Friday, October 24, 2014

FFB consumer's advisory bonus: two quartets of horrors for the season...

The US reader (of English) is this year offered essentially four Best of the Year volumes collecting horror and related material...I have yet to crack my copies, but I have all four...

The Best Horror of the Year: Volume Six 

The Year's Best Dark Fantasy & Horror: 2014 

Year's Best Weird Fiction, Volume 1 

Best New Horror: 25th Anniversary Edition 
  • Editor: Stephen Jones
  • Year: 2014-11-11
  • ISBN: 978-1-62873-818-6 [1-62873-818-9]
  • Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing
  • Price: $15.95 
  • Pages: 608 

  • INTRODUCTION: HORROR IN 2013 The Editor 
  • DEAD END Nicholas Royle 
  • ISAAC'S ROOM Daniel Mills 
  • THE BURNING CIRCUS Angela Slatter 
  • HOLES FOR FACES Ramsey Campbell 
  • COME INTO MY PARLOUR Reggie Oliver 
  • THE MIDDLE PARK Michael Chislett 
  • INTO THE WATER Simon Kurt Unsworth 
  • THE BURNED HOUSE Lynda E. Rucker 
  • FISHFLY SEASON Halli Villegas 
  • DOLL RE MI Tanith Lee 
  • A NIGHT'S WORK Clive Barker 
  • THE SIXTEENTH STEP Robert Shearman 
  • STEMMING THE TIDE Simon Strantzas 
  • THE GIST Michael Marshall Smith 
  • GUINEA PIG GIRL Thana Niveau 
  • WHITSTABLE Stephen Volk 
  • NECROLOGY: 2013 Stephen Jones & Kim Newman
And...recently, I was seeking a pair of short novels for a new friend, a native speaker of Spanish who loves horror and wanted preferably short novels in English she could practice her Anglophone reading with...since she's a lover of horror film, as well, my favorite duo from 1959 came to mind first, even if one is a suspense novel rather than horror (and the other is arguably so as well, with difficulty):

...and two more became pretty obvious next choices (in rather battered first editions pictured below):

Further suggestions?

("Impure" horror collections that also came to mind:
All The Stories of Muriel Spark and 
E Pluribus Unicorn by Theodore Sturgeon)


FFB: books (and of course magazines) that greatly influenced me in my early reading...

This can be considered cheating, as it's an answer to a Facebook meme that came at me from at least two directions, from FFB founder and mainspring Patti Abbott, and from comedian and voracious reader Jackie Kashian, but nonetheless, here 'tis (with the links back to previous citations in the blog and elsewhere)...

Grimm's Fairy Tales To Read Aloud, a beginning reader's edition...along with Dr. Seuss and some Golden Books, the texts my parents taught me to read with, and the most elaborate and text-heavy (and even more fantasticated than Green Eggs and Ham and the Cat in the Hat books).

Children's Digest magazine, the first fiction/essay-heavy magazine I read, and another bounty of short fiction, comics (Tintin and others), etc. Set me on a path to being one of the rare sorts these days who still loves fiction magazines. Highlights for Children and Humpty Dumpty (the latter then CD's slightly younger-skewing stablemate) didn't hurt, but weren't as good to 5yo me.

Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Stories to be Read with the Door Locked, ghost-edited by Harold Q. Masur. Might not be the first of the anthologies edited by Robert Arthur and Harold Q. Masur in the various "Hitchcock" lines that I read, but it might be, and it was the first I owned a copy of. Eclectic and sophisticated range of all sorts of "dark" (including darkly comic) fiction, one of many volumes aimed at adults and a companion series aimed at YA readers...I inhaled them from about age 9 till I'd read them all...while also reading the series of anthologies taken from and associated with Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, which always had other editors. AHMM, for its part, was the first adult fiction magazine I read regularly.

Living in Fear: A History of Horror in Mass Media, by Les Daniels...the mass media very much including literature...the first critical/historical pop-culture work I devoured, and assuredly not the last. Along with the pointers, as valuable as those on the Newbery Award shortlists to my young reading, it was also a fine anthology of short stories, alternating with the chapters of Daniels's text.

The better Time-Life Books, Science Service Books, and a galumphing big coffee-table book full of essays and great photography, Our Amazing World of Nature, definitely nudged me into a lifelong interest in the natural sciences...various encyclopedias and other multivolume sets didn't hurt. 

The American Heritage multi-volume set on the US presidents (and Famous Americans), for example, among other things helped fuel an early fascination with election statistics and related matters...

The Year's Best Horror Stories, Series 5, edited by Gerald W. Page. The first evidence I had that the horror fiction anthologies I'd been finding in libraries (and from Scholastic and similar book sales in and through the schools) were part of a continuing tradition. Other best of the year annuals were also fascinating. 

The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (to which I've contributed in the most slight way) and Fantastic Stories and Whispers, perhaps the most beloved by me of the first wave of adult fiction magazines I started buying and reading in earnest in 1978. These three were the best and most popular fantasy fiction magazines I'd find, all eclectic in their remit (they'd even run the occasional story that was fantasy only by association, presumably because the editors thought they had a good story by a writer who usually wrote fantasy)...while I'd read the likes of Short Story International and Galaxy and Asimov's SF Adventure Magazine and Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine assiduously as well. I transitioned in my periodicals consumption from reading comics and Mad (and any National Lampoons I could obtain...and Boy's Life and Dynamite) to reading fiction magazines over the years from ages 10 to 13...and discovered that magazines such as The Atlantic Monthly still carried short stories, as well as sometimes fascinating articles. I'd been reading the short stories in Playboy for a while...while not letting the rest of the magazine alone, of course...

Dissent magazine was my first regular leftist read, soon joined by others ranging from The Nation to Rolling Stone's relevant material, and so on to such books as Vivian Gornick's Essays in Feminism (and Women in Science), Emma Goldman's Living My Life, and the notable anthology The Essential Works of Anarchism.. But I think Joanna Russ's essays, and her novel The Female Man, were among the biggest even earlier nudges I had in that direction. I certainly didn't like the antifeminist flavor of the writing of R. Bretnor nor (Miss rather than Ms.?) Raylyn Moore from early on... Our Generation magazine probably spoke to me most directly, along with Social Anarchism (to which I would eventually contribute) and, in a more broadly focused way, Harper's Magazine in the 1980s...

The Futurians by Damon Knight convinced me that I wanted to be an editor even more than I did a writer. And the critical writing of Knight, Russ, Gornick, John Simon, Harlan Ellison, Algis Budrys, James Blish, Anthony Burgess, bell hooks, Avram Davidson, Fritz Leiber, and others spoke to me profoundly.

And if I have to make a default choice as to my favorite book so far...well, I couldn't. But Avram Davidson's magisterial The Enquiries of Doctor Eszterhazy might be it. Or Jorge Luis Borges's The Aleph, and Other Stories 1933-1969, or too many others...

Please see Patti Abbott's blog for more of today's books. I believe I'm set to host next week's selections...

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tuesday's Overlooked Films and/or Other A/V: the links--in progress...

Anne Bilson:  Preposterous thrillers; goth girl heroines; Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me

Bill Crider: What's Up, Tiger Lily? [trailer]; The Hospital [trailer]; Straight Time [trailer]

Brian Arnold: Night of the Demons; Grave of the Vampire ...Countdown to Halloween; The Twilight Zone (second version): "Dealer's Choice"; The Gift of Winter and Witch's Night Out

B. V. Lawson: Media Murder

Dan Stumpf: Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead; Zorro (1950s tv)

David Vineyard: The Small Back Room

Ed Lynskey: The Naked Kiss; Man Bait; Mike Hammer (1950s tv)

Elizabeth Foxwell: "The Case of the Screaming Bishop"; From the Vault (Pacifica Radio): "Sorry, Wrong Number" with Shirley Knight and Ed Asner; Calling Philo Vance (1940 film); Great Lives: "Dorothy L. Sayers" (BBC Radio); Stage 7: "The Deceiving Eye"; Focus 580: "Evan Hunter/Ed McBain"; BackStory: "To Serve and Protect? A History of the Police [in the US]"

Evan Lewis: I, the Jury (1953 film); Breakdowns of 1936; Charlie Chan at the Opera 

Francis M. Nevins: Coronado 9; A Walk Among the Tombstones

George Kelley: The Damned United; The Grace Kelly Collection; The Bridge; Gotham; The Flash

How Did This Get Made?: Temptations: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor

Iba Dawson: The Innocents

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.: Caught; Death of a Salesman (1951 film); The Black Widow (1947 film serial); He Walked by Night

Jack Seabrook: The Alfred Hitchcock Hour: "Final Vow"; "I Saw the Whole Thing"
Yesterday Was a Lie

Jackie Kashian: Kipleigh Brown (Yesterday Was a Lie; Star Trek Continues); Eddie Pepitone; Sandra Daugherty

Jacqueline T. Lynch: Brute Force;  Katie Did It; Quincy, M.E.: "The Death Challenge"

Jake Hinkson: William Castle; The Thing from Another World;  Morocco

James Reasoner: Breakfast at Tiffany's; The Last Legion; Legionnaire

Jerry House: You Asked for It!; The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: "Todd Sweeney, Demon Barber" (radio); Dragnet: "The Big Hands" (1950s tv); Favorite Story: "Frankenstein" (radio); The House of Secrets

John Charles: Deranged; Motel Hell

John Grant: Death at Broadcasting House; The Crime Nobody Saw; Confessions of a Psycho Cat; Marked Man; La Boîte Noire

Jonathan Lewis: Cornered; Edge of Darkness (1943 film); Masterson of Kansas; Juke Girl; The Virginian (1946 film); The Baron of Arizona; Waterloo Bridge

Jose Cruz: Dark Fantasy (radio)

Kate Laity: Daniela Dooling at Esther Massry Gallery

Kelly Robinson: Sherlock, Jr.

Kliph Nesteroff: Will Jordan

Michael Shonk: Monsters Fighting Evil: television series

Steve Lewis: Trigger Fingers: The Last Ride; Western Union

Walter Albert: The Sea Hawk; William Powell

...there was much more to come tonight...except that this computer just crashed and ate about three hours' work on this installment. I don't like computers one bit at the moment. More later today.


Friday, October 17, 2014

FFB: the best short stories of 1978 (the year I started reading new short fiction in earnest) as judged by the annual editors...

I picked up (either purchased or found in libraries) all these volumes (with the exception of the Pushcart item) 
back when, and I was fascinated not only by the contents themselves but also by the choices made among the short fiction published in 1978, a good chunk of which I'd read as it was offered in the magazines and original anthologies. Looking at their contents now, I'm impressed, if not universally, any more than I was back then, by the quality of the selection--it was a good year to start reading new fiction, though it's usually if not always a good year to do so. It's rather telling that the fantasy (and horror) volumes have no overlap or shared stories, and neither do the eclectic/contemporary mimetic volumes, but the sf volumes certainly do. Also notable to me, as it was then, how certain books demonstrate, if not the desire to include Names at the cost of quality, then at least a certain kindness or nostalgia toward some of the writers...certainly Terry Carr, in the first two volumes of his fantasy annual, included two of the worst Stephen King stories I've least Gerald Page and Ed Hoch selected rather better, though not Year's Best, stories from King for their books. The Stephen Donaldson story was also not up to most of the rest of the Carr fantasy selections. Lin Carter likewise could let nostalgia and desire to play up Conan and such overwhelm his annual, but Arthur Saha, who would inherit the series on his own after Carter's death, probably was already being felt in this volume in some of the more innovative choices.

Multiple appearances across several volumes include those of John Varley, with four appearances of two different stories (three reprints of "The Persistence of Vision"), four appearances with three different stories for Michael Bishop and three with three for Thomas Disch (the O. Henry volume was indexed for WorldCat by a proud fellow Minnesotan), three inclusions of two stories by Gregory Benford, likewise three inclusions for two stories by Joan D. Vinge, and, as noted, three appearances with three different stories by Stephen King. It really was a very good year for Disch and Bishop.

Among the particularly brilliant stories (among many) I remember are Dennis Etchison's "The Pitch" (Horror), Bill Pronzini's "Strangers in the Fog" (Detective),  Janet Fox's "Demon and Demoiselle" (Carter/Saha Fantasy), and Gregory Benford's squicky "In Alien Flesh" (several). John Varley's "The Persistence of Vision" certainly blew me (and the award voters) away in 1978 and into the next year, though even from the first reading it struck me as more fantasy than sf, and perhaps in more than one way (though Varley's sexual libertinism certainly struck a chord with 13yo me, and I'm somewhat in sympathy with that attitude still, with certain reservations).  Look at all that established and emerging talent in the Pushcart...and all the others...

The Year’s Best Horror Stories: Series VII ed. Gerald W. Page (DAW 0-87997-476-1, Jul ’79, $1.95, 221pp, pb)

The Year’s Finest Fantasy Volume 2 ed. Terry Carr (Berkley 0-425-04155-7, Jul ’79, $1.95, 311pp, pb); Series continued with Fantasy Annual III.

The Year’s Best Fantasy Stories: 5 ed. Lin Carter  and Arthur W. Saha (DAW 0-87997-510-5, Jan ’80, $1.95, 204pp, pb)

The 1979 Annual World’s Best SF ed. Donald A. Wollheim & Arthur W. Saha (DAW 0-87997-459-1, May ’79, $2.25, 268pp, pb)
  • 7 · Introduction · Donald A. Wollheim · in
  • 11 · Come to the Party · Frank Herbert & F. M. Busby · ss Analog Dec ’78
  • 37 · Creator · David Lake · nv Envisaged Worlds, ed. Paul Collins, Void, 1978
  • 64 · Dance Band on the Titanic · Jack L. Chalker · nv IASFM Jul/Aug ’78
  • 87 · Cassandra · C. J. Cherryh · ss F&SF Oct ’78
  • 96 · In Alien Flesh · Gregory Benford · nv F&SF Sep ’78
  • 122 · SQ · Ursula K. Le Guin · ss Cassandra Rising, ed. Alice Laurance, Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1978
  • 133 · The Persistence of Vision · John Varley · na F&SF Mar ’78
  • 181 · We Who Stole the Dream · James Tiptree, Jr. · nv Stellar #4, ed. Judy-Lynn del Rey, Ballantine, 1978
  • 206 · Scattershot · Greg Bear · nv Universe 8, ed. Terry Carr, Doubleday, 1978
  • 239 · Carruthers’ Last Stand · Dan Henderson · nv Analog Jun ’78

The Best Science Fiction of the Year # 8 ed. Terry Carr (Ballantine 0-345-28083-0, Jul ’79, $2.25, 372pp, pb)

The Best Science Fiction Novellas of the Year #1 ed. Terry Carr (Ballantine, Sep ’79, 328pp, pb)

Best Science Fiction Stories of the Year (1978) ed. Gardner R. Dozois (Elsvier-Dutton, 1979, hc); Also in pb (Dell Aug ’80).

courtesy WorldCat: 

Best detective stories of the year, 1979 ; 33rd annual collection  
edited by Edward D. Hoch. 
New York : E.P. Dutton, 1979. 209 pages

Quitters, Inc. / Stephen King --
Little paradise / Zena Collier --
The man in the lake / Ernest Savage --
Strangers in the fog / Bill Pronzini --
Delayed mail / Jack Ritchie --
Filmflam / Francis M. Nevins --
The fire man / Elizabeth A. Lynn --
The adventure of the blind alley / Edward Wellen --
The cloud beneath the eaves / Barbara Owens --
The closed door / Thomas Walsh --
Truth will out / Ruth Rendell --
Checkpoint Charlie / Brian Garfield --
Rite of Spring / Jerry Jacobson --
The golden circle / Patricia L. Schulze --
Captain Leopold Incognito / Edward D. Hoch --
The leech / Frank Sisk.

courtesy Contento/Stephensen-Payne Miscellaneous Anthologies:

The Best American Short Stories 1979 

ed. Joyce Carol Oates & Shannon Ravenel (Houghton Mifflin, 1979, tp)

[This citation in WorldCat is annoyingly shorthanded...particularly where the writer's name isn't so obvious as with Herbert Gold or Alice Adams.]
Prize stories 1979 : the O. Henry Awards  edited and with an introduction by William Abrahams. 

"Includes story by Minnesota author Thomas M. Disch."

Weaver, G. Getting serious.--
Bromell, H. Travel stories.--
Hecht, J.I want you, I need you, I love you.--
Goldberg, L. Shy bearers.--
Heller, S. The summer game.--
Pfeil, F. The quality of light in Maine.--
Leaton, A. The passion of Marco Z--.--
Thomas, A. Coon hunt.--
Molyneux, T.W. Visiting the point.--
Oates, J.C. In the autumn of the year.--
Baumbach, J. Passion?--
Zelver, P. My father's jokes.--
Gold, H. The smallest part.--
Van Dyke, H. Du Côté de Chez Britz.--
Smith, L. Mrs. Darcy meets the blue-eyed stranger at the beach.--
Caputi, A. The derby hopeful.--
Schwartz, L.S. Rough strife.--
Yates, R. Oh, Joseph, I'm so tired.--
Peterson, M. Travelling.--
Disch, T.M. Xmas.--
Adams, A. The girl across the room.  

  The Pushcart prize, IV : best of the small presses  
edited by Bill Henderson.   591 pages

Introduction : about Pushcart Prize, IV --
Home / by Jayne Anne Phillips --
From laughing with one eye / by Gjertrud Schnackenberg Smyth --
A renewal of the word / by Barbara Myerhoff --
Ice / by AI --
In another country / by James Laughlin --
The daisy dolls / by Felisberto Hernández --
Snow owl / by Dave Smith --
Lot's wife / by Kristine Batey --
The stone crab : a love poem / by Robert Phillips --
Night flight to Stockholm / by Dallas Wiebe --
Literature and ecology: an experiment in ecocriticism / by William Rueckert --
Ghosts like them / by Shirley Ann Taggart --
Elegy / by David St. John --
The ritual of memories / by Tess Gallagher --
Plowing with elephants / by Lon Otto --
Meeting Mescalito at Oak Hill Cemetery / by Lorna Dee Cervantes --
A Jean-Marie cookbook / by Jeff Weinstein --
dg The politics of anti-realism / by Gerald Graff --
Winter sleep / by Mary Oliver --
Wildflower / by Stanley Plumly --
Letters from a father / by Mona Van Duyn --
Early winter / by Max Schott --
My work in California / by James B. Hall --
The ownership of the night / by Larry Levis --
The Spanish image of death / by César Vallejo --
For Papa (and Marcus Garvey) / by Thadious M. Davis --
A vision expressed by a series of false statements / by John Love --
Jeffrey, believe me / by Jane Smiley --
Sweetness, a thinking machine / by Joe Ashby Porter --
To Ed Sissman / by John Updike --
The man whose blood tilted the earth / by M.R. Doty --
Lawrence at Taos / by Shirley Kaufman --
Contemporary poetry and the metaphors for the poem / by Charles Molesworth --
Another Margot chapter / by R.C. Day --
Sitting up, standing, taking steps / by Ron Silliman --
Made connections / by Michael Harper --
Anonymous courtesan in a jade shroud / by Brenda Hillman -
A woman in love with a bottle / by Barbara Lovell ---
Proteus / by Judith Hoover --
Quinnapoxet / by Stanley Kunitz --
Things that happen where there aren't any people / by William Stafford --
Lechery / by Jayne Anne Phillips --
Civilization and isolation / by Vine Deloria --
from Kiss of the spider woman / by Manual Puig --
Running away from home / by Carolyn Kizer --
The biography man / by Gary Reilly --
The nerves of a midwife: contemporary American women's poetry / by Alicia Ostriker --
Forgive us / by George Venn --
The hat in the swamp / by Paul Metcalf --
These women / by Christine Schutt --
Johnny Appleseed / by Susan Schaefer Neville --
Some carry around this / by Susan Strayer Deal --
The stonecutter's horses / by Robert Bringhurst --
Grandmother (1895-1928) / by Cleopatra Mathis --
Rich / by Ellen Gilchrist --
Pig 311 / by Margaret Ryan --
American poetry: looking for a center / by Ishmael Reed-
I show the daffodils to the retarded kids / by Constance Sharp --
Dream / by John Willson --
Living with animals / by Margaret Kent --
The trial of Rozhdestvov / by Russian Samizdat --
Contributors notes --
Outstanding writers --
Outstanding small presses.

For more of this week's books, 
please see Patti Abbott's blog...


Friday, October 10, 2014

FFB/M: Periodical books and fiction magazines: STORY MAGAZINE, fantasy magazines, NEW WORLD WRITING, and more redux...

Please see Patti Abbott's blog for this week's list of links to others' reviews!

FFB: THE STORY OF STORY MAGAZINE by Martha Foley (assembled and notes added in part by Jay Neugeboren), W.W. Norton 1980

Jay Neugeboren, in his introduction to the published form of Foley's memoirs in progress at the time of her death, notes the dire state she found herself in, barely getting by on her royalties from editing Best American Short Stories (after four decades at that desk, she had taken over from the founding editor, her friend, after he was killed in England by Nazi bombing from the air), mourning the death of her son (who had been a drug addict, apparently a heroin junkie), isolated and ailing. Which seems very strange indeed, given the breadth of her early career, before and during founding and editing Story (or, as she always refers to it, STORY...all caps and in italics), and leaving Story to take on the BASS position and divorcing Whit Burnett, who kept the magazine they had co-founded (and ran it into the ground, though also saw it revived fleetingly twice before his death and the eventual revival of the title for a decade by the Writer's Digest people).

Incomplete as the account is, Foley had packed a lot of living into her first decades, beginning her memoirs with a reminiscence of lonely and abused childhood after her parents became seriously ill and had to place Foley and siblings with resentful relatives (or other surrogates), but loving the legacy of the library her parents had assembled, which traveled with the younger Foleys. Not long after high school, Alice Paul finds Foley doing some small tasks at the Socialist Party hq in New York, when coming over with other Women's Party activists looking for reinforcements to protest that antifeminist crusader, Woodrow Wilson, returning from Europe (particularly amusing when we consider how famously his wife would be the voice of the, and probably the acting, President in his ill last years (he is easily among our most overrated Presidents); Foley, Paul and the other protestors were jailed but not processed, and Foley's firsthand career investigating the corruption of the larger society had begun. She would be drawn into journalism, working with Cornelius Vanderbilt in Los Angeles (and serving as one of the key editors on CV's paper there), meeting Whit Burnett and moving with him to New York and then onto foreign correspondence for major papers in Paris and Vienna, and beginning to publish Story in the face of the early 1930s narrowing of the short-fiction markets, particularly among the more intellectual and arty generalist magazines (Mencken and Nathan's move from the fiction-heavy The Smart Set to the essay-oriented The American Mercury being a key impetus, another being the closure of the key experimental little magazine transition to fiction, rather than poetry, just before Foley and Burnett took the plunge). Meanwhile, Story would publish the first stories, and later work, of folks ranging from John D. MacDonald to J. D. Salinger, Zora Neale Hurston to William Saroyan, (almost) Ernest Hemingway and his inspiration, Gertrude Stein (neither of whom Foley was ever terribly impressed with as people) to (definitely) Nelson Algren (whom she liked enormously till his public rudeness about his affair with Simone de Beauvoir), Carson McCullers to John Cheever, Kay Boyle to Erskine Caldwell, Peter de Vries to Norman Mailer. While building this legacy, she developed long friendships the likes of fellow reporter and historian William Shirer and a banker turned writer/publisher who was going by Rex Stout (and introduced him to the model
note Foley credits her son with co-editing

for Nero Wolfe...Foley suspects Stout modeled Archie Goodwin on himself). 

And as incomplete as this review is under the current circumstances, most of this book is written in great good humor (with the necessary seriousness brought to many issues of the times, and nostalgia never allowed to go unchecked) and touches on the careers and Foley's interactions with many more folks than I cite here (hell, Neugeboren, in going through the notes and the completed majority of the manuscript, finds himself wondering what happened to such Foley discoveries as A. I. Bezzerides--apparently no film buff, Jay). Eminently rewarding, as well as sobering as one considers how Foley's late life was spent.



FFM: some first issues of fantasy magazines

Actually, the second issue, 1950, w/expanded title...
Cover by George Salter
This week, the "forgotten" books links are being compiled by Evan Lewis (who goes by Dave Lewis in some circumstances) at his blog, Davy Crockett's Almanack of Mystery, Adventure and the Wild West. I'll be hosting the links the following Friday, and then Evan, and then me, and one more pass before founder Patti Abbott can regain access to reliable blog-propagation

Meanwhile, I hope I shall be able to put my mind back together for next week's links, but it's currently blown by the ease with which I was able to find information on three or four books online which had been eluding me for years, when I cast about for substitutes for the book I intended to do this week, which I haven't had time to finish, much less think about even long enough for a slapdash entry. Managing to dig out information on such somewhat enigmatic and/or influential books on my young reading as Eric Berger's anthology For Boys Only or Emile Schurmacher's Strange Unsolved Mysteries (and further discovering that this journeyman writer had a diverse if obscure career, writing paperback originals, men's sweat magazine articles and, earlier, for Collier's, as well as for the tv series Coronado 9--and, apparently, his daughter became a sort of small-time newspaper magnate) or Nancy Faulkner's Witches Brew could've made for a decent entry...if any of these books but the Berger were actually good...and remarkable the paths this kind of engine-searching can take one down, so that coming across a Reader's Digest imitation called This Month led indirectly to Pacific, a literary magazine at Mills College, indexed by Dennis Lien at the FictionMags Index pages, that published such diversely influential people on my life as Charles Neider (he of the large Mark Twain collections from Doubleday that I plunged through when about 10), Woody Guthrie, George P. Elliott and a slew of major poets, and Iola Brubeck, already married to husband Dave who was just starting to catch fire in the SF Bay area as a jazz musician and composer. Perhaps it's notable that Fantasy Records, formed to offer recordings of Brubeck's bands, stole its first label logo from the Salter-designed title logotype of F&SF.

But, for now, what I'm going to do is steal an excellent notion Evan has been engaging in at his blog, in showing early issue covers (in all their often off-point glory) of such important magazines as Weird Tales (a magazine that in its first year was only a very poor representative of how great and important it would become--not altogether unlike Black Mask in its first year), and run some of the covers from the subsequent first issues I have read...with some bare-bones comments I hope to augment later. 

Thanks to Evan for the inspiration...and apologies for any encroachment!  One thing I note in looking at the issues below, is how often some of the same bylines appear in various first issues  (and, with some stretching, including the second for F&SF)...Manly Wade Wellman, H. L. Gold,  Kris Neville, Theodore Sturgeon, Damon Knight...of course, all were either major writers, even if at the time up and comers, or in Gold's case, and perhaps in Neville's as well, examples of people who could've done even better as writers if they'd allowed themselves, or if life had allowed them, to do so...

1949; cover by Bill Stone
F&SF began life with a slightly goofy-looking photo cover (stablemate EQMM's photo covers were a mixed bag as well), and an issue that featured Theodore Sturgeon's charming, funny sf story "The Hurkle is a Happy Beast" (so the immediate expansion of the title wasn't too taxing) and a slew of reprints...Perceval Landon's "Thurnley Abbey" being the one which resonated enough with Ramsey Campbell to make his Fine Frights rarities anthology...though I remember enjoying that story, I can't for the life of me remember details.

The second issue includes Ray Bradbury's revised "The Exiles" (which had in an earlier form, "The Mad Wizards of Mars," appeared in the Canadian magazine Maclean's)  and Damon Knight's first story he was proud to claim, "Not with a Bang," a solid, grim joke story in the mode of his "To Serve Man"...and a more distinctively F&SF cover, by the staff genius, George Salter. (And...the first Gavagan's Bar story by Fletcher Pratt and L. Sprague de Camp...and a fine Robert Arthur, in his "Murchison Morks" series...and the first and best of the Papa Schimmelhorn stories by R. Bretnor...all firmly establishing a fine tall-tale tradition of fantasy and borderline sf in the magazine. Interesting how much of the horror fiction in the first two issues comes from reprints...but there was so much more good horror fiction to reprint than either gentler fantasies or sf.)

Contents of the first two issues, courtesy ISFDb:

The Magazine of Fantasy, Fall 1949
Publisher: Mystery House, Inc. (The American Mercury, essentially, and Mercury Mystery, Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine and offshoots)
The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Winter-Spring 1950
Publisher: Fantasy House, Inc.

1939; cover by H.W. Scott
The first issue has the cover novel by Russell, and, perhaps even more brilliant, "Trouble with Water" by H. L. Gold and "Where Angels Fear..." by Manly Wade Wellman. lets you read this issue. John W. Campbell, already well on his way to revolutionizing the sf field with his work as editor of Astounding Science Fiction, reportedly in his heart of hearts preferred fantasy fiction, or at least seized upon the excuse of the relatively paranoid premise of Russell's novel (which is sf by any reasonable measure) to launch a magazine that would specialize in the kind of one-fantasticated-element fantasy that H. G. Wells and , latterly, Thorne Smith had specialized in (Smith being a consistent bestseller before his rather early death, in the years just before this magazine's founding). Despite encouraging better-written and, famously, more realistically extrapolated (or "hard") sf in his sf magazine, JWC was also a lifelong fan of fringe science, and would also push that in both fiction and nonfictional work in the magazine...with some not altogether healthy effects, eventually. His colleague, Ray Palmer, at Ziff-Davis's fiction magazines, tended to push rather more adventure-oriented and stereotypically "pulpy" fiction, but also had some interest in fringe science and mysticism that would eventually make its mark in his magazines, and beyond...Palmer was one of the great early advocates of UFOs as alien visitors, for example. Palmer would eventually leave fiction-magazine publishing (per se) in favor of such titles as Fate, and turn his last sf magazine, Other Worlds, into Flying Saucers from Other Worlds for its last issues.

Feature Novel 
Sinister Barrier by Eric Frank Russell, pp. 9-94 - PDF

Short Stories 
Who Wants Power? by Mona Farnsworth, pp. 95-106 - PDF
Dark Vision by Frank Belknap Long, pp. 107-116 - PDF
Trouble With Water by H.L. Gold, pp. 117-130 - PDF
"Where Angels Fear---" by Manly Wade Wellman, pp. 131-136 - PDF
Closed Doors by A.B.L. Macfadyen, Jr., pp. 137-150 - PDF
Death Sentence by Robert Moore Williams, pp. 151-164 - PDF 

Cover by H.W. Scott, - PDF

1939; cover by Rudolph Belarski

Strange Stories is my entry for this title at the PulpWiki; as noted there, it was founded in 1939, a very good year for fantasy-fiction pulp titles in the US (Unknown, Famous Fantastic Mysteries, and the originally sf-oriented Fantastic Adventures were all launched that year, as well, as was Startling Stories at the same house as Strange, though Startling would last much longer and only very occasionally mix in anything more fantasy than sf). The Thrilling Group didn't seem to have much faith in this title...Mort Weisinger's editorial byline was nowhere in evidence  (and they folded the magazine as soon as he left to edit DC Comics), it didn't get house ads with the sf title Thrilling Wonder Stories nor its other stablemates, and while it wasn't a first-rate magazine to judge by the first issue, the only one I've read, it was certainly on par with their other titles under Weisinger. Even the cover of this issue is more suggestive, to me at least, of the "shudder" pulps, which emphasized fake-supernatural villains often torturing (with graphic description) their victims--S&M Scooby-Doo fiction, as it's often been referred to (and it has had some continuing influence and heirs). The Manly Wade Wellman story is the best here (and the best-remembered work the magazine would publish), though the pair each from Bloch and Kuttner are certainly pleasant enough, though not by any means either writer at the top of his game.

From ISFDb: Contents:

1952; cover by Barye Phillips and Leo Summers
Fantastic, of course, would end up serving as one of the most durable of fantasy-fiction magazines in the US, and two years after its founding in 1952 was merged with Fantastic Adventures, giving it roots going back, as noted above, to 1939. But it was launched as a departure by publishers Ziff-Davis and editor Howard Browne (also a writer who a bit of a Raymond Chandler disciple), who had been noting the falling fortunes of their pulp line (by 1952, they had folded all but FA and their sf title Amazing Stories; such once-profitable items as Mammoth Mystery and Mammoth Adventure were long gone), and they were well on their way to becoming what Ziff-Davis/ZD has been over the decades since, a publisher of large-format specialized nonfiction magazines (and their offshoots on cable television and the web)...but B.G. Davis, particularly, had an affection for fiction magazines, and Browne, who had succeeded Ray Palmer as fiction magazine editor for ZD, was never a great fan of sf, and particularly pulp sf, and more than game to attempt a semi-slick new fantasy/sf magazine that might feature crime-fiction crossover appeal...Ziff-Davis had even had aborted plans to remake Amazing thus in 1950, going as far as to produce an "ashcan" (non-distributed dummy) issue of what that might look like, but they waited till launching Fantastic to remake Amazing as its slightly less-interesting twin (Amazing's first semi-slick issue had as a cover story a sfnal joke, theoretically written by then-hot gossip-mongers Lait and Mortimer, called "Mars Confidential!" the manner of their bestselling books such as New York Confidential! and such, which presumably lent their name to the hugely successful Confidential! magazine soon thereafter). Fantastic got the big prize in its first year, a story from Mickey Spillane (easily the bestselling fiction writer in the world at the time) which had been mentioned in a Life magazine profile of Spillane...and there was part of the rub, the story Spillane submitted was apparently 1) completely "spoiled" in the Life article and 2) extremely awful, by Browne's lights, so he ghosted another (much to Spillane's apparent eventual irritation), "The Veiled Woman," and the third issue of Fantastic reportedly sold over 300,000 copies (an enormous amount for a fiction magazine at any time). The Browne is a good pastiche that only rarely ventures over into parody. But, for this first issue, Browne's relatively nonchalant attitude toward sf and perhaps editing generally was still on display...for the fiction, while paid for at a then impressive 5c/word (the other US fiction magazines in sf and fantasy were then able to pay 3c/word as their regular top rate, and most didn't pay that well), was a very mixed bag:

Contents (from ISFDb)("fep" is front endpaper, or inside the front cover..."They Write" being author blurbs attributed to the writers themselves; a reproduction of Pierre Roy's painting "Danger on the Stairs" is on the back cover, an odd attempt at "class"):
The most memorable story in the issue is the Asimov, a charming fantasy about What If a young married couple, riding on a train on a seat facing that of a man capable of showing them alternate realities, had never met. Ray Bradbury's "The Smile" is probably the best-known story from the issue, which seems to assume that 1) the Mona Lisa is painted on canvas, and 2) it was likely to have been on loan to some midwestern US gallery when armageddon struck. The Neville and the Outlaw are solid, decent fantasy stories, while the Gold and the Miller are examples of the weaker work by these writers; Gold, particularly, is better remembered as an editor (see directly below) than as a writer, despite such occasional brilliant work as "Trouble with Water" (see above).  The Hickey and the Fairman are utterly routine sf stories, from writers (like Browne) who had been part of Ray Palmer's stable of regular contributors, and while Sam Martinez's fantasy is slightly less overfamiliar, only very slightly less, in its account of a woman so annoying that Hell won't have her. This is the only story credited to Martinez in ISFDb, so I wonder idly if this is another Browne ghost job.  I must admit I have no memory of the Chandler (a "classic" reprint from a little magazine from only a year or three previous), despite reading it when I read the rest of the issue, some 35 years ago...I barely remember the Outlaw, other than thinking it was a better Bradbury than the Bradbury was.

1953; cover by Richard Powers
Of course, one of the inspirations to Ziff-Davis in attempting a "slicker" set of fiction magazines was the breakout commercial as well as artistic success of Galaxy Science Fiction magazine, launched 1950, with H. L. Gold as editor. Magazines which are in the black financially within the first several issues were as rare then as they are now, and Galaxy had made every effort to have a sophisticated package of design and content, though being published on relatively lesser-grade paper hampered that a bit. Gold, like Browne, only less casually so, (and like Campbell, probably) preferred good fantasy even to good sf, and a few years into Galaxy's run was secure enough to attempt an Unknown-like companion to the sf title...the then-smashing success of Fantastic for ZD probably didn't hinder the timing of Beyond's release, in 1953, with a cover format that aped that of Galaxy (only with a black half-border around the cover illustration rather than a white one), and a first cover from Richard Powers, in his Surrealist (particurlarly Tanguy)-influenced mode. 

Contents (from ISFDb):

  • 2 • Beyond • essay by H. L. Gold
  • 4 • . . . And My Fear Is Great . . . • novella by Theodore Sturgeon
  • 4 • . . . And My Fear Is Great . . . • interior artwork by Ashman
  • 60 • All of You • short story by James V. McConnell
  • 60 • All of You • interior artwork by Balbalis
  • 69 • The Day the World Ended • short story by Frank M. Robinson
  • 69 • The Day the World Ended • interior artwork by James
  • 79 • The Springbird • short story by Roger Dee
  • 79 • The Springbird • interior artwork by Barth
  • 92 • Babel II • novelette by Damon Knight
  • 92 • Babel II • interior artwork by Ed Emshwiller [as by Emsh ]
  • 116 • Share Alike • short story by Jerome Bixby and Joe E. Dean
  • 116 • Share Alike • interior artwork by Kossin
  • 128 • The Wedding • short story by Richard Matheson
  • 128 • The Wedding • interior artwork by John Fay
  • 136 • Eye for Iniquity • novelette by T. L. Sherred
  • 136 • Eye for Iniquity • interior artwork by Sibley

  • I also bought and first read this issue 35 years 1978, when these relics from the early 1950s seemed ancient, in their quarter-century-old status (I was just over half as old as they, after all). My memory over the years has faded heavily in regard to the Robinson, the Dee (which I remember as wistful), the Bixby and Dean (which I remember as clever),  and the Matheson. "All of You" seemed both heavyhanded and funny, but certainly is memorable enough, as a sort of inversion of "The Lovers" by Philip Jose Farmer (published not too long before to much attention in Startling Stories); "Babel II" (which I had seen in an anthology a few years before) was deft and funny and, like Sinister Barrier, could easily slip into any sf context. Sherred's "Eye for Iniquity" remains my second-favorite story by him, sharing with his debut sf story "E for Effort" not just a title format but a healthy disrespect for authority figures. The Sturgeon was impressive to me at the time, as well, and I should reread it, dealing as it did with repressed sexuality and envy in a way that would turn out to be very common coin in Beyond, a magazine more than any other I've read (though the comic magazine Help! came close) that clearly desperately wanted to be more open about its sexual concerns than it thought it was allowed to be. If fantasy fiction if often even more fraught thus than most other forms of fiction (reaching as does so openly into the subconscious), few if any magazines in the field have felt that so intensely than Beyond...edited by the very hands-on, psychologically-oriented, and, at the time, extremely afflicted (by agoraphobia and an obsessive perfectionism, most obviously) Gold.

    1973; cover by Tim Kirk
    Skipping ahead a couple of decades, in part because I never have gotten around to picking up the first issues of such 1960s magazines as the Magazine of Horror, Shock, nor Gamma, nor such important little magazines in the field as Macabre nor Space and Time nor Trumpet nor Weirdbook, it's notable to me how relatively modest the soon clangorous Whispers magazine (edited and published by Stuart David Schiff) was at the beginning of its run as probably the most important of 1970s little magazines in the fantasy and horror fields:

    -which in no way is meant to slight the contents of the first issue (including short fiction from Joseph Payne Brennan, Brian Lumley and David Riley...though I'm least fond, in Lumley's work, of his Lovecraftian pieces). But soon Whispers would be packed with fine fiction (and relatively little of the amusing verse of this first issue, that last rather a pity).

    1993, cover by David Malin
    And we then jump ahead another two decades (as I never have gotten around to picking up the first issues of even such likely titles as The Twilight Zone Magazine, its offshoot Night Cry, and such notable other little magazines as Grue or Cemetery another little magazine that impressed even more than such contemporaries as Strange Plasma and Century, the unfortunately-titled Crank! (edited and published by Bryan Cholfin, d/b/a Broken Mirrors Press in the latter capacity)...I managed to miss the first issues of these others, as well, and even of the magazine that would publish my first short story, Algis Budrys's Tomorrow Speculative was too easy to miss the first issues in those days...but Crank! was even better than the Budrys magazine, or the rather good, with bad covers, sf magazine Science Fiction Age, or its eventual fantasy companion, for a number of years filling the hole left on newstands by the folding of Fantastic (in 1980--officially, Amazing incorporated it) and Twilight Zone (in 1989), Realms of Fantasy (1994-2011)...I missed their first issues, too...


  • 3 • Clap if You Believe • short story by Robert Devereaux
  • 11 • Punctuated Evolution • short story by Garry Kilworth
  • 21 • Mortal Remains • short story by Rosaleen Love
  • 32 • Wax Me Mind • short story by A. A. Attanasio
  • 44 • His Oral History • short story by Jonathan Lethem
  • 49 • Blumfeld, an Elderly Bachelor • short story by Carter Scholz
  • 57 • The Thief, the Princess, and the Cartesian Circle • short story by Gwyneth Jones
  • 70 • Hymenoptera • short story by Michael Blumlein

  • It's also a sad fact of my memory that I clearly remember reading this issue, and enjoying all the stories (though future issues would be even better) but even the story by my friend A. A. Attanasio doesn't resolve clearly enough for me to say what it was about at this I could for his story "Ink from the New Moon" published a year, at least to this extent, these are indeed "forgotten" stories...very good forgotten stories (at least I thought so at the time) I should reacquaint myself with...some day! Crank! had an impressive roster of contributors throughout its run, and The Best of Crank! volume as well as its issues are highly recommended.

    Related post: Fantastic's 6th editor, Barry Malzberg, interviews its third, Cele Goldsmith/Lalli.
    Also: October 1978 issues of the four bestselling US fantasy magazines at that time...


    FFB: THE AVON BOOK OF MODERN WRITING (1953) and No. 2 (1954) ed. William Phillips & Philip Rahv, among other "paperback magazines"/periodical books

    In 1953, Avon Books decided to join in on the "literary magazine of original content in paperback format" fun already in progress at least at New American Library's Mentor line, with their New World Writing, and at Pocket Books, with their slightly younger series of anthologies, Discovery, edited or co-edited for six volumes/issues by Vance Bourjaily. Avon more than most publishers played both the digest-sized magazine and paperback book sides of the fence simultaneously in the 1940s and into the 1950s...along with Murder Mystery Monthly and Donald Wollheim's Avon Fantasy Reader and Avon Science Fiction Reader (later merged as Avon Science Fiction and Fantasy Reader in a fit of creative energy), Avon both assembled, and reprinted others', anthologies and collections of contemporary mimetic fiction, and published them both in and out of the Modern Short Story Monthly sequence of arguably books, arguably magazine issues, including publications collecting short stories of authors such as Louis Bromfield and Somerset Maugham, and anthologies such as the one edited anonymously for (UK) Faber hardcover publication in 1929 as My Best Story and reissued by Avon in 1942 as The Avon Book of Modern Short Stories.
    But, by 1953, with "mass market"-format paperbacks clearly making greater inroads in the market (this was the format favored by such industry leaders as Bantam and Pocket, after all), and the Mentor and Pocket "prestige" anthology series noted above already launched, Avon recruited Partisan Review editors Phillips and Rahv to select a mix of fiction, essays and criticism, and poetry for Avon's own entry into this sweepstakes; the first volume was highlighted by first publication of Flannery O'Connor's "A Good Man is Hard to Find", along with critical material by Diana Trilling and Irving Howe, other fiction by Robert Musil and Robie Macauley and others, an excerpt from Colette's memoirs, and Lysander Kemp and Barbara Howes as two of "Six Poets" featured. The packaging fell somewhere between the ugly but functional early New World Writing covers, which would list their volume's entire contents, and the somewhat Mondrian-influenced covers favored by the Pocket Books series (please see below). Mentor's self-congratulatory tags--"Good reading for the millions"--were not as much in evidence on the Avon volumes, perhaps in part because Avon was never as invested as NAL in snob appeal, even with this project, seeming as it did like a beefier and much better-distributed version of the editors' typical issues of Partisan Review.

    The second volume/issue of the Avon, despite apparently selling a decent but unspectacular (by early '50s paperback standards) half-million copies between them, would be the last for Avon, and featured an even more impressive lineup of fiction, including first English translation (by Anthony Kerrigan) of Jorge Luis Borges's fantasy "Funes the Memorious", an excerpt from Mary McCarthy's The Group, and work by Herbert Gold, Delmore Schwartz, Alberto Moravia and Elizabeth Hardwick (and a memoir by Herman Hesse, and critical writing by rightwing icon Hilton Kramer) among many others. (As noted, Pocket had pulled the plug on Discovery after the sixth issue/volume, in 1955, after two years; New World Writing would continue to appear from Mentor till 1960, with an improving set of covers eventually, then from 1960 through 1964, beginning with the 16th issue/volume and ending with the 22nd, NWW would be published in a paperback line J.B. Lippincott might have created for that purpose.) Aside from such smaller publishers' periodical books such as New Directions, from the imprint of the same name, or such no-bones-about-it magazines as Evergreen Review, the paperback publishers would limit themselves to one-shot original anthologies in contemporary-mimetic fiction (such as Lion Books had done in the early '50s) till the latter '60s, and NAL, this time through the Signet imprint, getting back into the market with New American Review (and competitors of sorts such as the Book of the Month Club's Works in Progress--and it's notable that NAL would let New American Review go, as well, to be published first by Simon and Schuster [though not as a Pocket Book, amusingly, Pocket having been an offshoot of S&S and reunited as its primary paperback line in 1966, but as an S&S Touchstone imprint offer], and then, after several years, by Bantam as American Review).

    Not yet seen by me (but now on order) was the third volume, which in the frequent tradition of such things skipped houses on over to Berkley, to become The Berkley Book of Modern Writing, for its last issue/volume.

    So, it's probably a pity that no more Avon (or Berkley)/Moderns were issued, but anything slated for a fourth volume presumably appeared in Partisan Review instead...and at least these, and their Pocket and NAL counterparts, were reaching for a period in the early '50s an audience at least fifty times greater than those of such little magazines as Partisan or Hudson Review or The Paris Review (founded at about the same time)...while Ballantine Books did something similar with Frederik Pohl's Star Science Fiction series, and a very few others flourished (I'm not aware of any similar western series, for example, and such British annuals as Winter's Tales and Winter's Crimes, beginning in the latter 1950s, had rather haphazard penetration of the US market....)

    For more of today's books, please see Patti Abbott's blog.

    #7 was the most legendary of issues/volumes of NWW, featuring working-title excerpts of Catch-22 and, as by "Jean-Louis", of On the Road.

    ***It's also notable, to me at least, how much scrambled information there is online and in print about these series, with at least one source insisting that New American Library/Mentor published New World Writing through 1964, another that NWW folded in 1959 (Mentor's last volume, and Lippincott's first, appeared in 1960); information on Discovery and the Avon/Berkley Book of Modern Writing trio might be less inaccurate, but that's mostly because there's even less of it...

    At bottom, Partisan Review and Avon books from PR from 1953-54; then, two of the four volumes of Story magazine's early 1950s parallel adventure in book publishing, apparently, much as with Whispers magazine and anthology series in the '70s and '80s, the Story volumes might've mixed new fiction with selections from the magazine issues...and they were published by Ace Books owner A. A. Wyn, possibly in tandem with David McKay for the first volume...
















































    FFB (or magazine in book format): NEW WORLD WRITING 16: Tillie Olsen, Thomas Pynchon, Anne Sexton, Kingsley Amis, et alia...edited by Stewart Richardson and Corlies M. Smith (LIppincott Keystone 1960)

    New World Writing had been the New American Library's pioneering literary magazine in mass-market paperback book format for fifteen Mentor-imprint (smugly branded "good reading for the millions") volumes beginning in 1951, and then decamped for seven volumes to Lippincott and their somewhat more expensive paperback line, starting with this issue (and its amateurish cover) and folding in 1964.  And while the Mentor editions usually had longer tables of contents than the Lippincott anthologies, this first issue for the new decade has what could be fairly called a rather impressive line-up:

    from WorldCat, augmented:
    5 * Editor's Note / Richardson & Smith
    11 * Tell me a riddle / Tillie Olsen --
    58 * Lolita Lepidoptera / Diana Butler --
    85 * Low-lands / Thomas Pynchon --
    109 * Five poems / Irving Feldman --
    115 * Three lonely men / Leslie Garrett (excerpt from The Faces of Hatred and Love...probably that which was published, with serious revision, as The Beasts)
    135 * You that love England / Kingsley Amis --
    146 * Dancing the jig / Anne Sexton --
    154 * Martin the fisherman / John Knowles --
    163 * A penny for the ferryman / John F. Gilgun --
    188 * A season in paradise / E.N. Sargent --
    223 * You have to draw a line somewhere / Judson Jerome --
    231 * The law and Lady Chatterly / Harriet F. Pilpel and Nancy F. Wechsler --
    241 * The credence table / Jack Richardson --
    278 * Two poems / Jack Marshall --
    282 * The listener / John Berry

    ...which thus includes, in their first publication, Olsen's most famous work of fiction, Butler's first published essay (a well-made case that Nabokov's most famous work of fiction is quite intentionally as much about his passion for butterflies as it is a study of pedophilia or a travelogue of the US), Pynchon's second published short story, Sexton's first published short story, and so on through Berry's brief recounting of a charming anecdote remade into not quite a fable.

    I've not yet had the opportunity to read most of the second half of this issue yet, though am amused to see, for example, that John Knowles (best remembered for the novel A Separate Peace) was an editor at Holiday magazine, and wonder how well he got on with staff writer Alfred Bester (they might've even dated, for what little I know, if one dated per se in those still unfriendly times). The Olsen was a remarkable and for me rather painful read (as it's about a married couple, parents of adult children, facing their last years with little hope for happiness for either, and the protagonist being a woman who had never managed to live the life she had expected to, after early political adventure and imprisonment, only to find herself limited to a life in service to a husband she's not completely bitterly estranged from, though habituated to, and children she could never find complete fulfillment in raising nor feel comfortable actually interacting with as adults)(this is rather close to my own family situation in several ways at the moment)'s told also in a rather discursive and personalized style that has not been too widely imitated since, distinctive even in comparison to those other writers who've taken a similar tack with the form of their narrative.

    The Pynchon is very funny, and if rather indicative of a young man's attempt to take in the estate of a middle-aged married couple, is still energetic and charming in a way that, say, John Kennedy Toole's rather contemporaneous A Confederacy of Dunces is usually credited with...this is how to do antic for adults correctly...Pynchon's affinity with another, somewhat older contemporary, R. A. Lafferty, becomes somewhat clearer than I've recalled previously, and there's yet another reason to be sorry it took Lafferty till middle-age to begin writing for the likes of New Mexico Quarterly and Science Fiction (the magazine of that title, also an important early market for the likes of Carol Emshwiller and peripherally for Edward Hoch)...

    The Sexton is unsurprisingly almost a prose-poem, and Poetry magazine or American Poetry Review today might be willing to publish it as a poem in prose format...the unnamed protagonist is dancing at an otherwise dull dinner party, and a chair catches her eye, manages to remind her of her tense childhood and particularly of one dinner among many with a controlling mother and a distant, alcoholic father. (As Philip Larkin noted at about this time, "They fuck you up, your mum and dad./They may not mean to, but they do....")

    And in the course of calling Brit expatriate writers (and presumably other artists) back home to fight the Gray Tories and other similar things, Kingsley Amis notes that he finds the totality of Evelyn Waugh's The Loved One false, even if every detail is true.  Well, it won't be the last time Amis is wrong, if he is.

    I'll be finishing this and reporting on the balance. For more prompt and complete reviews, please see Patti Abbott's blog.

    Related posts:
    FFB: THE AVON BOOK OF MODERN WRITING (1953) and No. 2 (1954) ed. William Phillips & Philip Rahv, among other "paperback magazines"/periodical books


    fantasy magazines, late March, 1965

    The first set is comprised of what could've been found on a theoretical Very well-stocked newsstand (as some were) in late March, 1965...the English-language professional magazines specializing in publishing fantasy fiction (though all of the science fiction and mystery magazines were not averse to publishing some fantasy or horror or at least material running up to the very edges, nor the eclectic fiction magazines, of which there were a few non-littles still extant at that time...). For some reason, the March issues, or the earlier issues in each case, have somewhat better covers...either better-executed, or better subjects, or perhaps just a touch less blatantly sleazy in Gamma's case. Some of he second set might just have been on the stands instead, given the vagaries of magazine distribution...and certainly the undercapitalized Gamma (which folded with the issued dated September) and the microbudgeted Magazine of Horror had erratic schedules (Gamma had announced a stablemate, crime-fiction magazine Chase, which was published by MOH's publisher instead...and was much less handsome for it).
    Cover by Agosta Morol

    Cover by Fred Wolters

    Cover by Edmund Emshwiller ("Emsh")

    Cover by Gray Morrow

    Cover by John Healey
    Cover by Bert Tanner

    The notable facts of these issues are several, not least that John Brunner appears in the April issue of the Magazine of Horror, and any number of other fantastic-fiction issues at about this time (as the always-prolific Brunner was working up to some of the best work in his career); the March F&SF features one of Roger Zelazny's most important early stories, while the April issue is perhaps most significant as the first issue that Edward Ferman edited on his own (even though his father, publisher Joseph Ferman, still had the formal title of "editor" as he had since Davidson's resignation the previous year), not "using up" the inventory that Avram Davidson had purchased for the magazine, and introducing Gahan Wilson's first monthly cartoon (Wilson had contributed cartoons to Fantastic in the 1950s, as well as having already made a career for himself in Playboy, The New Yorker and other slick magazines by 1965)...Southern Illinois University Press published a facsimile of this issue in hardcover, with added memoirs by several of the contributors including Ferman, in 1981. Meanwhile, these were almost the last issues edited by the similarly important Cele Lalli, who had begun editorship of Fantastic and its stablemate Amazing as Cele Goldsmith; when the magazines were sold at mid-year to independent publisher Sol Cohen, as Cele G. Lalli she would stay with Ziff-Davis as a notable editor of bridal magazines. Here's a decent appreciation for some of the early issues of the Magazine of Horror, which Robert A. W. Lowndes was able to keep afloat from 1963-1971, and a more comprehensive one here...and not long after these issues, edited by Kyril Bonfiglioli with the help of fellow writer and artist Keith Roberts, the British institution Science Fantasy would change title to SF Impulse...while its elder sibling, New Worlds, underwent similar changes and eventually even greater ones...
    Indices courtesy ISFDb:

    Science Fantasy, March 1965 

    Magazine of Horror, April 1965 

    The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, March 1965 

    Fantastic: Stories of Imagination, March 1965

    Gamma,  February 1965 

    Cover by Gray Morrow

    Cover by Fred Wolters
    Cover uncredited (perhaps a rush job
    by Keith Roberts)

    Cover by John Healey,  which would be recycled much later by Mike Shayne 
    Mystery Magazine, then also under the editorship of Charles Fritch


    The last major subsets of "firsts" among the fiction magazines that got me hooked were arguably books, most of them...Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine for January, 1978 was the first adult fiction magazine purchased for me new, 75c and the best bargain in fiction magazines at the time. And, unusually for AHMM covers of the time, it was competently composed...and there were memorable stories from Lawrence Block and Jack Ritchie, particularly. Inasmuch as I'd already collected some mid-'60s back issues, and read a few more borrowed from the Enfield Central Library, I was given the funds to buy a subscription...and not too long after, I was able to procure a copy of the first Alfred Hitchcock's Anthology, which many reference sources would prefer not to call a magazine, despite being issued periodically to newsstands by magazine publisher Davis Publications (who also issued Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine and the Ellery Queen's Anthologies, which the Hitchcock item imitated), although a Dial Press hardcover edition was also published which tried to disguise the all-AHMM selections as one of the eclectic anthologies Robert Arthur and Harold Q. Masur would ghost for Hitchcock and Random House. These, instead, were edited by the magazine's the manner of the many previous Dell paperbacks taking their contents from AHMM. The early AHA issues/volumes had a Very rich backfile to draw on, so you can see how addictive they could be, as about the same time, I was not only also picking up new issues of EQMM and Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine, but was always happy to stumble over such treasures of the recent past as The Saint Mystery Magazine,,,and, several years later, in 1985, a clangourous new porject popped up, the New Black Mask, even as MSMM was beginning to go into its final tailspin, Each issue of New Black Mask, all published as books by HBJ, which would also sell you a subcription to the series just like a magazine, featured a remarkable mix of writers spanning the range of hardboiled and noir ficton and bit beyond. I actually picked up the last volum as NBM to keep first, then collected most of the rest as I catch could, and also the successor series, A Matter of Crime (after the trademark holders of Black Mask challenged NBM's right to use the title).

    I started reading the eclectic little magazines (as distinct from fantasy-fiction littles such as Whispers), aside from arguably Short Story International (which was a nonprofit that used good paper and charged twices as much for itself per issue than most of the other fiction digests...but it was on newsstands, unlike most littles), with TriQuarterly, which in its first decade particularly was offering one great issue after another, particularly when Robert Onopa was associated with the magazine, in the latter '70s. A snobbish backlash over the SF issue (Algis Budrys, Ursula Le Guin, Thomas Disch, Samuel Delany) severed most of the staff, including Onopa, from the magazine, which has yet to fully recover its quality of those years...the subscribers, I guess, had been pushed to their limits by the previous western (Dorothy Johnson, Cormac McCarthy, et al.), "Love and Hate," and other theme issues, including "Prose for Borges" and more. (TriQuarterly has gone web-only just recently.) Of course, even before I began reading the little magazines that were no-bones-about-it magazines (such as also The Paris Review and took me a while to find The Ontario Review and Boulevard and the comparitively dull Story revival), I had found some of the periodical book/magazine projects that had begun in the 1950s, such as New World Writing (the 6th volume/issue featured a long excerpt from Louis Armstrong's memoirs, contemporary Japanese haiku in translation, and more),
    and their modern descendents, such as the Doubleday Literary Guild loss-leader Works in Progress (which in the first issue I had offered the best chunk of Alix Shulman's Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen). I tumbled to New Directions and New American Review (later simply American Review) and Evergreen Review (in those largely post-censorial times) not long after.
    ...come to think of it, mentioning Evergreen reminds me of two other categories of fiction magazine that I haven't quite yet nostalgically surveyed...the humorous and the erotic (the latter had quite a vogue in the '80s and '90s, ranging from Yellow Silk to Paramour, from Future Sex to Blue Blood).