Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Books at Kalamazoo

So, I usually come back from Kalamazoo with a stack of books, both new books about Tolkien I hadn't seen before and medieval works connected with any of several ongoing projects. This year I brought home an interesting miscellany, mostly catching up on the new releases from Doug Anderson's Nodens Books.

Nodens Books titles:

LATE REVIEWS by Douglas A. Anderson (2018)
—this is the project I've long known under the name OBSCURE DEAD AUTHORS, after a memorable WisCon panel some two decades or so ago. No one knows more about forgotten authors and overlooked books than Doug, and his 'Late Reviews' can pluck out the one thing worth remembering a neglected book for. Really looking forward to reading this one.

THE CULT MURDERS by Leonard Cline (1928) [writing as Alan Forsyth]
—a tragic figure almost wholly forgotten today, Cline wrote a searing work of naturalism (GODSTALK) but is remembered today only for the past-life regression novel THE DARK CHAMBER, which seems to have influenced Lovecraft, esp. in THE RATS IN THE WALL. He also wrote some detective stories while in prison, of which this is one.

—I wrote about this one's title story in my review of Doug's TALES BEFORE NARNIA: it's cited by CSL as an inspiration for his THE GREAT DIVORCE (and probably also provided a key idea for THE DARK TOWER).

SPHINX by David Lindsay (1923)
—the least significant of this author's seven books, but when the author is as extraordinary as Lindsay even his minor works are worth reading, at least once, to see what he was up to. After all, even on a bad day Hieronymus Bosch is still Hieronymus Bosch.

FINGERS OF FEAR by J. U. Nicolson (1937)
—this one I know nothing about, other than that it sounds like one of the thrillers Bertie Wooster enjoys reading. I'm looking forward to reading it sometime when I need a change of pace.

MONK'S MAGIC by Alexander de Comeau (1931)
—another book I know little about but which sounds rather Fersey-ish (as in Mervyn Wall's THE UNFORTUNATE FURSEY). And if this author can capture even a little of Wall's light touch it'll be well worth reading.

FERELITH by Lord Kilmarnock (1903)
—a book I know nothing about, yet.

GOING HOME by Barry Pain (1921)
—I've never read anything by Pain; looks like a good place to start, nice and short

—M. R. James-ian stories of much more recent vintage than most of Nodens Books' releases. Read this one last year on Kindle; now picking up the hardcopy book for easier access..

Aside from the Nodens Books collection, I came home with a few more. Four of the five are gifts, and much welcome.

THE NATIVE AMERICANS: AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY by Thomas, Miller, White, Nabokov, and Deloria; ed Betty & Ian Ballantine (1993) —a big illustrated picture book.

AUTHENTICATING ANCIENT INDIAN ARTIFACTS by Jim Bennett (2008)—filled with beautiful pictures of flintworks both real and reproduced.

INDIAN MOUNDS OF THE MIDDLE OHIO VALLEY by Susan L. Woodward & Jerry N. McDonald (2002)—lots of little maps of the interior of Indian mounds. Not only interesting in itself, but every D&D player can always use more maps of barrows.

THE SILVER VOICES by John Howard—a gift from someone I got into a long conversation with last year that seemed oddly at cross purposes, at the end of which it turned out he and I were talking about two different authors: John Howard in his case and Jonathan L. Howard (author of the Johannes Cabel books) in mine. Now thanks to his generosity I have a way of comparing the two before next year's Medieval Congress rolls round.

Finally, among the notes in Higgins' INKLINGS & ARTHUR volume I saw a reference to what sounded like a really interesting article that had appeared in a journal (ARTHURIANA) who always have a booth at Kalamazoo, so I made a note to look it up and buy that issue if possible. It was, and I'm looking forward to reading THE LOST ARTHURIAN PLAYS OF ELIZABETHAN ENGLAND. Wish Jim Pietrusz were still with us; I'd enjoy discussing this one with him.

Also, I ordered one book seen at the conf. and it's already arrived, so it shd get at least an honorable mention as an at-Kalamazoo-conference-purchase: TOLKIEN & ALTERITY ed Christopher Vaccaro & Yvette Kisor (the new organizers, starting next year, of the Tolkien at Kalamazoo papers track. The volume is dedicated to Jane Chance, without whom there wd be no 'Tolkien at Kalamazoo', nor the community of scholars it created, nor the three excellent volumes of presentations from the Tolkien track. They have a good group of contributors; I'm particularly looking forward to Verlyn Flieger's THE ORCS AND THE OTHERS. Though I must confess some look to go outside my comfort zone.
We'll see.

--John R.
--who's also ordered a pile of MYTHLOREs to catch up to the current issue, having recently lagged behind, and also order the catalogue for the big Tolkien Exhibit about to be unveiled at the Bodley this week.

UPDATE (W. May 30th)
Make that THIRTY years ago, at least, for that WisCon panel. Thanks to Doug A. for pointing out the time passed. --JDR

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