Tuesday, December 03, 2002 :::
I Can't Even Touch the Books You've Read
THE FUNDAMENTALS OF LIBERTY by Robert LeFevre. The lecture notes from LeFevre’s courses at his crypto-legendary Freedom School in the late ‘50s/mid-‘60s in book form. An eccentric, unsophisticated take on the libertarian basics. LeFevre was notorious for a personal magnetism apparently bordering on the cultish—without the avuncular grandunclish gentleman himself weaving his rumoredly powerful verbal spell in front of you, the book seems like a Weekly Reader approach to libertarianism—not, of course, a wholly useless thing.
TROUBLEMAKERS by Harlan Ellison. Bought this mostly to get it autographed down at Dangerous Visions (R.I.P—L.A. has lost both of its delightful science fiction specialty stores since I moved here—why is it I live here again?). Another repackaging, intended for adolescent audiences (wonder if it worked?). A lot of one-note gag entertainments that don’t bear up to re-reading (I read most of ‘em originally when I was in early adolescence myself.) It does give one a chance to re-read “Jeffty is Five” when nostalgia is something more than just an eerie mystery that you need a writer like Harlan to explain to you—and the chance to see Harlan unironically use the phrase “word up.” (He’s trying to reach the youth, see.) (I first fell in love with "Jeffty" when I was about 11 years myself, from its original appearence in the special Harlan issue of the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. I was such a booster for the story I convinced my 8th grade english teacher to read it aloud to the class. My copy of the magazine got lost/stolen from that classroom and it took my years to find it again. What I'm saying is, this story is now as powerfully totemic to me about a lost and precious youth as the radio and filmic and comic book entertainments that young Jeffty gifts the story's narrator with.)
Regarding Harlan's use of "word up": As Harlan himself wrote once, about seeing his friend Robert Blake on the Tonight Show insult Orson Welles for being fat, if I recall correctly, would that Zeus had sent eagles down from heaven to pluck out my eyes to spare me the sight.
THE ROBERT HEINLEIN INTERVIEW AND OTHER HEINLEINIANA by J. Neil Schulman. “Ought to go over big with Heinlein fans” as Publishers Weekly might say. The bulk of it is what seems to be the longest interview Heinlein ever gave, conducted for an article that a young Schulman wrote in 1973 for a now defunct New York newspaper. Schulman was an adoring fan; and an ardent intellectual, fascinated with why and how people know things—thusly, this interview is far more philosophical, less gossipy, literary, or historical than most author interviews. Completely essential for fans interested in Heinlein beyond just reading his novels. Also contains a bunch of miscellaneous short reviews and comments from Schulman about Heinlein.
::: posted by Brian at 10:46 PM