May 3rd, 2007

More Disturbing News

I gather  that Generation Loss is now making its way into the homes of shameless readers everywhere.  The words "disturbing" and "disturbed" seem to be the descriptive adjectives of choice for the book, a fact which has left my poor mother ... disturbed.  I assured her that when I speak at the Pound Ridge Library in a few weeks, I will not pepper my dialog with expletives or smack anyone in the face with frank discussions of sex or drugs, especially since she warned me that there might be a few nuns from Saint Patrick's Elementary School (my alma mater) in attendance.  The nuns will be relieved to note that my sainthood, long overdue, is now a fact (see SF Site below).

*Booklist: Starred Review* Hand, Elizabeth. Generation Loss. Apr. 2007. 296p. Small Beer, $24.95 (1-931520-31-6).

Hand, mainly known for sf/fantasy stories, veers off in a new and exciting direction, drawing on but going well beyond the crime genre. Three decades ago, Cassandra Neary was an avant-garde photographer whose book, Dead Girls, was published to acclaim. But her hard-driving lifestyle, in concert with the rapid collapse of the counterculture, led to a downward spiral. Salvation appears in the form of an editor who offers her the chance to interview a reclusive photographer, Aphrodite Kamestos. But when Cass arrives at the photographer’s private island, she finds that Kamestos had no idea she was coming. Rather than turn around and go home, Cass decides to use the opportunity to find out what she can about Kamestos, uncovering a few shocking secrets and one old mystery in the process. Hand combines elements of the traditional amateur-sleuth mystery with a visceral story of personal redemption, and her pulsating prose smacks us in the face with frank, fascinating discussions of sex and drugs and with staccato dialogue peppered with expletives. The utterly compelling protagonist, whose self-loathing competes with her hatred of life to see which can beat her into submission first, wins us over almost in spite of herself. Brilliantly written and completely original, Hand’s novel is an achievement with a capital A. —David Pitt

  • pgdf

Sixties Novels, Part 9

CALL OF THE FLESH, Virginia Coffman, Lancer, 1968

Two preliminary matters:

1) After the tenth installment of this series, I'll make a post containing the Permalinks for all ten parts, and I'll do so again after the 20th, 30th, etc..

2) I apologize for the flash glare obscuring the faces of our paisley-clad sex object and a robed swami on this cover. I'm working to get my scanner up and running soon!

Back to this title.

First, it's a paperback original or PBO, an important manifestation of the publishing of the 1950s and 1960s. I don't believe any of our previous entries have been PBO's. Lancer Books was the low-rent publisher who brought us the first edition of Delany's great THE TIDES OF LUST, which I found on a wire-spinner rack in a rather seedy variety store, circa 1973.

One great thing about the Sixties zeitgeist was that it encouraged people to jump out of their ruts, to experiment, to try new things and go wild. Often, this led to disaster or unintentional comedy. I'm not sure but what the current book isn't both.

Virginia Coffman

was 54 years old when CALL OF THE FLESH came out: hardly a flower child. She had already established herself writing Gothics. But something in the air impelled her to leave DuMaurier territory behind, to jump on the Beatles bandwagon and tackle the hip and happening world of gurus.

Once more, I'll let the cover copy speak for itself. (All ellipses sic.)

"KRISHNA GURU, the Humble One, led a cult devoted to meditation and serenity. His followers believed in flower power...and poured millions in hard cash into his hands. He was the living embodiment of pure love...or so it seemed. But there were greedy men who wanted a slice of those millions--and others who wanted to see him stopped for other, more vicious reasons.

"INGA DAHLGREN was a living symbol of love at its earthiest, all sensual beauty and no talent to speak of. She needed no power but her own flamboyant sex. But she was deeply, inextricably involved with two men: Shane, the one she wanted but couldn't have, and Matt, who wanted her and would stop at nothing to possess her. And both Shane and Matt had plans of their own for the Guru and his fortune...

"It was an explosive situation--and Inga was the fuse..."

First, we must comment on Inga's last name. Another Dahlgren to add to the canon of imaginative literature! Then, her description: "She needed no power but her own flamboyant sex...." How many times have you found occasion to use that phrase? Surely, if you had seen Inga in the opening pages, her body "carefully covered by the shining Italian silk and psychedelic colors of her hostess pajamas...[with] nothing underneath," you too would know what flamboyant sex really means. (Does anyone wear "hostess pajamas" anymore? What are they? Where can they be purchased?)

A year prior to the Manson Family murders, long before Waco, before Jonestown--there was CALL OF THE FLESH.

Perhaps you want a copy of this novel for your own? One from Virgina Coffman's own estate? It could very well be yours!

Sensitive New Age Killer

Cool title, crummy Aussie movie.  What a waste.

If you’re thinking about checking out The Invisible, which is an experience akin to pounding yourself on the head with a salami for two hours non-stop, there is a viable alternative—you could watch the original movie, a Swedish film called Den Osynlige (also The Invisible).  The stories of the two films are more or less the same.  A young man is beaten by a gang of thugs, who mistakenly believe that he’s implicated them in a robbery, and left for dead.  On waking, he finds that he’s become invisible to other people, and realizes that he’s in a coma, close to death, and must find a way to help the police locate his body or else step into the light.  The differences between the two films?  One is overly sentimental, poorly acted (the actor who plays the protagonist also played Tom Cruise’s son in War of the Worlds), and scripted by chimpanzees; the other earns its sentiment, is well acted (the actor who plays the protagonist is Stellan Skarsgard’s son), and deftly written.  One is widely spoken of as Ghost (the Patrick Swayze-Demi Moore soap opera) for teenagers, and the other is dark parable concerning outcast youth in Swedish society.  One has an ending that’s all about a nice young man moving on with his life; the other’s ending is morally complex.

Up to you, but I’d go for Door Number 2.

On a personal note, I’m still trying to get over the fact that in the NFL draft last weekend, my team, the Cleveland Browns, drafted the Notre Dame quarterback, Brady Quinn.  I hate Notre Dame, and I especially hate Quinn, who appears to be the consummate preppie with the personality of a born-again adman and a weak, erratic arm.  I can’t bring myself to root for him, yet if he fails, the Browns will continue to dwell in or near the cellar of the NFL for years to come.  The conflict is seriously screwing me up.

When Blogs Collide

I may or may not be blogging for a few days, as I'm off to Chicago early tomorrow for to see my fellow vizard Ysabeau Wilce, whose first novel, Flora Segunda (etc.) is still knockin' 'em dead from east to west across this great land of ours . . . and beyond:  the British edition is due in July, with this awesome cover:

Okay, readers in the know know that Ysabeau runs a terrific blog of her own, The Califa Police Gazette, to which I am an occasional contributor, and which has already, in its relatively brief existence, contributed a new word to the critical lexicon!   We are planning a nice barbeque on Saturday evening, which may give us a chance for a little DUELING LIVE BLOGS!

Or not.  

But wait!  Also potentially in the mix is the inimitable Bill Shunn, he of Inhuman Swill and current Nebula and Hugo Award nominee (for his novella "Inclination," which can be read here)!  

So there is an outside chance that at least THREE, count 'em 3, blogs will collide in Chicago this weekend.  I don't know about you, but I am fairly palpitating with anticipation!  Let's just hope our bloggin' barbeque doesn't turn into . . .