One good thing about the recession is I have more time to catch up on my reading. And I don’t have to worry about spending money on books during tough times as I already own a ridiculous number of volumes that I never had the time to get around to. One of almost recent vintage is Shambling Towards Hiroshima by James Morrow. It’s a clever premise: a parallel effort to the Manhattan Project is to develop a race of super lizards to level Japanese cities and end World War II. The irony here is that the whole Godzilla mythos of badly made, badly acted 1950s Japanese movies was a metaphorical projection of the atomc bombings. The plot, such as it is , concerns an American horror monster actor who is recruited to provide a realistic demonstration of the lizard’s destructiveness to force the Japanese surrender without having to deploy the monsters (what many critics of the U.S. atomic bombings argue might have sufficed instead of targeting cities). Morrow is one of my favorite authors, though this is a minor work; even at novella length, the premise is stretched a bit thin, and maybe would have worked better at a shorter length in pruning some plotting that doesn’t really advance the theme. Still, worth checking out.
I’m almost finished with Elizabeth Hand’s Mortal Love, which I bought new in hardcover in 2004 and is now available for a penny (before shipping ) on Amazon. I’m also a big fan of Hand’s, despite the fact that plotting isn’t her strong point. The story spans several historical eras and deals primarily with a lost Gaelic princess who down through the ages can’t help but seduce human males, with unfortunate consequences for her paramours. It all seems headed to a resolution which seems to be setting me up for a letdown (but not having finished it in time for this week’s deadline, I don’t know yet). Anyway, who cares? Hand is masterful in creating mood and setting. Besides, we have the same tastes in music, of which there are the usual high quota of references. Even without having finished it, recommended reading for this summer, or any time of year. And at a recession price that can’t be beat.