Books acquired: “The Red and the Black,” Stendhal; “Swann’s Way,” Marcel Proust; “Tales From the Cthulhu Mythos, Vol. 1” and “The Shuttered Room,” H.P. Lovecraft; “John Carter, Warlord of Mars vols. 1-3, 5-7, 9,” Edgar Rice Burroughs.
Books read: “The Turn of the Screw,” Henry James; “They Live,” Jonathan Lethem; “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?,” Philip K. Dick; “Blade Runner, A Story of the Future,” Les Martin; “Web of the City,” Harlan Ellison.
March came in like a lion and went out like a lamb, in the sense that all five books last month were read in the first 15 days.
“Turn of the Screw” was chosen because I was seeing the LA Opera production later in March. “They Live” is the analysis by the Pomona College prof of an obscure John Carpenter movie, the subject of a column a few weeks ago. “Do Androids Dream” was the basis for the movie “Blade Runner,” the four-disc DVD version of which I’d been watching (the Pomona College prof, a Philip K. Dick expert, was interviewed in the bonus features). “Blade Runner” is a sort of photo-novel of the movie. And “Web” is another of the early social-realist books by Ellison, who is better known for his fantasy work.
I enjoyed them all in different ways, “Androids” and “Screw” being the masterpieces of the bunch. You’ll notice from the photos that “Screw” was read on my e-reader, a first for the ol’ Reading Log; the short novel was one of the 100 free classics that came loaded on it. (Most of the Sherlock Holmes book from February was read on the e-reader too but as I owned a paperback I used that in the photo.)
As for where the other books came from, “They Live” and “Blade” were bought in February, “Web” was found used (and collectable) five or 10 years ago and “Androids” has been on my shelves unread for probably 30 years. Gulp.
What did I do the rest of March? Started in on books for April, which for no special reason will all have not one but two C’s in their title. By April 2 I’d finished two long books. Guess I’m coming in like a lion again.
One more note: I read a lot of graphic novels, comic strip reprints and the like but never include those on these lists, which are about prose. But I’d like to mention an exceptional graphic novel that I read in March, Guy Delisle’s “Burma Chronicles.”
It’s a memoir by the French illustrator of several months he and his family spent in Burma, where his wife was stationed as part of Doctors Without Borders. Delisle has also done a similar book about North Korea titled “Pyongyang,” which I’ve read, and “Shenzhen,” which I haven’t. “Burma” and “Pyongyang” are highly recommended for the window they provide on closed cultures and their gentle sense of humor. Here’s the Amazon page for “Burma Chronicles,” which allows you to look inside the book.