What'cha Reading?

I’d recommend one from 33 1/3 series that my former boss wrote on Suicide’s self-titled album.


There’s a one man publisher who uses Kickstarter to fund new editions of neglected books. I’ve given to several of his campaigns this past year and a half, and have found a few obscure gems as a result. Currently reading the bizarre fantasy Mangled Hands by Johnny Stanton.


We Own This City. It’s a book a friend of mine wrote about a band of corrupt cops in Baltimore. David Simon’s making a miniseries based on it.

These guys were running around doing some Training Day stuff. Shakedowns, planting evidence, stealing drugs, selling drugs, stealing cash, claiming false overtime. They’re all doing serious federal time and if not for the mayor getting popped for tax fraud for children’s books not long after (you heard that right), it’d have been the most ridiculous local scandal I’d ever heard of.


I’ve been reading those off and on over the summer. I think I’m up to Sourcery, but I previously read Guards Guards! and Pyramids.


I’m also liable to having a fiction and non-fiction on the go side-by-side. Currently on the bedside table I have -

City of Night by John Rechy. As I understand it this is a semi-fictionalised journey through the world of male hustlers and queer street life in the early 1960’s. It’s modernist in the sense that it plays fast and loose with grammar and the presentation of language on the page, but it isn’t dry or remote, in fact quite the opposite! Characterisation is great with people being richly drawn, the through-line being everyone’s outsiderness and the crushing sadness and fleeting moments of joy that situation brings. Only 50 pages left and that would have to contain some really sketchy stuff for this to get anything other than a solid recommend.

England’s Dreaming by Jon Savage. This was reprinted recently which made me dig out my copy. Read it years ago and didn’t think much to it, but really enjoyed it on re-visit. It’s essentially a history of the Sex Pistols and the British Punk scene 1975 - 78, but it’s also a fascinating social history of England in the 1970’s. I don’t think much of the music stands up at this point, but when you think of it in it’s original context it’s easier to appreciate. Book drifts towards the end by becoming more of a conventional ‘and then this happened and that happened’ style Rock Bio but the first 300 pages get the full thumbs up treatment from me.


Alpha Centauri—Or Die! by Leigh Bracket. Then I’m going to go see The Big Sleep (1946) by Leigh Bracket. And maybe wrap it up with The Empire Strikes Back by Leigh Bracket.


Earlier this year I read some of Brackett’s SF short stories & novellas. They were really good!


Yesterday I finished Aurora Rising , a SF novel and the first in a trilogy. A student of a space academy, on the most important day of his life, goes for a jaunt in hyperspace. He stumbles onto a starship lost for 200 years. Inside is a young woman in cryo, the only person alive on the ship. This starts an adventure across the galaxy with a squad of humans & aliens. The characters are smart, smart-asses, and diverse. The plot zips along. It’s a good book, and I plan to continue with the trilogy.


I’m only about half-way through it but ACOD is damn, damn good. It’s only at 3.5 stars on GoodReads and I wonder if it’s going to be victim to that hard word count the Ace doubles have. Up till now, though I’d rate it at 5 stars.


Cheese and crackers, I’m really enjoying Muriel Spark - Jean Brodie has become my new favorite novel of 1961, and am now completely engrossed by The Girls of Slender Means

This reminds me of my teenage/20-something self - I was a voracious reader, and little could distract me or pull me out of whatever world I was immersed in (seriously, Judas Priest could be blasting out of loudspeakers and I wouldn’t hear it, people would have to shake my shoulder -no “gentle pressure”- to get my attention when I was reading)

I don’t have that same focus these days, but I am finding it difficult to put down the book. “Come on man, you have to work. Get some damned sleep!”

Oh, and this article/review was an interesting read (I was curious about her)


I know I’m sounding like a broken record, but…

Muriel Spark (I think I’ve found a new favorite author)

The Drivers Seat - very different from the previous two, very dark, there’s a kind of black humor but it’s veering towards the bleak. As with the previous two, it’s a page turner, and short, only about 100 pages.


I’m currently reading Terry Pratchett’s “Monstrous Regiment.”


Currently making my way through
Tar Heel Lightnin’: How Secret Still and Fast Cars Made North Carolina The Moonshine Capital Of The World by Daniel S. Pierce
Limelight: Rush In The 80s by Martin Popoff
Blackbeard: America’s Most Notorious Pirate By Angus Konstam


I don’t read as much as I would like…but here are the last 3 books I finished.

Killer Candy By Jason Murphy

Book by a friend of mine. I really enjoyed it. It’s got horror and humor. I highly recommend it. Here’s the blurb for the book for those wondering:

“GHOSTS AREN’T REAL, DUMMY!” That’s what former con-man and paranormal investigator Clark Vandermeer kept saying, until his friends were swallowed up by the unknown. Desperate for answers (and cash!), he teams up with Zeke Silver, ghost-puncher. They’re hired to join dozens of other ghost-hunting misfits on the biggest paranormal investigation of all time as they search for proof of the supernatural at the dreaded Oswald Academy. But will they survive the Black Eyed Kids? Their undead master? The psychotic ex-Marine? The mix tape forged in the pits of Hell itself? Packed with colorful characters, Killer Candy is a fast-paced read that walks the line between hilarious and horrifying.

I also read In Defense of Ska by Aaron Carnes

Ska is probably my favorite genre of music, and this book is so informative and well written to give you a proper understanding of the genre and it’s history. I would recommend giving this book as read…even if you this ska sucks.

Finally, I read How To Write Cheesy Moves by Frank Conniff

This book was purchased for me for my birthday back in June. I wasn’t sure what to expect when reading this. I enjoyed it, not as much as I thought I would, but I enjoyed it. It’s funny and also filled with MST3K references. My biggest issue is that it’s a little repetitive and repeats itself A LOT…which may be part of the joke. I don’t know.


I’m just finishing a re-read of Tiamat’s Wrath, winding up my re-read of The Expanse.

Getting ready to move to Crisis Zone by Simon Hansellman.


I’m doing a year-long read-along thanks to the r/tolkienfans subreddit. One or two chapters a week, we’re almost done with The Two Towers. As someone who read the books twenty years ago but has watched the films annually for over a decade, it’s really enlightening and reminds me of so much of the great stuff there. And it’s also fun to see where bits of the books wound up in the films- usually to better cinematic effect.

I’m also reading Dean Koontz’s Velocity, which is compelling as all hell.


Spark’s “The Drivers Seat” was good, but dragged in the middle and didn’t hit me as hard as Brodie and Girls did. So I switched back to the western collection…

R (1)

Shane, by Jack Schaefer
It’s a bit corny, the opening chapters are overly sweet and wholesome, and the author spends a lot of pages on food (wholesome fresh baked biscuits and deep dish apple pie) but once it gets into the heart of the story, it picks up and becomes a real grabber.

I would be interested in reading others by Schaefer, as I’ve heard they were less mythic / more realistic.

I think I like the movie better. Funny thing, Schaefer admired the film, but hated Alan Ladd in the role, called him a runt, and wanted George Raft instead - which makes me laugh as Raft was only an inch taller than Ladd, and IMHO it would have been disastrous casting.

Ladd is actually very good, the novel describes Shane as slight of frame, soft spoken, there’s a gentleness to his personality, but with a dangerous undercurrent. Alan delivers all of that, so what’s the problem, other than he was an inch smaller than your preferred actor? Eh, sometimes writers are screwy when it comes to how they envision a movie adaptation


I hadn’t heard about History of the Telescope, but I found it online in PDF format (researchgate.net) and downloaded it. I’ve done a quick skim so far and it looks really informative and well-written. Nice tip!


Really enjoyed that one. I think some of his later YA books were also some of his best, including “Nation” and the Tiffany Aching series.


I’ve been reading the Discworld books in order and I just finished my first Tiffany Aching. I loved her.