Sunday, February 10, 2013

Titles on the Bedside Table I

It's been a long week with little time to do a proper review, so I thought I'd give you a list of a few books I have on the bedside table slated for reading at the moment.

1) Mrs. God by Peter Straub (Pegasus Crime, an imprint of Pegasus Books, LLC, New York, 1990).

I discovered this little gem while perusing my monthly Science Fiction Book Club (SFBC) catalog. It is a novella that was originally published in a collection of Straub's works called Houses without Doors, but through SFBC is offered as a standalone book.. It looks like it will be a quick read (I started it last night and am half way through it already), so hopefully a review will be forthcoming soon. In a nutshell, the story is about an American literary professor who seeks a fellowship at  Esswood House, an old English manor located in Lincolnshire that is reputed to have an excellent library full of unpublished and obscure papers donated by various artists who have stayed at the house over the centuries. The central character of the story, William Standish, sought the fellowship to study in more depth the papers left there by a distant relative, Isobel Standish, a minor poet from the early twentieth century. So far I'm really enjoying the book.  Right from the start it pulled me into the world of academia, with all of its backstabbing and intrigue, products of an industry that promotes the "publish or perish" mentality. And of course, being set in the eerie local of an ancient English home, with all of the mystery that can conjure, has set the tone for what I hope will be an excellent ghost/suspense story.

2, The Chronicles of Harris Burdick (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, New York, 2011).

I also found this book in my SFBC catalog.  It is a set of fourteen stories by the likes of Tabitha King, Gregory Maguire, Cory Doctorow and many others all inspired by the creepily imaginative illustrations of Chris Van Allsburg. The illustrations, originally published in a standalone book called The Mysteries of Harris Burdick (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, New York, 1984), each depict a slice of what appears to be something quite ordinary, but when viewed more closely, and enhanced by the cryptic description given below them, morph into something altogether more sinister or magical. I haven't read any of the stories yet, so it will be interesting to see if they enhance or detract from the feeling one gets from simply viewing the pictures as they were originally presented.

Happy reading to all!

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