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Showing posts from January, 2017

"Escapement" by J. G. Ballard

I'm seeing, sensing, absorbing the preternatural prescience and all-too-real surrealism of J.G. Ballard.  In one of his first published short stories, for instance, his gem "Escapement" (1956), a man watching the tele with his wife experiences a bizarre hiccup in time's immutable ticktock, during which he discovers himself reliving the same fifteen minute span from 9:00-9:15 P.M. over and over again.  As if time were trapped on a cassette tape that never stopped playing.

The television show our increasingly incredulous man is watching keeps repeating itself, but his wife doesn't even notice!  In fact, while her husband can't get past 9:15, it's almost 10:00 P.M. for her. Our man tries switching channels to escape.  Same result: Rewind.  He calls a quiz show to tell them he knows the question they're going to ask in order to try and convince somebody — anybody — that something very strange is going on with the clocks, that they're stuck in this ma…

Appreciating Gray Foy's Cover Art for Lilith by J. R. Salamanca

Within the infinitude of available Lilith literature and art, seldom does J. R. Salamanca's* (1922-2013) name or contribution to it — his novel Lilith —reap more than a footnote or brief mention in its evolving lore.  Rarer, still, is proper recognition afforded the artist, Gray Foy(1922-2012), responsible for Lilith's awesome jacket painting.

Gray Foy's artwork, in fact, is the sole reason I spotted Lilith's spine on the second-hand shelf — so artful and inviting it was, suggestive of something gothic and possibly serpentine — bait as novel and irresistible as the apple was for Eve to this hooked bibliophile.

* J. R. Salamanca doesn't even garner a mention in Contemporary Novelists, 3rd edition (1982), the then go-to database of English language writers, edited by James Vinson and D. L. Kirkpatrick. People are more apt to remember the 1964 adaptation of Salamanca's Lilith, starring a host of Hollywood up-and-comers — Warren Beatty, Jean Seberg, Peter Fonda, Ge…

The Hucksters by Frederic Wakeman

Found The Hucksters by Frederic Wakeman last month at the Bookman in Orange.   The dust jacket design caught my eye.  Though the cover designer's signature got torn off at the bottom right corner as you can see below, a friend was able to quickly identify it as one of the covers from the impressive portfolio of Arthur Hawkins, Jr., one of the finest cover artists, come to find out, of the 1930s and 1940s.  Simply had to have The Hucksters, solely because of its book cover, even though I knew next to nothing about it.  I'm afraid I did judge this book by its cover — and bought it.  The intriguing biography of the author on the back cover helped sell the book for me, too:"Until his first book, SHORE LEAVE, was published, Frederic Wakeman belonged to that large army of professional writers who never see their names in print.  They are the reporters, the writers of advertising and of radio scripts.  In New York you see them leave their advertising agency offices on Park or M…