I’ve been catching up on grading this weekend, but I’ve reduced tomorrow’s workload to a manageable level, so I figured I could post a couple of odds and ends…
I read Lawrence Block’s new novella, Resume Speed, a few days ago. It may be an example of amnesia noir, or it may be a slice of an alcoholic’s struggle, or it may be… well, it may be a lot of things. What it is, is a crisply crafted 22,000 words or so, with crime around the edges of two lonely people’s uncertain relationship.The conclusion is defiantly unresolved, but then, so are a lot of stories in people’s lives, and that’s at least one point of the story, and perhaps a reason the ending has stuck with me for a few days now. He gives us the “shave-and-a-haircut,” but never delivers the “Two bits” conclusion, and if you’re one of those folks who has to finish the phrase, then Resume Speed may make you crazy.
The rest is the good stuff we expect from Mr. Block — smart voices, strong dialogue, and the ability to take seemingly the most ordinary places and make them vivid in our imaginations. In any case, it’s a fine piece of writing, even if isn’t the thing for people who want packages neatly wrapped. LB reports that he’s going to be writing something else in the coming weeks. I’m already looking forward to it.
I’m teaching Mondoville’s film course this term, and decided to focus on horror films for the first time since my rookie year here. We watched Psycho this week, and we’re also watching a documentary on the making of the film. I’m somewhat amused by the fact that the documentary is nearly as long as the film it considers. It’s not an unreasonable concept, really — an explication of a poem will frequently be longer than the poem itself — but it still makes me chuckle for some reason.
As a reader of fantasy and science fiction (third generation, and Clan Mondo is up to four and counting), and as a fan of short fiction, I’ve spent numerous hours reading works from magazines including Analog, Asimov’s, and F&SF (the latter being my favorite of the three, even if they did — justifiably — reject a bunch of my stories when I tried my hand at the genre.) When I’d read through story collections from Dad’s shelves, I’d occasionally look at the copyright page to see where the stories had originally run. That was how I ran across a magazine called If.
If was considered a second-division publication for much of its 22-year run (1952-74), but for a three-year run in the late 60s, under Frederick Pohl’s editorship, it may well have been the top magazine in its field, publishing Hugo-winning stories from folks like Niven and Ellison, among others, and winning three straight Hugos for Pohl in the process. As it happens, the magazine has been scanned in its entirety, and can be found at the Internet Archive’s Pulp Magazine Archive. Just look at the names on the covers — they remind us that there were giants in the earth in those days.
A tip of the Mondo Mortarboard to the Mad Dog, for passing the info to me via Twitter.
And as is my wont, here’s a bit of music. In the late 1960s, a band called Lincoln Street Exit formed in Albuquerque, NM. They were a bit unusual on the rock and roll landscape, because all the members of the band were American Indians. They released an EP under the Lincoln Street Exit name, and after changing their name to XIT (which stood for “Crossing of Indian Tribes”), did a few albums for Motown’s Rare Earth subsidiary label in the 70s. They reformed in the 90s, and some version of the band still appears to be a going concern. Unsurprisingly, much of their work has focused on the history and tradition of American Indians, and the conditions under which many of them live at present.
However, my selection for today is from their earlier incarnation as Lincoln Street Exit, with a brooding bit of heavy psych about a drug informant. From 1968, here’s “Whatever Happened to Baby Jesus.”
See you soon!