Becoming Superman by J. Michael Straczynski, Harper Voyager (Harper Collins) 2019 hardcover, 457 pages. Autobiography.
J. Michael Strazinski had an especially grim childhood. His family was very poor, his father was a hateful, racist alcoholic who expressed his lifelong hatefulness by beating his wife and son almost daily. He was too parsimonious to pay for doctors or dentists, so his family suffered while he spent his time in bars drinking with his buddies.
All this resulted in many psychological problems for Straczynski, but being a very good writer somehow brought him through.
I like Straczynski’s comic book work, especially Rising Stars, and I liked the space series Babylon 5, which he wrote, produced and directed, but this book is more about his tough times than his successes. As I said, this one is grim. I cannot recommend it.
Meanwhile, what are you reading?
I read the new Leo Waterman mystery Heavy On the Dead by G.M. Ford which I liked. Am now reading The Darwin Affair by Tim Mason. A historical thriller. Also rereading some older short story collections by Damon Knight. His The Country of the Kind is one of my favorite stories.
The Straczynski doesn’t much interest me, Never liked Babylon 5. Grim doesn’t bother me. I would much rather read grim any day than something bright and cheery and uplifting. Guess I’m too much of a cynic.
I have the first Ford book in FE hardcover, sitting on the shelf unread. One of these days…
I’m surprised you read something this dark. Not for me.
Thanks, Steve, for mentioning the Ford. Somehow I missed last year’s book so now have two to catch up on. I really like Leo Waterman and his entourage.
I read Lies, Damned Lies, and History, seventh in Jodi Taylor’s Chronicles of St Mary’s. After a slow start, the second half picked up. Also read The Kings of London by William Shaw, with Cathal (Paddy) Breen and Helen Tozer cops in 1968 London. I didn’t like it as much as the first in the series but will continue with the next two, in time. Also read Chuck Wendig’s fantasy/horror collection, Irregular Creatures.
Current reading: closing in on the end of the Q. Patrick collection of Timothy Trant stories, and I’m reading Wallace Stroby’s new standalone, Some Die Nameless. Stroby is a favorite of mine – I love his caper series about thief Crissa Stone – and somehow missed this one last year. More as I read it.
I didn’t expect the book to be so dark, Jeff, and then kept thinking he would move on to the good stuff, his SF and comics writing, but he kept going back to it.
A bunch of semi-recent books by Max Allan Collins came in and I’m in hog heaven. So far I’ve read QUARRY IN THE BLACK, QUARRY’S CLIMAX, and (with Mickey Spillane) A LONG TIME DEAD. In the first, Quarry is assigned to kill a black minister who could well be the next Martin Luther King. Any qualms Quarry may have had are put to rest because the target is also heaavily in the dope trade. Or is he? QUARRY’s CLIMAX poses a different challenge for everybody’s favorite hitman (sorry, Lawrence Block): his task is to keep his target (an ambitious pornographer) alive while eliminating another hit team determine to kill the target. The Quarry books are chock-full of sex and violence. The sex is toned down a bit in the Spillane/Collins collection, which contains eight Mike Hammer stories that Collins completed from fragments left by Spillane. All the stories were good and at least four were nominated or won major awards or were included in Best of the Year anthologies. In some ways the stories read better than the novels, finely honed and targeted like a bullet from Hammer’s .38.
My FFB this week was TEN OF US by Sigmund B. Alexander and published in 1884. Ten short stories of all types that have managed (for the most part) to overcome their datedness. I know nothing about the author but I enjoyed these quirky little tales.
I’m still reading a lot of short stories from all over the place. This week I finished John Carnell’s first NEW WRITINGS IN SF anthology; Carnell edited more than twnety in the series and was followed as editor by Kenneth Bulmer. I also finished two anthologies from Amabel Williams-Ellis : with Mably Owen, OUT OFTHISWORLD 8 and, with Michael Pearson, STRANGE UNIVERSE. The Carnell was an original collection and continued with the tone he had previously set as editor of NEW WORLDS. The two by Williams-Ellis were reprints with mostly very solid stories. In my copious spare time, I also read an early (December 1950) issue of THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION.
And there were two graphic novels: Tim Seeley & Tom King’s BATMAN: PRELUDES TO THE WEDDING (meh), and Paul Dini’s autobiographical DARK NIGHT: A TRUE BATMAN STORY. While working on BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES, Dini was the victim of a violent mugging which literally left bones in his face pulverized into powder. How he eventually let that expience change him (with the help of Batman, natch) is a fairly inspiring tale of the power of story. I really liked this one in which the author exposes himself, warts and all.
A quiet week with the start of the school year here. Most of our time was spent shuttling grandkids back and forth and trying to avoid heat stroke. I hope your week went even better.
You always plow through so many books. Good luck with the apartment hunt.
Finishing up Lippman’s LADY IN THE LAKE. And the Flint water crisis book. I would like to read books that are cheerful but usually the best ones are grim in my experience. And getting grimmer.
School can’t begin here until after Labor Day.
Is the Lippman long, or have you just been distracted?
I”ve read mixed reviews of BECOMING SUPERMAN. But, your review tipped the back to SKIP. I have LADY IN THE LAKE by Laura Lippman. in the On-Deck Circle. Just finished an Ellery Queen anthology. And, I’ve been reading a lot for BRUNETTE WEEK!
I enjoyed Straczynski’s Babylon 5 also, but it doesn’t sound like Becoming Superman would be a good read.
In the last week I finished City of Shadows by Ariana Franklin, then I read Cold Comfort Farm, which I enjoyed far more than I expected to. And last night I stayed up too late and finished
Innocence; or, Murder on Steep Street by Heda Margolius Kovály, set in Prague in the 1950’s and written in 1985. It is a mystery, but really more about life in Czechoslovakia at the time.
I was think of you disliking A Tree Grows In Brooklyn because of the pain and poverty. This is easily twice as bad.
I watched the film adaptation of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn last night on TCM. Cried all the way through it. It had to condense the story so was not as painful and I did enjoy it a lot. I think A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a very good book, but it was painful for me to read. And Straczynski’s true story about an abusive parent would be worse.
I read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn a few months ago, after seeing it’s popularity in Books Go To War (same as you), and liked it, but didn’t find it as difficult as you did. Becoming Superman is absolutely much more difficult.