The Fell Gard Codices

McGill Book Fair, 2012

November 3rd, 2012

Every year, Montreal’s McGill University hosts a large book sale. I once wrote about it for Black Gate. This year’s edition, held a couple of weeks ago, was the first under new management. It seemed fairly smoothly run, all in all, and I made some nice finds.

After the cut, a list of the books I bought, with some thoughts.

Abercrombie, Joe / The Blade Itself

Abercrombie’s books have been the subject of much discussion over at Black Gate, and I thought it was about time I picked one up to give it a whirl.

Barker, Clive / The Great and Secret Show
Barker, Clive / Weaveworld

When I was a kid, Clive Barker was competing with Stephen King for the title of lord of horror fiction, with a reputation for more literate prose. I’ve got a couple other of his books around, and I’ve always had a vague desire to sit down with some of his work and get a sense of what it’s like. (I also remember getting about halfway through Weaveworld when I was younger, and sorta … drifting away. So I’ve also always wanted to finish the thing.)

Bester, Alfred / Golem100

I’ve read Bester’s two best-known works (The Stars My Destination and The Demolished Man), and I’ve begun grabbing up his other books as I find them.

Burroughs, William S. / 3-novel omnibus (The Soft Machine, Nova Express, The Wild Boys)

Sometimes I don’t understand publishers. The Soft Machine and Nova Express are the first and third books of a trilogy. The Wild Boys is no part of that trilogy. So naturally they’re all together in one volume. Without the second book of the trilogy. Anyway, another writer here whose work I’ve always wanted to explore.

Cantor, Norman F. / Medieval History: The Life and Death of a Civilization

Obviously writing Fell Gard has led me to read a lot more about medieval history. And I liked Cantor’s historiography of the period, Inventing the Middle Ages.

Cheyney, Edward P. / The Dawn of a New Era: 1250-14523

See above, in re: medieval history. There didn’t seem to be much of it at the sale this year.

Cook, Glen / The Black Company

First printing for a dollar; why not.

Delaney, Samuel R. / The Einstein Intersection

A book I had not previously owned. Now I do.

Dymoke, J. / London in the Eighteenth Century

A book about daily life in the eighteenth-century England. Being fascinated by the Romantics, and especially William Blake, this was an easy call.

Frye, Northrop / The Educated Imagination

I’ve read Frye’s first two books, Fearful Symmetry and The Anatomy of Criticism; he had a fascinating, powerful mind. (And, yes, Fearful Symmetry is the book Ulric found in the library.)

Geddes, Gary (ed) / 20th-Century Poetry & Poetics

I will readily cop that I’ve always found twentieth-century poetry, particularly late-twentieth-century poetry, difficult of access; I don’t really know where to begin. Hence, this book.

Hazlitt, William / Liber Amoris

Like I said, I’m fascinated by the Romantics and their period.

Lem, Stanislaw / Memoirs Found in a Bathrub

An inventive writer. When I first read his work (specifically The Cyberiad) I was surprised at how accessible his fiction was; how much of a storyteller he was.

Lethem, Jonathan / Amnesia Moon

As it happens, I’d just been reading something about Lethem’s early sf novels a day or two before the sale, so when I saw this I snapped it up.

Lewis, C.S. / Miracles
Lewis, C.S. / All My Road Before Me: The Diary of C.S. Lewis

Lewis is a fascinating figure to read. His prose is clear, his ideas (in terms of literary criticism and history) usually commonsensical. So when one disagrees with him, it’s typically possible to see at once exactly where and why. I don’t have much in common with him in terms of religious views, but I profoundly respect his literary scholarship.

Lewis, Norman / The Comprehensive Word Guide

A thesaurus-like reference work. We’ll see how useful it is.

Maitland, F.W. / The Constitutional History of England

I mentioned Cantor’s historiography of the Middle Ages before; according to him, this book was where real modern scholarship about the era began. So I am perhaps understandably curious.

Munro, Alice / Selected Stories

CanLit strikes! Another writer I feel I should know something about.

Reeves, Marjorie / The Medieval Town

Another daily-life-in-time-and-place book. As I said, always tremendously useful.

Tolkien, J.R.R. and Carpenter, Humphrey (ed) / The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien

I’ve read most of this book before, but I wanted a copy of my own. Writing the weekly column for Black Gate, it has actually happened that I’ve needed to consult it and had to hie myself to my local library. Now I don’t need to worry about having to look something up in the middle of the night.

Trollope, Anthony / Barchester Towers

My late uncle, a professor at the University of Alberta, taught Trollope. He’d reread Trollope’s complete works every summer; my cousins have told me that they’d pass by his study at those times and hear him bellowing with laughter. Each year.

Vance, Jack / Showboat World

Always on the lookout for Vance’s stuff.

Vonnegut, Kurt / 6-novel omnibus (Slaughterhouse-Five, The Sirens of Titan, Player Piano, Cat’s Cradle, Breakfast of Champions, Mother Night)

I’ve got one of those books, Sirens of Titan; I liked it much more than Galápagos, but then I read that back in high school. Anyway, this looks like it’ll satisfy my Vonnegut needs for a while.

Williams, A. Susan / The Lifted Veil: The Book of Fantastic Literature by Women (1800-WWII)

Interesting early fantasy collection.

Williams, Charles / The Place of the Lion
Williams, Charles / War In Heaven

Williams was the third-best-known of the Inklings (after Tolkien and Lewis), and these were two of his ‘spiritual pot-boilers’ — thrillers about the incursion of the supernatural into everyday English life. I’ve quite liked the three I’ve read so far.

Zinoviev, Alexander / The Yawning Heights

A Russian satire of the Soviet state, with sfnal touches. Another book I’ve been curious about for a while.

Those were all on the first day. I went back on the second day and grabbed:

Carroll, Jonathan / Sleeping In Flame

I distinctly remember Carroll being a big name in literary fantasy about fifteen years ago. He’s still writing, but for whatever reason it seems to me he doesn’t get talked about as much. I’ve read his novella Black Cocktail, which as I remember was fine but also underwhelming, and I’ve wanted to give him a second chance. And this book has a cover by Dave McKean, so there’s that.

Hawk in Silver / Mary Gentle

A writer I’ve heard good things about.

The Great Wheel / Joyce Ballou Gregorian

Gregorian’s work turns up frequently on used-bookstore shelves around Montreal. I’m slowly gathering her trilogy, written from 1975 to 1987; I have an odd interest in pre-Sword of Shannara fantasy novels, as I feel that book more than any other marked the codification of fantasy as a genre of commercial fiction. Anyway, that’s my theory. So I like looking at books from before Sword hit, to see what they were like.

After the Fires / Ursula Pflug

A short story collection. I’ve seen Pflug’s name around, I’ve gotten curious … and as should be clear by now, that tends to lead to me buying a book.

A few gifts aside, that was all for me at the McGill sale this year. But then in a couple weeks, the next installment of the twice-yearly Friends of the Westmount Library sale will go on. So more books soon.

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