Reading log: June 2011

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Books acquired: “Surf Beat,” Kent Crowley.

Books read: “The Rough Guide to the Velvet Underground,” Peter Hogan; “Captain Blood,” Rafael Sabatini; “A Touch of Infinity,” Harlan Ellison; “Run for the Stars/Echoes of Thunder,” Harlan Ellison/Jack Dann, Jack C. Haldeman II.

June was a four-book month, with no theme, just a few things I wanted to read. I got off to a slow start, reading “The Velvet Underground Companion” (Albin Zaks, ed.) to page 57 before deciding its collection of mostly amateurish writings about one of my favorite bands was too obscure. First book I’ve abandoned since starting these reading chronicles.

Then I smoothly transitioned to my bookshelves’ third and last unread Velvets tome, “The Rough Guide to the Velvet Underground,” which was a good basic biography and discography. I bought this at Rhino Records in 2009. Didn’t finish it until June 20, which didn’t bode well for June’s reading.

“Captain Blood,” acquired from a friend in May, was timely as I’d just seen the 1935 Errol Flynn-Olivia de Havilland adaptation. The 1922 novel, about an Irish physician in the 17th century who ends up commanding a pirate ship in the New World, is great fun. The movie sensibly compressed the action and is recommended in its own right.

I closed out the month with two Harlan Ellison books. “A Touch of Infinity,” from 1960, was his first science fiction story collection. It’s never been reprinted in full, perhaps because it’s short and only passable. I bought it off eBay in 2008. It’s an Ace Double, with a second Ellison book, also unreprinted, on the other side, but I didn’t read that. (Titled “The Man With 9 Lives,” it seems ripe to be read some month with other books whose titles begin “The Man…,” of which I have four or five.)

Instead, I read “Run for the Stars,” an Ellison novella about a junkie who is implanted with a bomb against his will to thwart, or at least delay, an alien invasion. It’s paired with an unrelated, American Indian-focused SF story by other authors. Neither was all that hot. I bought this maybe five years ago at Bookfellows in Glendale and read it in one day last week.

(There was a minor amount of cheating here. A slightly shorter version of “Run for the Stars” was included in “A Touch of Infinity.” I opted to skip that and read Ellison’s 1985 revision instead, rather than read virtually the same novella twice. Sue me. Life is short and I have too many unread books to observe all the niceties.)

So, four books for June. This puts me at 36 books for the year to date. Getting to 50 by Dec. 31 shouldn’t be a problem. Do I hear 60? Or 70?

July will be devoted to books with traffic-related titles (even though most aren’t really about traffic). It’ll be like taking a road trip from my armchair.

Enough of my reading. What have you folks been reading?

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