for the "tight" confusion. My head is a wasp hive of outdated phraseologies. I meant "friendly with."
Mrs. Hargreeves is a really interesting novel, because it starts out as a kind of light comedy and gets very creepy as it progesses. Do you know the setup of it?
I'm doing ok. The usual -- fat, bald, cranky, and tired. In other words, in top form. How's you?
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Rhys
Posted on Wednesday, June 01, 2005 - 03:09 am:   

Jeff: your recommendations have always been excellent. I want to thank you for persuading me to read John Gardner's GRENDEL -- it's an amazing work, full of dark and very rich prose, a superb fantasy novel in every sense. I probably wouldn't have read it if you hadn't written the introduction to the Fantasy Masterworks reprint.

Unfortunately I doubt I'll ever read MISS HARGREEVES. My reading list is just too long and I've become extremely reluctant to add any more titles to it... Not this year anyhow. Probably not even next. Or the year after that... Too many books! I'm even coming to terms with the fact that there are some books on my shelves that I'll never actually read. I might as well give them away right now!

But in the manner of a grand hypocrite, there's a novel I'd like to recommend to you. If you haven't already read it, I urge you to seek it out. ALL ABOUT H. HATTERR by G.V. Desani. It has the most uplifting and infectious prose style I've ever come across. It's almost a sort of Indian ULYSSES -- seven chapters in which the narrator encounters each of the seven sages of India with bizarre and hilarious consequences. It reads like subcontinental jazz, lots of inspired improvising within precise and strongly thematic parameters. It's an awesome book. Desani is as great a writer as Vian, Mutis or Pavic.

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