Tuesday, March 14, 2017

“Reading List #11” by Richard F. Yates

[Originally published 8 Feb. 2016. ---RFY]

“The Continuing Adventures of Richard F. Yates: Reader (Episode 11)” by Richard F. Yates



Well, I suppose it’s that time once again, where I share my influences and recent enjoyments. As any regular viewer of the Workshop might know, I’m a bit of a horror fan, so most of my reading falls into that lovely little category, but not all. Not all.

Reading List 11

(20 Nov. ’15)
Reread, for the first time in at least ten or fifteen years, Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Black Cat” from THE COMPLETE WORKS OF EDGAR ALLAN POE VOLUME 2. It’s a short tale, a bit icky, but with very simple and VERY effective descriptions. I have always loved the quick, creepy description of the murder and still aspire to that level of directness (when I’m trying to be concrete.) Great story.

(23 Nov. ’15)
Finished reading Paul Brian McCoy’s MONDO MARVEL VOLUME ONE, a series of articles written about the first few years of Marvel Comics with each article focusing on a single published comic book issue and looking at them in chronological order… (Wipes brow…) I read the first ten issues of FANTASTIC FOUR recently, so I remember some of what McCoy is talking about, and his analysis is fairly funny and, mostly, dead on. Comics were silly in 1962, and he points this out, but there were also some deeply disturbing elements to these books. Worth the read, particularly if you are a fan of early Marvel.

(25 Nov. ’15)
Finished reading Adrian Cole’s “Dark Destroyer” story from the CTHULHU MYTHOS MEGAPACK. It ACTED like it was a huge, epic, deep, serious story, but very little actually occurs in this tale, and in addition, it frequently felt like a lot of stuff was happening “off stage.” A bit stilted and clunky, but I’m glad I read it.

(30 Nov. ’15)
Finished rereading H. P. Lovecraft’s “The Dunwich Horror” story from the CTHULHU MYTHOS MEGAPACK. It’s a solidly told, entertaining story, although not as creepy as some. Definitely worth the read, and if you like cheesy films, the movie version with Dean Stockwell is hilariously terrible in a fantastically enjoyable way.

(2 Dec. ’15)
Finished rereading (for the first time in over 20 years) H. P. Lovecraft’s “From Beyond,” this time from THE COMPLETE COLLECTION megapack. The story was much shorter than I remembered, but still fun.

(5 Dec. ’15)
Finished reading John Glasby’s “The Dark Boatman” from the CTHULHU MYTHOS MEGAPACK. Not sure how old this one is, as the atmosphere and pacing were nicely gothicized, aside from the automobiles and electricity. Unfortunately, however, the climax/shock moment was pretty stupid. It was confusing, left far more annoying questions than it answered, and was far, FAR from scary. Not my favorite….

(5 Dec. ’15)
Read John P. McCann’s “Dagon and Jill,” also from the CTHULHU MYTHOS MEGAPACK. This one, however, was clever and funny. Not only was it fun to read, but it was also the final story in this particular megapack. I’ve been chipping away at this dang thing for a LONG time. Two years? Maybe longer. I can’t remember, but it was definitely worth the meager $3 or $4 bucks that I paid for it. Highly recommended.

(8 Dec. ’15)
Finished reading Ruth McEnery Stuart’s “The Haunted Photograph” from the HUMOROUS GHOST STORIES collection. This was a pretty fun story, not really shrieking uncontrollably and wetting your pants funny, but a good story.

(15 Dec. ’15)
Finished reading “The Phantom Hearse” by Mary Fortune from THE OCCULT DETECTIVE MEGAPACK. The story was okay, but had no likable characters and an abrupt ending. However, the descriptions of the one ghostly scene were pretty good. (Not very “occult” though…)

(21 Dec. ’15)
Finished rereading Clifford D. Simak’s “Hellhounds of the Cosmos” story, which I got as a freebie download from A-zon. The story is okay, fairly well told, but gets pretty hokey once it starts in on the whole multiple dimensions thing. Plus, there really aren’t any hellhounds in the story, at least there aren’t any in the part of the story that the reader actually reads. Still, if you like clunky, post-Golden Age sci-fi, you might like it.

(25 Dec. ’15)
Finished reading “Aylmer Vance and the Vampire” by Alice and Claude Askew from THE OCCULT DETECTIVE MEGAPACK. Not a very long story, but pretty fun and enjoyable. Also not the most original take on vampirism, but so what? Happy to have read it.

(26 Dec. ’15)
Reread Charles M. Schulz’s IT’S RAINING ON YOUR PARADE, CHARLIE BROWN. Silly and kinda funny. I must have read it 24 or 25 years ago, but I still remembered many of the jokes. Loved Peanuts comics when I was a kid.

(27 Dec. ’15)
Finished reading THE NEW YORKER BOOK OF DOG CARTOONS, which I got at this year’s Christmas party from work. It’s not REALLY the kind of book that I’d buy, but it did include cartoons by Gahan Wilson, James Thurber, Charles Addams, and a few other good ones. Quick read, too.

(28 Dec. ’15)
Finished rereading, for the 4th or 5th time, SNAKE ‘N’ BACON’S CARTOON CABARET by Michael Kupperman. It is brilliant and hilarious and bizarre. Highly recommended for anyone who likes strange, nonsensical humor.

(28 Dec. ’15)
Finished reading (probably rereading) Charles M. Schulz’s FUN WITH PEANUTS collection. I didn’t remember this one as much, but it was still pretty funny.

(10 Jan. ’16)
Finished reading Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s THE EVIL GUEST, a Victorian murder / mystery / manners / madness tale. Since Le Fanu was the creator of the vampiric Carmilla, I thought this one might have some supernatural elements to it, but it didn’t. Still, not a badly told story, and the descriptions of the murder scene where enjoyably gruesome. Might be a bit stuffy for some, but I liked it.

(19 Jan. ’16)
Finished reading Michael Azerrad’s OUR BAND COULD BE YOUR LIFE – SCENES FROM THE AMERICAN INDIE UNDERGROUND 1981-1991. Interestingly, though I’ve never really cared for several of the “big names” that Azerrad covers in this book (The Replacements, Minor Threat, Mudhoney, Dinosaur Jr [HATE], or Black Flag [excepting the brilliant, Keith Morris era with tracks like “Wasted” and “Nervous Breakdown”]), I still found this book to be a fascinating read. The development, from the bare bones up, of an indie underground is a remarkable story, and the fact that this underground eventually BECAME the mainstream is stuff that I myself remember living through, which makes it maybe more interesting for me than for the average, under 30 music fan. I worked at music stores and night clubs and wrote zines and booked shows and scouted talent and DJ-ed parties and radio shows and got comp-ed into concerts and negotiated with labels and collected records and made mix-tapes from the late 80s through to the early 2000s, and I remember when a lot of what gets talked about in this book actually happened. (Though, truth be told I prefered most of the “enemy” music [British post-punk, straight up new wave, techno] to the stuff covered by Azerrad. Still, I would recommend the book for anyone interested in rock, punk, alternative lifestyles, or D.I.Y. creation philosophies. It’s well written and a lot of fun to read.

(20 Jan. ’16)
Read “The Conflict” by Ilya Varshavsky from PATH INTO THE UNKNOWN – THE BEST SOVIET SCIENCE FICTION, a 1960’s paperback collection I found at a library book sale about a year ago. The story was short, easy to read, and deals with personality conflicts between a human and an A.I. robot. Pretty interesting…

(5 Feb. ’16)
Finished reading Gaston Leroux’s THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. Part of my project of going back and reading all the horror classics, I’d seen several films, I’d heard the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, I loved PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE, but I’d never read the original. Now I have. It’s much funnier and more clever than I thought it would be. Far easier to read than DRACULA or FRANKENSTEIN, if you ask me…

And that’s it for this reading list! Hope you had fun looking over my shoulder!!!

—Richard F. Yates

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