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 *         R E A D I N G    F O R    P L E A S U R E          *
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 *                        Issue #15                           *
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 *                 Editor: Cindy Bartorillo                   *
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 *    Featured Authors: Jonathan Carroll / Chet Williamson    *
 *                                                            *
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CONTACT US AT:  Reading For Pleasure, c/o Cindy Bartorillo, 103
Baughman's Lane, Suite 303, Frederick, MD 21702; or on CompuServe
leave a message to 74766,1206; or on GEnie leave mail to C.BARTORILLO;
or call our BBS, the BAUDLINE II at 301-694-7108, 1200-9600 HST.

NOTICE:  Reading For Pleasure is not copyrighted. You may copy
freely, but please give us credit if you extract portions to use
somewhere else. Sample copies of our print edition are available
upon request. We ask for a donation of $1.50 each to cover the
printing and mailing costs.

                       ************************

                        DISTRIBUTION DIRECTORY

Here are a few bulletin boards where you should be able to pick up the
latest issue of READING FOR PLEASURE. See masthead for where to send
additions and corrections to this list.

?????             Omaha, NE      Pete Hartman      402-498-9723
Academia          Pomono, NJ     Ken Tompkins      609-652-4914
Accolade! BBS     Round Rock,TX  Jack Moore        512-388-1445
Ad Lib            Monroeville,PA John Williams     412-327-9209
The Annex         Dayton,OH      John Cooper       513-274-0821
Beginnings BBS    Levittown,NY   Mike Coticchio    516-796-7296
Blcksbg Info Serv Blacksburg,VA  Fred Drake        703-951-2920
Boot Strap OnLine Yuma, AZ       Daryl Stogner     602-343-0878
Byrd's Nest       Arlington,VA   Debbie&Alan Byrd  703-671-8923
Checkpoint        El Cajon,CA                      619-442-3595
Chevy Chase Board Alexandria,VA  Larkins/Carlson   703-549-5574
Computer Co-Op    Voorhees,NJ    Ted Hare          609-784-9404
Daily Planet      Owosso,MI      Jay Stark         517-723-4613
Death Star        Oxon Hill,MD   Lee Pollard       301-839-0705
Del Ches Systems  Exton,PA       Peter Rucci       215-363-6625
Diversified Prog  PacPalisadesCA Jean-Pierre Denis 213-459-6053
Dorsai Diplomatic Mission  NYC   Jack Brooks       212-431-1944
Futzer Avenue     Issaquah,WA    Stan Symms        206-391-2339
Humanware BBS     New York       Jim Freund        212-980-3128
IBMNew            CompuServe     Library #0
Inn on the Park   Scottsdale,AZ  Jim Jusko         602-957-0631
Invention Factory New York,NY    Mike Sussell      212-431-1273
Ivory Tower       Manchester,CT  Karl Hakmiller    203-649-5611
KCSS BBS          Seattle,WA     Bob Neddo         206-296-5277
()Lensman() BBS   Denver,CO      Greg Bradt        303-979-8953
Litforum          CompuServe     Library #12
Lost Paradise                    Mike King         703-370-7795
Magnetic Bottle   Pennsylvania   Bill Mertens      814-231-1345
Magpie HQ         New York,NY    Steve Manes       212-420-0527
MoonDog BBS       Brooklyn,NY    Don Barba         718-692-2498
MSU Library BBS   St. Paul,MN    Dana Noonan       612-722-9257
Over My Dead Body Oakland,CA     Cherie Jung       415-465-7739
Port of Call BBS  Indiana        Brian Cload       219-763-4908
Poverty Rock PCB  Mercer Is.,WA  Rick Kunz         206-232-1763
Round Table BBS   Chicago,IL     Kevin Keyser      312-777-9480
Sabaline                         Don Saba          619-692-1961
Science Fiction   GEnie          Library #3
SF & Fantasy      CIS Hom-9      Library #5
SMOF-BBS          Austin,TX      Earl Cooley       512-467-7317
SoftServ          Long Beach,CA  J. Neil Schulman  213-957-1176
Sunwise           Sun City W.,AZ Keith Slater      602-584-7395
Technoids Anon.   Chandler,AZ    David Cantere     602-899-4876
Writers Happy Hr  Seattle,WA     Walter Scott      206-364-2139
Writers' RT       GEnie          Library #1
Xevious           Framingham,MA  Nels Anderson     508-875-3618
Your Place        Fairfax,VA     Ken Goosens       703-978-6360

RFP Home Board (all issues available all the time):
Baudline II       Frederick,MD   the Bartorillo's  301-694-7108
(RFPs downloadable on first call; 9600 HST)

Any board that participates in the RelayNet (tm) email system can
request RFPs from BAUDLINE.

NOTE: Back issues on CompuServe may have been moved to a different
library.

                       ************************

                          TABLE OF CONTENTS
Editorial . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  120
What's News . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  151
Good Reading Periodically . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  237
Awards. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  322
Lost Stories by Peter de Jager. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  359
Featured Author: Jonathan Carroll . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  509
The Stanford Companion to Victorian Fiction . . . . . . . . .  937
NTC's Dictionary of Literary Terms. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1008
Bob Randall & The Last Man on the List. . . . . . . . . . . . 1088
The Encyclopedia of Bad Taste . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1151
The Wellness Encyclopedia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1249
Envisioning Information . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1362
Would the Buddha Wear a Walkman?. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1483
The Complete James Bond Movie Encyclopedia. . . . . . . . . . 1521

Genre Sections:
Frightful Fiction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1568
  Featured Author: Chet Williamson. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1584
Murder By The Book. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2502
Loosen Your Grip On Reality . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3395
The Laugh's On Us . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3931

                       ************************

                              EDITORIAL

This is the issue that almost wasn't. Our two-month production period
began back in early December when our main computer had a cerebral
hemorrhage. We got a new system that's better than the old one, but for
a while we weren't too sure what was going to happen. At one point we
tried to switch to another computer temporarily, but this machine was
in a bad mood and showed its contempt for us by eating our electronic
mail. MAJOR APOLOGY: If you left a message for me on CompuServe or
GEnie and I didn't get back to you, I'm sorry. Please try again.

By the time we got our computer support straightened out, it was
Holiday Time, which we had somehow forgotten about in the rush. For
about three weeks we were surrounded by festive types who forced us to
eat lots of food, sing songs, and watch lots of movies. It's not that
we have anything against these things, but they don't produce much
readable material. Finally, after the holidays were all gone and the
last stray merrymaking was over, we came back to work chastened and
ready to type. And with killer flu germs, which we are all passing
back and forth like belated Christmas presents.

The last two weeks have been spent slumped over our keyboards with
boxes of kleenex, hot tea, and cough syrup. Every four hours we take
an Aspirin Break. For this reason, I ask your indulgence this month,
and if the material seems a trifle unfinished or odd--please realize
that most of the effort represented herein was accomplished by people
who were semi-conscious at the time. Hope to see you again with issue
#16, due out April 1. (Oh dear, April 1 doesn't bode well, does it?)

                       ************************

                             WHAT'S NEWS

* I hear that the upcoming autobiography of Julia Phillips, called
YOU'LL NEVER EAT LUNCH IN THIS TOWN AGAIN, should be a scorcher. Ms.
Phillips was a Hollywood producer at one time (The Sting, Taxi Driver,
Close Encounters), but was drummed out by Hollywood politics and a
serious drug problem. Her book is supposed to be very candid about
both her own problems and about the people she knew (in other words,
she names names). Lawyers are probably getting lined up waiting for
this book.

According to a news item in Publishers Weekly, among those mentioned
in the book are: Jamie Lee Curtis, Stephen Spielberg, Richard Gere,
Robert De Niro, Sean Penn, Michael Douglas, Jon Peters, Warren Beatty,
Mick Jagger, Arthur C. Clarke, Kathleen Turner, Madonna, etc., etc.

* Another item in Publishers Weekly said that Alexandra Ripley, who's
busy writing the sequel to GONE WITH THE WIND, found that her first
editor at Warner not only hadn't read the original, but hadn't seen
the movie either, and actually said when handed the first chapters,
"It's awfully Southern, isn't it?" Needless to say, Ms. Ripley got
herself a different editor.

* If you'd like an advance look at the New York Times Bestseller List
(10 days before publication)--I mean if you'd REALLY like it--then you
could send them $325 a year and they'll automatically fax you the
lists every Thursday at 8am. If your need is only temporary, you can
also call 900-773-FAXX, give them your fax number, and get the lists
for $7.50. Of course you can always do it the old-fashioned way and
call 900-454-LIST and pay $1.50-a-minute for the information.

* BEYOND LOVE by Dominique Lapierre is, according to it's publisher
(Warner), "a powerful, inspiring work about the doctors and
scientists, heroes and dreamers, and the legendary Mother Teresa, all
fighting AIDS, the greatest plague of our time." Release date is
March and it's $22.95 (ISBN 0-446-51438-1).

* If you're thinking about starting a small business of your own (or
maybe you already have) you should check out the book selection at
Small Business Books, 506 S. Elm Street, Champaign, IL 61820. If you
have a computer and a modem, you can call 217-352-7323 and order books
online, download files, leave messages, and post a short note about
your business. Voice (and also FAX) calls should be made to
217-352-8009. The man in charge is Bruce Pea. Give him a call.

* Melrose Press has a wide selection of biographical directories:
Music and Musicians Directory ($150), Authors and Writers Who's Who
($165), Who's Who in Australasia ($175), World Who's Who of Women
($150), Who's Who of Professional Women ($175), Dictionary of
International Biography ($175), Who's Who in Education ($185), and Men
of Achievement ($175). You can get any of these directories by making
out a check (for the price of the book plus $5 per book shipping) to
Taylor & Francis in U.S. funds and mailing it to: Taylor & Francis
Group, 1900 Frost Road, Suite 101, Bristol, PA 19007-1598. Or you can
call 1-800-821-8312.

* Look for mass market paperbacks to be one cent short of the dollar
instead of five ($4.99, not $4.95, etc.). Penguin is supposed to have
already started this new pricing policy, and others will most likely
follow.

* Tor and St. Martin's will be doing American versions of the novellas
currently being published by Century Legend in Britain. St. Martin's
will do the hardcovers and Tor will handle the paperbacks.

* In case you hadn't heard, 1991 is the "Year of the Lifetime Reader".
The Book-of-the-Month Club and the Library of Congress are making a
study of the reading practices of Americans during the stages of life,
focusing particularly on the decline of book-reading in the over-55
crowd. The results of this study will be presented in a symposium next
fall.

* According to a Gallup Poll, 57% of adult Americans wanted to get a
book for Christmas. How lucky were you?

* Gorgon Books has formed something called The International Paperback
Collectors Society. They will publish a bimonthly newsletter with the
latest information on collecting trends, paperback shows, various
price guides, and other timely news like auction results from most of
the major auctions. Membership fees for 1991 are $15 and their first
newsletter will be published February 1, 1991. Make your check payable
to IPCS and mail it to: IPCS (Membership), 21 Deer Lane, Wantagh, NY
11793. For more information call "John" at 516-781-0439.

                       ************************

                      GOOD READING PERIODICALLY
                         by Cindy Bartorillo

There's a new magazine around that you should know about. It's called
BACKHOME and is subtitled "Hands-On & Down-to-Earth", which is as good
a description as anyone could want. Each issue (I've gotten 2 so far)
has a wide variety of articles, aimed at the person who wants more
control over their life. Getting more control involves taking
responsibility for your own needs, getting the information you need,
and developing a few skills. BACKHOME is here to help us with the last
two items. Probably the best way to describe BACKHOME is to give you a
list of SOME of the contents of the first two issues. Here goes:

Weeds
How Do You Define Home?
Make a Rope Ladder
Ethical Investing
Wild Wines (make your own)
Fishing: Pure and Simple
Ode to the Toad
Bonsai
Weatherize With Wisdom
Recycled Wrapping Paper
To Build a Fire
The A-to-(almost)-Z Auto Emergency Kit

The Auto Emergency Kit reminds me to mention the practical how-to
projects in each issue of BACKHOME. The first issue had plans for a
kitchen recycling center and a simple solar heating construction. The
next issue had plans for making toys out of tin cans, the auto
emergency kit, and an indestructible "Swiss Army" mailbox.

In addition to all the feature articles about nature, gardening, cars,
construction, cooking, birds, ammunition, travel, home-building,
chickens, etc., there is also an excellent selection of regular
columns. My personal favorite is "Backyard Naturalist" by Lance
Sterling, who doles out all the country wisdom that in movies always
comes from Grandpa while he sits on the front porch smoking a pipe.
There's also a folklore column called "Way Back When", and a
delightful running piece devoted to screwups called "Bass Ackwards".
But enough already. Four quarterly issues will run you $16 ($28 for
two years), and you should send it to: BackHome, PO Box 370, Mountain
Home, NC 28758 (phone 704-696-3838).


I picked up my first copy of MOVIELINE recently, mostly because I just
couldn't believe the price: 96 slick, photo-covered pages for $2.
That's GOT to be one of the very best magazine deals around. But what
about the content? To begin with, I enjoyed the sly and catty gossip
pages. It's been a long time since I read the gossip magazines of the
late 1950s and early 1960s, and MOVIELINE captured the Rona Barrett
tone very well. (What ever happened to her, by the way?) As the pages
wore on, however, that disdainful pose wore thin. The articles seemed
to be written from above the subject, looking down at a curiosity. The
purpose of the articles was more the aggrandizement of the writer than
the illumination of the subject, and I have little patience for such
nonsense. There was also a problem with inaccuracies. (Rebecca Morris
writes that Tom Berenger played the psycho killer of Diane Keaton in
LOOKING FOR MR. GOODBAR. On my copy of the film it's Richard Gere.)
MOVIELINE is still a lot of film talk for your two bucks, and if you
try not to believe everything you read, you'll be OK. If you
subscribe, the price drops to 80 cents--send them just $9.60 for the
next 12 issues (a "charter" subscription). Movieline, 1141 S. Beverly
Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90099-2924.

About a year ago I discovered the American Movie Classics channel on
my TV, and I've been enjoying older movies ever since. If you like old
movies too, you might want to check out SCREEN GREATS, a Hollywood
nostalgia magazine. The cover art and layout is decidedly
old-fashioned, and inside you'll find articles about stars like
Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, Rita Hayworth, and Lana Turner. The only
new news is that connected with an older star, like when Marlon
Brando's family became involved in a shooting incident last year.
SCREEN GREATS is a quarterly, and you can get the next 4 issues by
sending a check for $14.99 (Foreign: $19.99) to Screen Greats, 475
Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10016.

Computer users might want to try SHAREWARE magazine, brought to you by
the PC-SIG people. If you have a modem, joining a good BBS would be
more economical, but if you're modemless, $20 will buy you a one-year
PC-SIG membership and 6 bimonthly issues of SHAREWARE magazine.
PC-SIG, 1030-D East Duane Ave., Sunnyvale, CA 94086.

                       ************************

                                AWARDS

BRITISH FANTASY SOCIETY AWARDS

August Derleth Award for Best Novel:
CARRION COMFORT by Dan Simmons

Best Short Fiction:
"On the Far Side of the Cadillac Desert With Dead Folks" by Joe R.
Lansdale


1990 PROMETHEUS AWARDS
(Given by the Libertarian Futurist Society)

Best Novel:  SOLOMAN'S KNIFE by Victor Koman
Hall of Fame Award:  HEALER by F. Paul Wilson

                       ************************

                     PULPHOUSE: A Weekly Magazine

Yes, PULPHOUSE: The Hardback Magazine is dead, long live PULPHOUSE: A
Weekly Magazine! The last issue of the Hardback Magazine will be #12,
Spring 1991, released in April. The new weekly will begin in May.
Here's the scoop from Pulphouse: "The magazine will be in an 8.5 x 11
inch slick, perfect-bound format, will have about 40 pages of
editorial content, using fiction (including serialized novels),
non-fiction, and assigned columns and will sell for $2.50. And for
those who love hardbacks, every 13 issues we will bind up the magazine
in an 8.5 x 11 inch sewn edition. Subscriptions are $26 for 13 issues,
$50 for 26 issues (First class subscription, Canada, and overseas are
$39 and $76, respectively). Pulphouse Publishing, Box 1227, Eugene, OR
97440.

                       ************************
                     ...........................
                     :      LOST STORIES       :
                     :    by Peter de Jager    :
                     '''''''''''''''''''''''''''
 
I have been reading Science Fiction for some 25 years. During that
time I have repeatedly stumbled across classic stories. Random chance
should not decide which stories we read and which ones vanish.
 
Was it because I was just an uninformed reader? Or do good stories
naturally get lost, pushed aside in the battle for shelf space?
 
Good stories and unique ideas are so difficult to find that it is a
crime to lose them. The intent of this column is to sing the praises
of lost stories. It will allow you and I to explore lost stories. To
share with each other those dog-eared volumes that keep us warm on
cold nights.
 
Fair warning. There are no "objective" reviews here. They will all be
passionate pleas to you to seek out neglected stories. Stories that
deserve more attention. If you do decide to hunt down a story from
this column, or if you know of a lost story, then contact me on
CompuServe. My ID is 70611,2576
                                   Yours truly
                                   Peter de Jager
 

                        A MIRROR FOR OBSERVERS
                            Published 1954
            Winner of the 1955 International Fantasy Award
                    by Edgar Pangborn (1909-1976)
 
Angelo Ponteveccio is a 12 year old boy. He has the potential for
redefining ethical thought. He could change philosophy to the same
degree that Einstein changed science. As such he is a 'pivot' point in
the development of our race. His development is crucial to our
survival.
 
Watching his growth and the progress of our race are long-lived
survivors of a Martian tragedy. Interfering with his growth, and this
passive observation, is a Martian Abdicator, an observer that sees
little of value in Humans.
 
The story is simple enough. Good vs. Evil with Human Morality and
Ethics in the balance.
 
Where this story differs from most is in the poetry of delivery. Edgar
Pangborn has the ability to tell a story using simple words that sing
to all that is human in us. At one point, the Martian Observer, Elmis,
is contemplating the Martian ability to play the piano...
 
"But I do know that we can never equal the best of human players, and
not merely because our artificial fifth fingers are dull. Do you think
it might be because human beings live only a little time, and remember
this in their music?"
 
Reading Pangborn is not just escaping into a story, it is
re-discovering the English language. Time and time again he will
surprise you by a turn of phrase, a linguistic mannerism or a harmony
in the words that will have you reading the line aloud in order to
enjoy it properly.
 
There are many stories about "Observers", it is a common enough theme
in Science Fiction. The entire Star Trek series has portrayed us as
Observers complete with a 'Prime Directive' of Non-Interference.
MIRROR provides some background thinking on the rightness of such a
"rule". It also explores the psyche of an observer that decides to
violate it...
 
Another common theme is that of the 'pivot'. Either in Time Travel
stories or in "grand designs" where a single individual becomes a
"cusp" or decision point.
 
Pangborn combines these themes to produce a compelling story, one that
drags the reader towards the conclusion. It is a rewarding journey,
one that explores music, ethics and once again, the conflict between
good and evil. Oh yes... he also plays a sonata with the language.
 

                            THE STAR ROVER
                   (known as THE JACKET in the UK)
                            Published 1915
                      by Jack London (1876-1916)
 
Yes, this is the same Jack London that wrote CALL OF THE WILD and
WHITE FANG. If that is all you have read of London's, then you have a
surprise in store for you.
 
This story is unusual to say the least. London based it upon the
experiences of Ed Morrel in San Quentin prison. Specifically the
out-of-body experiences brought about by torture in a strait jacket.
 
I had always thought of a strait jacket as a passive restraining
device used to control violent people. THE STAR ROVER changed that
naive opinion forever and changed my thinking about prisons.
 
THE STAR ROVER contains no technology, no magic, no science. It is
unmistakably a story about the human spirit and its ability to break
free of all constraints. De Gedanken sind Frie... The Thoughts are
Free. Is it science fiction? It is difficult to classify it as
anything else.
 
As in Pangborn's MIRROR, the use of language is superb. STAR ROVER has
a gritty mood about it that stayed with me for many years. I then
reread it by accident and recognized it, not by the plot, but by the
feelings that it invoked in me.
 
The book transports you into the damp stone cells of San Quentin, as
surely as the prisoner transports himself out of the strait jacket and
into past lives. The cruelty of the prison guards pierces the warm
comfort of your living room and send shivers down your spine. The book
reeks of pain, cruelty and hope. Thankfully, the hope is there,
strong, loud and constant.
 
Why the prisoner is there is not really important. His accusers blame
him for something that never happened and there is no way out. No way
out, except an impossible escape into his own infinite past.
 
THE STAR ROVER is a cure for a too sunny day. It is a journey into the
depths of cruelty and a final escape via the human spirit. When you
finish reading, you will look up into the light and blink, momentarily
disorientated; it will take you a while to return to your normal
surroundings. Be not afraid, this is normal and will wear off shortly.
 
There is much talk today about Virtual Realities, CyberSpace and
Artificial Realities. We sometimes forget that these types of
experiences are available to us when a master story teller enthralls
us. Jack London is one such wordsmith. He lives on through his
writings.
 
He reminds us that we have a instinct for survival. THE STAR ROVER
explores an unnatural method to achieve it.

                       ************************


WORKING WITH THE ONES YOU LOVE: Conflict Resolution & Problem Solving
Strategies for a Successful Family Business by Dennis Jaffe, Ph.D.
($19.95, 256 pages, ISBN 0-943233-07-0, Conari Press, now available)
Over 90% of all businesses in the United States are family owned. Now
the first book on family business by a psychotherapist describes how
to manage the complex work and personal relationships that are
intertwined in family business. WORKING WITH THE ONES YOU LOVE uses
exercises, reflection, questions, "Tasks for the Chapter", and many
case histories to help readers build communication, resolve conflict
between family members, and enable the family and business to grow
into the next generation. You can order directly from the publisher by
sending $19.95, plus $2 postage and handling per order, to: Conari
Press, 713 Euclid Ave., Berkeley, CA 94708 (phone 415-527-9915).

                       ************************
FEATURED AUTHOR:
                           JONATHAN CARROLL

                         by Cindy Bartorillo

"...he understands that the best moments of terror are mental rather
than physical and lie in the collision between the mundane and the
extraordinary, the sudden juxtaposition of the familiar with the
bizarre."
        ---Christopher Evans (in HORROR: 100 BEST BOOKS, 1988)

Jonathan Carroll's stories are pure enchantment. Every one of them
takes me back to a time when literature meant fairy tales and
mythology, when each new story filled me with a sense of wonder. And,
like those childhood favorites, I seem never to tire of a Jonathan
Carroll story--at the end of the last page I can easily turn right
back to the first and start again, with as much enjoyment and
anticipation as the previous time. Many other writers are beloved
members of my literary family, but Jonathan Carroll's books are the
ones I want to spend the rest of my life reading.

It all began about 5 or 6 years ago when I read an interview with
Stephen King in some magazine (very possibly Twilight Zone) in which
he recommended THE LAND OF LAUGHS by Jonathan Carroll. Now, we all
know that King recommends more books than even RFP does, but there
must have been something special about what he said because I made a
note to look for the book around town. Several weeks later I found it,
a hardcover, marked $2 at a local shop.

As so often happens, other books intruded and it was several years
before I finally picked the book off my shelf and first came under the
Carroll spell. Carroll himself calls his style "magic realism", which
describes his stories perfectly and needs no improvement. And the best
biography I have of Carroll is also from the man himself: "When you
read a description of me, it says I live in Vienna and I wrote these
books. I'm an American. I've lived overseas for almost 20 years. I
have a bull terrier that doesn't talk. That's it."

As a child my imagination was fired by fierce dragons, wicked witches,
and virtuous heroes and heroines. Now my inspirations are mostly from
Carroll Country: Galen, Missouri; a small dog named Nails; a very
special writer named Marshall France; The Queen of Oil; a mysterious
magician called Little Boy; the magical and terrifying land of Rondua;
Rumpelstiltskin; a film director named Weber Gregston; and an "angel"
called Pinsleepe. And I feel privileged to have met them all. If you'd
like to meet them too, come right this way...


                          THE LAND OF LAUGHS
                            (1980, Viking)

"This is an intricate, challenging, ultimately chilling tale, full of
startling juxtapositions and surprises."
                    ---Washington Post Book World

This is his first novel, and the best place to start, if you can find
a copy. I'm really very glad that I read his books in order of
publication, because I'm not sure whether or not I could have fully
appreciated the latest ones if I hadn't been prepared by the first. In
each story, Carroll roams further afield, displays a more extreme
version of his imagination, has fewer points of contact with a
generally recognizable reality.

But THE LAND OF LAUGHS is the perfect introduction of Carroll Country.
The story begins normally enough with prep school teacher Thomas
Abbey, who wants to write a biography of legendary children's book
writer Marshall France.

"What was so attractive to me about Marshall France? His vision. His
ability to create one world after another that silently enchanted you,
frightened you, made you wide-eyed or suspicious, made you hide your
eyes or clap your hands in glee."
                      --from THE LAND OF LAUGHS

This also describes how I feel about Jonathan Carroll, and,
coincidentally like Carroll, Marshall France wrote a book called THE
LAND OF LAUGHS, which had a character called The Queen of Oil, who
said:

                    "The questions are the danger.
                     Leave them alone and they sleep.
                     Ask them, awake them, and more than you
                     Know will begin to rise."
                 --Queen of Oil in THE LAND OF LAUGHS
                       from THE LAND OF LAUGHS

Abbey and his sort-of girlfriend Saxony Gardner head for the small
town of Galen, Missouri, where France lived his last years, dying
there of a heart attack at age 44. What they find in Galen is a quaint
village of warm-hearted people anxious to help with the biography.
Everything is just picture post card perfect, or is it? Bit by bit the
discordant elements appear, until you just KNOW that something is
going very, very wrong. Then comes the page where your jaw drops into
your lap and you have to reread the passage repeatedly to make sure it
really says what you thought you read. And there you are, in Carroll
Country for the first time.

"The genesis of LAND OF LAUGHS was the fascination we all have
with children's stories, not only when we're small. The quest for
the lost treasure."
                         ---Jonathan Carroll

THE LAND OF LAUGHS is very like a children's story itself, albeit one
with very dark, adult overtones. It's an astonishing novel, and Galen
is a town you won't soon forget.

"The town of Galen is based on a town where we lived for a year
before coming overseas, called Times Beach, Missouri. In LAND OF
LAUGHS, when Marshall France discovers his powers, he closes off
the town so he can populate it with his own people. Almost ten
years after we lived in that town, it was discovered that the
government had sprayed the streets with dioxin the year we were
there. It was the only town in the United States in which they
had done this, and they had to go and buy out every person who
lived there, and now it's a ghost town. It's exactly like LAND OF
LAUGHS."
                         ---Jonathan Carroll

"...one of the most imaginative spectral fictions of the contemporary
period, featuring new occult mythology...Books about evil books are
not new in supernatural fiction, but Carroll adds a new conceit: the
ability to write well about the macabre and the fantastic--possessed
by Marshall France, Carroll's invented children's book writer--confers
on the writer the very dark power he portrays."
   ---Jack Sullivan (in THE PENGUIN ENCYCLOPEDIA OF HORROR AND THE
                         SUPERNATURAL, 1986)


                         VOICE OF OUR SHADOW
                                (1983)

Joe Lennox is an American writer living in Vienna when he meets India
and Paul Tate, a fascinating older couple who quickly become his best
friends and the center of his life. Complications arise, though, when
Joe starts sleeping with India, and Joe's guilt over that adds to the
guilt he's carried around for most of his life for being responsible
for his older brother's death.

One evening Joe learns that Paul is also a magician of extraordinary,
and frightening, skill. Then, in quick succession, Paul finds out
about Joe and India's affair, and Paul dies. Now Joe finds himself
swimming in a sea of guilt, and unfortunately his life is about to get
much, much worse.

VOICE OF OUR SHADOW continues a common Carroll theme: someone with
magical powers uses them to manipulate others, and our hero comes to
the brink of succumbing. As always, he tells a haunting story that is
more powerful than it appears on the surface.  A story that would be
very difficult to ever forget.

"I thought it was a love story, and it was. Then I thought it was a
ghost story, and it was, sort of. Then I thought it was a story of
madness, and it might be, maybe. It is a cunning, magical, wonderful
novel--funny, sexy, sad, and tender."
                            ---Pat Conroy

"VOICE OF OUR SHADOW lacks the magic of its predecessor but is
nevertheless an exceptionally original ghost tale...If Carroll
continues to turn out supernatural novels of this quality, he could
become one of the major figures in the field. His works are intricate
and challenging, full of startling experiments and surprises."
   ---Jack Sullivan (in THE PENGUIN ENCYCLOPEDIA OF HORROR AND THE
                         SUPERNATURAL, 1986)

"When you read a book, basically what you're doing is giving up your
own world and taking on the world of the book. You cannot apply rules
that have got to hold in the book, because the book creates its own
reality. Whether that reality is Tolkien with hobbits, or Tolstoy with
Anna Karenina, you've given up your world, so you can't bring the
rules of that world into the book.

"So, if you read one of my books and children fly out the window, and
you say, 'But children DON'T fly out the window,' I say, 'Stop. We're
not talking about your world. We're talking about the world of this
book, and THAT'S what matters.'

"Now, I may not have those children fly out the window well. You can
criticize me for that, but don't criticize me for the fact that they
can fly."
                         ---Jonathan Carroll


                          BONES OF THE MOON
                         (1987, Arbor House)

"A Manhattan woman is pursued by a love-obsessed film director. Her
neighbor turns out to be an ax-murderer."
 ---description of BONES OF THE MOON, from Fall Preview in The Drood
                          Review of Mystery

Cullen has an abortion with conflicting emotions, marries the very,
very nice Danny James, moves to an apartment in New York that also
houses a nice boy who will soon chop his sister and mother into bits,
and has a baby girl named Mae. She leads your average American
sometimes-eventful, sometimes-not life, at least during the day. At
night, however, in her dreams she goes to Rondua to help her son
(named Pepsi) get the five Bones of the Moon.

Is Cullen just a woman with a very creative mind that exercises itself
at night? Or is she a woman descending into very dangerous paranoid
delusions? Will it change your judgement when Rondua begins to intrude
on her waking life?

Jonathan Carroll continues his exploration of dreams and magic, and of
their relationship to what we commonly refer to as "reality". As
always, his story is effortlessly told and a joy to read, and I found
it enchanting and disturbing at the same time. Like another Carroll of
the previous century, Jonathan is one-of-a-kind.

"A wonderful, remarkable, disturbing novel, with some of the purest
moments of terror I've experienced in a book for years. Jonathan
Carroll is as fine as any living writer of supernatural fiction, and
this is his masterpiece so far."
                          ---Ramsey Campbell

"I finished the novel feeling exhilarated and sated. It is a
page-turner par excellence, and that's what makes the reader start to
sweat bullets when things begin to get weird. Beginning BONES is as
pleasant, easy, and natural as falling into a feather bed with fresh
clean sheets after a hard day. You're almost asleep before you realize
you've been clamped into place...and then the spikes start to come out
of the mattress, one after another..."
                           ---Stephen King

BONES OF THE MOON is now a trade paperback from Avon ($7.95).


"A friend of mine once said something which has always haunted me. I
asked him, 'Are there people who can walk on water?' He said, 'Sure.'
I asked, 'Are there people who can fly?' He said, 'Of course.' I
asked, 'Why don't they show us?' He said, 'Why would a person so
advanced give a *shit* about showing you that he can walk on water?'"
                         ---Jonathan Carroll


                          SLEEPING IN FLAME
                          (1988, Doubleday)

It was at a point approximately halfway through reading SLEEPING IN
FLAME that I first realized that Jonathan Carroll had ceased to be ONE
of my favorite writers and was now indisputably my FAVORITE writer.
Other authors say things better than I ever could, or arrange life in
a more attractive or sensible manner. Jonathan Carroll takes me places
I could never go without him. As many books as I've read over the
years, as great and loony as my imagination is, I am instantly humbled
by the creative intelligence of Carroll. (Mark my words, more than one
person is going to draw parallels between the two Carroll's, Jonathan
and Lewis.)

SLEEPING IN FLAME is about Walker Easterling, his love for the
beautiful Maris York, his ability to see things before they happen,
and unresolved conflicts from past lives. There's very little else I
can say about this book out of context, except that it's magical and
very, very special.

"SLEEPING IN FLAME is about love and myth. It's similar to my other
stuff in that it starts with a love story and then it takes off into
lulu-land of telepathy and children's stories and dogs that talk and
things like that. If there's any Carroll trademark, I suppose that's
it. I like dogs that have voices of their own. SLEEPING IN FLAME is
Part Two of this series that started with BONES OF THE MOON. The movie
director we met in BONES appears in SLEEPING IN FLAME, and that
character becomes prominent in the next book, A CHILD ACROSS THE SKY.
There's no grand theme for the series. If you read a book and you love
it, you're sorry when it's ended. Part of the reason you're sorry is
you're losing a friend. I mean that genuinely. I want to see what
happens to them. They're my friends. I want to keep tabs on them."
                         ---Jonathan Carroll


                         "Friend's Best Man"
                                (1988)

This story won the 1988 World Fantasy Award for Short Fiction.


                           "Mr. Fiddlehead"
                       (in Omni, February 1989)

This story was nominated for the 1990 World Fantasy Award for Short
Fiction. It also appears within the novel, A CHILD ACROSS THE SKY.


                              "Florian"
                 (in WEIRD TALES magazine, Fall 1989)

Another of his stories about the power of imagination.


                        A CHILD ACROSS THE SKY
                          (1990, Doubleday)

"Do *you* know what the miraculous is?"

"So far, all I've figured out is it's somewhere in real life, not in
fantasy or art. You might be able to reach it through those things,
but it's across the bridge."
                    ---from A CHILD ACROSS THE SKY

"Wonder belongs to children, so when they talk about it, it's usually
in the relaxed, reasonable voice of long-time residents. More than
real life, wonder is their home. They believe in miracles, people with
successful wings, religion. 'Impossible' is an enemy, gravity too, our
mundane and inappropriate schedules for them. Many of their days
aren't even spent on this earth with us. They are just very good at
pretending they're here."
                    ---from A CHILD ACROSS THE SKY

Film director Weber Gregston returns, this time as the lead character.
His best friend Philip Strayhorn, the creator and monstrous star of a
series of horror films, commits suicide while making his masterpiece,
the last of this horror series. Weber receives a very disturbing, and
supernatural, videotape from his friend a couple of days afterward,
and is plunged into a nightmare world as he takes on the challenge of
finishing Philip's film as well as discovering why his friend decided
to take his own life.

Soon it begins to appear that in trying to capture some kind of
"ultimate" horror for his film, Philip Strayhorn might have touched
forces larger than he anticipated, presenting Weber with a classic
Faustian question. A CHILD ACROSS THE SKY is about artistic integrity
and humanity, about corruption and love, and evil.

I spent a large part of this book wondering where in the world the
plot could possibly be headed. I followed the plot lines, took in the
details, and waited and speculated. Finally, toward the end of the
book, the "answer" suddenly hit me with stunning force and I sat in my
chair, book abandoned in my lap, as I replayed the entire story in the
light of my new understanding. It was like intellectual assault and
battery, or watching a train accident and being powerless to help. A
CHILD ACROSS THE SKY shows that Carroll's imagination not only has
width and breadth, but power.


                            BLACK COCKTAIL
                            (1990, Legend)

I feel a little creepy talking about a story that hasn't been
published in the U.S. yet, but Tor and St. Martin's are supposedly
going to put the Legend novellas into print here, so maybe BLACK
COCKTAIL will show up soon. Meanwhile, I got my copy from Mark Ziesing
(Mark V. Ziesing Books, PO Box 76, Shingletown, CA 96088) for $19.95.
He said he's been having trouble keeping them in stock, but you can
give Mark a call (916-474-1580) and ask.

BLACK COCKTAIL focuses on another of Carroll's recurring characters,
Ingram York (brother of Maris York from SLEEPING IN FLAME), gay radio
talk show host in California. After the death of his long-time
companion in the earthquake, Ingram looks up Michael Billa,
recommended to him by Maris' husband, Walker. Michael turns out to be
a charismatic storyteller, who spellbinds with tales from his
unfortunate childhood. Bad boy Clinton figures in many of these
stories as Michael's savior. Clinton took fat and nerdish Michael
under his protective wing and saved him from school bullies. The plot
thickens when Clinton shows up in the here-and-now; but while Michael
is 20 years older, Clinton appears to be still 15. Michael seems to
fear Clinton's return, while Clinton says that Michael is the one who
"froze" him and is now setting Ingram up to get rid of Clinton, who is
no longer needed.

Who's lying? Who's telling the truth? What could possibly BE the truth
of this extraordinary situation? BLACK COCKTAIL is one of Carroll's
darker stories, and the wisdom that is gained is, as is often the case
in Carroll's stories, unwelcome.


                  DIE PANISCHE HAND (THE PANIC HAND)

This is a short story collection that is only available in German.


                       WEIRD TALES Winter 1990
                    Special Jonathan Carroll Issue

This magazine includes the following stories by Carroll:

"Tired Angel", about a man who kills with psychological manipulation.
"My Zoondel", about a breed of dog who can identify werewolves.
"The Panic Hand", yet another of Jonathan Carroll's stories about
     people with extraordinary imaginative powers.
"Postgraduate" -- You know those dreams you have of being a kid again?
     You're late for class, you didn't study for the big test, you
     have no date for the weekend? Well, what if you got caught in one
     of those dreams, knowing you're dreaming, but you can't wake up?


           I SHUDDER AT YOUR TOUCH: TALES OF SEX AND HORROR
                       edited by Michele Slung
                          (early-1991, NAL)

I've heard that Jonathan Carroll will have a story in this anthology.


                        OUTSIDE THE DOG MUSEUM

This is Jonathan Carroll's next novel. I had heard that it was due out
in "early 1991" here in the U.S., but the only specific date I've
heard is a March 1991 release date in England.


           "Jonathan Carroll is a cult waiting to be born."
                            ---Pat Conroy

The more I think about it, "cult" is exactly the right term. Carroll's
vision is too bizarre for him to become hugely popular, but for those
of us who enjoy sharing the view, Jonathan Carroll's fiction is
wondrous. [NOTE: I have just begun a massive index of people, places,
things, and references in Jonathan Carroll's work, and will make it
available to RFP readers when completed.]

Quick Reference to Jonathan Carroll's novels:

THE LAND OF LAUGHS is the most accessible to readers unfamiliar with
     Jonathan Carroll.
VOICE OF OUR SHADOW is the least successful.
BONES OF THE MOON has most most tenuous ties with reality.
SLEEPING IN FLAME is his most perfect novel so far.
A CHILD ACROSS THE SKY is his most challenging and most rewarding
     novel.

"I've been whistling a certain tune for a long time, being told
that it's off-tune--now all of a sudden people are saying,
'What's that catchy tune?' I'm hoping it will become a standard
sooner or later."
                         ---Jonathan Carroll

                       ************************

             THE STANFORD COMPANION TO VICTORIAN FICTION
                          by John Sutherland
                  (1989, Stanford University Press)
                        review by Howard Frye

In my opinion, the Victorian era in Great Britain was the Golden Age
of the novel. Not only did the period produce many of our most admired
authors, but I find the relatively leisurely writing style of the
Victorians more suitable for recreational reading. And the variety!
The political and social frustrations of Trollope, the sly wit of
Thackeray, the great good cheer of early Dickens, the sensationalism
of Collins--there's something for every taste.

But in all my years of reading and collecting Victorian fiction and
nonfiction, I've never managed to find a comprehensive one-volume
reference like Sutherland's COMPANION. In this 696-page book there are
1,606 entries--878 writers, 554 novels (each one with a synopsis), 63
publishers, 47 magazines and periodicals, 26 illustrators, and 38
schools of writing and other miscellaneous items.

It is pertinent to note that John Sutherland is not the editor of the
COMPANION but the sole author, which lends a continuity to the entries
that the by-committee volumes almost never have. And we are fortunate
in that Sutherland's writing style is spare yet eminently readable,
making the COMPANION not only a valuable reference work, but an
enjoyable book for browsing as well.

Wandering through the COMPANION, I was struck by how many writers,
popular in their own day, are unheard of today. As Sutherland points
out in the Preface, the Victorian era was a much richer period for the
novel than most people realize, and his COMPANION goes a long way
toward setting the record straight.

THE STANFORD COMPANION TO VICTORIAN FICTION is an excellent volume of
literary reference, and it has earned a permanent place on my
nightstand for late-night browsing. Highly recommended. (The COMPANION
is $69.50 for hardcover, $17.95 for trade paperback. If your local
bookstore can't get it for you, you can contact the publisher at:
Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA 94305-2235.)

                       ************************

DADDY'S HOME
by Mike Clary
(ISBN 0-940495-23-6, 250 pages, $12.95 paperback)

Mike Clary writes with humor and honesty about his unique family life
as a live-at-home Dad and writer. He and his wife swap traditional
roles, and what Mike learns about himself and parenting will inspire
and enlighten all parents and prospective parents. A must for dual
career couples with, or contemplating children.

BROADWAY BY THE BAY: Thirty Years at the Coconut Grove Playhouse
by Carol Cohan
(ISBN 0-940495-00-7, 128 pages, $18.95 hardcover)
(ISBN 0-940495-01-5, $11.95 paperback)

For theater-goers everywhere it tells the story of one of America's
most important regional theaters, a theater which played a significant
role in the careers of stars like Tennessee Williams, Liza Minelli,
Ann Miller, and Alan Alda. Filled with anecdotes and behind the scenes
intrigue, this edition also includes a complete list of the more than
300 productions at the Playhouse.

Your local bookstore can order either of these books through Baker &
Taylor, or you can get them direct from the publisher at: The
Pickering Press, 2000 S. Dixie Hwy., Suite 115, Miami, FL 33133 (order
phone 1-800-642-PICK).

                       ************************

                  NTC's DICTIONARY OF LITERARY TERMS
                  by Kathleen Morner & Ralph Rausch
                  (1991, National Textbook Company)
                      review by Cindy Bartorillo

As an enthusiastic student in my very own Self-University (I borrow
the term from Charles D. Hayes' book, reviewed in RFP #13), I find
that to pursue the exploration of literature on one's own, three
elements are necessary: 1) as extensive a collection of classic
literature as you can afford (paperback editions are fine), 2) a
volume of historical overview, and 3) a dictionary of literary terms.
Since I'm not exactly new to this, I've managed to collect a variety
of these dictionaries. Some are too exhaustive and academic to be as
helpful as they might be, some are too superficial to be useful, and a
very few are just right. NTC's DICTIONARY is just right.

Just as you can't really enjoy a baseball game without knowing a ball
from a strike or a fastball from a knuckleball, your appreciation of
literature will always be limited if you don't know the language. What
are people talking about when they throw around words like imagery,
archetype, metaphor, and motif? What is a libretto? And, OK, maybe you
know enough to think of James Joyce when someone says "stream of
consciousness", but do you really understand what the term refers to?

One of the first terms I looked up in NTC's DICTIONARY was "literary
criticism", which led me to entry after entry, and I finally wound up
at "deconstruction", which was the first intelligible definition of
that word I've ever come across. And wouldn't you know it, it turns
out I've been practicing deconstructive criticism for years. It sure
helps when you know the language of the country you're living in.

Another great feature of NTC's DICTIONARY is their obvious effort to
explain each term in plain English, without making you look up half a
dozen other words in order to understand the definition of the term
you were interested in initially. And with their helpful "links" at
the ends of definitions, you can sit down to look up one word and find
yourself browsing through another term, and yet another. All by
itself, NTC's DICTIONARY will provide you with a good basic education
in literature (including poetry and drama, of course), with which you
can enjoy more of the other books on your shelves.

I've got a lovely trade paperback edition of NTC's DICTIONARY OF
LITERARY TERMS for a terrific $12.95, but I hear there is a hardcover
edition if you tend to be hard on your reference books. If your local
bookstore can't get you one, you can reach the publisher at: National
Textbook Company, 4255 West Touhy Avenue, Lincolnwood, IL 60646-1975.

                       ************************

Just wanted to remind you that you can get up-to-date Harlan Ellison
information, and have the opportunity to order Ellison merchandise
that never makes it to your local bookstore, by subscribing to "Rabbit
Hole", the newsletter of the Harlan Ellison Record Collection. Send $6
(U.S. funds only) for 4 issues to: The Harlan Ellison Record
Collection, PO Box 55548, Sherman Oaks, CA 91413-0548.

                       ************************

THE WOMAN WHO READ NOVELS AND PEACETIME
Two Novellas by Constance Urdang
(1990, Coffee House Press)

In THE WOMAN WHO READ NOVELS, the elderly Ruby reflects on her dreams
as a young immigrant in New York City in the late 1930s. Constance
Urdang's stark rendering of Ruby's tragic story contrasts the
dramatic, impassioned novels which have formed Ruby's vision of what
life should be.

In PEACE, three women friends and their extended families search for
"peace" in their emotional, domestic and political lives. Their
stories are presented as a narrative collage which pieces together
events from post-WWII to the present.

THE WOMAN WHO READ NOVELS AND PEACETIME (5.5 x 8.5 inches, 192 pages,
ISBN 0-918273-81-1, $9.95, paper, November 1990) is available directly
from the publisher. Send $9.95, plus $2 postage and handling, to:
Coffee House Press, 27 North Fourth Street, Suite 400, Minneapolis, MN
55401.
                       ************************

                             BOB RANDALL

Bob Randall is a name you might want to know about as you wander
around the bookstore. He writes funny, dramatic, suspenseful stories
that generally don't get anywhere near the attention they should. As
far as I know, his first novel was THE FAN, a 1977 novel that
anticipated the psycho-fan phenomenon that celebrities would soon have
to deal with. It was made into a movie with Lauren Bacall that didn't
really live up to the book's drama. I definitely recommend that you
read Randall's version.

Next came THE CALLING, a 1981 horror story about phone calls from
Hell. I'll admit to not caring for phones much to begin with, but THE
CALLING is enough to put anyone off phones for good. And the story has
this tantalizing BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID kind of
ending--where you know what's gotta happen, but you don't actually SEE
it happen. Really a great book that more people should know about.

Right about the same time there was THE NEXT, a 1981 novel with a
terrific premise: 10-year-old Charles suddenly begins growing at an
alarming rate, and his Aunt Kate, who is caring for him while his
mother is in the hospital, begins by tucking him in bed and winds up
sleeping with him. It's a fascinating and erotic story that
unfortunately derails about halfway through, as Randall seemed to run
out of ideas for his characters.

By the way, Bob Randall has also written plays, including one of my
favorites, 6 RMS RIV VU. Once again Randall was ahead of his time,
creating a THIRTYSOMETHING story many years before THE BIG CHILL. It
was done pretty well on TV one time, years ago, starring Alan Alda and
Carol Burnett. Randall also wrote THE MAGIC SHOW and ODD INFINITUM.

The really great news is that Bob Randall is now back on the shelves
at your local bookstore with THE LAST MAN ON THE LIST (1990, Pocket
Books), a nice affordable paperback that you have no excuse not to
buy. It's about Hal Fisher, the head writer of a popular TV sitcom
(that sounds remarkably like FAMILY TIES). He's married to a beautiful
young woman who is interested more in his money and status than in him
personally. One day Hal finds a list of men's names and addresses
hidden in her jewelry box, and he assumes it's a list of men she's
slept with. When he checks on the top few names, however, he finds
that the men are dead. Recently dead. When Hal finally finds a live
one, the man doesn't live long enough to get to a meeting with Hal.
Slowly but surely Hal realizes that this is not a good list to be on;
realizes it just before finding a NEW list--and (you guessed it) Hal
himself is now THE LAST MAN ON THE LIST.

Hal's story is told with great verve and considerable humor. At one
point he speculates that his troubles sound like a made-for-TV movie,
and he's right. THE LAST MAN ON THE LIST is meant to be gobbled like
popcorn, and is a lot of fun to read.

                       ************************

If you have an interest in professional journals and other serious
nonfiction in a particular field, a Haworth Press catalog might come
in handy. Ask for their catalog on: Social Work; Human Sexuality;
Aging; Addictions Treatment; Children & Youth; or Religion, Ministry &
Pastoral Care. The Haworth Press, 10 Alice Street, Binghamton, NY
13904-1580.

                       ************************

                    THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF BAD TASTE
                       by Jane & Michael Stern
                        (1990, HarperCollins)
                      review by Cindy Bartorillo

So why would someone want to read a book about bad taste? It initially
attracted my attention as a curiosity, a book that was probably just a
snide listing of what is now "out" (according to the "in" people), but
that might be a few laughs along the way. I'm sure this book wound up
being given as a "gag" gift more than once this past Christmas--but
it's a gag gift with a surprise: THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF BAD TASTE is
absorbing reading from cover to cover, and not at all the fluff that
the title leads you to expect.

THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF BAD TASTE forces the reader to realize that while
we may spend a lot of time talking about Van Gogh, Masterpiece Theater
and ecological responsibility, the tone and texture of our lives are
shaped more by things like: Hamburger Helper, Jello, Muzak, polyester,
artificial grass, and game shows. And that's the core of what's so
seductive about this book--it's 331 pages of text about people,
places, and things that, while they are as familiar to us as the
Twinkies in our pantry, they are subjects that are seldom, if ever,
discussed.

And that reminds me of another interesting aspect of TEofBT: instead
of just taking a hauty pose and whipping out the bon mots, the Sterns
seriously examine the phenomena they cover, exploring not just the
width and depth of the cultural artifact, but the WHY of it as well.
Why did women wear white lipstick? What was the attraction of Charo?
Who in the world watches professional wrestling?

THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF BAD TASTE is made up of 136 entries arranged
alphabetically from "Accordion Music" to "Zoot Suits". It's a
must-have for anyone over 30 with kids--valuable documentation of the
insanities of yesteryear that your children would never otherwise
believe (like feminine hygiene spray and Nehru jackets).

Another fun use for TEofBT is as a reference book. I looked up the
year of my birth in several standard references on a bookshelf nearby
and found these events had occurred that year:

Queen Elizabeth II was crowned
Marshal Tito was elected president of Yugoslavia
Edmund Hillary & Tenzing Norgay were the first to climb Mt. Everest

How boring! Now let's see what happened, that same year, according to
THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF BAD TASTE:

The National Twirling Hall of Fame was founded
Playboy magazine began publication
The Montgomery Ward catalogue offered a fake fur meant to look like a
poodle pelt
Zsa Zsa Gabor had a much-publicized physical fight with former lover
Porfirio Rubirosa
The Riviera casino opened in Las Vegas, paying Liberace $50,000 to
perform the first night
Jayne Mansfield came to Hollywood for the first time
Polyester was first produced in mass quantities
TUNA AS YOU LIKE IT was published by the Tuna Research Foundation

Now isn't that more interesting? You can't help but wonder if anyone
ever bought any of that poodle-pelt fabric. Would you want a chair
upholstered in Cocker Spaniel? Even FAKE Cocker Spaniel? And is there
still a Tuna Research Foundation somewhere, thinking up still more
uses for unfortunate fish?

THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF BAD TASTE is a comprehensive overview of 20th
century American culture disguised as easy reading--as funny, tragic,
excessive, and embarrassing as the American people themselves.

                       ************************

SLEEPING WITH A SUNFLOWER
A Treasury of Old-Time Gardening Lore
by Louise Riotte
(Garden Way, 224 pages, $7.95, ISBN 0-88266-502-2)
Cuddle up with what's likely to become the Farmer's Almanac of the
nineties. From best-selling gardening author Louise Riotte is pure
gardening folk wisdom: planting by the moon, fishing when and where
the bass will bite, and more. Wonderful charts, companion planting,
insect repellents, and herb uses.

HOSTING THE BIRDS
How to Attract Birds to Nest in Your Yard
by Jan Mahnken
(Garden Way, 200 pages, $10.95, ISBN 0-88266-525-1)
This beautifully illustrated book takes the reader beyond simplistic
instructions and shows how to enhance one's landscape to provide
nesting sites and habitat for a variety of birds, from hummingbirds to
owls. Part One discusses the various stages of the nesting cycle, from
courtship to migration. Part Two is a reference section containing
information on 175 species, including range, preferred habitat and
food, nesting site, clutch size, and incubation and nestling periods.
Part Three presents plans for birdhouses, nesting shelves, and nesting
boxes.

                       ************************

                      THE WELLNESS ENCYCLOPEDIA
      The Comprehensive Family Resource for Safeguarding Health
                        and Preventing Illness
     from the Editors of the University of California, Berkeley,
                           Wellness Letter
                       (1991, Houghton Mifflin)
                        review by Howard Frye

An invaluable reference work on all health-related subjects, THE
WELLNESS ENCYCLOPEDIA presents the state of medical knowledge today.
There are no trendy remedies here, no magazine-style "Fifty Fun Ways
to Excell With Hypertension", just clear and concise information. I
think Edward R. Tufte would approve of the easy-to-read typestyles and
the judicious use of color, sidebars, and illustrations, too. (A
review of Tufte's ENVISIONING INFORMATION appears elsewhere in this
issue.)

Part 1, Longevity, gives an overview of health management, starting
with a discussion, and a Self-Assessment Quiz, on health risks.
There are sections devoted to diet and exercise, cholesterol,
hypertension, smoking, and alcohol. This information will help you
make some major decisions on the basis of fact, not fear and
ignorance.

Part 2 covers Nutrition, with all the information you'll need to pick
the foods that are the best for you. I particularly appreciated the
sections on fiber, caffeine, and food additives, and The Wellness Food
Guide gives the straight scoop on just about any food you'll find at
the grocery store.

Part 3, Exercise, gives you a workout guide, discussing the various
activities to enhance your cardiovascular system, your strength, and
your flexibility. I got some good tips on these pages about how to
choose appropriate athletic shoes.

Part 4 is about Self-Care, the place to look up your specific health
problems or worries, and with a wonderful section on Common Diagnostic
Tests that will let you know what to expect. There is a section here
on AIDS, as well as information on other sexually transmitted
diseases, material that can be tough to dig out from other sources. I
thought the facts about minoxidil, that baldness drug, were
fascinating.

The most unusual section of THE WELLNESS ENCYCLOPEDIA is Part 5,
Environment and Safety, which covers not only airplane, boating, and
driving safety, but ventures into relatively new territory with
discussions of household toxins, computer screens, Lyme disease,
radon, passive smoke, noise pollution, and the ozone layer.

Possibly the most amazing aspect of THE WELLNESS ENCYCLOPEDIA is its
readability. Most health information is either given out in
dry-as-dust books or in pamphlets containing cartoon critters that
talk down to readers. I've had THE WELLNESS ENCYCLOPEDIA on my desk
for two weeks now and I've looked up half a dozen subjects as they've
come up in life. Each time I've gotten the answers I wanted, and I got
them fast, without having to pore through many pages of dense text.
It's hard not to browse in related sections, but you don't *have* to.

THE WELLNESS ENCYCLOPEDIA is well worth its $29.95 price, and this
oversize volume deserves a handy spot on your reference shelf. Highly
recommended to everyone who wants to take a more active role in their
physical, and mental, well-being.

                       ************************

For readers on a budget, Dover Publications has a line of classic
fiction, drama, and poetry in affordable $1 editions. That's not a
typo--$1. Here is what's available right now:

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
Complete Sonnets by William Shakespeare
The Raven and Other Poems by Edgar Allan Poe
The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov
The School for Scandal by Richard Brinsley Sheridan
Candide by Voltaire
Five Great Short Stories by Anton Chekhov
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
The Call of the Wild by Jack London
Bartleby and Benito Cereno by Herman Melville
Selected Poems by Emily Dickinson
The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam: First and Fifth Editions translated by
Edward Fitzgerald
A Shropshire Lad by A.E. Housman
Gunga Din and Other Favorite Poems by Rudyard Kipling
Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen
Arms and the Man by George Bernard Shaw
The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

See you local bookstore, or write for Dover's terrific catalog. Dover
Publications, Inc., 31 East 2nd Street, Mineola, NY 11501

                       ************************

VIETNAM REMEMBERED IN VERSE

On a recent visit to the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial in Washington, R.
Franklin Pate stood on the knoll overlooking the monument, and
realized that the Wall reminded him of a large, black *boomerang*. The
closer he came, the more the memories came flooding back.

"Vietnam is like that: we can throw it away, but it keeps coming back,
again, again, and again..."
--R. Franklin Pate, poet

You can get THE BOOMERANG POEMS by R. Franklin Pate, for $6 plus $2
shipping and handling, from Rowan Mountain Press, PO Box 10111,
Blacksburg, VA 24062-0111 (phone 703-961-3315).

                       ************************

                       ENVISIONING INFORMATION
                          by Edward R. Tufte
           (1990, Graphics Press, ISBN 0-961-3921-1-8, $48)
                      review by Cindy Bartorillo

We live in the Information Age, with vast quantities of data coming at
us from all sides: TV, radio, books, computers, newspapers, magazines,
telephones, signs, mail, maps, airline schedules, weather reports,
stock quotes, bills, conversation, menus, photographs... As more
people try to communicate more information to more other people,
effectiveness and efficiency become increasingly important. Which is
where Edward R. Tufte's book, ENVISIONING INFORMATION, comes to the
rescue. As he says:

"We envision information in order to reason about, communicate,
document, and preserve that knowledge--activities nearly always
carried out on two-dimensional paper and computer screen. Escaping
this flatland and enriching the density of data displays are the
essential tasks of information design."

For those of us involved with some form of communications, whether it
be designing computer software, creating visual aids for business
presentations, or putting together a literary news magazine,
ENVISIONING INFORMATION could be the most important book you'll read
this year. Not only does Mr. Tufte have much to say about what works
visually and what doesn't, everything, absolutely EVERYTHING, is
demonstrated with practical examples in the form of beautiful, finely
crafted illustrations.

We see different ways of displaying the periodic table of chemical
elements; a graphic timetable for a Java railroad line;
computer-plotted views of Californian air pollution; a chart of the
criminal offenses committed by several specific government informants
on organized crime; a beautifully-drawn map of midtown Manhattan in
which individual windows, telephone booths, and sidewalk planters are
visible; variously-scaled plottings of space debris; a diagram of the
innards of an IBM Series III Copier/Duplicator; an enormous hospital
bill, carefully translated for the lay reader; the cleverly-designed
diagrams in Oliver Byrne's 1847 edition of Euclid's GEOMETRY; examples
of poorly-designed computer screens, as well as more elegant and
efficient ideas; examples of good and bad map design; a satellite
photograph of Manhattan used as a map; numerous design ideas for
schedules and timetables; and many examples of the ways in which
choreography has been rendered on paper. There is also a discussion
about why the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial is laid out chronologically
instead of alphabetically.

Which brings me to my second point: ENVISIONING INFORMATION could
easily be the most beautiful volume to grace your humble bookshelves.
Thick, acid-free pages are copiously decorated with a wide variety of
graphic art, even a three-dimensional photograph you don't need
special glasses to appreciate.

Finally, ENVISIONING INFORMATION is a fascinating look behind the veil
for information consumers. You'll find out why some maps are harder to
read than others, and why, after years of practice, you STILL have
trouble reading an airline schedule. In response to those who claim
that some information displays are difficult to read because of the
complexity of the information, Tufte replies,

"Confusion and clutter are failures of design, not attributes of
information."

You'll see graphics that are nearly impossible to decode and graphs
where the information practically leaps out at you. You'll discover
that many of the designs you've been exposed to are what Tufte calls
"chartjunk".

A beautiful, useful, and fascinating book--easily one of the best
nonfiction titles of 1990. For your copy, contact the publisher at:
Graphics Press, Box 430, Cheshire, CT 06410.

                       ************************

Did you know that a McDonald's McD.L.T. hamburger sandwich, large
fries, and a milk shake has 1,290 calories, 13 teaspoons of fat, and
1,380 milligrams of sodium? You would if you had the "Fast Food Eating
Guide" wall chart from the Center for Science in the Public Interest
(CSPI). The chart compares the current calorie, fat, sodium, and sugar
content of over 250 popular foods and meals. Favorite foods offered by
more than a dozen restaurant chains, including McDonald's, Pizza Hut,
Dairy Queen, Taco Bell, Long John Silver's, and Burger King, are
included.

A unique aspect of CSPI's chart is the exclusive "GLOOM" rating for
each food. The GLOOM rating is a summary score that reflects a food's
content of fat, sodium, and refined sugar, as well as its vitamins and
minerals--the higher the GLOOM factor, the worse the food. CSPI's 18"
x 24" "Fast Food Eating Guide" is available by sending $4.95 (or $9.95
for a laminated, damage-resistant version) to: CSPI-Fast Food Eating
Guide, 1875 Connecticut Ave. NW #300, Washington, DC 20009. Special
prices are available for quantity purchases. (CSPI is a non-profit
health advocacy organization supported largely by its 230,000
members.)

                       ************************

This is from Andrew I. Porter's magazine SCIENCE FICTION CHRONICLE
(November, 1990):

"There are 3 types of readers: serious, who count the reading of
certain novels among the important experiences in their lives; plain,
who read what everyone else is reading; paperback, who browse novels
instead of actually reading them, according to Thomas J. Roberts,
author of THE ESTHETICS OF JUNK FICTION (University of Georgia Press).
He places fiction into 4 categories: Canonical, Serious, Plain and
Junk. Guess which category SF, fantasy and horror falls into? Right!
Roberts has a psychological profile of his 3 reader types. A serious
reader reads by author, a plain reader by the book, a paperback reader
by genre. Serious readers write about books, plain readers chat about
them, paperback readers read alone. Serious readers seek originality,
plain readers information, paperback readers gratification. Sounds
like SF/fantasy readers--or at least fans--mostly manage to fall
outside his neat pigeonholes."

Is everyone properly insulted? By the way, SCIENCE FICTION CHRONICLE
is $27 for 1 year, $51 for 2 years. Send check to Science Fiction
Chronicle, Box 2730, Brooklyn, NY 11202-0056.

                       ************************

                   WOULD THE BUDDHA WEAR A WALKMAN?
     A Catalogue of Revolutionary Tools for Higher Consciousness
                    by Judith Hooper & Dick Teresi
             (1990, Fireside, $16.95, ISBN 0-671-69373-5)
                      review by Cindy Bartorillo

If you're still optimistic enough to think that the quest for Higher
Consciousness has meaning, but are dismayed by all the crackpots and
nonsense out there, WOULD THE BUDDHA WEAR A WALKMAN? is the book you
need--a map through the forest of books, products, and ideologies.
There are ideas, sources, and products listed here for the ethereal,
out-of-body types, the mystic channeling types, the serene meditators,
the spiritual Goddess worshipers, the high-tech brain salon types, and
many, many others. What are the best books available about Lucid
Dreaming? How much will it cost to modify your brain waves with
electric goggles? Where should you go for the latest
consciousness-expanding computer programs? What are some of the major
alternative religious movements? What are scientists doing today with
"altered states of consciousness"? What are some of the leading Crazy
Conspiracy theories, and just how crazy are they? Answering these
questions, and a slew of similar ones, is what WOULD THE BUDDHA WEAR A
WALKMAN? is all about.

In slick, engaging prose the authors take the reader through the
entire supermarket of possibilities for "higher" consciousness, always
with a light tone and touch. Gentle fun is poked at everything, making
the book fun to read, and making it difficult to take offense when
they take the occasional potshot at your favorite subjects. This book
would make the perfect gift for someone who likes to keep up with more
than just Wall Street and the latest hairstyles. Someone like you, for
instance. With all the hundreds of "tools" covered, some you will find
blatantly silly, some will be thought-provoking, and some will
probably lead you to further reading and possible life-changing
insights. No matter what your orientation, you're sure to find
something of value in WOULD THE BUDDHA WEAR A WALKMAN?

                       ************************

              THE COMPLETE JAMES BOND MOVIE ENCYCLOPEDIA
                         by Steven Jay Rubin
         (1990, Contemporary Books, $25, ISBN 0-8092-4161-7)

Here is the book that James Bond fans have been waiting for--the
absolutely definitive, totally complete encyclopedia! While exploring
the Bond mythology in depth, this comprehensive guide discusses the
identities and backgrounds of the many film characters, including the
actors who have played Agent 007 (from Sean Connery to Timothy Dalton)
and the numerous leading ladies who have graced the Bond films. It
also takes an in-depth look at the filmmakers, set designers,
stuntmen, high-tech secret weapons, intriguing plots, and exotic
settings for each Bond film, from DR. NO to LICENSE TO KILL.

Did you know that 20.003 grams is the individual weight of Francisco
Scaramanga's golden bullets? Have you heard about the infamous "garlic
incident" between Diana Rigg and George Lazenby? Do you know the name
of the only actress to play two different characters in two different
films?

In addition to answering these kinds of questions, THE COMPLETE JAMES
BOND MOVIE ENCYCLOPEDIA is invaluable for more standard types of film
information. For each film you get a complete (and I do mean complete)
list of cast and crew, and there is an entry for each actor and
actress, putting their James Bond film role into the broader
perspective of their careers. Couple this with Rubin's critical
appraisals and his behind-the-scenes journalism and you have a book
with everything the James Bond fan needs and wants to know.

Steven Jay Rubin is a film historian and a devoted James Bond himself,
and is the author of THE JAMES BOND FILMS: A BEHIND-THE-SCENES
HISTORY. He lives in Los Angeles.

                       ************************

"I am forever reading books prefaced by writers praising the
patience-and-forbearance of their wives and frequently giving them
credit for reading, correcting and even rewriting every single word. I
am amazed: I had thought that the editor's job. So that I hereby
dedicate this book to Esther Whitby and Howard Davies in London and
Michele Slung in New York. My own wife does nothing like other people
and quarreled with me during every day of the writing. When it was
finished, she refused pointblank to read the book. But since she has
been the beat of my heart for 37 years I must add: 'To Renee.'"
---Nicolas Freeling (the dedication of THOSE IN PERIL)


                       *-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
                       *                     *
                       *  FRIGHTFUL FICTION  *
                       *                     *
                       *-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

                        Editor:  Annie Wilkes

---------------------------------------------------------------------
Frightful Fiction is a division of Reading For Pleasure, published
bimonthly. This material is NOT COPYRIGHTED and may be used freely by
all. Catalogs, news releases, review copies, or donated reviews should
be sent to:  Reading For Pleasure, 103 Baughman's Lane, Suite 303,
Frederick, MD 21702.
---------------------------------------------------------------------

FEATURED AUTHOR:
                           CHET WILLIAMSON

Chet Williamson was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in 1948 and now
lives in Elizabethtown with his wife and son. Though he sold his first
story only 10 years ago, his fiction has already appeared in The New
Yorker (a humorous piece), Playboy, The Magazine of Fantasy and
Science Fiction, Twilight Zone, the New Black Mask, and in many
anthologies. He has earned his reputation as one of the finest horror
writers working today. Below you will find a list of all of Chet
Williamson's novels, along with a brief description or review, as well
as listings of some of his short stories.


                              "Offices"
              (in TWILIGHT ZONE Magazine, October 1981)

This was Chet Williamson's first sale.


                              SOULSTORM
                                (1986)

"Williamson has created a dark gem of a novel, the kind of terrifying
story that compels you to finish it."
                    ---WEST COAST REVIEW OF BOOKS

"I had to work on a relatively small scale with that book [SOULSTORM],
because I didn't want to get lost in a large cast of characters and
many locations. So I thought the classic haunted-house story would be
a good place to start. It's a real head-bashing horror kind of thing,
not too subtle, but I think a lot of fun."
                          ---Chet Williamson


                            ASH WEDNESDAY
                             (1987, Tor)

Merridale's dead have returned. All hell is about to break loose.

Scattered through the streets and homes of Merridale are glowing,
transparent blue forms, frozen in their death agonies. They do not
speak--and are all the more terrifying for their silence.

"A rich, carefully constructed novel about the ravages of guilt and
the real horror of life. The brew is grim, unrelenting, and
compelling."
                          ---FANTASY REVIEW

"Disturbing, challenging...a cold, hard look at the terrors of death,
ghosts, and madness...a haunting vision of purgatory on earth."
                          ---Ramsey Campbell

"What I wanted to do was a passive horror story, in which there are no
monsters, no things that come after you. The situation is that one day
a small town wakes up to discover that all its dead have returned as
semi-transparent, naked wraiths. They don't move. They don't speak.
The entire action of the book is dependent on the reactions of the
people in the town to these intimations of mortality."
                          ---Chet Williamson

[ASH WEDNESDAY was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award by the Horror
Writers of America. See the RFP review of ASH WEDNESDAY in RFP #12,
line 2017.]


                           McKAIN'S DILEMMA
                             (1988, Tor)
                        review by Annie Wilkes

"I write a lot about the way one approaches death, and confronts his
own mortality. The clearest example of that theme is McKAIN'S DILEMMA.
It's also my shortest novel, and my tightest. For those who haven't
read me before, that might be a good place to start, even though it's
not a horror novel."
                          ---Chet Williamson

McKain is a private investigator with a wife he's very close to and a
seven-year-old daughter he adores. As the story begins, McKain is
hired by Carlton Runnells to find Christopher Townes, a lover of his
who has disappeared. Runnells is very wealthy, thanks to a 5-year
marriage to a much older rich widow, and is in love with Townes, who
lives with a violent and jealous man with mob connections. When Townes
disappears, Runnells is worried. McKain doesn't have to do anything
but locate Townes and make sure he's still alive and well, which he
does. When Townes is brutally murdered the next day, McKain suspects
that his client is responsible. Runnells finally confesses, but says
that Townes knowingly gave him AIDS, which Runnells' appearance
confirms, and which McKain can easily understand since he just found
out he has a virulent form of leukemia. Since Runnells is dying
anyway, McKain decides to keep quiet about the evidence he knows of
that connects his client to the murder. Imagine his surprise when he
finds Runnells a year later, in the very pink of health. Runnells now
tells the whole story, of how he brutally murdered his wife for gain
and Townes for personal security. Now McKain must face the dilemma
promised in the title:  how can he bring down Runnells without ruining
his own career/reputation/life?

As a subplot, McKain faces a second dilemma at home. To protect his
family from his impending death, he tries to distance himself from
them, but this is only causing everyone a separate agony. How can you
hug your family close, and yet die alone? Williamson has written a
short, spare story with no fat in it anywhere. The characters are very
real and their emotions are made vivid. As with ASH WEDNESDAY, the
author has set two men on a collision course, with the resulting
explosion forming the climax of the novel. Williamson has said that
McKAIN'S DILEMMA makes a good introduction to his books, and I
wouldn't argue. It's a fast-paced and intriguing story about a man
juggling life, death, and integrity.

"...a suspense novel set in Lancaster County where I live. That was an
attempt to create a very realistic private eye."
                          ---Chet Williamson


                    "Return of the Neon Fireball"
          (1988, in SILVER SCREAM edited by David J. Schow)

Mike Price is going to buy an old, run-down drive-in theater,
refurbish it, and make the Fifties live again. Or are the Fifties
coming back to get him?


                            LOWLAND RIDER
                             (1988, Tor)

Jesse Gordon lives in New York City, on the trains and in the tunnels
of the subway system. Jesse, a young businessman, has been driven mad
with despair after the brutal murder of his wife and child by common
thugs. Hellbent on revenge, Jesse disappears into the weird and awful
darkness beneath the city's streets, forever abandoning the light of
day.

The world below is stranger and darker than even Jesse's twisted mind
can imagine. There is a pattern to the horrible, bestial crimes he
sees committed. An eerie, inhuman figure dressed in white is the
center of terrible evil.

Jesse Gordon's quest for vengeance forces him into a confrontation
with the ultimate source of a horror older than time.

"...a descent-into-Hell story, in this case Hell being the New York
subway system, which I certainly look on as pretty hellish."
                          ---Chet Williamson


                            "Blood Night"
        (1989, in HOT BLOOD edited by Jeff Gelb & Lonn Friend)

Wet dreams can seem so very REAL sometimes, and Richard Bell is about
to learn that fantasies can be fatal.


           "'Yore Skin's Jes's Soft 'n Purty...' He Said."
 (1989, in RAZORED SADDLES edited by Joe R. Lansdale & Pat LoBrutto)

An almost-traditional story about a man who longs for the Wide Open
Spaces, where a man can be his own kind of man. But watch out for the
splattery ending and the absolutely perfect last line. This short
story was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award.


                              DREAMTHORP
                             (1989, Avon)

A sleepy little Pennsylvania resort town where city folks can get away
from it all....A town where a woman who saw her best friend mutilated
by a crazed sex killer can hide--and forget....until haunted relics of
another age awaken an ancient evil and unleash a human horror that has
no place outside of Hell...

"DREAMTHORP is a winner...packed with enough cool chills and bloody
horror for two novels!"
                          ---F. Paul Wilson

"A lot more graphic and explicit than anything I've done to date. It
had to be, because I was dealing with a sociopathic killer. In that
one, also, the protagonist turned out to be a woman. I hadn't intended
that, but she took over the book, and I was very glad. The story is
ultimately her triumph."
                          ---Chet Williamson


                           NIGHT VISIONS 7
        edited by Stanley Wiater, illustrated by Charles Lang
                         (1989, Dark Harvest)
                        review by Annie Wilkes

Chet's work made up one third of this volume, and included the
following stories:

"Blue Notes" -- A pleasant enough mood piece, but it struck me as
contrived, as if the author thought of the ending, or maybe just the
title, and then tried to come up with a story that fit.

"The Confession of St. James" -- Stanley Wiater called this novella
"one of the most unforgettable portraits of a flesh-eating Methodist
minister as you might ever hope to meet". I agree, and was also
impressed by the style of the story--the author adopted a different
vocabulary and rhythm for this minister's confession. The words are
ever-so-slightly stilted and the tone is careful, plodding, and a bit
fussy. "Confessions" was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award.

"Assurances of the Self-Extinction of Man" -- Chet Williamson calls
this "the most depressing eighty words I've ever written", which gives
you a fair idea of the piece.


"It's kind of tough to survive when your books are placed in
that--dare I say--horror ghetto, where there are fifty of those books
out on the shelves, and they all look the same, and your last name
starts with W."
                          ---Chet Williamson


                                REIGN
                  illustrated by John & Laura Lakey
                         (1990, Dark Harvest)
                        review by Annie Wilkes

In the Overture of REIGN (appropriately laid out in the format of a
musical stage play), we meet our hero (Dennis), our heroine (Ann), the
other major characters of the impending drama, and just the barest
hint of the villain (the Emperor).

During the course of Act I we meet all the major characters of REIGN
and start our mental map of their connections and interactions. Dennis
Hamilton has spent 25 years as an actor but is known almost
exclusively for his first role: as the lead of a musical play called A
PRIVATE EMPIRE in which he played the Emperor. It was a hit on
Broadway, toured for years and, after a very successful revival much
later, Dennis became the first actor to win two Tony awards for the
same role in the same play. It now appears that when Dennis speaks of
acting as a creative art, he's more accurate than he knows: the
Emperor has split off and become a separate entity, a creature who
feeds off of Dennis' own emotions and life force. Unfortunately for
the people in Dennis' life, the Emperor represents the more unpleasant
side of the Dennis/Emperor meld--I might say the "Dark Half" (with a
nod to Stephen King, who has also used the same idea recently).

Dennis is trying to start a new life in an old theater (or "theatre",
as REIGN spells it). He is renovating the old Venetian Theatre in
Kirkland, Pennsylvania, where A PRIVATE EMPIRE began, and will produce
and direct original musicals in an attempt to breathe life into a
stagnant American artform. The cast of REIGN includes Dennis and his
wife Robin, his manager John and John's secretary Donna, personal
assistant Sid, stage manager Curt and his assistant Tommy, old flame
Ann and her daughter Terri, Dennis' son Evan, costume designer
Marvella and her granddaughter Whitney, and the cleaning crew of Abe
and Harry.

Not all of them will live to see the end of REIGN--one won't last 50
pages. Soon Dennis, and his remaining supporters, will be locked in a
showdown with his alter ego.

REIGN is Chet Williamson's best novel yet; a thrilling page-turner
that combines the best of old-fashioned gothic fiction with a very
modern perspective that makes the whole story seem fresh and vibrant.
I particularly liked the theatrical structure of the novel--the first
act curtain is spectacular. REIGN will very likely turn out to be one
of the best horror novels of the 1990s.


                           "His Two Wives"
             (1990, in INIQUITIES magazine, Autumn 1990)

A change of pace story that reads more like Poe than Williamson's
usual more modern prose.


                         WEIRD TALES Magazine
                             (Fall 1990)

This was a Special Chet Williamson Issue, and contained an interview
with C.W. conducted by Darrell Schweitzer as well as "Jabbie Welsh"
(She was crazy before she died...and she's just as crazy now.), "The
Heart's Desire", and "The Treasure of the Nassasalars".

"A lot of people have said that they write horror primarily to scare
the reader. I don't. That's one of the furthest things from my mind.
If the reader wants to be scared and my books keep him awake at night,
that's fine, because it shows that I've touched inside them. But
primarily what I want to do is write a novel, and I don't especially
care if it's a horror novel or not. But because of the way I think,
that's what it's probably going to be. What I'm mainly concerned with
are my characters, and their problems, and the way they solve them.
Primarily I want to tell a good story with characters that are going
to interest the reader from the beginning and make him or her stay
with me till the end."
                          ---Chet Williamson

                       ************************

                          THE LOOK OF HORROR
                   Scary Moments from Scary Movies
                        by Jonathan Sternfield
                        (1990, Running Press)
                        review by Annie Wilkes

Here is a book that is an unusually nice blend of pictures and text:
the pictures predominate, but the text holds up well as thoughtful and
enjoyable commentary. Sternfield takes up 70 horror movies, some
classics, some barely watchable, but all significant in some way. Each
entry of Sternfield's commentary is accompanied by one or more stills
from the film--indeed, the whole book is oversized, printed on slick
paper, and the vast majority of space is given over to the photographs
(yet the book is only $14.98).

Such classic movie stills! A closeup of Boris Karloff as Ardath Bey
(aka The Mummy). Another of him as Frankenstein's monster. (Sternfield
says that, according to makeup man Jack Pierce, those weren't bolts on
either side of his neck, they were electric plugs.) A mature Alien,
dripping alien-goo. Rod Taylor being screamed at by a crow. The
Amityville house with the two quarter-circle upstairs windows aglow.
Chucky with his knife (and Cro-Magnon eyebrows that I had never
noticed before). Such wonderful movie memories.

Chances are that your favorite movies are here, along with some you
may not have seen yet. (I've still never seen THE OLD DARK HOUSE.) I
found Sternfield's opinions to be generally very canny; which means,
of course, that his opinions agree with mine more often than not.
Here's a sampling:

Don Siegel's INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS: "The film has been
endlessly analyzed, and is seen as an indictment of 1950s conformity.
Whatever it means, it's scary, and one watches it with the creepy
feeling that some of the people one knows are like this [devoid of
emotion], and that the takeover may already be happening."

THE BLOB: "In his first cinematic role, Steve McQueen steps to the
fore as one tough character, a man clearly able to stand up to
amorphous aliens."

THE HOWLING: "But, overall, the film's campy quality too often
distances viewers from the story's horrific possibilities. It IS the
genre's first glimpse of mating werewolves, and that's a howl. If they
would have just given those guys a little more...respect."

HALLOWEEN: "What makes this nightmare stand out is not the story but
the telling, the almost perverse trickery of John Carpenter's
direction."

THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: "Even after all the slasher films that
have followed in its wake, this movie remains one of the most
horrifying visions ever put on film."

JAWS: "The combination of Bob Mattey's mechanical shark, footage of
actual great whites, Verna Fields's editing, John Williams's score,
and Steven Spielberg's direction yields horrific action sequences of
remarkable power. The seashore hasn't been the same since."

THE LOST BOYS: "Neither truly scary nor funny, THE LOST BOYS manages
to by stylish, but to little purpose."

THE LOOK OF HORROR makes a great addition to any horror bookshelf, and
is an economical present for movie buffs and horror fans on your gift
list. Try your local bookstore, but if they can't help you, you can
send the $14.98 (plus $1.50 shipping per book) to the publishers at:
Running Press, 125 South Twenty-Second St., Philadelphia, PA 19103.

                       ************************

                            JOHN STANLEY'S
             REVENGE OF THE CREATURE FEATURES MOVIE GUIDE
          Third Revised Edition - Coded for Video Cassettes
                   (1988, Creatures At Large Press)
                      review by Cindy Bartorillo

I've got Halliwell's and Ebert's movie guides as well as Tom Wiener's
BOOK OF VIDEO LISTS, but as a horror film buff, my shelf is just not
complete without Stanley's CREATURE FEATURES MOVIE GUIDE. Inside you
get almost 4,000 small write-ups of horror, science fiction, and
fantasy movies, many of them movies that most guide-writers wouldn't
be caught dead watching.

You get everything you need to know: title, date, notable credits,
plot summary, Stanley's opinion, and a "(VC)" notation if it's
available on videocassette. And the whole book is liberally laced with
black & white movie stills. My copy cost $11.95 a couple of months ago
($12.95 if you order through the mail), which makes this 420-page
guide a Best Movie Buy. It should be available at any specialty book
store, or you can write to the publishers: Creatures At Large Press,
PO Box 687, Pacifica, CA 94044.

                       ************************

                           BEST NEW HORROR
              edited by Stephen Jones & Ramsey Campbell
    (1990, Carroll & Graf, 416 pages, $18.95, ISBN 0-88184-630-9)
                      review by Cindy Bartorillo

Here's a valuable anthology for the horror enthusiast, not only
because of the many fine horror stories within, but because, being a
bit slanted toward the British, there are a number of stories (and
authors) that Americans would not otherwise be exposed to. This is
planned to be a regular yearly anthology, and after reading this first
volume, I'm anxious for the series to continue.

The "Introduction: Horror in 1989" by the editors provides valuable
wideband coverage of horror in all its artforms: books of all kinds,
movies, television, comics, magazines, and awards. This is an
excellent place to get a reading list, even if they do misspell James
Ellroy and Gary Brandner.

The first selection is Robert McCammon's "Pin", a short and painful
view of crazy from the inside. "The House on Cemetery Street" by
Cherry Wilder is an effective holocaust tale that manages to be
bone-chilling without ever entering a death camp or meeting a Nazi.
Stephen Gallagher's "The Horn" is a wonderfully atmospheric winter
story. I read it in the middle of a winter's night, and by the end I
was jumping at every small noise. The idiosyncratic style of Alex
Quiroba's "Breaking Up" put me off at first, but turned out to be
perfect for depicting the mental disintegration of the lead character.

Editor Ramsey Campbell's contribution, "It Helps If You Sing" is a
nasty little piece about a depressing future world and the walking
dead who inhabit it. You'll think you're watching an old Twilight Zone
episode when you read "Closed Circuit" by Laurence Staig. A terrifying
view of the future where our consumerism has reached the next stage of
its evolution. The story has a particular resonance during the
Christmas season when I read it.

"Carnal House" by Steve Rasnic Tem is a gruesome, appropriately-titled
mood piece. Kim Newman's "Twitch Technicolor" envisions a high-tech,
nightmarish future in which the art of colorizing movies has reached a
new level of wizardry. In "Lizaveta", author Gregory Frost gives us a
newly-written story that is effectively told in the style of old
European legends. It reminds me of Hawthorne and LeFanu. One of my
favorites, the story that scared me the most, was Donald Burleson's
"Snow Cancellations", which derives all of its terror from as quietly
beautiful a phenomenon as a snowstorm.

Of the less successful pieces, there is "Archway" by Nicholas Royle, a
depressing story about poverty. And "The Strange Design of Master
Rignolo" by Thomas Ligotti, a surreal tale that was too obscure for
me. But we get back on track with Chet Williamson's "...To Feel
Another's Woe", about vampire-like beings on the New York stage. You
can see the seeds of his novel REIGN here.

Another favorite of mine was "The Last Day of Miss Dorinda Molyneaux"
by Robert Westall, an entertaining tale of the unquiet dead. We get a
variation of Richard Connell's famous "The Most Dangerous Game" with
"No Sharks in the Med" by Brian Lumley in which pampered city people
face physical danger while on vacation in Greece. "Mort Au Monde" by
D.F. Lewis was too subtle, too fractional for me to appreciate, but
Thomas Tessier's "Blanca" is a chilling story about one of life's
all-to-real horrors. "The Eye of the Ayatollah" by Ian Watson is a
metaphorical story about vision and reality. Followers of the
Ayatollah won't like this one either.

The longest story in the anthology, and the most fun, is Karl Edward
Wagner's "At First Just Ghostly", where you'll find lots of action,
lots of horror-writer "in" jokes, and very smooth writing. The editors
say that this is part of a novel that the author has been working
on--I hope so because I'd love to find out what happens next. As an
aside, this tale contains more alcohol consumption than I've seen
anywhere outside of a Fredric Brown story. And, just in case you
thought BEST NEW HORROR was running low on gore, they finish with "Bad
News" by Richard Laymon, an extremely grisly story about a
not-so-average day in the suburbs.

The anthology finishes with a Necrology of 1989 by Stephen Jones and
Kim Newman (the same pair that gave us HORROR: 100 BEST BOOKS)--a list
of notable people who died, divided into Authors/Artists,
Actors/Actresses, and Film/TV Technicians. This is a great start for
the series: it's part literary survey, part reference work, and I
found it to be about 75% great reading. Recommended.

                       ************************

                            CEMETERY DANCE
                              Fall 1990
                        review by Peter Quint

This was another superb issue, with a nice balance between short
stories and columns. Here's a rundown on the specifics:

"Depth of Reflection" by David L. Duggins -- As powerful a
psycho-killer story as you could ask for, with more plot than many
novel-length works, all in five magazine pages. First rate.

"The Gift" by Jessica Palmer -- This is the story you read to
counteract the syrupy sweet taste of O. Henry's "The Gift of the
Magi". These are the gifts that the modern urban poor exchange. A
great story to slit your wrists to.

There's an extensive profile of writer F. Paul Wilson (THE KEEP, THE
TOMB, THE TOUCH, REBORN) by T. Liam McDonald that is fascinating and
informative, and added two new books to my reading list.

"Talk Dirty To Me" by Barry Hoffman is both chilling and sad, about an
obscene phone caller and his current victim.

Edward Bryant is certainly one of the finest celebrity horror
reviewers today, but nowadays he also seems to be the ONLY celebrity
horror reviewer. Here is another fine column in which he discusses
Stephen King, Dan Simmons, Nancy A. Collins, Lawrence Watt-Evans, and
Al Sarrantonio.

The interview with J.N. Williamson offers a welcome peek at the man
behind a much-seen byline. And then there's the column called
"Gormania" by Ed Gorman, who tells us that while fictional ghosts may
do OK, the life of the ghost-writer isn't as fun as it sounds.

There's an excerpt from a new novel by Brian Hodge called NIGHTLIFE, a
story that mixes the perils of drug trafficking with the supernatural
terrors of a potent new drug called skullfish.

"Art Is Anything You Can Get Away With" by Stefan Jackson is not so
much a horror story as it is a grisly mystery, and very enjoyable. It
concerns tattoos as an artform--tattoos on skin that is NOT on a
person (originally it was, but not any more). Here's another artistic
endeavor that the National Endowment for the Arts would never pay for.
Stefan Jackson is another writer to watch for.

Joe Citro interviews John McCarty (THE OFFICIAL SPLATTER MOVIE GUIDE),
and we find that McCarty watches his movies in his 22 x 22 home office
on a Sony 52-inch projection television. (Can you imagine turning off
all the lights and watching a 52-inch version of your scariest movie,
at night, all alone?)

"The Mole" by David Niall Wilson is a tense story about the
psychological rigors of war. Paul Sammon's movie column, "Rough Cuts",
explains the pros and cons of being a film's "unit publicist". And
then there's another of A.R. Morlan's great horror movie trivia
quizzes.

Toward the end of the magazine there's another book review column,
Lori Perkins' "Dreadful Pleasures". It's a nicely written review, but
unfortunately it covers the very same book that Ed Bryant wrote the
bulk of his column about--FOUR PAST MIDNIGHT by Stephen King. Surely
there are enough horror books published that a quarterly magazine
doesn't have to print duplicate reviews.

Gary A. Braunbeck's novella "To His Children In Darkness" is an
interesting mythological tale; fun to read even if the plot had a few
holes. (I didn't understand why there were 3 Furies and 5 dead boys.)

Cemetery Dance leaves another great issue with the promise of more
goodies in the Winter Issue (#7). It's a Joe R. Lansdale Special, with
both Lansdale fiction and a Lansdale interview. There will also be
previews of HOT BLOOD II, Joe Citro's DARK TWILIGHT, a new column from
Matthew Costello, and fiction from Graham Masterton and Ronald Kelly.
Cemetery Dance is $15 for 4 quarterly issues, $25 for 8. Make your
check out to Richard T. Chizmar and send it to: Cemetery Dance, PO Box
858, Edgewood, MD 21040.

                       ************************

                         HOUSES WITHOUT DOORS
                           by Peter Straub
                            (1990, Dutton)
                        review by Annie Wilkes

"Think about what reading a book is really LIKE. A novel, I
mean--you're reading a novel. What's happening? You're in another
world, right? Somebody made it, somebody selected everything in it,
and so suddenly you're not in your apartment anymore, you're walking
along this mountain road, or you're sitting on top of a horse. You
look out and you see things. What you see is partly what the guy put
there for you to see, and partly what you make up on the basis of
that. Everything means something, because it was all chosen.
Everything you see, touch, feel, smell, everything you notice and
everything you think, is organized to take you somewhere. Do you see?
Everything GLOWS!"
                     ---from "The Buffalo Hunter"

"Sanity was what took over when you got too tired for anything else."
                               ---Ibid.

Short stories have a "put up or shut up" quality about them. In a
longer piece a writer can dither long enough to convince at least some
readers that there was more there than there actually was. But in a
short story, pretense isn't possible. The six stories and seven brief
"interludes" in HOUSES WITHOUT DOORS give us a clearer look at Peter
Straub than we've ever had in all of his bestselling novels (KOKO,
GHOST STORY, THE TALISMAN with Stephen King, and most recently
MYSTERY), and it becomes obvious what a fine storyteller he really is.

The six longer stories in HOUSES WITHOUT DOORS divided themselves
neatly into two groups, in my opinion. The first three were less
successful, if only in comparison to the last. "Blue Rose", the best
of the three, is an unpleasant story about a perfectly poisonous
little boy named Harry Beevers (who can also be found in Straub's
novel KOKO). "The Juniper Tree" is another involving story about
childhood trauma, but it was marred for me by an indeterminate ending.
And "A Short Guide to the City" is very interesting, but is a couple
of quarts low on plot.

The last three stories are simply wonderful. "The Buffalo Hunter" is
my favorite--an unforgettable story with much to say about parents,
children, big cities, happiness, security, and the lure of literature.
The aptly-named Bunting, plagued by toxic parents, loneliness, and the
city of New York, finds comfort in baby bottles and novels. Straub's
descriptions of the reading experience are brilliant. "The Buffalo
Hunter" is the one tale in HOUSES WITHOUT DOORS that has a genuine
sense of closure, a definite and satisfying ending. "Something About
Death, Something About a Fire" is a surreal little piece, a bit like
an inkblot. (What do YOU see in it?) And, bringing up the rear, is the
masterful "Mrs. God". William Standish seeks career advancement,
knowledge, and understanding, but his chosen path leads him directly
into a magical realm not found on any map. Once he's found his way to
Esswood, will he ever find his way back out? It's a dreamy, intense
atmospheric piece that takes place in an old English mansion that is
possibly diabolical and most certainly haunted.

----------------------------------------------------------------

By the way, if you like "Mrs. God", you'll be interested to know that
the version in HOUSES WITHOUT DOORS is not the original. The original
story was longer and has been published by Donald M. Grant (the same
one who does Stephen King's DARK TOWER series). The Grant book is
illustrated with paintings in full color by Rick Berry. A special
limited edition of 600 copies is signed by both author and artist,
bound in leather, with a linen slipcase, for $65. A hardcover trade
edition is also available, with the Berry illustrations, for $30.

"Besides being quite a bit longer, this version of MRS. GOD is
different in a thousand stylistic and thematic details from the later
one included in my collection HOUSES WITHOUT DOORS. In at least one
sense, it is "purer"---that is, closer to my original intentions. It
represents MRS. GOD as I originally intended it to be, an enigmatic,
bizarre, dream-like experience in which most of the usual narrative
signposts and road maps are inaccurate, concealed, or missing
altogether."
---Peter Straub

You can get the expanded MRS. GOD from Donald M. Grant by sending your
check for the cover price listed above, plus $2 shipping per order, to
Donald M. Grant, Publisher, Inc., PO Box 187, Hampton Falls, NH 03844.

                       ************************

                            DARK DREAMERS
               Conversations With the Masters of Horror
                          by Stanley Wiater
                             (1990, Avon)
                        review by Annie Wilkes

I had been looking forward to this book for over a year, being
familiar with Wiater's interviews from the old Twilight Zone magazine
and his "Cineteratology" column in the much-missed Horrorstruck
magazine. The main attraction of Wiater's interviews are, 1) he does
his homework, and 2) he's a fan. When he asks questions, they are
often very specific, because he's not only read this author's works
and can discuss them intimately, he's also widely-read in the field in
general which allows him to place the author's works in context. What
all this means to the reader of his reviews is that you get a chance
at enhanced understanding, not just fannish trivia.

The authors interviewed are: Clive Barker, Robert Bloch, Gary
Brandner, Ramsey Campbell, Les Daniels, Dennis Etchison, John Farris,
Charles L. Grant, James Herbert, Stephen King & Peter Straub, Dean R.
Koontz, Joe R. Lansdale, Richard Laymon, Graham Masterton, Richard
Matheson, Robert R. McCammon, David Morrell, Anne Rice, John Saul,
John Skipp & Craig Spector, Whitley Strieber, Chet Williamson, J.N.
Williamson, Gahan Wilson.

On the down side, there's the typography, which is cramped---I sure
wish they could've added about 50 pages to the existing 227 and had a
tiny bit of space between questions and answers. And then there are
Wiater's sentences, which have a slight tendency to lose themselves
midway:

"For with the exception of two books, Farris has written screenplays
for--or has options on--such popular titles as SHARP PRACTICE,
SHATTER, THE UNINVITED, NIGHTFALL, and SON OF THE ENDLESS NIGHT."

DARK DREAMERS makes very interesting reading, and I particularly liked
seeing some important questions thrown at almost all of the writers,
like the place of gore in modern horror and how their workday is laid
out. It's fascinating to see these questions answered by a whole group
of authors, one after the other. Some of the answers are surprising.
Wiater says in the beginning that he realizes everyone will complain
about certain writers being left out, but that he had to stop
somewhere and actually produce the book. For the record, the authors I
particularly missed are: T.E.D. Klein, David J. Schow, Edward Bryant,
Ray Garton, F. Paul Wilson, and Karl Edward Wagner.

                       ************************

"I think that [Stephen] King amplified and perfected something that
Richard Matheson first pioneered with his classic novel I AM LEGEND:
King took horror out of the dungeon and brought it to the small town,
the suburbs, and the malls. He made the genre immediately accessible
to people who may have been turned off by horror because of its
traditionally baroque trappings."
      ---Stephen Spignesi (author of THE SHAPE UNDER THE SHEET:
                    THE STEPHEN KING ENCYCLOPEDIA)

                       ************************

                          UNIVERSAL HORRORS
                The Studio's Classic Films, 1931-1946
              by Michael Brunas, John Brunas, Tom Weaver
   (1990, McFarland & Company, Inc., Box 611, Jefferson, NC 28640)
                      review by Cindy Bartorillo

If your taste in horror films goes beyond the ordinary, you could be
ready for UNIVERSAL HORRORS. Every picture marketed as "horror" during
Universal Studio's classic era is given the serious consideration that
genre films so seldom get from the popular media. I think I can safely
guarantee that you'll be glad you splurged for this mammoth 616-page
$45 volume. You can rent as many of the films as you can find at your
local video rental, and keep this book handy to enrich your viewing
experience.

You'll find fascinating background details here. For instance, on THE
BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, Jack Pierce made $450 for his makeup, James
Whale took home $15,000, Boris Karloff $12,500, Colin Clive $6,000 and
Ernest Thesiger $3,000. Isn't that amazing? This is the makeup that
they've defended their exclusive rights to for all these years, and
they only paid $450 for it in the first place! I also enjoyed the
biographies that are hidden amongst the commentary, like the
continuing saga of Bela Lugosi's so-close-and-yet-so-far-away career.
The authors' opinions are fun to argue with too:

"While popular in its own era, the novel DRACULA is a crashing bore
today..."

The critical opinions are vigorous and often cranky, but never dry or
boring. These appraisals are usually given as spice to the meal,
except in the commentary on MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE, where the
writer has such an axe to grind that the movie under discussion gets
lost in an attempt to convince the reader that another critic's
position on the director is without merit. It also may irritate some
readers that the authors' opinions are more often than not presented
in an aggressively egotistical manner, as facts, and that the opinions
of other critics are referred to as being either "right" or "wrong".
This scientifically academic approach to an art form misses much of
its exuberance, but it doesn't infect the reader, nor does it occlude
the wealth of fascinating information included in the article on each
and every movie.

Having, and reading, UNIVERSAL HORRORS, I feel that I am a
better-informed movie buff and can appreciate dimensions of the older
films that I never even noticed before. I highly recommend this book
to novice horror fans and old pros alike.

McFarland & Company also have another book you might be interested in:
INTERVIEWS WITH B SCIENCE FICTION AND HORROR MOVIE MAKERS: Writers,
Producers, Directors, Actors, Moguls and Makeup by Tom Weaver (425
pages, 139 photographs, $29.95). You can order both books from the
publisher at the address above. Add $2 shipping/handling for the first
book, and 75 cents for each book after that. You could also place an
order over the phone if you like: 919-246-4460.

                       ************************

                         STEPHEN KING SPEAKS:

"For comedians and for writers of horror, part of what we're supposed
to be doing is talk about things that other people don't talk about."
       ---Stephen King, in a speech given October, 1990 for the
                     San Francisco Public Library

"The way [a good horror novel] is supposed to work is, you read this
thing and you say, 'You know, that's pretty good, but when is it going
to scare me?' And hopefully, when the light goes out, that's when the
thing is really supposed to work. It's like fear Ex-Lax. That's the
thing about the human imagination. It can get out of control, if you
just tweak it enough, and that's really my job, to try and get that
muscle to jump as much as possible. It's clearly a sick way to behave,
but hey, that's the way that I am. The way it seems to work is, I get
rid of it by giving it to you, and you pay me to do it."
                               ---Ibid.

                       ************************

                     WHISPER...HE MIGHT HEAR YOU
                           by William Appel
          (1991, Donald I. Fine, $18.95, ISBN 1-55611-190-8)
                     review by Andrew Bartorillo

WHISPER...HE MIGHT HEAR YOU takes you on a terrifying journey inside
the psyche of a man with an irresistible urge to kill, who can be
stopped only by a woman whose all-too-accurate predictions about his
victims place her family at the center of his deadly game.
WHISPER...HE MIGHT HEAR YOU pits New York City's top criminal
psychologist Kate Berman, a serial killer expert who retired from the
New York Police Department after being stabbed by a suspect, against
Carl Nasson, a deeply disturbed criminal genius who has been killing
women without leaving a single clue. Bill Casey, NYPD Chief of
Detectives and an old friend of Kate's, convinces her to take the case
because of her unique talent, an ability to get inside the killer's
mind, to think like him, and, hopefully, provide the police with a
much-needed clue. When Kate is misquoted in a sensationalist tabloid,
Nasson turns his wrath on Kate's family and on her niece Jennifer in
particular. Forced to surpass the boundaries of psychology and travel
even deeper into the killer's twisted world, only she can prevent the
consequences of her investigation from reaching disastrous
proportions.

I enjoyed WHISPER very much and at times found myself comparing
WHISPER's serial killer Carl Nasson with the famous serial killer Dr.
Hannibal Lecter in Thomas Harris's RED DRAGON and SILENCE OF THE
LAMBS. William Appel's killer Nasson is in a way even more deadly in
that he enjoys seeking out his victims and goes to great pains to
ensure that NO clues are available for the police to collect. From the
shaving of his body of every bit of hair to his wearing a dental
implant in his mouth to prevent his saliva from being left on his
victims, his planning of every murder scene is very precise. How Kate
Berman, with the aid of her medical examiner husband Josh, is able to
track down Nasson before he kills a loved one who is very close to
Kate is the central theme of WHISPER. The book is well-paced and very
difficult to put down before its climactic ending. I am a big fan of
this type of book and found WHISPER to be up there with the best I
have read. On a scale of 1 to 10, I give WHISPER a solid 10!

                       ************************

                            THE DARK DOOR
                           by Kate Wilhelm
                                (1988)

What a strange book! Series detectives that have jumped genres to
appear in what is, without question, a horror novel. Wilhelm's Charlie
Meiklejohn and his wife Constance Leidl, normally seen in mystery
stories, here officiate at the tracking down and eliminating of a
Nameless Horror From Beyond. It's an exciting book, the kind where you
just can't seem to turn the pages fast enough to keep up with the
pace.

Something is setting up shop in old, boarded-up hotels. People who
come within range of its influence get a fierce headache, dizzy
spells, and occasionally go completely insane. As we begin the story,
Carson Danvers is inspecting an old hotel in Virginia as a potential
buyer. He's inside with a friend called John Loesser, his wife is
outside on the hotel's porch, and his son Gary is around somewhere.
When he hears his wife scream, he runs outside to find her lying on
the porch missing half of her face, apparently shot by son Gary, who
then shoots his father as well. Carson isn't killed, only wounded, and
when he regains consciousness he finds no bodies, but bloody
footprints lead from where his wife had fallen to an interior doorway
that is filled with endless blackness.

It seems that every time a Dark Door is destroyed one place, it just
springs up someplace else, and Carson Danvers makes it his life's work
to seek out and burn each one. When the insurance companies not only
notice arson, but also some kind of weird pattern, they hire Charlie
to figure out what's going on. They picked him because Charlie is one
of the great authorities on fire fighting and arson, and he's a lone
wolf who won't make newspaper headlines. They want him to find an
arsonist. Unfortunately, what he finds is a cosmic phenomenon.

THE DARK DOOR is a thrilling read for anyone, and will particularly
satisfy the horror fan. My one complaint is the characterization of
Charlie and Constance--they are surely wonderful, likeable people, but
must we nominate them for sainthood? I think the author laid it on a
bit thick in this volume: they're both just *so* good at everything,
and are such intelligent, thoughtful, moral, loving.... You get the
idea. I enjoy an old-fashioned hero in a white hat as much as anyone,
but too much is just too much. This is still a mere quibble, though,
and won't interfere with the suspense at all. Enjoy.

                       ************************

                             WHAT'S NEWS

* There will be a third in the anthology series, STALKERS, edited by
Ed Gorman. It will include stories by F. Paul Wilson, Rick Hautala,
and Nancy Collins, among others.

* Ramsey Campbell sure started something with his collection of erotic
horror stories called SCARED STIFF. After that came HOT BLOOD (there's
a sequel of this one on the way), and in May 1991 there will be an
anthology edited by Michele Slung called I SHUDDER AT YOUR TOUCH.

* Every horror fan should have a copy of the Weinberg Books catalog.
Robert and Phyllis Weinberg carry all the major publishers, as well as
the specialty houses like Dark Harvest, Arkham House, Starmont,
Ziesing, and a wide selection of magazines too. The catalog is a joy
to read, and is free. Write to:

Weinberg Books
15145 Oxford Drive
Oak Forest, IL 60452

* T.M. Wright's novel, MANHATTAN GHOST STORY, is due to be made into a
feature film--the script to be written by Ron Bass (who won an Oscar
for his script of RAIN MAN) for a record-breaking $2 million. The big
bucks for a ghost story probably has something to do with the recent
success of the movie GHOST.

* Clive Barker has bought a $1.95 million house (that formerly
belonged to Robert Culp) in Beverly Hills and apparently plans to live
there full-time. It's odd to think that some people with his
imagination wind up being institutionalized, while he winds up in a
mansion in Beverly Hills. All a matter of finding acceptable outlets,
I guess.

* I hear AFTER HOURS magazine has moved. The new address is: PO Box
538, Sunset Beach, CA 90742-0538.

* Look for a brand new horror line from Dell, called Abyss, aiming for
the better-educated, more literate reader. Their first release is a
February title, THE CIPHER by Kathe Koja. According to Dell editor
Jeanne Cavelos, in THE CIPHER "a failed poet discovers a strange black
space [and] can't quite figure out whether the hole is part of him or
he is part of it." Sounds...ummmm...recondite. Whatever it is, look
for a review in RFP #16.

* Don't forget Horrorfest '91, August 2-4 at the Bismarck Hotel in
Chicago. Authors Joe Lansdale and Paul Dale Anderson will be there,
and the festivities will include readings, guest speakers, panels,
videos, a banquet, a costume ball, and a Horror Flea Market. For more
information, send a long SASE with 45 cents postage to: Horrorfest
'91, PO Box 277652, Chicago, IL 60627-7652.

* Like vampires? Why not let the Vampire Archives keep you up-to-date
on all the latest vampire lore by sending you frequent (at least once
a month) issues of what's happening in film, books, articles, anything
and everything on vampires. A year is $30, half-year $15, sample issue
$3 (Foreign prices are $45, $22.50, and $5 respectively). Vampire
Archives, 2926 W. Leland, Chicago, IL 60625.


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                      #   MURDER BY THE BOOK  #
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                      editor:  Cindy Bartorillo

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                         1990 ANTHONY AWARDS

          Announced at the 21st annual Bouchercon in London:

Best Novel:  THE SIRENS SANG OF MURDER by Sarah Caudwell
Best First Novel:  KATWALK by Karen Kijewski
Best Paperback Original:  HONEYMOON WITH MURDER by Carolyn Hart
Best Short Story:  "Afraid All the Time" by Nancy Pickard
Lifetime Achievement:  Michael Gilbert
Best Film:  CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS
Best Television Series:  INSPECTOR MORSE

                       ************************

                       TROPHIES AND DEAD THINGS
                           by Marcia Muller
         (1990, Mysterious Press, ISBN 0-89296-417-0, $16.95)
                       review by Carol Sheffert

Marcia Muller is one of the very few always-reliable mystery authors.
Every story satisfies, and each one lingers in the memory, distinct
and vivid, long after the last page is turned. TROPHIES AND DEAD
THINGS is no exception.

Sharon McCone, an investigator for the All Souls legal cooperative, is
back, this time hunting down people who were involved in the Berkeley
Free Speech Movement in the 1960s. One of All Souls' clients, Perry
Hilderly, becomes the most recent victim of a random serial killer,
and a new holographic will is found in his apartment, a will that
disinherits his children and leaves his largish estate to four
strangers. Sharon must track these people down and discover the nature
of their relationship with Hilderly. One is an up-and-coming news
anchor, one is a sleazy divorce lawyer, one is a no-nonsense lady who
rents horses, and one is a hopeless alcoholic.

During the course of her investigation, Sharon will dig up a lot of
dirt from the 1960s, for the characters of this story and most likely
for the reader as well. Purists may be slightly disturbed by the
liberties Marcia Muller has taken with the mystery form, but the
combination of interesting characters, an absorbing plot, and pounding
suspense make for a very fine novel, whatever shelf you want to put it
on. Indeed, anyone who crabs that mysteries are too formulaic should
be locked in a room with Marcia Muller's entire output. She tells a
mystery not only in her own way, but never in quite the same way
twice. Recommended.

                       ************************

                                JUROR
                           by Parnell Hall
          (1990, Donald I. Fine, $18.95, ISBN 1-55611-230-0)
                     reviewed by Drew Bartorillo

JUROR, Parnell Hall's sixth Stanley Hastings mystery, finds our
affable if somewhat bemused hero stuck in court serving jury duty. As
always where Hastings is concerned, seemingly routine situations
evolve into unexpected adventures. Stanley does his best to be picked
for any trial, just so he can get back to his hum-drum life as a
private detective, investigating accident cases on a piecemeal basis.
Stanley never figured he'd be involved in a murder case when he was
picked to fulfill his civic duty, and it seems that the murder has
nothing to do with the trial he is on--or so he thinks.

Stanley is thrilled when one of his co-jurors, a beautiful, young
aspiring actress, takes a liking to him; a liking that causes Stanley
lots of aggravation when he "tells all" to his wife. Stanley is
pleased to chauffer his co-juror to and from the courthouse. One day,
after the usual dull hours of jury duty, Stanley drives his co-juror
to her apartment and, in his rear-view mirror, spots her being
accosted by a man. Stanley rushes to her rescue, only to have her
reject him and run off. But it isn't until the next morning that she
turns into major trouble for Stanley. She is late for her ride to
jury duty--permanently late due to strangulation.

Stanley decides to investigate his co-juror's murder, mainly because
there is a strong chance that the police might consider him the prime
suspect in the case (he was the last one to see her alive).
Ultimately, in his own inimitable, bumblingly clever fashion, Stanley
gets to the dark heart of the matter, as the key to her murder and the
resolution to the trial intertwine in a dramatic climax.

I found JUROR to be thoroughly enjoyable from cover to cover. Stanley
Hastings' trials and tribulations as a juror were especially humorous,
from the little nicknames he gave everyone involved in the jury
process to the way he attempted to meld his jury duties with his
everyday detective activities. After all, one cannot live on jury duty
pay alone, and Stanley tries to perform both activities with some very
humorous results. In fact, I found that the mystery took second place
to Stanley Hastings' personality in my enjoyment of JUROR. I had
difficulty comprehending what the jury duty part of the book had to do
with the murder case, but eventually it all fell into place, as I
suspected it would, and the ending was completely satisfying.

Parnell Hall's first Stanley Hastings mystery novel, DETECTIVE, was an
Edgar Award nominee for Best New Mystery and, after reading JUROR, I
intend to try to find the rest of the books in the series (DETECTIVE,
MURDER, FAVOR, STRANGLER, CLIENT, and now JUROR. SHOT is due from
Donald I. Fine in June.) On a scale of 1 to 10, I give JUROR a 9.

                       ************************

OVER THE SEAS TO DIE
by Richard Grindal
Charles Mackinnon, a London doctor, finds that his Scottish vacation
is not the pleasant rest he expected. Within hours of his arrival on
the island of Skye, he sees a person being thrown off a cliff into the
sea. When the body of Jamie Gillespie is found in the ocean, the
police refuse to believe it's anything but suicide. Charles is an
outsider in this tight little community, but that doesn't keep him
from being drawn into the dark menace that grips the place. (A St.
Martin's mystery for $15.95)

MURDER, I PRESUME
by Gillian Linscott
Fashionable London throngs to the funeral of the late Dr. Livingston.
Peter Pentland, a former explorer who had to change careers after
losing a leg on an expedition, is charged with looking after the wives
of two of his colleagues as they plan rival expeditions. When still
another member of the exploration fraternity dies from a rare African
poison, Peter turns sleuth, risking not limb, this time, but lives. (A
St. Martin's mystery for $15.95)

                       ************************

          THE YEAR'S BEST MYSTERY AND SUSPENSE STORIES 1990
                       edited by Edward D. Hoch
                        (1990, Walker and Co.)
                      review by Cindy Bartorillo

Edward D. Hoch has edited a great many anthologies, and he's written
more than 750 short stories, which explains the extraordinarily high
quality of this volume--the man knows a good mystery story when he
reads one. We get off to a great start with Jack Adrian's "The Phantom
Pistol", in which The Great Golconda, master magician, is murdered on
stage in front of an entire audience of eyewitnesses in 1912 London.
How could he have been shot when there is no suitable firearm on the
premises? Superintendent Stanley Hopkins of Scotland Yard and his
tall, gaunt, older friend "Mr. H" are fortunately on hand to solve
this impossible crime.

"Star Pupil" by Doug Allyn is an unforgettable story about a writer
teaching a writing class in a prison. The teacher learns a few lessons
himself as he finds the prison environment is reaching out to envelop
his life as it does the inmates. And Brendan Dubois' near-perfect
"Fire Burning Bright" is about small-town arson, and small-town
justice. Along the way newsman Jerry Auberg learns the difference
between a house and a home.

Then there's the atmospheric "The Moon Was to Blame" by Antonia
Fraser. That's unlikely to work as an excuse if the police ever find
out what they did on the beach under the full moon. Edgar nominee "Ted
Bundy's Father" by Ruth Graviros is a fascinating speculation about
the unknown father of mass-murderer Ted Bundy. Ruth Graviros, by the
way, is a pseudonym of Eleanor Sullivan, editor of Ellery Queen's
Mystery Magazine. "Hawks" by Connie Holt is a small gem: adults and
adult business seen through the eyes of children at a funeral in the
Arkansas hill country. And Peter Lovesey's "The Haunted Crescent" is a
charming, old-fashioned Christmas Eve mystery, complete with ghost.

A very different kind of Christmas story is told in Marcia Muller's
"Silent Night", as investigator Sharon McCone searches for her runaway
nephew among the city's homeless. In "The Love Motel" by Shizuko
Natsuki, a girl is poisoned by the drinks stocked in the fridge of
what we would call an "adult" hotel. And Elizabeth Peters tells one of
her period pieces in "The Locked Tomb Mystery".

How can I describe James Powell's "A Dirge for Clowntown"? Imagine if
Philip Marlowe worked in clownface. I guess all you really need to
know is that when Inspector Bozo is on the case, things are never
dull. "A Pair of Yellow Lilies" is as good a story as you would expect
from author Ruth Rendell. Bridget Thomas finds that justice sometimes
comes in unexpected form. And in Henry Slesar's "Possession", Skip
will try anything to solve the murder of his friend Mitch--even going
to a seance.

The whole volume comes to a brilliant and hilarious close with Edgar
Award-winning Best Short Story "Too Many Crooks" by Donald E.
Westlake. What is the world coming to, when you have to make a
reservation to rob a bank? John Dortmunder has his usual run of luck,
and so does the reader. There is also a valuable Appendix in the back
of this volume that gives you an overview of the year in mystery. THE
YEAR'S BEST MYSTERY AND SUSPENSE 1990 is exactly that. Highly
recommended.

                       ************************

MURDER AT TEATIME
by Stefanie Matteson

A New Mystery Series Starring Charlotte Graham! What better antidote
to the pressures of Broadway than a vacation on an elegant island off
the Maine coast? That's what Charlotte Graham thinks...until her
seaside getaway lands her knee-deep in local intrigue. A fanatical
book collector, a witch specializing in herbal remedies, and a crusty
old lobster fisherman are at odds over land, love, and money. And when
someone spikes a cup of tea with poison, our snooping Charlotte may
end up in a lethal brew of double, double toil and trouble...and
murder. (Look for MURDER AT TEATIME in March, from Berkley, $3.95)

                       ************************

                     THE MYSTERY TRAIN DISAPPEARS
           by Kyotaro Nishimura (translated by Gavin Frew)
     1990, Dembner, ISBN 0-942637-30-5, $16.95, December 30, 1990
                      review by Cindy Bartorillo

The ailing Japanese National Railways sponsors specialty trains to get
more business--like the Mystery Train, a weekend excursion for its
passengers whose itinerary is unknown. One particular Mystery Train
lives up to its name spectacularly by disappearing between two stops.
The train behind it arrives on time, so apparently the entire Mystery
Train, all 400 passengers and the JNR crew, have simply vanished! Soon
a ransom demand is made (for one billion yen) and authorities must try
to determine what has happened to the Mystery Train and all who were
on board.

This intriguing premise is the beginning of a 1982 novel, MISUTERI
RESSHA GA KIETA, by one of Japan's leading mystery writers, Kyotaro
Nishimura. It is one of Nishimura's very popular "train series" that
also includes MURDER ON THE BLUE TRAIN and THE TERMINAL MURDER (winner
of The Mystery Writers of Japan Award).

In addition to the fascinating impossible-crime setup, THE MYSTERY
TRAIN DISAPPEARS held my interest well, and the suspense of deadlines
ticking ever nearer was enjoyable. Beyond that, however, western
readers may be baffled by the style. The characterization is more like
that of Golden Age "puzzle" mysteries--nonexistent. Unfortunately,
this is coupled with a style of detection that is most unlike Golden
Age stories: here there is more luck than logic.

Throughout THE MYSTERY TRAIN DISAPPEARS the authorities, and the
railway personnel who help them, are jumping to conclusions and making
assumptions that are poorly supported by the available evidence.
Sometimes they turn out to be right, and take credit for solving a
puzzle when they've only been lucky. Other times they're wrong and
complain about bad luck when they've really behaved illogically.

One example: The kidnappers instruct railway officials to put the
ransom money in a train berth that turns out to be in a car that has
been completely booked. As it happens, the passenger assigned to that
berth never shows, and when they check his home, they find he's been
murdered. In his apartment they find a small notation where he has
divided 1,000 by 8. Those trying to solve the mystery immediately
realize that this notation could very well mean that: 1) the murdered
man was one of the kidnappers, 2) there are eight kidnappers in all,
and 3) the murdered man was speculating about how many million yen his
share would be. I call this pretty thin. The characters in THE MYSTERY
TRAIN DISAPPEARS don't seem to agree.

Perhaps all of my complaints stem from a difference in culture. Maybe
I am incorrectly insisting that the Japanese be as coldly scientific
in their crime fiction as we generally are in ours. If an FBI agent
can use ancient Tibetan wisdom to solve a murder (thanks, Mr. Lynch),
then policemen should be allowed to follow their hunches. In any case,
THE MYSTERY TRAIN DISAPPEARS held my interest through the very last
page, and I enjoyed the tour through Japan's trainyards.

                       ************************

If Sherlock Holmes is one of your favorite detectives, you absolutely
MUST have the Gaslight Publications catalogue. Call 1-800-243-1895
(1895, get it?) anytime day or night and ask for their free catalogue
of Sherlockiana, or write to: Gaslight Publications, Inc., 626 North
College Avenue, Bloomington, IN 47404. They have a collection of the
Sherlockian writings of Christopher Morley (founder of The Baker
Street Irregulars), the complete Schlock Homes stories of Robert L.
Fish, a Sherlock Holmes cartoon book, a budget Sherlock Holmes
(complete) collection for $12.95 in hardcover, and a whole lot more.
You won't be able to decide what to order first.

                       ************************

                    THE BEDSIDE COMPANION TO CRIME
                          by H.R.F. Keating
                                (1989)
                      review by Cindy Bartorillo

I took them at their word and read this book mostly at night in bed,
and they were right--it's the perfect atmosphere for this charming
collection of essays. Keating talks about authors, books, villains,
title changes, collaborations, poetry, and how authors get started
writing mysteries. There's a great deal of information and enjoyment
packed into the less-than-200 pages of BEDSIDE COMPANION, making it
kind of a short version of MURDER INK (by Dilys Winn, remember?). If
the proofreading was a bit hurried, and names a bit confused (Edgar
Allan Poe became Edgar Allen Poe, Ralph McInerny became Roger
McInerny, etc.), and Keating's writing style convoluted, it doesn't
interfere with the basic purpose of this book and it would make a nice
addition to any mystery library. It's particularly good, I think, at
pointing you to a few older mysteries that you may never have heard
of and might want to try reading.

                       ************************

                             SMART HOUSE
                           by Kate Wilhelm
                      (1989, St. Martin's Press)
                       review by Carol Sheffert

This is the story of Gary Elringer, eccentric computer genius, and the
people he had gathered around him in his successful computer company.
He has invited all of them to the unveiling of his newest creation,
the completely computer-controlled Smart House. The guests are:
estranged wife Beth, devoted mother Maddie, jealous brother Bruce,
second-in-command Jake, handsome lawyer Milton, mountain-climbing
Harry and his too-beautiful wife Laura, architect Rich, and ace
programmer Alexander. The tensions amongst the group are many. Beth
wants to sell her share of the company to Gary to get money (she also
wants a divorce). Bruce is furious about all the money Gary has
imprudently sunk into Smart House and wants to get control of the
company. Maddie wishes her two children would get along better. And
Gary wants everyone to agree with him that Smart House is worth every
penny. The group gathers for the weekend to experience Smart House,
with the board meeting scheduled for Monday.

Everyone arrives at Smart House and admires the complexity of house
operations, and the elegance of the decor. They are also made nervous
by the house computer, which knows where everyone is and tracks their
movements, addressing them (vocally) by name whenever necessary. Sort
of a Big Brother Is Watching kind of a feeling. Almost immediately the
group is argumentative and snappish, and their mood is not improved
when Gary proposes that they all get to know the house by playing
Assassin. The computer will give everyone the name of someone else for
them to "kill", which they will accomplish with one of the chosen toy
"weapons". The restriction is that they must make the "kill" in the
presence of one, and only one, witness. The payoff is that the killer
inherits the victim's voting share. Gary maintains that by Monday they
will all be so impressed with Smart House that it won't matter who has
what shares, but others don't seem to agree. Many don't want to play,
but when Gary says play, you play. With this situation, the reader is
just waiting to see where violence will break out, and very shortly
Rich is found suffocated in an elevator and Gary is parboiled in the
jacuzzi. Both bodies are free of bruises or any other signs of
violence, or of having been moved. Did the computer malfunction and
suck the air out of the elevator? Did it later close the top on the
jacuzzi after Gary had somehow fallen in?

Milton fetches series sleuths Charlie Meiklejohn and his wife
Constance Leidl, and all the remaining characters gather one more time
to try to discover just who, or what, killed Gary and Rich. Charlie
and Constance are fascinating separately, and even more so together.
They have a mature, loving relationship and after years of living
together they are in perfect sync. Following them around Smart House
is the most enjoyable aspect of this above-average mystery.

                       ************************

           The Ben Perkins Mysteries Written by Rob Kantner

                     The Backdoor Man (1986)
                     The Harder They Hit (1987)
                     Dirty Work (1988)
                     Hell's Only Half Full (1989)
                     Made in Detroit (1990)

                       ************************

                              MASQUERADE
                        by William X. Kienzle
                       (1990, Andrews & McMeel)
                      review by Cindy Bartorillo

You can see why many people would want to kill televangelist Klaus
Krieg, founder of Praise God Press that publishes super-steamy
sleazoid novels about other religious groups. When you hear that a
writers workshop being held at Marygrove College will be discussing
religious mysteries, with the speakers including Klaus Krieg along
with four religious mystery writers, you have a feeling that this
isn't a particularly good idea.

The Reverend David Benbow, Rector of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, is
the author of mysteries solved by Father Emrich, a fictional Episcopal
priest. Sister Marie Monahan is a nun who writes mysteries featuring a
nun. Father Augustine is a Trappist monk who writes mysteries about a
monk who solves crimes. Rabbi Irving Winer writes about a rabbi
detective. And, filling out the program, there's Roman Catholic priest
Father Koesler (creation of William X. Kienzle, a former Roman
Catholic priest---have you got all this straight?), who has has
previously worked with the police on eleven cases (listed below). All
four of the religious mystery writers seem to despise Klaus ("Blitz")
Krieg, kind of strange when you reflect, as Father Koesler does, that
religious people aren't usually the sort to *despise* anyone.

So when a shot rings out and Krieg is found dead on the floor no one
is particularly unhappy, at least not until it is pointed out that one
of their own number must have done it. By including the varied cast,
Kienzle gives himself a lot of room to wander around in, illuminating
the religious life, as usual, while getting away from his standard
Roman Catholic setting. I worry about his using all this material up
in one book, but it does make for interesting pages. I have a few
small problems with the solution to the murder--there are a couple of
points left unexplained that I don't believe are explainable--but then
this is not a classic 1930's puzzle mystery, this is a modern novel of
character with a mystery happening in the background. To my
disappointment, the background is where Father Koesler spends most of
the book, too. But I guess I can't insist that Kienzle keep writing
the same book over and over; he *insists* on expanding his field, and
that is exactly what he's done in MASQUERADE. And I thoroughly enjoyed
every page of it.

                    The Father Koesler Chronicles
                        by William X. Kienzle

                        The Rosary Murders
                        Death Wears a Red Hat
                        Mind Over Murder
                        Assault With Intent
                        Shadow of Death
                        Kill and Tell
                        Sudden Death
                        Deathbed
                        Deadline for a Critic
                        Marked for Murder
                        Eminence
                        Masquerade

                       ************************

Then there is the phenomenon that Don Thompson, the editor of THE
COMIC BUYER'S GUIDE, calls "ego shock". Some writers--Mary Higgins
Clark, Elmore Leonard, Mickey Spillane--are no doubt immune to this by
now. People know who they are in practically any context. The rest of
us, though, step into a different world when we're thrown in among the
knowledgeable enthusiasts who attend Bouchercons. In the neighborhood,
here, I'm just that strange guy who's always home. At the Bouchercon,
I'm a Celebrity. People stand in line to get my autograph, for God's
sake. One person, about my age, told me what an honor it was to meet
me.

It's hard to know how to take something like that. If the person means
simply, "I really like your books," that's okay. I mean, that's why we
write them, for people to like. But if it's meant literally--an HONOR
to meet me, for God's sake--that's too much even for an ego the size
of mine. It's an honor to meet Mother Teresa; to meet a mystery writer
should be (I hope) a pleasure.

---William DeAndrea, in his column "J'Accuse!" in the Spring 1990
issue of The Armchair Detective.

                       ************************

                          NOT ENOUGH HORSES
                            by Les Roberts
                         (1988, St. Martin's)
                        review by Howard Frye

Saxon, the hero of Les Roberts' mystery series, is a part-time actor,
part-time private investigator. This time, an actor acquaintance of
Saxon's, Robbie Bingham, has been killed by a car bomb and Saxon wants
to know what happened. He discovers that Robbie was also just acting
part-time--the rest of his working hours were spent as a male
prostitute in West Hollywood. This was certainly a job guaranteed to
put Robbie into contact with any number of sleazy, murderous types,
but still, a car bomb seems a bit stylish for that crowd, don't you
think?

Saxon is an old-time P.I. with an unshakeable code of ethics that are
never explained or apologized for. It felt nice to get away from the
more common modern antiheroes and read about a guy who does the right
thing simply because it is the right thing. Which brings me to another
thought: there was a lot about the character of Saxon that reminded me
of Lew Archer, and a lot about Les Roberts' writing that reminded me
of Archer's creator, Ross MacDonald. That's a compliment, of course,
and this book deserves it. NOT ENOUGH HORSES is a great old-fashioned
P.I. story set in modern Hollywood. Recommended. (Oh, yes, the title.
It refers to the observation that there aren't enough horses in the
world to account for all the horse's rear ends walking around.)

                       ************************

                        THE MARK TWAIN MURDERS
                            by Edith Skom
                      (1989, Council Oak Books)
                      review by Cindy Bartorillo

Beth Austin, a faculty member in the English Department of Midwestern
University, has a nose for plagiarism, and her nose tells her that an
award-winning student paper is definitely not original. But then the
suspected plagiarist is murdered in the college library, and a new
faculty member is discovered to be an FBI agent placed there to solve
an epidemic of thefts from that very same library. Surely the murder
must be connected with the thefts, but how?

As much as I enjoy stories of exotic locations and unusual people, I
also enjoy relaxing with more familiar characters and settings--and
you can't get more familiar than a library, at least not for me. I
thoroughly enjoyed looking over Beth Austin's shoulder as she
researched the plagiarized essay (on Mark Twain) to discover the
source. Edith Skom's first novel is a great read, and a recent
paperback reprint will give the book the wider distribution that it
richly deserves.

                       ************************

I wrote the very last of the Ellery Queen novels--THE BLUE MOVIE
MURDERS (Lancer, 1972). Although they didn't want me to talk about it
at the time, it has since been revealed in Al Hubin's bibliography
that I wrote it. So I guess it's no secret any more.

Manny Lee handled all of the novels. Fred Dannay didn't really want to
have anything to do with them. Manny had a writer's block in the '60s,
which is why Fred had gotten some others--mainly science-fiction
writers for some reason, people like Theodore Sturgeon--to do a couple
of the novels.

---Edward D. Hoch, in an interview with John Kovaleski, in The
Armchair Detective Spring 1990 issue. Note: Manny Lee and Fred Dannay
together made up the pseudonym known as Ellery Queen.

                       ************************

                    THE TELLING OF LIES: A Mystery
                          by Timothy Findley
                                (1986)
                        review by Howard Frye

"The telling of lies is a sort of sleight of hand that displays our
deepest feelings about life."
                   ---John Cheever, in an interview

The pace is a bit slow, but the rewards are many in this Edgar-winning
mystery from Canada. Findley's writing style is more elegant than most
of us are accustomed to in a mystery novel, where stylistic niceties
generally take a back seat to plot. There is even a nice supply of
literary symbols and metaphors for readers who enjoy that sort of
thing: from the obvious (a gigantic iceberg that appears early on and
haunts the remainder of the story) to the subtle. But enough of that.
Explaining literary devices sounds too much like high school English
class, and I'm sure we've all had our fill of THAT experience.

THE TELLING OF LIES is made up of journal entries made by Vanessa Van
Horne, age 59, on her last season at a summer resort on the coast of
Maine. The hotel, which has been the summer residence of Vanessa's
family, and her friends' and acquaintances' families, for almost 150
years, has been sold and will be torn down in the fall to make way for
condominiums. At the beginning we're made aware that we are to be
present at the passing of an era.

Calder Maddox, pharmaceutical king who "owns half the world and rents
the other half", dies in a beach chair of an apparent stroke. Vanessa
discovers that someone who arrived on the scene shortly after the
death has told what appears to be a very trivial lie to the police.
But there's no such thing as a trivial lie--people tell lies for very
important personal reasons. Soon Vanessa is involved in a struggle to
understand not only how Maddox died, but WHY, and the reader is drawn
along with her as she ponders THE TELLING OF LIES. Recommended reading
for mystery fans with a taste for elegance.

                       ************************

           DEATH OF A SALESPERSON: And Other Untimely Exits
                          by Robert Barnard
                          (1989, Scribner's)
                       review by Carol Sheffert

Robert Barnard's insights into human failings and his talent for black
humor have never been more abundantly displayed than in this first
collection of short stories. Sixteen examples of humankind at their
worst.

You can read about the feminist who gets a lesson in female solidarity
she'll never forget in "Sisters". And there's "The Woman in the
Wardrobe", where a husband discovers that his dead wife had a secret
life. And "The Oxford Way of Death", about the Oxford college
determined to retain its 18th-century customs. My favorite, "Happy
Release", is the story of a romantic triangle appropriately resolved.

DEATH OF A SALESPERSON is an excellent introduction to Robert Barnard,
as well as being an all-around superb collection of miniature
wickednesses.

                       ************************

P.M. CARLSON Mysteries

MURDER UNRENOVATED--($2.50, Bantam) Nick and Maggie are expecting--and
they've found their dream house. Except for the peeling paint, the
lousy plumbing, the cantankerous downstairs tenant--and the corpse.

MURDER IN THE DOG DAYS--($3.95, Bantam) Nick and Maggie's family
vacation to Civil War sites is interrupted by murder--and tough, icy
Detective Holly Schreiner thinks Maggie ought to be locked up.

MURDER MISREAD--($14.95, Doubleday) Maggie takes her kids to visit her
alma mater. But nostalgia gives way to tragedy when a nosy professor
is shot, and innocent lives will be ruined unless Maggie reads the
clues correctly. (Look for an RFP review of MURDER MISREAD, and
probably other Carlson mysteries, in #16!)

                       ************************

                          TOUCH OF THE PAST
                           by Jon L. Breen
                            (1988, Walker)
                      review by Cindy Bartorillo

Bookseller Rachel Hennings (your typical Spunky Young Gal Heroine) is
told that retired mystery writer Wilbur DeMarco plans to sell his
collection of old books. The collection is an unusual one--every book
was published in 1937, their only common feature. Rachel is also
intrigued to discover that DeMarco's last mystery was published--you
guessed it--in 1937. It turns out that DeMarco's entire house is a
museum dedicated to the year 1937, right down to the magazines on the
coffee table. Why is he so interested in that particular year? DeMarco
just smiles and explains that it was an interesting year. And now he's
selling everything he's collected through the years. Once again--why?
DeMarco won't say, and that night he's murdered.

After this fascinating setup, TOUCH OF THE PAST settles down into a
standard mystery where spunky Rachel insists on finding out who
murdered DeMarco, even though it's tough getting anyone to take her
seriously. It's an enjoyable read all the way, though not very taxing.

                       ************************

                ARCHAEOLOGY & ARCHAEOLOGIST DETECTIVES

Arnold, Margot   various books
Bell, Josephine   Bones in the Barrow
Berckman, Evelyn   The Strange Bedfellow
Blackstock, Charity   Foggy, Foggy Dew
Blake, Nicholas   Widow's Cruise
Canning, Victor   The Golden Salamander
Carter, Youngman   Mr. Campion's Quarry
Christie, Agatha   Murder in Mesopotamia
Clare, Marguerite   Pierce the Gloom
Cory, Desmond   Height of Day
Courtier, Sidney H.   One Cried Murder
Farrer, Katherine   The Cretan Counterfeit
Fitt, Mary   The Late Uncle Max
             Sweet Poison
Garve, Andrew   Riddle of Samson
Gruber, Frank   The Greek Affair
Harvester, Simon   Paradise Men
Hawton, Hector   The Nine Singing Apes
Langley, Lee   several books
Lemarchand, Elizabeth   Buried In The Past
Levi, Peter   Grave Witness
Mann, Jessica   several books
Martin, Shane   The Man Made of Tin
                The Saracen Shadow
                The Third Shadow
                Twelve Girls in the Garden
Mitchell, Gladys   Come Away, Death
Munslow, Bruce J.   Deep Sand
Orgill, Douglas   The Death Bringers
Peters, Elizabeth   The Curse of the Pharaohs
                    The Mummy Case
Peters, Ellis   City of Gold and Shadows
                Death Mask
Stein, Aaron Marc   Moonmilk and Murder
                    many other books
Tranter, Nigel   The Enduring Flame
                 Stone
Trench, John   Beyond the Atlas
               Dishonored Bones
               The Docken Dead
Van Arsdale, Wirt   The Professor Knits A Shroud
Wallis, Ruth Satwell   Blood From A Stone
                       Too Many Bones

                       ************************

                         LIVING WITH REPTILES
                       by Roger L. DiSilvestro
                        (1990, Donald I. Fine)
                       review by Carol Sheffert

Independently wealthy Jackson Black has something that billionaire Mr.
Ritz wants to rent--the power of total recall. Mr. Ritz was rendered
almost completely paralyzed by an airplane accident, and he hopes to
find an alien cure for his physical difficulties. So where will he
find such an alien? From a UFO shot down over a Brazilian forest, of
course. Just in case there is any trouble leaving the area with any
alien artifacts he needs, Mr. Ritz wants to have Jackson on hand to
memorize everything on the scene. Jackson is initially disinclined to
help Mr. Ritz, but after a proverbial offer he can't refuse, Jackson
changes his mind and joins Mr. Ritz's team.

What follows is a rollicking Time Travel tale with Monty Python
overtones. It's all a great deal of fun and author DiSilvestro (an
editor of Audubon Magazine and the author of THE ENDANGERED KINGDOM)
works in large doses of environmentalist lore. A good read.

                       ************************

                              BURN MARKS
                           by Sara Paretsky
                          (1990, Delacorte)
                      review by Cindy Bartorillo

Chicago detective V.I. Warshawski is back, in a story about public,
and private, corruption. Late one night Vic's aunt Elena shows up
needing a place to say. Elena, the family embarrassment for being an
alcoholic ne'er-do-well, had been living in an SRO hotel (single room
occupancy) which had just burned to the ground. Vic puts her up for
the night and the next day pulls some minor political strings to find
another inexpensive room for her aunt to live in, only when Vic
returns home the next day, Elena has disappeared. When she reappears,
she has brought a friend, Cerise, who wants to hire Vic to find out
what happened to her baby. Cerise had dropped her baby off with her
mother, who lived at Elena's SRO, and now can't find either mother or
baby. Since babies weren't allowed in the hotel and they don't want to
get Cerise's mother in trouble, neither Cerise nor Elena will give the
mother's name. Vic smells a rat (maybe an insurance scam?) and is only
moderately surprised when both Cerise and Elena disappear within
hours.

Vic tries to drop the subject, but events conspire against her. Soon
Cerise, a junkie, is found dead of an overdose on a construction site.
And there's the puzzling behavior of the police, who seem much too
angry about Vic's investigation. At the same time as all this, there's
a political campaign raging, and Vic's candidate (and her people) seem
to be convinced that Vic is out to sabotage their campaign. As you
might expect, all of this will dovetail nicely when Vic solves the
murders (yes, plural). BURN MARKS is a great mystery with a plot that
is not too simple, not too complicated, just right. The down side is
the cast: a more hostile, rude, and selfish bunch you couldn't find
anywhere, and that includes our heroine Vic. The few minor characters
who are decent people are portrayed as being tiresome, silly, or
pathetic. This subculture of hostility is unpleasant to read, and
would be soul-shrinking to live in. BURN MARKS is a fast-paced and
suspenseful read, but I'm not entirely sure I want to read any more
V.I. Warshawski stories.

                       ************************

                              BUM STEER
                           by Nancy Pickard
       (Pocket Books, January 1991, ISBN: 0-671-68042-0, $4.95)
                        review by Cherie Jung

Format: paperback
Character: Jenny Cain, 6th appearance
Locale: Kansas
Status: Amateur, director of Port Frederick Civic Foundation
Setting: Cattle ranch - murder for inheritance

If you haven't yet discovered the Jenny Cain series by Pickard, you
have a treat in store. Her titles include: GENEROUS DEATH (tied with
BUM STEER for my all-time favorite Jenny Cain mystery), SAY NO TO
MURDER, NO BODY, MARRIAGE IS MURDER, DEAD CRAZY and BUM STEER. The
newest Jenny Cain mystery I.O.U., will be available in hardcover in
the Spring.

Jenny heads for Kansas in this one, to check out an unusual bequest to
the Port Frederick, Massachusetts Civic Foundation, of which she is
director. An unheard of benefactor, Charles W. "Cat" Benet IV, has
bequeathed a $4 million cattle ranch to the Foundation, providing it
is not sold (the Foundation must provide lifetime employment for the
ranch's two ranch hands) and "Cat's" heirs are forbidden to ever step
foot on the property or interfere with its management or they will
forfeit their inheritance. By the time Jenny arrives in Kansas to try
to sort things out with this mysterious benefactor, he has been
murdered in his hospital bed. Jenny, of course, sets about finding the
murderer.
 
The best aspect of this book, for me, is that Jenny's husband (a cop)
is essentially absent. He is on vacation, where Jenny is supposed to
join him after meeting and talking with "Cat" Benet. Things don't work
out quite as she had planned. While her husband is spending his
vacation sailing, she is tracking a murderer. Without the assistance
and advice of her policeman husband, Jenny is forced to handle things
on her own, making her own mistakes and solving the problems as they
develop. This made for a much more interesting female lead character
in my opinion. I am looking forward to the next Jenny Cain mystery!

                       ************************

Dorothy Gilman's latest, MRS. POLIFAX AND THE GOLDEN TRIANGLE, is
currently under development at Disney--due to be an Angela Lansbury
film.
                       ************************

                         KILLED ON THE ROCKS
                        by William L. DeAndrea
   (1990, Mysterious Press, 224 pages, $17.95, ISBN 0-89296-210-0)

Matt Cobb is both a troubleshooter for a television network called
simply the Network and the lead character of a series of light-toned
mysteries from Edgar Award-winning William L. DeAndrea. (The Edgar
awards were for KILLED IN THE RATINGS, another Matt Cobb mystery, and
THE HOG MURDERS.) Cobb is the head of Special Projects, a euphemism
for a section that handles "everything too nasty for the Legal
Department, and too sensitive for Public Relations".

So what's so nasty-yet-sensitive this time? It seems that the Network
is the target of a takeover by G.B. Dost, eccentric millionaire and
corporate raider. When major corporations change hands, public
relations are very sensitive, as the company's stock fluctuations can
make or lose millions for the stockholders. The nasty part is an
anonymous note that was sent to one board member, saying that
insanity, treachery, and murder surround G.B. Dost and will bring down
both him and the Network if he's allowed to take over. Matt's job is
to accompany major-stockholder Roxanne Schick and various Network
lawyers to a remote Victorian mansion in the Adirondack Mountains
(called Rocky Point) where negotiations with Dost will be held.

The snow that began when they left New York City soon turns into an
unexpectedly major blizzard, and everyone is snowed in at Rocky Point.
"Everyone" includes: Dost, his third wife Aranda, his friend and
business partner Jack Bromhead, his emotionally unstable son Barry,
his household staff Mr. & Mrs. Norman, chauffeur Ralph, Network lawyer
Wilberforce and his assistant Carol, various other legal and financial
wizards, and of course Matt's dog Spot. DeAndrea gives us an
absolutely classical mystery of a mismatched group of people stranded
in a large mansion with no contact with the outside world. And within
12 hours G.B. "Gabby" Dost is found dead out in the snow, on the
titular rocks, forty yards from the house with no footprints (or any
other kind of prints) leading to or from the body.

What follows is great fun, and the mysteries are absorbing. How did
Dost's body get so far from the house without leaving any sign in the
snow? Is Aranda Dost a lesbian or not? Why is Barry so upset? Who sent
the anonymous letter? Who is Dost's mole in the Network? What role has
the weather played in the murders? In the course of answering these
questions we get another murder and even a haunted television set.
KILLED ON THE ROCKS is the best Matt Cobb mystery yet. Recommended.
(Catch up on your Matt Cobb mysteries. The previous titles are: KILLED
IN THE RATINGS, KILLED IN THE ACT, KILLED WITH A PASSION, KILLED ON
THE ICE, and KILLED IN PARADISE.)

                       ************************

If you like police procedurals, then you must like Ed McBain's books,
in which case you probably should check out: THE 87TH PRECINCT REPORT,
Russell W. Hultgren, 425 Merryman Road, Annapolis, MD 21401.

                       ************************

                             REAL MURDERS
                         by Charlaine Harris
                            (1990, Walker)
                       review by Carol Sheffert

Aurora Teagarden (called Roe) is a librarian in Lawrenceton, Georgia,
and a member of a group called Real Murders. They get together once a
month at the VFW Hall and devote a couple of hours to the discussion
of a real murder case, with one member presiding. This month it's
Roe's turn, and she's chosen the Wallace case of 1931. Julia Wallace
was found battered to death in her home by her husband William Herbert
Wallace and a couple of neighbors. The husband's only alibi was a wild
goose chase he went on at the request of a stranger who called on the
phone and gave his name as Qualtrough. Nobody ever managed to find
Qualtrough, and the address Wallace was supposedly sent to was a fake.
The husband was convicted but the verdict was later set aside. If you
like interesting historical mysteries, the Wallace case is a nice
place to start.

Before the meeting can begin, Roe finds Mamie Wright battered to death
in the VFW Hall's kitchen, and she notices almost immediately that the
scene of the crime looks exactly like a photograph she's seen of Julia
Wallace. Before you know it, the murders (and attempts) are piling up,
all patterned carefully after true crimes of the past. At the same
time, Roe finds herself with two new boyfriends; one of them a member
of Real Murders and a policeman who's working the case, the other a
well-known mystery author who's just moved in next door.

REAL MURDERS is an absolute delight from first page to last, with the
light tone of a cosy capped by an ending of breathtaking grittiness
and brutality. The red herrings were handled brilliantly as well.
Usually there are either too many people with too much motivation and
no alibis, or they are just left dangling at the end with insufficient
explanation, causing the reader to wonder just how they managed to
look SO guilty without actually BEING guilty. In REAL MURDERS the red
herrings are presented very naturally, and their false colors wash off
gradually, realistically, and at different times. (I always hate it
when ALL questions are answered on the last 3 pages.) Charlaine Harris
plays fair too--the clues are there for you to find. Highly
recommended.

[NOTE:  The front of the book lists two more books by Charlaine
Harris, SWEET AND DEADLY and SECRET RAGE. I'll be scouring bookstores
and libraries looking for those two. In addition to getting the books
to read, I'd like to know if Roe is a series character, or a one-shot
amateur sleuth.]


                 <-*->:<-*->:<-*->:<-*->:<-*->:<-*->
                 <                                 >
                 <   LOOSEN YOUR GRIP ON REALITY   >
                 <                                 >
                 <-*->:<-*->:<-*->:<-*->:<-*->:<-*->

                    << Editor:  Darryl Kenning >>

---------------------------------------------------------------------
Loosen Your Grip On Reality is a division of Reading For Pleasure,
published bimonthly. This material is NOT COPYRIGHTED and may be used
freely by all. Contributions of information, reviews, etc. should be
sent to:

Darryl Kenning                          CompuServe:  76337,740
6331 Marshall Rd.            or         GEnie:       D.Kenning
Centerville, Ohio 45459                 HeavenSoft BBS 513-836-4288
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                         WORLD FANTASY AWARDS

Best Novel:  MADOUC by Jack Vance (Underwood-Miller/Ace Books)
Best Novella:  "Great Work of Time" by John Crowley (NOVELTY,
     Bantam-Spectra)
Best Short Fiction:  "The Illusionist" by Stephen Millhauser (Esquire)
Best Anthology:  THE YEAR'S BEST FANTASY: SECOND ANNUAL COLLECTION
     edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling (St. Martin's Press)
Best Collection:  RICHARD MATHESON: COLLECTED STORIES (Scream/Press)
Best Artist:  Tom Canty
Special Award--Professional:  Mark V. Ziesing
Special Award--Non-Professional:  Peggy Nadramia (Grue)
Life Achievement Award:  R.A. Lafferty

                       ************************

                             WHAT'S NEWS

* HUH?  British magazine INTERZONE and American magazine ABORIGINAL SF
have agreed to exchange the contents of their respective magazines for
one issue. The May-June 1991 issue of ABORIGINAL SF will appear both
here and as the July issue of INTERZONE in Britain, and the
July-August issue of ABORIGINAL SF will contain the entire June issue
of INTERZONE. This will give both magazines loads of extra exposure,
to say nothing of the double fees to contributing authors. If you've
been wanting to sample either (or both) of these periodicals, it
sounds like now would be the best time.

* Talk about your major changes. Pulphouse, the quarterly hardcover
magazine, is about to become the weekly paper magazine. Starting in
late May--the first issue will be dated June 1, 1991--every week we'll
get 40 to 48 pages of fiction and commentary, including serializations
of novels and novellas. You can recognize the first issue because
it'll be the one with Harlan Ellison on the cover.

* Donald A. Wollheim, founder of DAW Books, the only paperback
publisher devoted entirely to SF and fantasy, died on November 2 of a
heart attack in his sleep.

* I hear Peter David is going to do a STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION
novel about "Q".
                       ************************

               NIGHT OF THE COOTERS: More Neat Stories
                          by Howard Waldrop
        (February 1991, Ursus, 250 pages, ISBN 0-942681-05-3)
                      review by Cindy Bartorillo

This unusual and eclectic collection starts with the title story,
"Night of the Cooters", a story that is dedicated to Slim Pickens.
(How many stories dedicated to Slim Pickens have you seen?) It's a
rousing western variation of THE WAR OF THE WORLDS, starring Slim
Pickens as the smarter-than-he-appears hick sheriff. Movie themes
continue with "French Scenes", which demonstrates that the auteur
theory of filmmaking can be carried too far. Waldrop's movie
references (real and imaginary) reach their crescendo in "The Passing
of the Western", a story about a fictional series of westerns made in
the 1930s, as told through interviews and a magazine article written
by "Formalhaut J. Amkermackam" (in other words, Forrest J. Ackerman).
There are lots of insider details about '30s film techniques and
special effects, and you need a program to tell what's real and what's
made up.

The atmosphere changes as we get to the next story, "The Adventure of
the Grinder's Whistle", a Sherlock Holmes pastiche in which the great
man *almost* solves the Ripper murders. In his introduction, Waldrop
says: "Like with most things from the Seventies, this is Philip Jose
Farmer's fault. (As, in the Fifties in the field, everything was
Boucher's, Gold's or Campbell's fault, and in the Sixties, it was
Harlan Ellison's fault--I'm talking bad and good here, folks.)"

If you watch the SF shelves at your bookstore, you're at least aware
of the WILD CARD series edited by George R.R. Martin. The first story
in the first volume of the series, the story that got the whole saga
started, is the next entry in COOTERS, "Thirty Minutes Over Broadway!"
This was the story where aviator-hero Jetboy tries, and fails, to stop
the bad guy from dumping the Wild Card virus on New York City. The
continuing Wild Card story is a shared-world series of short stories,
novellas, novels, etc., and as I type this I am awaiting volume #8.
Who can forget Jetboy's famous last words,

"I can't die yet. I haven't seen THE JOLSON STORY."

Next up is "The Annotated Jetboy"; notes about many of the references
in "Thirty Minutes Over Broadway!" Howard says, "The research was to
lend what we in the rip-roaring days of Postmodernist Fiction used to
call *verisimilitude*, but what is now referred to in the Reagan '80s
as 'making it seem real-like'." And while you're still in a nostalgic
mood for a period most likely before you were born, there's  "Hoover's
Men" a short piece about the early days of radio and television.

The second most well-known story in COOTERS (after "Thirty Minutes
Over Broadway!") is "Do Ya, Do Ya, Wanna Dance?", a
homage/regurgitation of the Sixties that was nominated for many awards
but won none, I suspect because no one knew quite what to make of
this. I'm not exactly sure what Howard did either, but I'm sure glad
he did it. This story brings back a lot of emotional baggage:
memories, feelings, embarrassments, regrets. More of an experience
than a short story.

After the raw edges of his Sixties story, it's a nice change of pace
to read his Ancient Roman story, "Wild, Wild Horses". P. Renatus
Vegetius has always wanted to hunt lions from a chariot in the wet
marshlands of Libya, but another odyssey claims him first. Not quite
Homer, but a lovely story nonetheless.

Finally, there's the novella that is original to COOTERS, "Fin de
Cycle". A few pages into this story I decided that Howard Waldrop
must've dropped a little too much acid in the Sixties; this story just
wasn't making much sense. A few pages after that a glimmer of light
appeared on the horizon, and soon I had a fair grip on the plot. This
is a story about the Dreyfus Affair, about the 1890s (and, by
extension, the 1990s), and about bicycles. It's odd, quirky, and
captivating, which is the best description for all of these stories.
Howard Waldrop doesn't write like anyone else; The Washington Post
Book World called him "the resident Weird Mind of his generation" (now
if we could only figure out which generation that is). If you'd like
to visit with a Weird Mind, NIGHT OF THE COOTERS is just what you
need.

If you have any trouble locating NIGHT OF THE COOTERS, just write to:
Mark V. Ziesing Books, PO Box 76, Shingletown, CA 96088. NIGHT OF THE
COOTERS has color and b/w artwork by Don Maitz, Terry Lee, Janet
Aulisio, Karen Barnes, Jim Fanning, and Arnie Fenner. There is a $25
trade edition and a special, signed slipcased edition of 374 copies
for $65 (but you better hurry if you want one of those). You can also
contact the publisher at: Ursus Imprints, 5539 Jackson, Kansas City,
MO 64130.

                       ************************

                     THE BOAT OF A MILLION YEARS
                           by Poul Anderson
                             (1991, Tor)
                     review by Robert A. Pittman

Not often does a Science Fiction story have most of its focus in the
past rather than the future. In Poul Anderson's book, that is exactly
what happens--he takes the reader on a long trip through history
before boarding his spaceboat for the voyage into the future.

THE BOAT OF A MILLION YEARS introduces us to a group of eight
immortals. The first one we meet is born around 300 B.C. and others
are brought into the story one by one. Ample time is taken to
thoroughly develop each of the characters and the historical
background from which they came. Through them, the reader gets
interesting segments of history about Asia, Europe, the Roman Empire,
the Mediterranean area and early North America. We also enjoy
following the characters as they develop the personalities and skills
that allow them to exist through the cultural and societal changes
that are occurring around them.

The characteristics of these immortals are somewhat unique. They are
not "superbeings" and have no advanced mental capacities. They are
just humans who have metabolic processes that cause them to resist
disease, repair damage and renew cell growth. They can be killed,
however, and that possibility causes them to be cautious and rational
as they relate to other humans. Early in life they learn about their
vulnerability to the envy and suspicions of others and the talent for
hiding their immortality becomes a primary skill. In fact, they hide
from each other and it is not until late in the twentieth century that
the eight principals come together and the author moves the story into
the future.

Mr. Anderson opens the future quickly and takes us far across time in
relatively few pages. But they are exciting pages! We encounter a
society that has matured and developed and can accept and honor the
presence of these few immortals. Humankind has also found its own
means of achieving immortality and thus, the original mortals loose
their uniqueness. They do not, however, loose the insights gained
through their long experience in observing and dealing with the human
character. Those insights restore the uniqueness of the eight and
gives them the credentials for tackling a pervasive dilemma
confronting humanity; a dilemma that involves humanity's drift into
complacency and isolation. It then becomes a story about the value of
long-standing human characteristics as opposed to new human
characteristics that are emerging in the all-immortal society.

THE BOAT OF A MILLION YEARS is an exciting story of adventure on earth
and in space. It is also a clever and subtle lesson in human values
and relationships. Get on board--you will enjoy the ride even though
it takes a million years!

                       ************************

                          THE HEMINGWAY HOAX
                           by Joe Haldeman
                            (1990, Morrow)
                      review by Cindy Bartorillo

In 1922, struggling writer Ernest Hemingway had a suitcase stolen from
a train car that was full of the only copies of his first novel and
dozens of short stories. It has never been found, though Hemingway
fans still hope it will turn up someday. Wouldn't this make a great
money-making hoax? A Hemingway expert, say maybe a college professor
who teaches a course on him, could write half a novel or a few short
stories and, with a little expert forgery, say it was real Hemingway
material--early stuff from the famous lost suitcase. What would NEW
Hemingway material be worth? Millions, of course.

This is the initial premise of THE HEMINGWAY HOAX, but Haldeman takes
it even further. Suppose that creating NEW Hemingway fiction disrupts
the flow of history? In that case, the Time Police would have to get
involved and straighten everything out. By popping in and out at
various points in time, and by changing parallel time lines, the Time
Police...

That's where this summary ends, because that's where my understanding
of this book ends. I have literally explained everything I know about
THE HEMINGWAY HOAX by Joe Haldeman, and I read every word. It was very
disappointing to me because I had toughed it out through the
ridiculous caricatures that populate this story, waiting for the Time
Travel idea to be explained. And then the whole last part of the book
was unintelligible to me. Very frustrating. Even so, if you like Time
Travel stories, you might want to try this one because it has received
several good reviews, indicating that at least SOME people understand
it, and it won't take much of your time (it's only 155 pages). On the
other hand, reviewer A Watson, in his "Overkill" column in a recent
Mark V. Ziesing catalog had this to say about THE HEMINGWAY HOAX:
"...this book is one hundred percent technique and absolutely zero
substance. The characters are jokes, less than cardboard. The dialogue
is lame. The writing is predictable, uninspired. I found it easy
enough to wade through, easier still to dismiss."

                       ************************

                       BLURRING THE BOUNDARIES
                           by Mark Mueller
        
GOLDEN FLEECE by Robert J. Sawyer, 1990, Popular Library Books,
   198pp, $4.50
        
What's the worst sin a mystery reviewer can commit? Why, it's telling
"who dunnit" in the review, right?  Well, here I go, sinning
again--the computer did it; the computer's the murderer and you heard
it here first.

Well, actually, you only heard it here first if you haven't picked up
a copy of GOLDEN FLEECE yet, because the cover of the paperback
edition of GOLDEN FLEECE (as far as I know, this is the only edition
of GF available) contains not only the title, the author's name, the
publisher and price, but also the words "Programmed to serve man, it
became all too human--it committed murder." If you missed that clue on
the front cover, the back cover's blurb describes a death and the
victim's ex-husband's certainty that she was done in by the computer.
And just in case you're REALLY day-dreaming, there is also a quote by
John Stith that tells you the computer "...is capable of murder, too."
What's going on here?

The action takes place on an immense spacecraft named the Argo which
is mounting the first expedition to another star system. There are
over 10,000 people in the crew, and the ship had to be big enough to
accommodate them for the ten subjective years that the trip will take.
All of the vital functions of the Argo are managed by JASON, the
ship's computer. JASON is one of the new breeds of Artificial
Intelligences (AI's) and is capable of independent action and decision
making. The book opens with JASON carrying out his latest
decision--the murder of one of the ship's astrophysicists, Diana
Chandler.

The blurb on the back cover of the book reads as if this is the story
of Diana's ex-husband, Aaron Rossman, assembling clues that prove that
Diana's death wasn't suicide, but murder. Nothing could be further
from the truth. This isn't Aaron's book, this is JASON's. GOLDEN
FLEECE is written in first person narrative, told by JASON. Sawyer
takes a chance by not only writing the story from the perspective of
the murderer, but also by making the murderer an "intelligent"
computer.

But JASON is more than intelligent--he's fascinating. He has a really
wry sense of humor (the first line is "I love that they trusted me
blindly.") and is extremely self-confident. Did I say earlier that
JASON manages everything aboard the Argo? That's a bit of an
understatement--JASON manages EVERYTHING aboard the Argo. Aside from
the fact that there are communication links in every section of the
ship (monitored by you-know-who) each crew member has a vital signs
telemetry implant that sends data (such as respiration rate, EEG,
heart rate, blood pressure, etc) directly to JASON. With all that
information available, it's not easy to sneak up on him (it's a little
bit like the song Santa Claus Is Coming To Town--you know, "...He
knows when you are sleeping, he knows when you're awake, He knows if
you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake!").

I don't want to say too much more about the book because a lot of the
mystery is in unraveling just exactly what is going on (and how much
does Aaron suspect--remember, JASON is telling the story here). This
is one of the best written books I've read this last year, both in
style and inventiveness. It also has a twist at the end that is so
unexpected that I didn't have an inkling of the direction it was
coming from.

Go now and search for the GOLDEN FLEECE; it may be your most
fulfilling quest of 1991.

                       ************************

                 NEBULA AWARDS -- Preliminary Ballot

The annual process of selecting five finalists for the Nebula Award
for best science fiction novel of the year is nearly complete.
Following are the six titles that reached the top of the preliminary
ballot.

28 recommendations:  REDSHIFT RENDEZVOUS by John E. Stith
25 recommendations:  ONLY BEGOTTEN DAUGHTER by James Morrow
21 recommendations:  WHITE JENNA by Jane Yolen
19 recommendations:  PARADISE by Mike Resnick
16 recommendations:  THE FALL OF HYPERION by Dan Simmons
16 recommendations:  TEHANU by Ursula Le Guin

(The preliminary ballot includes thirty-six additional novels
receiving fewer recommendations.)

Between now and February 16, 1991, members of the Science Fiction
Writers of America will vote on five finalists, often found at the top
of the preliminary ballot. The final ballot will be announced in late
February 1991, and the winner will be announced in May 1991.

You can read a review of REDSHIFT RENDEZVOUS in RFP #12 and a review
of THE FALL OF HYPERION in RFP #13. RFP congratulates all the
recommended novelists.

                       ************************

                         PAST NEBULA WINNERS

    1965
Best Novel:            Dune by Frank Herbert
Best Novella:          "The Saliva Tree" by Brian W. Aldiss
                       "He Who Shapes" by Roger Zelazny (tie)
Best Novelette:        "The Doors of His Face, the Lamps of His Mouth"
                        by Roger Zelazny
Best Short Story:      "Repent, Harlequin!' Said the Ticktockman" by
                        Harlan Ellison

    1966
Best Novel:            Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
                       Babel-17 by Samuel R. Delany (tie)
Best Novella:          "The Last Castle" by Jack Vance
Best Novelette:        "Call Him Lord" by Gordon R. Dickson
Best Short Story:      "The Secret Place" by Richard McKenna

    1967
Best Novel:            The Einstein Intersection by Samuel R. Delany
Best Novella:          "Behold the Man" by Michael Moorcock
Best Novelette:        "Gonna Roll the Bones" by Fritz Leiber
Best Short Story:      "Aye, and Gomorrah" by Samuel R. Delany

    1968
Best Novel:            Rite of Passage by Alexei Panshin
Best Novella:          "Dragonrider" by Anne McCaffrey
Best Novelette:        "Mother to the World" by Richard Wilson
Best Short Story:      "The Planners" by Kate Wilhelm

    1969
Best Novel:            The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
Best Novella:          "A Boy and His Dog" by Harlan Ellison
Best Novelette:        "Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious
                        Stones" by Samuel R. Delany
Best Short Story:      "Passengers" by Robert Silverberg

    1970
Best Novel:            Ringworld by Larry Niven
Best Novella:          "Ill Met in Lankhmar" by Fritz Leiber
Best Novelette:        "Slow Sculpture" by Theodore Sturgeon
Best Short Story:      No Award

    1971
Best Novel:            A Time of Changes by Robert Silverberg
Best Novella:          "The Missing Man" by Katherine MacLean
Best Novelette:        "The Queen of Air and Darkness" by Poul
                        Anderson
Best Short Story:      "Good News from the Vatican" by Robert
                        Silverberg

    1972
Best Novel:            The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov
Best Novella:          "A Meeting with Medusa" by Arthur C. Clarke
Best Novelette:        "Goat Song" by Poul Anderson
Best Short Story:      "When It Changed" by Joanna Russ

    1973
Best Novel:            Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke
Best Novella:          "The Death of Doctor Island" by Gene Wolfe
Best Novelette:        "Of Mist, and Grass and Sand" by Vonda N.
                        McIntyre
Best Short Story:      "Love Is the Plan, the Plan Is Death" by
                        James Tiptree, Jr.
Best Dramatic
  Presentation:        Soylent Green

    1974
Best Novel:            The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin
Best Novella:          "Born with the Dead" by Robert Silverberg
Best Novelette:        "If the Stars Are Gods" by Gordon Eklund
                        and Gregory Benford
Best Short Story:      "The Day Before the Revolution" by Ursula K.
                        Le Guin
Best Dramatic
  Presentation:        Sleeper
Grand Master Award:    Robert A. Heinlein

    1975
Best Novel:            The Forever War by Joe Haldeman
Best Novella:          "Home Is the Hangman" by Roger Zelazny
Best Novelette:        "San Diego Lightfoot Sue" by Tom Reamy
Best Short Story:      "Catch That Zeppelin!" by Fritz Leiber
Best Dramatic
  Presentation:        Young Frankstein
Grand Master Award:    Jack Williamson

    1976
Best Novel:            Man Plus by Frederik Pohl
Best Novella:          "Houston, Houston, Do You Read?" by James
                        Tiptree, Jr.
Best Novelette:        "The Bicentennial Man" by Isaac Asimov
Best Short Story:      "A Crowd of Shadows" by Charles L. Grant
Grand Master Award:    Clifford D. Simak

    1977
Best Novel:            Gateway by Frederik Pohl
Best Novella:          "Stardance" by Spider and Jeanne Robinson
Best Novelette:        "The Screwfly Solution" by Raccoona Sheldon
Best Short Story:      "Jeffty Is Five" by Harlan Ellison
Special Award:         Star Wars

    1978
Best Novel:            Dreamsnake by Vonda N. McIntyre
Best Novella:          "The Persistence of Vision" by John Varley
Best Novelette:        "A Glow of Candles, a Unicorn's Eye" by
                        Charles L. Grant
Best Short Story:      "Stone" by Edward Bryant
Grand Master Award:    L. Sprague de Camp

    1979
Best Novel:            The Fountains of Paradise by Arthur C. Clarke
Best Novella:          "Enemy Mine" by Barry Longyear
Best Novelette:        "Sandkings" by George R.R. Martin
Best Short Story:      "giANTS" by Edward Bryant

    1980
Best Novel:            Timescape by Gregory Benford
Best Novella:          "The Unicorn Tapestry" by Suzy McKee Charnas
Best Novelette:        "The Ugly Chickens" by Howard Waldrop
Best Short Story:      "Grotto of the Dancing Deer" by Clifford D.
                        Simak

    1981
Best Novel:            The Claw of the Conciliator by Gene Wolfe
Best Novella:          "The Saturn Game" by Poul Anderson
Best Novelette:        "The Quickening" by Michael Bishop
Best Short Story:      "The Bone Flute" by Lisa Tuttle *
Grand Master Award:    Fritz Leiber
             *This Nebula Award was declined by the author.

    1982
Best Novel:            No Enemy But Time by Michael Bishop
Best Novella:          "Another Orphan" by John Kessel
Best Novelette:        "Fire Watch" by Connie Willis
Best Short Story:      "A Letter From the Clearys" by Connie Willis

    1983
Best Novel:            Startide Rising by David Brin
Best Novella:          "Hardfought" by Greg Bear
Best Novelette:        "Blood Music" by Greg Bear
Best Short Story:      "The Peacemaker" by Gardner Dozois
Grand Master Award:    Andre Norton

    1984
Best Novel:            Neuromancer by William Gibson
Best Novella:          "PRESS ENTER []" by John Varley *
Best Novelette:        "Bloodchild" by Octavia E. Butler
Best Short Story:      "Morning Child" by Gardner Dozois
* The symbol "[]" used here is in place of a solid block used to
represent a computer cursor.

    1985
Best Novel:            Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
Best Novella:          "Sailing to Byzantium" by Robert Silverberg
Best Novelette:        "Portraits of His Children" by George R.R.
                        Martin
Best Short Story:      "Out of All Them Bright Stars" by Nancy Kress
Grand Master Award:    Arthur C. Clarke

    1986
Best Novel:            Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card
Best Novella:          "R&R" by Lucius Shepard
Best Novelette:        "The Girl Who fell Into the Sky" by Kate
                        Wilhelm
Best Short Story:      "Tangents" by Greg Bear
Grand Master Award:    Isaac Asimov

    1987
Best Novel:            The Falling Woman by Pat Murphy
Best Novella:          "The Blind Geometer" by Kim Stanley Robinson
Best Novelette:        "Rachel in Love" by Pat Murphy
Best Short Story:      "Forever Yours, Anna" by Kate Wilhelm
Grand Master Award:    Alfred Bester

    1988
Best Novel:            Falling Free by Lois McMaster Bujold
Best Novella:          "The Last of the Winnebagos" by Connie Willis
Best Novelette:        "Schrodinger's Kitten" by George Alec Effinger
Best Short Story:      "Bible Stories for Adults, No. 17: The Deluge"
                         by James Morrow
Grand Master Award:    Ray Bradbury

    1989
Best Novel:            The Healer's War by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough
Best Novella:          "The Mountains of Mourning" by Lois McMaster
                        Bujold
Best Novelette:        "At The Rialto" by Connie Willis
Best Short Story:      "Ripples in the Dirac Sea" by Geoffrey A.
                        Landis


                       HaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHa
                       a                      H
                       H  THE LAUGH'S ON US   a
                       a                      H
                       HaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHa

                  Editor:  Name Withheld By Request

---------------------------------------------------------------------
The Laugh's On Us is a division of Reading For Pleasure, published
bimonthly. This material is NOT COPYRIGHTED and may be used freely by
all. Catalogs, news releases, review copies, or donated reviews should
be sent to:  Reading For Pleasure, 103 Baughman's Lane, Suite 303,
Frederick, MD 21702.
---------------------------------------------------------------------

                        THE SIMPSONS XMAS BOOK
                    transmutated by Matt Groening
                        teleplay by Mimi Pond
                       (1990, HarperPerennial)
                      review by Cindy Bartorillo

OK, I know it's not Christmas anymore, but we got the book late. It
seems that too many of you out there were buying THE SIMPSONS XMAS
BOOK, leaving no copies left for us. If you haven't gotten your copy
yet, this is a book version of the Christmas episode of the prime time
television show, THE SIMPSONS, that average, everyday family just like
yours and mine.

Everytime I see/read this story, I can't help thinking about the
now-classic Peanuts Christmas Special, a show this one bears NO
resemblance to. The big difference is Perfect Moments. In the Peanuts
show, as in most fictional creations, life is just one Perfect Moment
after another: the people look great, they speak beautifully, and they
carry this fabulous musical backup wherever they go. And cute freckled
kids, or moms and dads with hearts of gold, save the day every single
time.

I don't know if you've noticed, but life ain't like that. In the
middle of your Big Date you spill coffee down your shirt. You announce
to your guests that it's time to eat just as the dog throws up in the
middle of the room. Perfect Moments are mighty hard to find.

That's why THE SIMPSONS are so popular--their luck with life is just a
shade worse that ours, which makes them a very comforting and
reassuring family. And, as real people all know even if they don't
admit to it in public, Christmastime is when a lot of us real people
need comforting and reassuring the most. And for that we get THE
SIMPSONS XMAS BOOK, or at least we would have if everybody else
weren't so greedy, which kind of brings us full circle doesn't it?
Anyway, here's the deal: If you are one of the 37 people who haven't
yet bought this book, buy it quick, because the last person left
without will be "It" and suffer some dreaded, degenerative consumer
disease. Merry Christmas.

                       ************************

               ALL I NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED FROM MY CAT
                            by Suzy Becker
                           (1990, Workman)
                      review by Cindy Bartorillo

I feel silly recommending a book that's been on the bestseller list
for many weeks, but if you haven't seen Suzy Becker's book of cartoons
featuring Binky the cat, you definitely should get your hands on one
(if your bookstore has any left). It's easy to see why the book is
selling so well--it has more in common with Robert Fulghum than just
the title. (In case you've forgotten already, Robert Fulghum wrote the
runaway bestseller, ALL I NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED IN KINDERGARTEN.)
Binky has the same brand of gentle wisdom: kind and funny, without
ever being saccharine or precious.

It's obvious that Suzy Becker chose Binky as spokescat because of her
personal knowledge and love of cats, not just to have a cute character
to draw. Anyone who shares living space with a cat will recognize
every one of the 90 scenes in ALL I NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED FROM MY
CAT. From "Don't always come when you're called" to "Recognize the toy
in everything", Binky shows us how to avoid ulcers and hypertension,
by simply enjoying the days we have, and putting our own special stamp
on them.

Suzy Becker is the founder and president, as well as the designer, of
a company called The Widget Factory that has a line of more than 150
greeting cards. Suzy also says that she never forgets to follow
Binky's favorite recommendation: "There is always time for a nap."

                       ************************

                            GROUCHO AND ME
                   by (of all people) Groucho Marx
                    (1959; Fireside edition, 1989)
                       review by Carol Sheffert

There's no doubt about who wrote this book. From the first paragraph:

"The trouble with writing a book about yourself is that you can't fool
around. If you write about someone else, you can stretch the truth
from here to Finland. If you write about yourself, the slightest
deviation makes you realize instantly that there may be honor among
thieves, but YOU are just a dirty liar."

Every chapter, every sentence, has the Groucho cadence. And, as you'd
expect, the story of his life is told with a light touch, without
sentimentality, pathos, or anger. In other biographies of the Marx
brothers you will undoubtedly get a more detailed narrative, but
you'll never find one with more charm. His stories about the early
days when he and his brothers played vaudeville are fascinating,
humorous, and touching. (I thought it was interesting that Groucho
spoke of vaudeville performers as "actors", a term I don't think I
would have used.) There is also a running gag in the book with the
name Delaney--a lovely touch of Groucho's brand of humor. The family
photographs are nice, but they are old-fashioned posed shots, not the
more candid type, or seemingly candid type, we prefer nowadays.

GROUCHO AND ME is one of the more engaging autobiographies you'll
find, and would make half of a great gift (the other half would be a
videotape of A NIGHT AT THE OPERA, or other Marx film of your choice).

                       ************************

            Watch for RFP-16 to be released April 1, 1991.

                       ************************