Cheap Reads

by John Holbo on March 10, 2006

Crooked Timber is going boingboing with all the ‘cool stuff!’ links. On we go. Amazon has piles of books slashed up to 75%. Mostly utter depths of crap, like you’d expect. But: The Locus Awards is a bargain. $4.99 for 30 years of the best, including Wolfe, LeGuin, Ellison, Varley, Russ, Butler, Tiptree, Bisson, Crowley, Chiang, couple others.

I’ll tell you a secret about Belle. She’s loves Hornblower. Don DeLillo’s Cosmopolis? (Was it really bad? That’s what I heard.) This looks good: The War Against Cliche, 500 pages worth of essays and reviews by Martin Amis. (Yes, I’m serious.) For the kids: Neil Gaiman, The Day I Swapped My Dad  For Two Goldfish; Daniel Pinkwater, The Picture of Morty and Ray; and for the kid in all of us, Peter Bagge, Buddy’s Got Three Mom’s. Maybe there’s something else good in there. I missed it, apparently.



Backword Dave 03.10.06 at 4:25 am

Well, if you read the Amis, maybe you can tell us if he’s being ironic. I mean, saying “cliches are bad” isn’t groundbreaking, and nor is “the war against …” But all 13 Amazon reviews take him seriously. I think that’s why I gave up on Martin.

“The Moronic Inferno” was funny though.


John Holbo 03.10.06 at 4:31 am

Yeah, calling your book “The War Against Cliche” is … well, yeah. “Moronic Inferno” was funny, as you say.


Belle Waring 03.10.06 at 6:12 am

since all don delillo sucks, I’m sure the book in question sucked as well. seriously, people, just re-read some hornblower.


John Holbo 03.10.06 at 8:15 am

I should also clarify, lest anyone be confused by my post: I believe it’s the price that’s been slashed, not the book itself. (I don’t want indignant emails from unsatisfied CT readers: I was let to understand this book would be mutilated!)


Backword Dave 03.10.06 at 8:24 am

Aww, and I was looking forward to some “slash fiction” too.


alkali 03.10.06 at 8:40 am

This looks good: The War Against Cliche, 500 pages worth of essays and reviews by Martin Amis.

It is very good, even if some of the recent work of Amis fils has suffered a bit.


Scott 03.10.06 at 10:01 am

Not sure if all Don Dellilo sucks, and I haven’t read that one, but Underworld should never have been published. I still occassionally contemplate shoving a hot poker through my ear to destroy the memory of that “novel”. At the very least, I want my $$ and time spent back.


Richard Bellamy 03.10.06 at 10:07 am

I once heard a news report on “Early Books by Famous Writers,” that discussed poor early writings by future A-List writers.

By far the absolute best was Martin Amis’s 1982 masterpiece Invasion of the Space Invaders — which is not an early Sci-Fi attempt, but is rather an actual tip sheet/cheat book for the Atari 2600 Video Game.


Christopher M 03.10.06 at 10:44 am

Maybe there’s something else good in there. I missed it, apparently.

You somehow overlooked this gem that seems tailored to the CT-reader market: Choose Your Own Adventure porn for grad students!

The Classics Professor is a beautiful woman at a prestigious New York university whose cold professional façade masks a powerful eroticism. Dr. Wendy Lake wants to seduce you, and a disastrous relationship has left you vulnerable to her advances. You’re fascinated and intimidated. When the affair becomes dangerously intense, you’ll have to decide whether you will submit to all her perversions, such as attending pansexual orgies in midtown; escape the pressure through a fling with a nubile university co-ed; or drop out of graduate school altogether.

They don’t mention the other available ending where you sit at home on Friday night reading Marcuse.


KF 03.10.06 at 10:47 am

As a sometime DeLillo scholar (for what that’s worth) and a longertime DeLillo fan (though always with a bit of the old love-hate involved), I can say without reservation: Cosmopolis blew. (The technical term, you know.) It read to me like a sterile rehashing of several of the better set pieces from earlier novels, without a strong focus to guide them along. In fact, I have an argument (forthcoming someday, journal finances willing) that Cosmopolis is a somewhat perverse enactment of the deconstructive impulse, a self-undoing novel that leaves you with nothing by the time you’re done.

Not a fan of that one, me.


Jonathan 03.10.06 at 11:58 am

I think Cosmopolis tricks you into thinking that it’s bad. I thought the same thing about Eyes Wide Shut. It’s been noted, by a contributor, no less, that the CT taste in fiction skews skiffy too much, perhaps, for comfort.


Eleanor 03.10.06 at 1:15 pm

I liked Cosmopolis. But then I liked Underworld too. So I’m running away now before Belle can slap me.


Tyrone Slothrop 03.10.06 at 3:38 pm

You could buy a Thomas Kinkade-branded novel (putatively by the Painter of Light(tm) himself), A Christmas Promise: A Cape Light Novel — only $5.99 cheap! I can’t tell from Amazon’s description whether he touched up the cover artwork a little.

More Kinkade fun. What can I say? It’s an itch I keep scratching.


John Holbo 03.10.06 at 7:15 pm

Yes, d-squared notes our tragically skiffy-skewed literary focus in a recent thread. I’ve never really liked "Blake’s Seven" myself, but my old D&D buddies in junior high were heavy into it.


anthony 03.10.06 at 8:07 pm

i found cosmopolis, strange, haunted, and a lot like nicholoson, i think it is one of the hardest, not in the sense of difficulty, but in the sense of uncompromising formality, gem like is the wrong word, its nothing so dazzling…

v. much worth reading


Walt Pohl 03.10.06 at 8:14 pm

I like Don DeLillo’s writing. I like Belle’s writing. Belle, please don’t make me choose…


willie mink 03.10.06 at 9:52 pm

I’ve read most of DeLillo and thought Cosmopolis was okay. Underworld? Fantastic–but only if you understand DeLillo first. White Noise? Sure to be read 100 years from now, along with six or seven other 20th century novels. And his earlier work out-Godards Godard.


Dale 03.11.06 at 9:00 am

The Amis was surprisingly good. Notable was his review of Palimpsest. It suffers from the fact that he’s not a great stylist, but it’s honest, as far as I remember.

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