Three Books

2020-07-16_161411

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Come Back, Dr. Caligari by Donald Barthelme. Mass-market paperback from Anchor Books, 1965. Cover art and design by Edward Gorey.

I’d only ever seen the Milton Glaser cover for Barthelme’s first collection of stories, Come Back, Dr. Caligari, and was thrilled to pick up this Gorey Anchor cover the other day. I’d almost picked up the Glaser version years ago, but it wasn’t in great shape, and I was pretty sure that all of the stories in Caligari are contained in Sixty Stories and Forty Stories (I could be wrong). I love the richness of Gorey’s cover.

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Nova by Samuel R. Delany. Mass-market paperback from Bantam Books, 1979. Cover art by Eddie Jones (not credited); no designer credited.

I couldn’t make it through Delany’s cult favorite Dhalgren a few years back, but Nova was easier sledding. The book is a riff on Moby-Dick, tarot, monoculture, and the grail quest. It’s jammed with ideas and characters, and if it never quite coheres into something transcendent, it’s a fun quick read (even if the ending, right from the postmodern metatextual playbook is too clever by half).

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Mr Pye by Mervyn Peake. Mass-market papberback from Penguin Books, 1982. Cover art by Mervyn Peake; no designer credited.

While Mr Pye isn’t as rich, dense, or abjectly weird as Peake’s Gormenghast trilogy, it is wry and sharp, a strange morality play that made me laugh out loud a few times. (It also has a few shades of Wicker Man to it–but not too much). Good stuff.

2 thoughts on “Three Books”

  1. I absolutely love the cover and synopsis of Come Back, Dr. Caligari – never heard of this book before and now want to read all the short stories inside – they sound deliciously absurd.

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