Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Reading Report


After being so impressed with Stephen King's Duma Key, it was hard to find something else to read. Other novels I tried kind of paled in comparison so I decided to read short stories and non fiction for the weekend. I finished up A Vintage From Atlantis, the third volume in the collected short stories of Clark Ashton Smith. There were quite a few pure horror stories in this volume which weren't as effective as Smith's weird fiction. Seemed almost as if he had been trying to write to the horror pulp market, and in fact the notes in the back of the book bore this out. Smith was seeking other places to sell his stories besides Weird Tales, so he wrote some 'standard' horror and science fiction yarns. They're still above average stories but they don't have the same impact as Smith's more personal work.
Then I read L. Sprague de Camp's Literary Swordsmen and Sorcerers, which is a collection of essays about the early writers of heroic fantasy, including William Morris, Lord Dunsany, Robert E. Howard, H.P. Lovecraft, and the aforementioned Clark Aston Smith. The first chapter alone, which is a concise history of the literature of the fantastic, is worth the price of the book. Very cool.
Then I delved into Donald Kagan's The Peloponnesian War, a massive history of the war between the Athenians and the Spartans that lasted almost three decades and changed the course of world history. Probably the definitive modern work on the conflict so far.
Then, still missing Mr. King, I decided on a re-read of his novella, The Library Policeman, one of the stories I was reminded of while reading Duma Key. (From the collection Four Past Midnight) I think this one would make a good movie. It's only a couple of hundred pages and it has a nice, suspenseful structure to it, with the usual King creepy scenes and the occasional gross out.
The weekend isn't quite over so I'll probably read something else before bedtime. I'll let you know.

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