Thursday, January 7, 2016


Here, so that you’ll have some idea of who to blame for my warped worldview, is my annual list of the books that kept my lips moving this past year (excluding as usual magazines and newspapers, individual shorts stories, essays, poems, blogs, etc.):

  Prehysterical Pogo (In Pandemonia) by Walt Kelly

Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

Blood and Kisses (Vampire Love Book 1) by J.T. Blackfriars

I Must Say: My Life as a Humble Comedy Legend by Martin Short

Silver Screen Fiend: Learning About Life from an Addiction to Film by Patton Oswalt

The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy

The Realms of Gold by Margaret Drabble

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling 

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

The Runaway Robot by Lester Del Rey

Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan 

Feral by Berton Roueché

Dr. Who and the Genesis of the Daleks by Terrance Dicks

 Clans of the Alphane Moon by Philip K. Dick

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami

Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives by David Eagleman

The Martian by Andy Weir

The Gods Hate Kansas by Joseph Millard

A Feast of Freedom by Leonard Wibberly

Ratman’s Notebooks by Stephen Gilbert

That last selection was a real surprise. It’s the Irish novel on which the 1971 American film Willard and its 2003 remake were based. I had long been curious about it, but I wasn’t expecting it to be a real work of literature. It’s whimsical, witty and poignant, and the rats trained by the (unnamed) narrator of the title are vividly characterized. Both movie versions are pretty pedestrian by comparison.


Monster-of-the-Week: …this week the nod goes to the tentacled horror from the wonderful cover art of another book on this list, Joseph Millard’s vintage sci-fi tale The Gods Hate Kansas:

Unexpectedly, this picture isn’t a cheat, or at least not too much of a cheat—no such attack on the spaceship takes place, but there are, at least, creatures answering this description in the tale. Better yet, it turns out [spoiler alert!] that they aren’t bad sorts, once you get to know them.

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