Sunday, January 1, 2017

Library of America dips into genre fiction

I wasn't really sure how to frame this post.  It mostly is about books that I am keeping an eye on that should be published in 2017/18 (like Rezzori's Kain from NYRB Classics), so there is some aspect of this that is about deferred gratification.  (And since I really don't like paying full price for books, usually I have to delay another 6 months to a year before the prices start coming down a bit.)  Along these lines, I am quite tempted by the 2 volume set of Loren Eiseley essays (including The Unexpected Universe, The Night Country and The Star Thrower), but I will hold off for a while to see if the price comes down.  It's hard to justify spending that kind of money (over $50 Can) when the individual books can all be bought for a few cents plus shipping (and indeed one Amazon reviewer says that is definitely the way to go -- at least with the recent LOA edition of A Sand County Almanac you get a number of Aldo Leopold's unpublished writings -- but that isn't the case with the Eiseley volumes or rather there are only a few uncollected pieces in Vol. 1).  I actually have The Night Country already, so I'd just need The Unexpected Universe, The Star Thrower and perhaps The Immense Journey.

But the other aspect is that it is fairly notable how much Library of America has gone in for crime fiction, particularly crime noir novels, and to a lesser extent science fiction.  I've generally held off from getting their noir fiction, aside from the initial offering.  However, I am starting to get more interested in their Ross MacDonald volumes.  The final one (including Black Money and The Underground Man) will be coming out in July 2017.  I'm also somewhat interested in the Elmore Leonard Four Later Novels volume (which is available now incidentally), since 3 of the novels were made into movies (starting with the very clever Get Shorty).  Oddly enough the one that has the most immediate appeal is Tishomingo Blues, since it is partly about Civil War re-enactments, and after I get through Vanity Fair (no mean feat) I will be reading Steven Sherrill's The Minotaur Takes His Own Sweet Time, which also features people dressing up and waging the Civil War over and over again.  (Seems like a fairly apt metaphor for U.S. society...)  In general, I would be willing to just check these novels out individually from the library, though of course for some of the other crime fiction, the LOA volumes might be the only way to get the books.

For the SF, I did get one of the PDK volumes, but the other ones I had a bit too much overlap with books I already owned.  However, I didn't actually own any Kurt Vonnegut (what I did have I gave up several moves ago), so I ended up ordering all 4 volumes!  Just recently, LOA has started putting together an Ursula Le Guin collection.  I'm not likely to order the Complete Orsinia, though I might conceivably read it from the library.  On the other hand, in September, LOA is going to issue Hainish Novels and Stories in 2 volumes.  The first one includes The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed.  The second will include The Word for World is Forest.  Assuming there is a Kindle version for these two, I am reasonably likely to go ahead and order these, since I feel her best novels are well represented here.  In any case, I do have a while to wait, but I have plenty to read in the meantime.

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