I wrote down everything I read and began writing my own first novel...

This blog aimed to contrast what I was reading in in 1975-79 with the same month, week and day, 30 years later in 2005-2009. I'm leaving the blog up in archive mode, blogging in real time on Live Journal--and still writing novels.

Lynne Murray's Live Journal and Bride of the Dead Blog

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Close encounters of the paranormal kind

For those who are considering buying the new obesity epidemic, I've written an assessment in the form of an owner's manual, now up on my website at The Care and Feeding of Your New Obesity Epidemic.

August 26-29, 1976 I read:

The Reader Over Your Shoulder: A Handbook for Writers of English Prose, Robert Graves, Alan Hodge

I didn't finish this book, which I believe was recommended by Mel Gilden, whose science fiction short story writing class I had just taken. The main point I got from the book was that everybody writes crap--even the great ones, if you sample their work at random, will write garbage. So shut up and write already. Reading some reviews of the hardcover on amazon.com I see that the authors rip up the poor examples of prose from Hemingway, Huxley and Shaw and are very strict with perpetrators of poor syntax. Oops, didn't get that far. I evidently misunderstood the thrust of their argument, but I can't say I regret the message I took away from the part of the book I did read. I also don't regret not finishing it.

Capricorn Games, Robert Silverberg

F&SF July '76, The First Time
(The magazine, The First Time might be a novel or novella…?)

Insanity Inside Out, Kenneth Donaldson

August 26-28, 2006:

I read a so-called paranormal romance novel this week. I didn't know that such a subgenre existed till recently. But almost as soon as I finished the book, I found that Susie Bright had done a fascinating interview it's the August 28, 2006 entry of her web log, the full text of an interview for Publisher's Weekly on the success of the romance genre and its impact as mainstream erotica for women. She also offers some sobering perspectives about the publishing industry

The book I read was:
Night Play (A Dark-Hunter Novel), Sherrilyn Kenyon

Speaking of Publishers Weekly, I can't improve on this description from their review:

Can a gorgeous werewolf with magical powers and an overweight boutique owner with a broken heart have a future together? They can in Kenyon's fantastical world, which imagines a contemporary New Orleans teeming with vampiric Daimons, immortal Dark-Hunters and various were-bears, leopards and wolves. Vane Kattalakis is a lone wolf in every sense. His brother, Fang, is in a coma; his werewolf father wants to kill him; and his mostly human mother, who was taken by force by Vane's father, would happily see them all dead. But after Vane shares a sizzling sexual encounter with Bride McTierney, he realizes his life is about to change. Bride is Vane's "predestined mate," which means that he has three weeks to convince her to be his partner or he'll spend the next several decades impotent and alone.

I wasn't so sure I'd continue, but once I started reading, I spent the day with the book. Can't argue with that. It worked for me as escape. Interesting how commenters on Amazon freaked out over the heroine being a size 18 and feeling no one could love her because of her size.

Sherrilyn Kenyon also writes as Kinley MacGregor and has an interesting web site at
this link

<br /><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Kinley+Macgregor" rel="tag">Kinley MacGregor</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Sherrilyn+Kenyon" rel="tag">Sherrilyn Kenyon</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Susie+Bright" rel="tag">Susie Bright</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Paranormal+romance" rel="tag">Paranormal romance</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Robert+Graves" rel="tag">Robert Graves</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Publishers+Weekly" rel="tag">Publishers Weekly</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Mel+Gilden " rel="tag">Mel Gilden</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Obesity+Epidemic" rel="tag">Obesity Epidemic</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Lynne+Murray" rel="tag">Lynne Murray</a><br /><br />

Friday, August 25, 2006

A wild buffet (I'd avoid the surrealist casserole...unidentifiable fragments)

August 9 to August 25, 1976 I read:

The Magic Barrel, Bernard Malamud

I had no memory of this book. The author died in 1986. I found this story online that only brought back the faintest whisper of memory, but it's a brilliantly written, evocative story.

Papa, A Personal Memoir, Gregory Hemingway, M.D.
I don't remember much about the book except, obviously, that it was written by the novelist's son.

I wasn't a cat person when I read this book, that came later. But Ernest Hemingway the descendents of some of his cats at the Hemingway House on Key West are embattled. It's a stable, cared-for, neutered group (with the exception of a select few descendants of the Hemingway original 6-toed cats). The cats live at the museum/house and they are threatened.

home website

FYI, if interested: petition website

Space, Jan Faller
My note is: The personal account of a divorce. Tres dreary.

New Dimensions, Robert Silverberg, Ed.

The Doctors Metabolic Diet, Kremer & Kremer

30 years ago I was still on the diet rollercoaster. I went online to see if Kremer & Kremer were still around and still marketing their diet (maybe there was a Kremer v. Kremer lawsuit over the book--sorry couldn't resist). Anyway loads of other profiteers have their own metabolic diets for sale circa 2006, I guess you can't patent that concept, even though it was about as effective as every other diet plan. Is primary goal was enriching the book's authors. In 1976, I didn't get that. And I suffered for not getting it.

I've been separated from the diet wars for so long, that when I searched for the book title, I saw an ad for "the metabolic typing diet" I thought it must have something to do with keyboarding--the carpal tunnel diet, etc.

Comic-Stripped American What Dick Tracy, Blondie, Daddy Warbucks and Charlie Brown Tell Us About Ourselves, Arthur Asa Berger

I looked at some of this author's other books--yikes, semiotics! That's a word that always looked to me like it should be on a label: "warning this product contains semiotics." No, don't ask me to look it up. I've looked it up several times over the decades and my brain rejects it every time--I think I'm allergic. Interesting range of works though: educational murder mysteries, books on Jewish comedy, oceangoing tourism, visiting Vietnam, television. I look further and see him listed as a professor at my alma mater San Francisco State University. Okay, now I'm not surprised. San Francisco State is a place where you can have freedom to experiment wildly. The downside is no one will notice, no matter what you do.

Blue Money, Carolyn See

I liked this book--still remember it--and I'm glad to see that Carolyn See is still alive and

Without Feathers, Woody Allen

Interesting website, about, not by Allen, has a list of all his work.

August 9 to August 24, 2006:

Haven't read so much during the last few weeks. I've been writing more, reading less. That happens, although I can tell I'm about ready to jump into some escape fiction and stay submerged for awhile.

The Essential Kathy Acker, Kathy Acker, Ed & Intro: Amy Scholder, Jeanette Winterson, and Dennis Cooper

The great French writer, Colette, famously said: "Look for a long time at what pleases you, and a longer time at what pains you."

I was warned in the disclaimer that this was experimental, and usually I don't take well to being an author's lab rat, but I was curious. Wikipedia has an interesting entry on Acker.

Dennis Cooper wrote the intro to this book, and in the one Cooper book I've read so far, The Sluts, he used his fragments to actually tell a story. No such luck with Acker. I didn't find much more than tiny splinters of stories in Acker's work, even though the prose is powerful, sometimes even oddly ingratiating.

I followed Colette's advice and looked at it carefully to see what I disliked. It's highly graphic, in places pornographic and visceral, but that in itself doesn't always put me off. Finally I realized that what irritated me even more than the lack of story was the fact that Acker seemed to want to alienate the reader. Mission accomplished.

A strong metaphor or vivid detail in her prose may hold your attention, but she appears to have the attention span of a housefly. Segments of disconnected prose are like a pile of pieces from different puzzles that she has mixed up on purpose. I did read that she used the "cut up" technique famously employed by William Burroughs of composing prose like ransom notes from fragments. Personally I think disconnected segments are more rewarding as a visual rather than a literary device.

This is very much a matter of personal taste. I will look into Acker's nonfiction essays before I give up totally. Sometimes the halter of reality guides a wild, stampeding prose escapist to follow an actual narrative.

<br /><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Kathy+Acker" rel="tag">Kathy Acker</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Dennis+Cooper" rel="tag">Dennis Cooper</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Carolyn+See" rel="tag">Carolyn See</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Colette" rel="tag">Colette</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Woody Allen"rel="tag">Woody Allen</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Bernard+Malamud" rel="tag">Bernard Malamud</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Gregory+Hemingway" rel="tag">Gregory Hemingway</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Hemingway+House" rel="tag">Hemingway House</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Hemingway+cats" rel="tag"> Hemingway cats</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Lynne+Murray" rel="tag">Lynne Murray</a><br /><br />

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Many shades of humor

July 31 to August 6, 1976 I read:

The MAD World of William M. Gaines, Frank Jacobs

This was a bio of Gaines, founder of MAD Magazine--a bright light of laughter and sanity for a lot of us growing up. Biographer and that Frank Jacobs was a writer for the magazine. And a MAD website

One Man's San Francisco, Herb Caen

This was one of the first books I bought in hardcover, and possibly the last I reviewed for the Buddhist newspaper. I loved Herb Caen's column--gentle or pointed, up-to-the-minute sometimes romantic, sometimes snarky comments…separated by three dots. Six days a week for 50 years. Wow.

He was enough of a presence that in the '80s when I worked for a famous local liberal whose office was considering not giving us the Martin Luther King holiday off, we called Herb Caen! I don't know if any contact was made from Caen's office over this item. Our boss loved to see his name in the column--but not being teased for exploiting his workers. The boss decided we would get the holiday, and we dutifully called Caen's assistant back, so the item never ran.

I was way too broke to buy this book just because I loved Herb Caen. I believe there was a waiting list for it at the library and I wanted to review it for the Buddhist newspaper. It was one of the last things I wrote for them. I wanted to include a wonderful Caen joke from it, which I'll have to paraphrase: "Now that it's six weeks past Christmas, don't you think it's time we took down the TransAmerica Pyramid?" After so many years of self-censoring for the Buddhist newspaper and I thought that might be too edgy. (!!!) Then they published the review with a picture of downtown SF with the TransAmerica Pyramid in the center! Aiii! Definitely time to leave off writing for the Buddhist newspaper.

The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hogue, Robert Heinlein
Goodness, there's a
. Well, of course there is.

Best Sci Fi Stories of the Year, 5th Annual Collection, Lester Del Rey, ed.

July 31 to August 6, 2006 I read:

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, Alison Bechdel

After eleven or twelve Dykes to Look Out For collections of her wry cartoons, Bechdel has written a graphic novel/memoir. Clearly a labor of love, a beautiful book, exploring her childhood in a family where the family business was operating of a Funeral Home (which the family called the "fun home"), and her father, lived a closeted gay life until Bechtel, in college, came out as a lesbian. Soon after that he was killed by a truck, which Bechdel suspects was a suicide. One of her primary means of bonding with her father, who also an English teacher, was over his favorite novels and Fun Home is elegantly steeped in literature. A wistful book.

A Hat Full of Sky, Terry Pratchett

This book about a young witch's apprenticeship was aimed at younger readers, but it's totally enjoyable for any age readers. As is anything by Pratchett).

<br /><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Terry+Pratchett" rel="tag">Terry Pratchett</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Alison+Bechdel" rel="tag">Alison Bechdel</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Robert+Heinlein" rel="tag">Robert Heinlein</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Herb+Caen" rel="tag">Herb Caen</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/William+M.+Gaines"rel="tag">William M. Gaines</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Frank+Jacobs" rel="tag">Frank Jacobs</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/MAD+Magazine" rel="tag">MAD Magazine</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Lynne+Murray" rel="tag">Lynne Murray</a><br /><br />