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February 07, 2021

Sunday Morning Book Thread 02-07-2021

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Mansion Library, Westchester County, NY

Good morning to all you 'rons, 'ettes, lurkers, and lurkettes, wine moms, frat bros, crétins sans pantalon (who are technically breaking the rules). Welcome once again to the stately, prestigious, internationally acclaimed and high-class Sunday Morning Book Thread, a weekly compendium of reviews, observations, snark, witty repartee, hilarious bon mots, and a continuing conversation on books, reading, spending way too much money on books, writing books, and publishing books by escaped oafs and oafettes who follow words with their fingers and whose lips move as they read. Unlike other AoSHQ comment threads, the Sunday Morning Book Thread is so hoity-toity, pants are required. Even if it's this sorry lot of decadent, bed-wetting soy boys. I weep for our future.



Pic Note:

Unfortunately, the information about this library is behind the WSJ pay wall and not even running it through archive.is helps much.

This Westchester County mansion was built about a decade ago to look like a historical home, but has modern amenities and cozy spaces throughout.

The two-story mahogany library. The Daumans created a secret staircase in the library that connects the lower library to the upper library and the master bedroom. It can be discovered by pressing on one of bookcases, which then pops open.

This is from a pinned item on Pinterest. That secret passageway sounds pretty cool.


It Pays To Increase Your Word Power®

When Moron Meetups get out of hand...

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A Shock To The System

A discussion about "shock treatment" broke out in the comments last week, which I found quite interesting. To show you how ignorant I was, I had thought it was a thing of the past, a procedure discarded as medically worthless, like bloodletting, or lobotomies. But no, electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) is still being used and the procedure has been refined and improved quite a bit.

So I went looking on Amazon to see what I could find. Many of the books appear to be technical manuals for medical professionals, and are quite extensive. But I did find a couple of books that might be of interest, for example, Shocked: Insider stories about electroconvulsive therapy by George Kirov, who discusses some of his case histories:

ECT, Electroconvulsive or Electroshock therapy, is easily the most controversial treatment in psychiatry. It is given to the most severely ill patients and often achieves startling cures where other treatments have failed. More than half of the patients reach remission within 12 ECT sessions. Behind this dry, anonymous statistic are personal and dramatic stories. Psychiatrist Professor George Kirov shares some of the more unusual and complex cases featuring patients who received this treatment in his clinic. Some were tormented by delusions, some nearly died through suicide attempts or food refusal; a few were written off as hopeless before being given ECT. The reader is not spared the complications that this treatment can involve, such as memory problems and arrhythmias. The stories described here are real, stories of suffering, mental anguish, and triumph.

The Kindle edition is only $2.99.

There is also the 2007 book Shock: The Healing Power of Electroconvulsive Therapy by, of all people, Kitty Dukakis, the wife of Massachusetts governor and failed presidential candidate Michael Dukakis:

Kitty Dukakis has battled debilitating depression for more than twenty years. Coupled with drug and alcohol addictions that both hid and fueled her suffering, Kitty's despair was overwhelming. She tried every medication and treatment available; none worked for long. It wasn't until she tried electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT, that she could reclaim her life...This book presents a full picture of ECT, analyzing the treatment's risks along with its benefits. ECT, it turns out, is neither a panacea nor a scourge but a serious option for treating life threatening and disabling mental diseases, like depression, bipolar disorder, and others.

I can't imagine being depressed for 20 years. That must've been horrible. How she must've suffered! No wonder ECT became a viable option for her.




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Books By Morons

If national events are getting you down, try reading something really silly:

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Taking short-cuts with nature is always asking for trouble:

When Katy steals her father's experimental dinosaur growth serum to help her runt chicken it works much better than she could have anticipated. Can she keep her chicken from ruining the dome that the colony lives under?

Mars Needs Chickens is only 98 cents, so how can you go wrong?

Also, here's a free short story from moron author Paul Hair. He says:

It’s about communists engaging in a terrorist attack on America, after which the American government deems . . . white, Christian men as the number one terrorism threat.

You can read it here.

___________



From The Chronicles of 'Woke' Publishing




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We know that book publishing is 'woker' than the average 'woke', but this is pretty egregious, even for that industry. To recap, just using a non-approved social media platform is enough to get you booted from your publishing job.

I wanted to see if I could get some more information from DeChiara's Twitter timeline, but guess what, I couldn't.

So stunning, so brave.



Who Dis:

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(Last week's 'who dis' was actress Celeste Holm.



Moron Recommendations

I got an e-mail from 'ette commenter March Hare who got an error when she tried to post a recommendation in the comments last week, so here it is:

I believe it was Eris who recommended Astounding, a biography of John W. Campbell and three of the writers whose careers he influenced: Robert Heinlen, L. Ron Hubbard, and Dr. Isaac Asimov. I would like to thank her for the recommendation and encourage anyone who loves science fiction to read it. Astounding (which Campbell renamed Analog in the 1960's, I believe) became THE magazine for science fiction under Campbell's editorship. Campbell moved the genre from "space western" to literature where serious ideas were examined and explored, both scientific and social.

Many of the names and stories mentioned are considered classics--if you read science fiction, you'll enjoy this biography and history.

No need to add anything to this. The Amazon blurb for Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction is quite detailed.

Which reminds me...

A friend sent me a pdf scan of a vintage radio magazine (1927) and I noticed that the publisher was Hugo Gernsback. I thought, wait, the science-fiction guy? As a matter of fact, yes. He was into electronics in a big way. Reading his wiki entry, he was an amazing guy. Although there were aspects that were unsavory:

Gernsback was noted for sharp (and sometimes shady) business practices, and for paying his writers extremely low fees or not paying them at all. H. P. Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith referred to him as "Hugo the Rat".

As Barry Malzberg has said:

Gernsback's venality and corruption, his sleaziness and his utter disregard for the financial rights of authors, have been well documented and discussed in critical and fan literature. That the founder of genre science fiction who gave his name to the field's most prestigious award and who was the Guest of Honor at the 1952 Worldcon was pretty much a crook (and a contemptuous crook who stiffed his writers but paid himself $100K a year as President of Gernsback Publications) has been clearly established.

The author Jack Williamson once had to hire an attorney to force Gernsback to pay him what he was owed.

So I looked to see if there were any biographies of Gernsback on Amazon, and there are several, but from the titles, they sound like they may be a bit hagiographic, like this one, Hugo Gernsback - A Man Well Ahead of His Time:

Known most commonly as "The Father of Science Fiction," Hugo Gernsback was an amazing person. After coming to the United States in February 1904, from Luxenbourg, he founded an electronics publishing business that went from Modern Electrics in 1908 through Poptronics in 2002. In between there were ventures into Sexology, Flying, Science Fiction, and many other titles. A prolific inventor with some 50 patents to his name, his life story is fascinating to say the least.

Boy, I'll say.

The provenance of this biography is kind of interesting:

This biography was found in a musty old box when we closed down the business in 2002. It was written for Hugo at his request and the original manuscript pages bear his hand-written comments and corrections. I had the great pleasure as the final owner of Gernsback Publiscations to re-edit and publish this work, which documents his life, his dreams, his thoughts and tells an accurate story of his life as he saw it.

There probably won't be anything in there about him stiffing authors who wrote for him, I'll bet. Which is unfortunate. I like the name "Hugo the Rat", though. So much contempt in such a short epithet.

___________


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95 I'm currently reading Book 2 of 4 of Ian Irvine's The View from the Mirror. I bought the first one over twenty years ago (liked the cover) and never bothered to read it until recently. Turns out to be a pretty decent series so far. It's a somewhat unconventional, yet also quite conventional in many ways, fantasy series. The author deliberately set out to make a series with characters who have more complex motivations for doing things than you might suspect. Every character has their ups and downs. Worth a read if you are looking for something different in fantasy.

Posted by: Lord Squirrel at January 31, 2021 09:33 AM (hQrcu)

As Lord Squirrel said, this is a four book series, but you can get the Kindle edition of the first installment, A Shadow on the Glass, for 99 cents:

Karan, a sensitive whose family is cursed by madness, is compelled by honour to steal an ancient magical device and take it to the Magister. But it’s the treacherous Mirror of Aachan, and hidden within it is a deadly secret.

Llian, a brilliant but naïve Tale-spinner, uncovers a 3,000-year-old mystery too dangerous to be revealed and is expelled from his college.

Thrown together by fate as they struggle to get to safety, Karan and Llian are ensnared in the machinations of immortals, the vengeance of feuding warlords and the magic of all-powerful wizards. Magic that could break Karan’s fragile mind, and corrupt Llian as he pries into the riddles of the mirror.

And if they fail the two-faced mirror will spark a millennial war, terrible as a tsunami, that will deluge the land in forbidden magic, tear nations apart, and threaten the very survival of humanity.


___________

239 Speaking of once-popular authors, does anyone remember Mary Roberts Rinehart? She was called "the American Agatha Christie". When I was young, her books were on bookstands everywhere; now she seems quite forgotten. I bought a huge collection of her novels for $2 for my Kindle, and have just started reading one of her mysteries. Like Eeyore, though, I have trouble settling in a reading long term; somehow I start dozing off. Maybe reading on a Kindle is a bit more soporific than reading a hard copy.

Posted by: Dr. Mabuse at January 17, 2021 10:35 AM (+sPbZ)

I had never heard her name before, but her bio has some interesting tidbits:

Mary Roberts Rinehart (August 12, 1876 - September 22, 1958) was an American writer, often called the American Agatha Christie, although her first mystery novel was published 14 years before Christie's first novel in 1922.

Rinehart is considered the source of the phrase "The butler did it" from her novel The Door (1930), although the novel does not use the exact phrase. Rinehart is also considered to have invented the "Had-I-But-Known" school of mystery writing, with the publication of The Circular Staircase (1908).

She also created a costumed super-criminal called "the Bat", cited by Bob Kane as one of the inspirations for his "Batman".

Her first book was a mystery called The Man in Lower Ten. The Amazon blurb didn't tell me diddly-poo about the plot, but I did find this on goodreads:

A nicely atmospheric mystery of a bygone era. Attorney Lawrence Blakely becomes implicated when a murder is discovered on the overnight train he is travelling in. All the evidence points to Lawrence. To clear his name he pursues a convoluted trail to find out what really occurred on the Ontario that fateful night.

Sounds like at might be from a Hitchcock movie, doesn't it? Rinehart wrote many books, and many of the Kindle editions are in the $2.99-$7.99 range. Or, you can get The Greatest Murder Mysteries of Mary Roberts Rinehart - 25 Titles in One Edition, that's 2800 (!) pages, for only 99 cents.

___________


So that's all for this week. As always, book thread tips, suggestions, bribes, insults, threats, ugly pants pics and moron library submissions may be sent to OregonMuse, Proprietor, AoSHQ Book Thread, at the book thread e-mail address: aoshqbookthread, followed by the 'at' sign, and then 'G' mail, and then dot cee oh emm.

What have you all been reading this week? Hopefully something good, because, as you all know, life is too short to be reading lousy books.


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digg this
posted by OregonMuse at 09:00 AM

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