Books acquired: none
Books read: “A Memory of Murder,” “A Medicine for Melancholy,” Ray Bradbury; “At the Mountains of Madness,” H.P. Lovecraft; “Mail-Order Mysteries,” Kirk Demarais; “The Mad Morality,” Vernard Eller; “Of Mice and Men,” John Steinbeck; “The Marx Brothers at the Movies,” Paul Zimmerman and Burt Goldblatt; “The Mask of Fu Manchu,” Sax Rohmer.
Mm-mm! July’s reading was made up of books with a couple of M’s in the title. As organizing principles go, that’s moderately mad, but it was as good a reason as any to get to a clutch of eight (!) books that have lingered unread on my shelves for far too long. (Alas, I ran out of time to read four more: “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,” “Murders in the Rue Morgue,” “The Man Who Sold the Moon” and “From Metal to Mozart.”)
My selections encompassed two Ray Bradbury collections, one compiling his early pulp detective fiction, the other a 1959 book of fantasy and mainstream stories; an H.P. Lovecraft horror collection; an amusing book revealing what you really got if you responded to mail-order ads in comic books for U-Control Ghosts, Sea Monkeys and the like; a book about the 10 Commandments and modern morality illustrated with satirical examples from Mad magazine and written by a La Verne professor of religion; a Steinbeck classic almost everyone has read; a film-by-film guide to the Marx Brothers; and the fifth in the Fu Manchu series of thrillers.
“Of Mice and Men” was, naturally, the best of the above, although I liked them all to varying degrees. “Mail-Order Mysteries” was especially entertaining to this longtime comics fan and made me glad I never wasted my money on any of the novelties. The Mad book was perhaps the oddest of the plethora of Mad mass-market paperbacks, a sort of “Gospel According to Peanuts” effort. I wrote an obituary about the author a few years ago but hadn’t read his book until now.
I’d read the Steinbeck and “A Medicine for Melancholy,” albeit three decades ago; the others I’d never read. “Mail-Order” was a Christmas gift last year, most of the rest were purchased this century (the Fu was bought at the LA Comics Show in 2001) and the Marx Brothers book has, embarrassingly, been in my collection since my teens.
What have you folks been reading?