Favorite Reads: February 2017

A simple month…

blackyThe Fury of Black Jaguar by Angel Luis Colon: Blacky Jaguar is an ex-IRA thug recently returned to New York City and this pulpy short novel details the havoc he unleashes when some criminals think it’d be an easy score to steal his car. What follows is a splatter-saturated ultra-violent comic strip in prose form.

new-weirdThe New Weird, assorted Ann and Jeff VanderMeer editors: I’m skipping the essays here, or maybe saving them for a later time, and focusing instead on the fiction. A lot of these authors are among my favorites writing today, but I kind of feel like the New Weird never fully materialized, getting swamped under the twin rising tides of Steampunk and GRRM knockoffs instead. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, the weird/new weird should be sort of indefinable and hard to pin down. And it might never be something to pin a whole genre to and more a strain within a genre. Whatever it is, this is a great collection and a fun one. Track it down.

And a last, sad note…

I think the days of the expat bookstore have come and gone.  I’ve rambled about these stores before. Fewer teachers, shifting demographics, and ebooks have all done their part, but their days are numbered and I’m sad to see these stores fade away. They were one of the few places I could go and roam and have that thrill of finding some odd/fascinating/sought after book while in South Korea. (It’s not like I can go to the library.) A lot of them also served as a community hub, holding classes or having a movie night. While I doubt What the Book in Seoul will disappear anytime soon, the fact that larger cities like Busan or Daegu can’t support such a store anymore makes me pause  and bow my head in memoriam.

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2 responses to “Favorite Reads: February 2017”

  1. gordsellar says :

    I share your sense of loss at the dieoff of expat bookstores, though… have you visited Ebony & Ivory in Cheonan? It’s one survivor indie bookstore (all English and other foreign language books) that we’ve found. We go there every once in a while, when we can make it on a weekday (the woman working there during the week is slightly friendlier (and sometimes more generous with discounts) than the guy who’s usually there on week days.

    If you’re ever passing through Cheonan on the way to Seoul, it’s worth a quick stop. Or, hell, if you ever pop by Sejong City for a visit, we’ll take you up there.

    My oddest find was a copy of some early trade paperback printing of MIRRORSHADES in a tiny Korean-language used bookstore in Jeonju. They occasionally have cool books. Jihyun’s best, on the other hand, is a horrific full set of books called CHARMING LADY, something SBS published in the 80s (IIRC) about how to be, well… a charming lady. How to host dinner parties, how to offer yourself sexually to your husband (but also enforce respect in your relationship: on your wedding day, it says to shake hands with your husband and say, “Now we are married!”), 80s fashions, child-rearing… all of it bizarrely dated. For a Western reader, it’s like seeing women’s advise from the 30s and 40s, some of it. (Matches my old 1947 Vogue Book of Etiquette in a lot of ways.) But the illustrations alone are priceless.

    • Justin says :

      One thing a friend said is that adults in their 20s aren’t as enamored to dinginess as older people, so they see a used bookstore as dirty while we might see it as comfortable. Although the place in Daegu is going out of business because the building’s being sold and not because it’s a bit of a cave.

      Maybe we should plan a meet-up in late May, if you’d have the time. I would like to run a one-shot game (with maybe the potential of it broadening into something bigger if people are interested), but it would be fun to get out and see another city for a change.

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