This is the Judy Blume book where they fuck, and where the characters use the word “fuck” kind of a lot for 1975, which made this book a pretty big deal when it came out. It’s a story about love and sex—those youthful ideals we all have before we discover what relationships are, get adjusted, then move on—a lot for 200 pages. As a guilty pleasure, most of it holds up pretty well aside from some clichéd issues, with Blume perfectly capturing the magnitude of 18 year-old Katherine and Michael’s first love and sexual fumbling.
Things I learned from reading/rereading these four stories:
- In the original tale, Aladdin, far from being a purehearted street rat, is an “idle, careless” boy who through the adventure of the lamp becomes a responsible, skilled adult man.
- The forty thieves dismember Ali Baba’s greedy brother into four separate pieces so that the local cobbler has to sew him back together, which is badass.
- The Sinbad stories are kind of repetitive, and made me want to watch the Ray Harryhausen films.
- Like in all good stories, servant girls are always more clever than their masters.
Golgo 13 is Japan’s longest-running manga series, chronicling the exploits of super-tough, laconic sniper Duke Togo, alias Golgo 13. The two jobs in this collection involve an Iraqi ballistic superweapon (a story where both Bill Clinton and Saddam Hussein feature prominently) and a mafia hit and run, plus a background dossier on Togo himself. If you’re looking for an intro to pulp Japanese action manga, start here—the drawings are dark and the midnight cityscapes majestic, with plenty of guns, planes, action, and sex to capture the feel of an ‘80s action movie in comic form.
Where I Got It
Christmas 2016, from a friend who knew I loved the Golgo 13 NES games. While every convenience store in Japan sells the Japanese manga books, I never got to the chance to check them out when I lived there since English translations are harder to find, .
Playthrough video of Golgo 13 – Top Secret Episode on the NES
Two English professors, one American and one British, join their universities’ annual exchange program to escape disconcerting ruts in their respective countries. Lodge’s west-coast America is torn amidst the uproar of 1960s counterculture, while his small-town industrial Britain is chilly, polite, and exaggeratedly tame. By showing each world from the other country’s POV, Lodge creates a witty and poignant commentary on academic and social life on two continents. The novel itself also takes different forms in each of its six sections (letters, a screenplay, etc.), a cool twist on the relationship between fiction and reality.
Where I Got It
Bought from a used bookstore in Columbus, Ohio this past summer. I’d been meaning to read this book for literally ten years, after a former coworker recommended David Lodge to me in 2006. WHY OH WHY DIDN’T I LISTEN TO HIM SOONER? I enjoyed this book too damned much to have gone without it for so long.
2015 Review in The Guardian
Rules for “Humiliation,” a reading game Lodge invented for the novel
DePietro’s collection covers forty years of interviews with British novelist and man of letters Kingsley Amis, who has a lot to say on the writing process, British politics, and the working-class hero in post-WWII fiction as he moves from card-carrying Communist party member to hardcore Thatcher supporter over the course of forty years. The collection also serves as a useful, expedited autobiography of Amis’s life (with his philandering only alluded to), but can be repetitive since Amis retells the same anecdotes over and over—how many times can we hear him deny being one of the Angry Young Men?
Where I Got It
Bought online a few weeks ago as part of research for the new novel.
1975 Interview with Amis for the Paris Review
Or, check out Amis’s first and most famous novel Lucky Jim instead