Author Archives: george

SEMICOLON: THE PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE OF A MISUNDERSTOOD MARK By Cecelia Watson


Cecelia Watson had me at her Dedication: For my parents, who made sure I always had enough to read. Watson gives us the history of the semicolon, first “invented” in Venice in 1494. So it has been around for awhile. I enjoyed Watson’s analysis of Raymond Chandler’s use of the semicolon. I had no idea there were 4000 semicolons in Moby Dick. But, of course, the King of the Semicolon is Henry James. Watson provides several brilliant examples of the proper use of semicolons in Henry James’s incredible sentences. This slim little book delivers a lot of practical and entertaining grammar advice. Are you a fan of the semicolon? Do you use them? GRADE: A
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Introduction: Love, Hate, and Semicolons 1
I Deep History: The Birth of the Semicolon 13
II The Science of Semicolons: American Grammar Wars 23
III Sexy Semicolons 45
IV Loose Women and Liquor Laws: The Semicolon Wreaks Havoc in Boston 57
V The Minutiae of Mercy 73
VI Carving Semicolons in Stone 91
VII Semicolon Savants 97
VIII Persuasion and Pretension: Are Semicolons for Snobs? 159
Conclusion: Against the Rules? 173
Acknowledgments 185
Notes 189
Credits 207
Index 209

BUFFALO BILLS VS. NY JETS


The long wait is over and the 2019 National Football League season finally kicks off today (I’m not counting that snooze-fest of the Packers vs. Bears Thursday night). Yes, we’ve had the wacky antics of Antonio Brown and the Oakland Raiders to divert us over the Summer, but now we get down to business. The Buffalo Bills face an AFC East divisional opponent in the New York Jets today. The Bills are 3-point underdogs. The question of who is developing faster, QB Josh Allen of the Bills or QB Sam Darnold of the Jets, will be settled this afternoon in the Meadowlands. Both quarterbacks were drafted in the First Round in 2018. Both QBs struggled last year in their rookie season. The QB that performs best today will likely come out with a win. How will your favorite NFL team perform today?

WORLDS OF URSULA K. LE GUIN (PBS)


I first read Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness in 1969. Le Guin’s novel is set on a planet where the aliens change sex on a monthly basis: ambisexual. A Terran human, Genly Ai, is sent to the planet of Gethen as an envoy of the Ekumen, a confederation of planets. Ai’s mission is to persuade the nations of Gethen to join the Ekumen, but difficulties block his success. At the time, Le Guin’s gender-bending aliens–who might be female one month and a male the next–shocked and delighted many Science Fiction readers. The Left Hand of Darkness won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards for Best Novel of the Year. Le Guin’s next success was The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia, a 1974 SF novel about social structures on a remote planet. It won a Nebula for Best Novel of the Year.

Yet, Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin spends a lot of time on Le Guin’s 1968 fantasy novel, A Wizard of Eathsea and its sequels. As the promo says: “Directed by documentarian Arwen Curry, Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin includes a decade of filming with Le Guin herself, who died in 2018, and interviews with her science fiction and fantasy contemporaries and pupils, including Margaret Atwood, Samuel R. Delany, Annalee Newitz, China MiĆ©ville, Neil Gaiman, Michael Chabon and David Mitchell.” You’ll even see a brief glimpse of Jeff Smith’s fanzine that Le Guin contributed to. If you are a fan of Ursula K. Le Guin’s work, you’ll love this documentary!

In sixty years of writing, Ursula K. Le Guin produced 21 novels, several essay collections, children’s books, poetry, and 11 volumes of short stories. The Library of America is issuing her work in their marvelous bound volumes. And, 2019 is the 50th anniversary of Le Guin’s best science fiction novel (in my opinion), The Left Hand of Darkness. Are you a fan of Ursula K. Le Guin’s work? GRADE: A

FRIDAY’S FORGOTTEN BOOKS #545: CARTER BROWN ISSUE OF PAPERBACK PARADE (AUGUST 2019) Edited By Gary Lovisi


Art Scott delivers not one, but two magisterial essays on Carter Brown and the Robert McGinnis covers that graced those classic paperbacks. In “Carter Brown: The Writer and The Stories,” Art traces the career of Alan G. Yates (aka, Carter Brown) from writing for Australian pulp fiction magazines to his long relationship with Horowitz Publications where he churned out a Carter Brown novel each month for decades. In the 1950s Signet Books started to reprint many Carter Brown titles that eventually featured McGinnis covers. And gorgeous covers they are!

But, things get even better in “Carter Brown: The Books and The Covers.” As many of you know, Art Scott has collected a nearly complete collection of Robert McGinnis paperbacks with those amazing covers and unique artwork. And, yes, Art Scott and Gary Lovisi deliver dozens of fabulous paperback covers! If you’re a fan of Robert McGinnis artwork and Carter Brown’s blend of sexy wackiness and mystery, Paperback Parade #104 is a must-buy! GRADE: A+

You can order copies of Paperback Parade at: www.gryphonbooks.com
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
PAPERBACK TALK by Gary Lovisi 2
CARTER BROWN: THE WRITER AND THE STORIES By Art Scott 18
CARTER BROWN: THE BOOKS AND THE COVERS By Art Scott 22
CARTER BROWN: THE SIGNET BOOKS By Gary Lovisi and Art Scott 40
CARTER BROWN: BELMONT-TOWER VINTAGE PAPERBACK INDEX Compiled by Art Scott 58
FEARN’S JINXED NOVELS By Philip Harbottle 62
MATCHLESS PAPERBACKS By Richard Greene 70
MIGHTY MIDGETS By Gary Lovisi 72
EARLY PENGUIN SF By Jon D. Swartz 88
BILL CRIDER By Jon D. Swartz 98

A GOD IN CHAINS By Matthew Hughes and MARUNE: ALASTOR 933 By Jack Vance



I’m a big fan of Matthew Hughes’s faux-Jack Vance books. Hughes manages to channel Vance’s unique writing style and assemble worlds that blend both Vance’s visions and his own. A God in Chains (2019) begins with a man whose memories have been suppressed walking down a road. I was immediately drawn in by the adventures of the man who calls himself Farouche as he untangles the conundrum of his identity. Matthew Hughes keeps the pages turning with magic and mystery on every page! GRADE: B+

While reading A God in Chains I recalled Jack Vance wrote an SF novel using a similar premise. Vance’s Marune: Alastor 933 (1975) opens with a man on a strange planet with no recollection of how he got there. The man is given the name of “Pardero” and sent to work to earn money so he can travel to yet another planet where his memory might be restored at a famous hospital. Vance takes us on a wild journey into stranger and stranger realms as the clues to the missing memories come together. Both A God in Chains and Marune deal with amnesia in very different ways, but with suspenseful stories that reveal hidden secrets. What’s your favorite book or movie that deals with memory loss? GRADE: B+

WHAT WE TALK ABOUT WHEN WE TALK ABOUT BOOKS By Leah Price


Leah Price, Professor of English at Rutgers University, loves books and worries about the future of books. What We Talk About When We Talk About Books:The History and Future of Reading explores the history of books and the challenges books face today in a time filled with movies, podcasts, TV on demand, and video games.

Leah Price points out sales of ebooks have fallen in recent years. Sales of “real” books exceed ebook sales by $100 million. And sales of audio books continue to rise. The book is far from dead but Price cites statistics that many Americans don’t read books–real books or ebooks–anymore. A smaller segment of people read MORE books which explains the sales figures. How many books do you read? How many books do you buy? GRADE: B+
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Introduction 1
Reading over shoulders — 17
The real life of books — 51
Reading on the move — 79
Please lay flat — 110
Prescribed reading — 119
Bound by books — 143
End Papers — 163
Acknowledgements 171
Notes 173
Index 205

BATMAN HUSH [Blu-ray]


A mysterious villain manages to manipulate The Joker, the Riddler, Bane, and Poison Ivy into making attacks on Batman. But, the heart of BATMAN HUSH is the relationship between Catwoman and Batman. Yes, it takes a romantic turn. I’m a fan of these DC Animated movies so factor that into your assessment of my review of BATMAN HUSH. Are you a Catwoman fan? GRADE: B+

A QUIET PLACE 2 FILMING IN WESTERN NY!

A Quiet Place 2 is a sequel to the 2018 horror hit movie. John Krasinski will star and direct the movie as he did with the original. From the press releases I’ve read, Krasinski’s wife and star, Emily Blunt, will return to participate in the sequel. Film crews have been seen in Oclott, Akron, and North Tonawanda! This project will certainly help the local Western New York economy: “NY State officals say the film is expected to hire more than 400 people in the Western New York area and invest more than $10 million into the regional economy.”

For more details check out this Buffalo News article: https://buffalonews.com/2019/08/22/could-a-quiet-place-2-surpass-the-natural-in-buffalo-film-history/

Are any movies being filmed near you?

LADY IN THE LAKE By Laura Lippman


In his excellent review of Lady in the Lake in the New York Times Book Review (you can read it here), Stephen King compares Laura Lippman to Ruth Rendell. Both writers produced character-based mysteries that draw the reader into the story.

Laura Lippman’s Lady in the Lake focuses on Madeline “Maddie” Schwartz, a woman who leaves her comfortable middle-class life and struggles to become a journalist in a male-oriented profession. Lady in the Lake takes place between October 1966 and November 1967 in Baltimore. Maddie starts her journalistic career as a go-for at a Baltimore newspaper, The Star. But she becomes fascinated by the death of a missing woman whose body was discovered in the fountain of a city park lake. Little by little, Maddie learns how to investigate a crime and how to write in newspaper format. Laura Lippman enriches her novel with chapters narrated by a jewelry store clerk, a troubled waitress, a star player on the Baltimore Orioles, a Baltimore cop, a veteran female reporter, and the ghost of the victim which provide both detail and context.

Lady in the Lake captures the sense of change of the Sixties and the roles women in America. GRADE: B