Cultural notes

For those who remember Leonard Pinth-Garnell.


Norman Lebrecht says that The Rite of Spring was “a glorification of primitivism that challenged the values of modern society. Its response was reciprocal violence.” My own theory is that the riot at its premiere was caused by time-traveling aesthetes happy for an opportunity to get rowdy.


The Locus Science Fiction Foundation bought the rights to R.A. Lafferty‘s writing a couple years ago and is planning to reprint his complete short stories. The first volume is due out early next year, in time for the centenary of his birth. Twenty or so years ago I tried to collect every book by Lafferty in print. Although I found numerous chapbooks and small-press editions, most of his writing was out of reach. The new edition is very welcome, even though the first volume costs $66.

If you’ve never read Lafferty, there are a handful of his stories online:

Slow Tuesday Night

Narrow Valley

The Transcendent Tigers

Sodom and Gomorrah, Texas

The Six Fingers of Time

Nine Hundred Grandmothers

I’m pleased to observe that I am not the only R.A. Lafferty obsessive around. Andrew Ferguson is reading his way though Lafferty’s stories in order and commenting on them at Continued on Next Rock. See also The Ants of God Are Queer Fish.

Readers of Lafferty are often readers of Gene Wolfe as well. I recently found a couple of weblogs devoted to Wolfe, Silk for Caldé and The Silk and Horn Heresy.

Ducks and monkeys

For most of the summer, non-migratory Canadian geese controlled the north bank of the river on my way to work. Now it’s occupied by a corps of ducks. Is there something going on I should know about?

Also in my camera: public enemy #3.

Another approach to weeding:


There has been some loose talk recently about monkeys typing Shakespeare. This gives me an excuse to mention a couple of favorite short stories. Russell Maloney’s “Inflexible Logic” is the second-best tale on the topic. The best is R.A. Lafferty‘s “Been a Long, Long Time,” which unfortunately is not available online. I did find another Lafferty story, though, which might illustrate why I have a shelf of his books.

Books as investments

What does $1,186.27 look like?

If that had been the paperback edition of Lafferty in Orbit, you’d be looking at $2,162.26. However, a hardcover like the one pictured is available for a mere $23.98.

By the way, if you ever spot any collection of Lafferty’s stories in a used book store — Nine Hundred Grandmothers, Strange Doings, Does Anyone Else Have Something Further to Add, Ringing Changes, Lafferty in Orbit, Iron Tears — grab it. There never was any other writer like him.