Books bought: none.
Books read: “The Postman Always Rings Twice,” James M. Cain; “No. 44, the Mysterious Stranger,” Mark Twain; “Selected Shorter Writings of Mark Twain,” Walter Blair, ed.; and “The Best Short Stories of Mark Twain,” Lawrence Berkove, ed.
A couple of you thought I was too pokey last month in posting my July books list on Aug. 10. So here’s my August list on Sept. 1. At the David Allen Blog, we aim to please (when it’s convenient).
So: August. One crime noir classic by James M. Cain and three books by Twain, who is on his way to becoming my Ray Bradbury of 2010.
You may remember that I read 24 books by or about Mr. Bradbury last year, out of 58 total books read. This year I’ve read five by Twain and three each by A. Conan Doyle and Samuel Beckett. I suppose that ties Doyle and Beckett as my Edgar Rice Burroughs of 2010; ERB was my No. 2 guy last year (with five books).
Uh, anyway. “Postman,” which has been made into a movie twice, is short, brutal and relentless, well worth reading. Bought that in 2009 used in Scottsdale, Ariz., and read it in one day on a Metrolink trip.
“Selected Shorter Writings,” bought in 1985 for a college class so that we could read one or two stories, includes fiction and nonfiction to show the range of Twain’s talent. It includes the editorially botched 1916 version of “The Mysterious Stranger.”
When I got to that, I stopped and read “No. 44,” a later draft of the same basic idea and almost totally different. Bought this used maybe five years ago somewhere. It’s virtually a fantasy novel involving time travel, dream-selves, duplicate people and sorcery. Good, but strange, and not quite the masterpiece I’d been expecting. I finished that Friday.
Back to “Selected Shorter,” whose hoax version of “Mysterious Stranger” proved more diverting than “No. 44.” Hmm. I read that Saturday, polishing off a book I’d been reading since May.
The “Best Short Stories” collection, bought new in May, was excellent, featuring Twain’s earlier comic tales and his later dark satires on greed and hypocrisy. The latter includes the masterful “The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg.” Likewise, I’d been reading this book for weeks and finished on Sunday.
Boom, boom, boom. Twain sets them up and I knock them down. I might even read another one or two by him before the year is out. (And another one or two by Doyle as well.) At this point, by the way, I’m at 38 books for the year, putting my 50-book goal within comfortable reach.
My plan for September: books with a G in the title. Good gravy, man, get a grip.
Now what are the rest of you reading?