Thursday, March 01, 2007

Conquering the World One Book at A Time

I must have been out of my mind.

I ordered a number of books last November from the ever-dependable Booktopia, thinking that it would be nice to start the year with some good books. As usual, I went overboard-- but that should be no surprise, right?

Unfortunately, my order finally came through 'round February or just when my wallet was somewhat leaner after Christmas bonuses. But how could I resist? A lot of good books that came out since the last time I ordered are from small press like Nightshade and Pyr. That means the books are a bit more expensive. But what the hell, you only live once, right?

The books I got were:

  1. Glen Cook's A Cruel Wind, A Chronicle of the Dread Empire
  2. Chris Roberson's Paragea
  3. Liz William's Snake Agent
  4. Robert E. Howard's Kull the Conqueror
  5. Jay Lake's Trial of Flowers

My previous post on Cook aside, I'm particularly excited over A Cruel Wind, which is an omnibus of his earlier Dread Empire series. Noted fantasist Jeff Vandermeer (whose book taste I trust) did the intro on this one so it definitely should be good despite the years since it was first published.

Likewise, I've been hearing a lot about horror master Thomas Ligotti from jp and andrew so I've been champing at the bit for a taste of Ligotti's stories (his online stuff notwithstanding). Alas, his material is pretty hard to find so when I found a copy of his short-story collection Shadow at the Bottom of the World on the Booktopia bookshelves, I snatched it up. Moreover, andrew has heavily recommended horror writer Ramsey Campbell so I thought Ligotti's book would look good together with Campbell's own short-story collection, Alone with the Horrors that I got from Aeon Bookstore. Ironically, it took me quite some time to get this one, with a copy showing up at Booktopia and disappearing before I decided to get the one at the Katipunan bookshop.

The new year also brought some interesting finds in 2nd-hand bookshops. Thank goodness for these else I'd have gone crazy waiting while trying to save money just to buy their more expensive cousins.

These include:

  1. Amos Tutuola's The Palm-Wine Drunkard and My Life in the Bush of Ghosts
  2. T.E.D. Klein's Dark Gods
  3. Richard Bowes' Minions of the Moon
  4. Jeffrey Barlough's Dark Sleeper

This was an interesting selection of book-finds. First of all, Tutuola is more known in the literary circles rather than genre. However, I heard a lot of interesting stuff about Tutuola's stuff and consider The Palm-Wine Drunkard one of my best finds. This also appeases my need to look outside the Western world for general literature. On the other hand, I found out that T.E.D. Klein was this other horror writer whose stories are hard to find. So when I sourced this dusty yet still good paperback copy of Klein's short stories worth 30 bucks (or less than a dollar), I couldn't resist.

(Digression: Yes, I've noticed that am getting a lot of horror stuff. I suppose am just checking out the older, less-known stuff in horror that are now considered 'classics' the same way I checked out fantasy's lesser known lights like Lord Dunsany, James Branch Cabell, and GK Chesterton. What better way to know where the genre is going by reading where it came from, right? It's not all about JRR Tolkien and Stephen King, yanno.)

Last but not least, [identity-protected's] sister offered to get me a book while she was in the US and on the spot, I suggested Caitlin Kiernan's Threshold, about a girl who hunts monsters. Thankfully, she-- the sister, not the girl-hunting monster-- was kind enough to get me the paperback reprint.

Now if I could only split myself twelve ways to Sunday to read all these books...


Dodo said...

Dark Gods is a classic, banzai. Not a dud - - -but then again there's only four stories inside. Still. If this is your first encounter with TED Klein, you're in for a blast.

JP said...


TED KLEIN!!!!!!!

You have used your funds well, Sir Cat.

banzai cat said...

Heh yeh I consider myself lucky in finding these things (or in Ligotti's case, Booktopia bringing it here).

Strangely enough, both Ligotti and Klein supposedly have some writerly ties to Lovecraft. Or is that some misimpression I'm having?

JP said...

Well, Klein like so many others wrote stories that could be considered to have Lovecraftian elements, although he did not use any of HPL's 'yog-sothothery' per se. Which is to the good, if you ask me.

Ligotti apparently never read a lot until he was perhaps in his 20s and randomly picked up a horror book at a drug store. He was hooked tothe genre, and it was HPL who clinched the deal and emerged as his personal guru in a way. He considers his own work an extension of HPL's, though, again minus the Cthulhu Mythos paraphernalia.

Both writers gain a lot by tapping to HPL's essential paranoia towards the universe and crafting the specifics in their own mould rather than stooping to pastiche.

skinnyblackcladdink said...

for some reason i could never *really* get into 'Threshold', though i still snatch up Kiernan books whenever i can.

you shoulda asked for 'Alabaster' instead...

Angela said...

I think I stopped splurging muna because I need money to buy my plane ticket for my trip next year. >D But I still buy books, di na lang ganun kadami. ;)

Eldritch00 said...

What JP said! And I'll throw in additional cheers for Threshold (anything Kiernan actually, but that might be the best gateway book for you).

How much was Booktopia selling the Ligotti? Is there another copy I could plug for someone else to buy?

banzai cat said...

jp: Well, am still excited for picking up such a hard-to-find book that a lot of people are recommending. It's a bonus that the stories look real interesting. ;-)

skinny: That's her collection of short stories right? Have you read "Silk" already?

angela: That's sad though you can always buy the books here. :-)

Btw, saw that you managed to get all of the Murakami books. But the others are still around (except for the spec fic vol. 1). Still interested?

andrew: Heh. Yeah, it's all you, man. Seriously, Booktopia had one other copy of Ligotti and it was worth P1,300. Don't know how the cost came around to that but didn't care when I got it.

skinnyblackcladdink said...

the Dancy Flammarion stories, yeah. i thought it might have Threshold in it as well, but my bad, it apparently doesn't.

unfortunately, no, i haven't found a copy of Silk.

banzai cat said...

But isn't "Threshold" a novel? And I went for that one instead because it was the first book on Dancy written by Kiernan.

skinnyblackcladdink said...

yeah, i thought when i heard 'Alabaster collects all the Dancy Flammarion stories' that they meant it would be an omnibus type thing, the way the H2G2 omnibus includes the books and the Zaphod short.