Derik Badman's Journal

2019-07-19 08:14

Mentioning Gabriel Garcia Marquez yesterday reminded me of the summer I read almost all his novels. After my sophomore year of college, I spent the summer working at the Temple University Ambler Campus library. My job was to check out books and shelf books that had been returned or left around the library. On a small campus in the summer there it was not frequent than any of those things were necessary, I was basically just making sure there was someone at the desk if a patron came in. My supervisors didn't care if I read while sitting at the desk (and this was before the library system computers were normal computers, they were terminals for a specialized system) so I'd go back into the stacks, find a book, read it, put it back, and find another. I probably never read so many books as I did that summer, and luckily the library had a unusually decent collection of 20th century literature. I sampled authors I decided I didn't like, and devoured authors I decided I did. I worked my way through most of the works of Garcia Marquez, John Barth, Paul Auster, Richard Brautigan, Borges, and numerous others. I'm almost definite that's when my interest (and knowledge of the existence of) metafiction and postmodernist lit and metaphysical detective fiction started, and probably other things I've now forgotten.

Along with The Unfortunates I picked up from Powells recently, one of the old Tor double novels: Houston Houston Where are You by James Tiptree, Jr. and_Souls_ by Joanna Russ. The book is a small paperback with two covers so you can start reading at the either side with both short novels ending in the middle. This is a double shot of two pioneering female science fiction authors. I read the Russ side of the book between last night and this morning. It's a historical science fiction story in that it takes place in medieval Germany at an abbey raided by vikings, but the protagonist of the story is fantastical in at first a subtle then an increasingly obvious way. The whole thing is narrated by a man looking back on the events from his childhood, so it allows for a mingling of both the child's naivety and the man's experience. In the end I'm not sure how well the ending succeeded. This is a short, limited story and I'm wondering if I missed something important, as the final lines didn't really land with me like I feel they were supposed to. It's a quick read so maybe I'll reread at some point.

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