Throwback Thursday (06/28/12)

Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by The Housework Can Wait and Never Too Fond of Books!

Noting that book blogging onften focuses on new releases, here’s how Throwback Thursday works:

  1. Pick a book released more than 5 years ago.
  2. Write up a short summary of the book (include the title, author, and cover art) and an explanation of why you love it.
  3. Link up your post at The Housework Can Wait or Never Too Fond of Books.
  4. Visit as many blogs as you can, reminisce about books you loved, and discover some “new” books for your TBR list!

I’m not typical for a book blogger. Most of what I read is already over five years old, though I’m trying to be a little more current. But I do like the spirit of this meme. I’m going to repurpose it bit and use it import some book-related posts from my previous journal.

Strange Wine: Fifteen New Stories From The Nightside Of The World by Harlan Ellison

From Harlan Ellison, whom The Washington Post regards as a “lyric poet, satirist, explorer of odd psychological corners, and purveyor of pure horror and black comedy,” comes Strange Wine.

Discover among these tales the spirits of executed Nazi war criminals who walk Manhattan streets; the damned soul of a murderess escaped from Hell; gremlins writing the fantasies of a gone-dry writer; and the exquisite Dr. D’arque Angel, who deals her patients doses of death… (via Goodreads)

My original post from June 1, 2001, (with commentary):

—###—

My copy of this book has a history.

One of the few things I remember from the spring semester of 1995 is buying this book. I had taken a walk, this was before I had moved permanently to Lincoln, to find a bookstore on F Street. None of the other bookstores had anything I wanted. It seemed like such a long walk then, from campus to F Street. I’d thought that I’d live in that neighborhood 3 years later and walk that distance at least once nearly everyday.

The bookstore was small, one of those places that specialized in books on mysticism and spirituality. They sold crystals and incense and soothing tapes of music. And they had a small used section of genre books. There on the shelf, lo and behold, was a book by Harlan Ellison. A rare find indeed. (Remember, this was 1995. I couldn’t order up any old book I wanted from Amazon.com.) I slipped it off the shelf and opened the cover. The book was a first edition for $70. That was a lot of money to me back then. I was working in the dishroom, living on financial aid. And really, it’s still a lot of money for a book. (I wouldn’t actually pay that much for a book now.) But… I didn’t flinch when I had to buy chemistry books for more. Books that I would hate, books that would cause me grief, books that I would sell back the moment I didn’t need them anymore. What was $70 for something I would keep and cherish?

The publication date on the book was 1979. I decided I wouldn’t read it until 1999 when the book was 20 years old. An odd thought, buying an expensive book and then not rushing home to read it. So the book sat on my self and traveled with me. To Omaha and back to Lincoln, to the house on Q Street, to my Lincoln Mall apartment, to my F Street apartment so near to where I bought it, and then to Arizona. And in late 1999, I began reading it. Halfway through, I put it down. Short stories are hard to read. They’re short and I wanted more. I wasn’t quite in the mood to read it, even though I had promised myself I would. But yesterday, looking through the stacks in the back room I picked up again. And just finished it today. And it is worth the $70 I paid.

—###—

Why should you read it today? There’s no voice in speculative fiction like Harlan Ellison’s. He’s not fluff. His stories are going to make you think. As Ellison says in the book’s introduction “reading is the drinking of strange wine…drinking strange wine pours strength into the imagination.” This book contains some lesser known stories that haven’t been over-anthologized. Not a light read, but a worthy read.

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