Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Even Newer Arrival

So, I'd no sooner posted about the three new books to find their way into our house (a thriller, a Tolkien biography, and translations from the Old English) than upon the doorstep arrives the long-awaited TOLKIEN AND WALES, by Carl Phelstead. This turns out to be a fairly slim volume -- just about 120 pages excluding the bibliography and notes (which extend its length by half again as much). I heard good things about this one at Kalamazoo, and got to see a copy when I was in St. Louis.

From what I've seen so far, it's a good example of a thorough treatment of an important subject which the author has been careful not to belabor: it's a good topic for a short book, not a massive one. Knowing when to stop is a good gift to have in a writer, and I'm looking forward to reading this one to seeing how well Mr. Phelpstead covers such an interesting topic. I strongly suspect it'll be a serious contender for next year's Mythopoeic Award.

The only thing I'd warn against is the price-point. Not for the trade paperback, which is out already, and v. reasonably priced (you can get it online for around $20). But the hardcover, which I got on the assumption that it probably wdn't have a US edition and any paperback wd be years down the road (quite wrong, as it turns out), comes in at a staggering $148 (sans tax). Here the outrageous pricing for books from university presses and equally outrageous prices for imported books seem to have run together into an ungodly result.

So, profit from (not following) my example. Time now to return to and finish up the Horne biography so I can move on to greener pastures . . .

--John R.
current reading: RED EYE OF AZATHOTH
current audiobook: THE PICKWICK PAPERS [1837] (just finished!)



1 comment:

Caleb Woodbridge said...

I'm one of Dr Phelpstead's MA students and did his course on "Tolkien's Medievalism". I'm reading "Tolkien and Wales" at the moment. I think it's a good read, and I'm not just saying that because he taught me!

I also interviewed him about the book for "Impossible Podcasts", a science fiction and fantasy podcast I edit, which you can listen to here.