What I Read … Part 9 – Heywood, Crowley, Benchley etc.

for parts 1-8 in this “What I Read” series, scroll down to previous posts
or use the search box for “what I read”

A good deal of variety for you this time.

I’ve been interested in muscle cars since I was a teenager, and every once in a while I get the urge to read about the topic. So these three came from the library last March. Several hours of fun reading, though some of the contents were repeated book-to-book.

Harder Ground by Joseph Heywood – After reading, at the suggestion of Jeff Meyerson, Heywood’s very good story collection Hard Ground, I was delighted to find and read this follow-up. Though I thought the stories in this one were a little weaker, it was worth the read. I plan on trying Heywood at novel length soon.

The Landscapes of Anne of Green Gables by Catherine Reid – I came across this at the Timber Press website and couldn’t resist the beautiful photography and extensive biography of Montgomery.

Ka by John Crowley – After reading several reviews of varying opinions, I decided to try this fantasy about a young man and Dar Oakley, a very, very ancient crow, who tells the story of his life. It’s a long book, fascinating in it’s many details, there’s a lot of social anthropology, but mostly the book is about character. It’s really the story of both characters, man and crow. There were some slow spots, but I couldn’t seem to put it down for more than a day before wanting to get back to it. In the end, it’s a book I’m glad I read and one that has stayed with me.

Goodbye, Piccadilly by Cynthia Harod-Eagles – I’ve read some of this author’s Bill Slider police procedurals and enjoyed them, and have more unread I must get to one of these days. So I thought, “what the heck, why not try this one?”. “This one”, in fact, was a fairly typical English family saga which begins in 1914 and thus has a lot to do with the First World War. It’s part of a series. While the book was okay, I found myself skimming to the end. Not really my type of thing.

Jaws by Peter Benchley – I don’t know what put me in the mood to read this, but I got that itch and the library provided the scratch. I realized that though I’d seen the film several times, I hadn’t read the book and discovered there are several differences. An enjoyable summertime book, even if I didn’t read it in Summer.

A Serpent’s Tooth by Craig Johnson – This is the only Longmire I read during this period, and it’s one I started, paused, and finished nearly a month later. I was busy with other things, and somehow I kept looking at it and thinking I’d read it another day. I don’t know why I hesitated, maybe it was the snake on the cover (there aren’t any snakes in the book, the title comes from King Lear). When I finished it, I found I’d liked it a lot, as with all the Longmire books.

That wraps it up! I did read some other books while I was away, but those will be for Friday Forgotten or other posts. I hope you enjoyed this series of posts about what I was reading while the blog was on pause. I know I enjoyed looking back, and catching up.

About Richard Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
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14 Responses to What I Read … Part 9 – Heywood, Crowley, Benchley etc.

  1. Steve Oerkfitz says:

    Although I grew up in the Detroit area and my dad was an engineer at Pontiac Motors I never developed a fascination with cars. A lot of my friends did tho. Heard a lot of good things about the Crowley. I have liked some of his short fiction but disliked Little, Big which is supposed to be his masterpiece. Preferred Jaws the movie over the book. Thought the book had a lot of padding.

    • I was in high school in southern California in 59-63, maybe that makes a difference? One of my best friend had a hot ’56 Chevy and my parents a ’58 Ford with the big engine. I blew the tranny of that one in my junior year. I’ve long wanted a ’64bGTO or a ’67 Chevelle, but I’m no mechanic so upkeep would depend on a mechanic and that’s too much trouble.

      I didn’t try Little, Big. I looked at it, but it was too fat. Or something. Like you I prefer the Jaws film to the book.

  2. Jeff Meyerson says:

    I always thought of JAWS the book like THE GODFATHER the book – both made a LOT better movies. Glad you liked the Heywood collections. (Like you, I thought the first one was stronger.) I also mean to read one of the novels some day, but I haven’t so far. I like the Bill Slider books by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles – in fact, I read one a couple of weeks ago – but I haven’t tried any of her other fiction, of which there is a lot.

    I must admit that for me, cars have always been just transportation. Never cared for or about muscle cars, though some are great to look at.

    I think there is a new Longmire coming out soon. Let me see. Ah yes, DEPTH OF WINTER, September 4.

    • Jeff Meyerson says:

      I see my library has ebooks of a few of Heywood’s Wood Hole Cops series, including the first couple. I put it on the list to remind myself.

    • My advice for you is to stick with the Slider books. You didn’t grow up in a car culture setting like I did. What you drove mattered. The drive-in was a place to show off your wheels. Guys talked about cars a lot.

      Barbara has had that Longmire on hold at the library for ages.

      I should do that with one of the Woods Cop novels.

  3. J F Norris says:

    Read JAWS as a teen in the Reader’s Digest Condensed version so I probably missed all the boring parts and all the gratuitous sex (which was always expurgated in the RD “condensations”). One of the main differences in the book and the movie is what happens to Matt, the shark expert. During the filming of the movie the stunt diver subbing for Richard Dreyfus was nearly killed in real life and escaped from the shark cage that a real shark almost completely destroyed. The diver refused to go back into the cage for more takes as it didn’t seem safe after all the damage. So they rewrote the script and had Dreyfus’ character survive.

    At the Edgar Awards back in April I met John Crowley who was nominated for Best Short Story. Surpassingly, he won. The story is a mix of weird, horror and a smidgen of crime not at all typical of the kind of short story the Edgar’s like to give awards to. Anyway, Curt Evans and I had a lively discussion with Crowley and his friend Henry about old books — crime, fantasy, supernatural and 1960s gay sleaze paperbacks (of all things!). He’s a delightful man with a wry sense of humor. I was thrilled to have met him because he wrote one of my favorite books — LITTLE BIG. If you enjoyed KA then by all means find a copy of LITTLE BIG and read that too. (I have to disagree with Steve’s opinion above.) It’s rather long, but it’s rich and rewarding. I’m not ashamed to say that I gushed about that book when I learned that he was the same John Crowley who wrote it. I highly recommend LITTLE BIG, Richard.

  4. J F Norris says:

    Read JAWS as a teen in the Reader’s Digest Condensed version so I probably missed all the boring parts and all the gratuitous sex (which was always expurgated in the RD “condensations”). One of the main differences in the book and the movie is what happens to Matt, the shark expert. During the filming of the movie the stunt diver subbing for Richard Dreyfus was nearly killed in real life and escaped from the shark cage that a real shark almost completely destroyed. The diver refused to go back into the cage for more takes as it didn’t seem safe after all the damage. So they rewrote the script and had Dreyfus’ character survive.

    At the Edgar Awards back in April I met John Crowley who was nominated for Best Short Story. Surpassingly, he won. The story is a mix of weird, horror and a smidgen of crime not at all typical of the kind of short story the Edgar’s like to give awards to. Anyway, Curt Evans and I had a lively discussion with Crowley and his friend Henry about old books — crime, fantasy, supernatural and 1960s gay sleaze paperbacks (of all things!). He’s a delightful man with a wry sense of humor. I was thrilled to have met him because he wrote one of my favorite books — LITTLE BIG. If you enjoyed KA then by all means find a copy of LITTLE BIG and read that too. (I have to disagree with Steve’s opinion above.) It’s rather long, but it’s rich and rewarding. I’m not ashamed to say that I gushed about that book when I learned that he was the same John Crowley who wrote it. I highly recommend LITTLE BIG, Richard.

    • Various opinions are a good thing. Of course I saw Steve’s remark on LITTLE, BIG but I certainly respect your opinion on books, John, so I’ll take another look once my reading plate is a little less full.

  5. tracybham says:

    I like the Bill Slider series by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles. I have read about half of them but liked the earliest ones best. I have thought about reading Goodbye, Piccadilly, and maybe I will some day. I never thought about reading Jaws, that might be fun.

  6. Charles Gramlich says:

    I’ve got that muscle car need too

  7. As you said, there’s a variety of material here. I spent five summers as a consultant at our local General Motors Powertrain plant. Almost all the guys there were into cars, especially classic “muscle cars” from the Sixties and Seventies. The closest thing to those cars was our sleek 1967 Impala that I dubbed “The Plum Avenger” because of its Royal Plum paint job. I tried a Cynthia Harrod-Eagles novel and had the same reaction that you had.

  8. That ’67 Impala was a big car. I like Harrod-Eagles’ Bill Slider mysteries, but this family saga wasn’t my cup of tea.

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