- Hardcover: 222 pages
- Publisher: St Martins Pr; [1st U.S. ed.] edition (July 1, 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0312185898
- ISBN-13: 978-0312185893
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.8 x 8.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 8 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,759,766 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Going Home Again Hardcover – July 1, 1998
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From Publishers Weekly
The fantastic inventions and whimsical nostalgia in these nine stories suggest that Waldrop (Night of the Cooters) is either a pulp writer born out of his time or an autodidact from another world. Although many of these stories have appeared in science fiction publications like Amazing Stories and Omni, they are as close to Robert Coover as they are to Isaac Asimov. There's an alternate version of Dickens's A Christmas Carol and a Damon-Runyonized retelling of the fairy tale "The Brementown Musicians." Most of these stories revolve around curious what-if ideas tightly wrapped in oddball erudition and tied up with snappy dialogue. The best and subtlest of these is the opening "You Could Go Home Again," which takes place on a USA, Inc. Airship and slowly reveals its hero, a writer recovering from a near-fatal illness, to be Tom (not Thomas) Wolfe living in 1940. Elsewhere, one finds Peter Lorre, a refugee from a successful Nazi Reich, performing in a Brecht cabaret in "The Effects of Alienation" and Mexican masked wrestlers in an apocalyptic match with overtones of medieval mystery plays in "El Castillo de la Preserverancia." Only in the case of "Flatfeet!," in which a Keystone-Kops-meet-monsters scenario reflects Spengler's Decline of the West, do Waldrop's crazy-quilt themes wear too thin. To round out this collection and proclaim its roots, there is "Scientification," in which a tribe of intelligent insects lives on a dark, chilly earth in the distant future, a straight science fantasy out of H.G. Wells or Weird Tales.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
In this quirky, imaginative collectionAhis seventhAWaldrop proves that you can go home again, as long as you pack your rod, your singing saw, and your wrestler's mask. His introduction describes the poverty of the short-story writer's life, and Waldrop's solutionAfishing. These stories include a rewrite of "The Brementown Musicians," peopled with city gangsters from the 1920s, a new Scrooge in a new "Christmas Carol," and a Mexican masked-wrestler story. In most of these stories, Waldrop creates alternative histories: what if Hitler had won, what if World War II had never happened, what if Wolfe had survived and lived on with brain damage? Waldrop is adept at using lingo from various periods and is equally adept at Spanish phrases. With slogans and lots of period detail, he vividly captures the feel of each era, and as an added bonus, after each story he gives a brief history of how that story came into being. Clever, humorous, idiosyncratic, oddball, personal, wild, and crazy, these stories will certainly attract new readers for this writer. Recommended for all fantasy collections.ADoris Lynch, Monroe Cty. P.L., Bloomington, IN
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
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Waldrop is up to his usual metafictional games: Mantan Moreland in an all-black takeoff on The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari; an asylum housing "guests" from books by Faulkner, Steinbeck, Salinger, and William March; the Bremen Town Musicians with hillbillies and Damon Runyonesque gangsters; early 20th century world history as seen through the eyes of the Keystone Kops; Peter Lorre, Shemp Howard, and Zero Mostel performing a Brechtian science fiction play in a Nazi-controlled Europe; an older, sadder, somewhat wiser Thomas Wolfe who lived to meet Fats Waller, T.E. Lawrence, Nevil Shute, and J.D. Salinger in a world where Howard Scott won the presidency and WWII was never fought.
"Scientifiction" is the head-scratcher in this volume: allegedly inspired by an unwritten BUCKY BUG comic, it's about intelligent insects who find a thing, and try to salvage it, and bad s*** happens. I'm gonna figure this one out sooner or later.
This collection is proof positive of all the statements made above--his craft and painstaking attention to detail are evident in every sentence. Over the course of nine stories, Waldrop entertains and enlightens, casting a spell over readers. You don't read a Waldrop story, you experience it. As James Blaylock states, "...most of them keep resonating as memories of experiences lived rather than read."
Four of the nine stories in this volume deal with alternate histories. "You Could Go Home Again," finds author Thomas Wolfe and musician Fats Waller returning to the US after attending the 1940 Olympics in Japan. "Household Words; Or, The Powers-That-Be," describes Charles Dickens at a public reading of "The Christmas Garland," an alternate version of "The Christmas Carol." Accompanying these tales are "The Effects of Alienation," a story Waldrop wrote "to find out what effect Hitler winning World War II would have had on Peter Lorre", and "Flatfeet!," a tale which, among other things, explores the theories of German philosopher Oswald Spengler, who argued that civilizations are subject to the same cycle of growth and decay as human beings. Each reads as though Waldrop is recounting actual events, convincing the reader that even if these things didn't happen, they certainly could have.
Other stories include "The Sawing Boys" (a reworking of "The Brementown Musicians"), "Occam's Ducks" (a look at black American film actors of the 1920s), "El Castillo de la Perseverancia" (an "SF wrasslin' story"), "Scientifiction" (wherein a member of a race of intelligent insects visits our reality), and "Why Did?," (featuring Benjamin Compson, Lenny Small, Rhoda Penmark and Holden Caufield as inmates of a unique asylum). Whether dealing with fairy tale writers who speak perfect Runyonese, paying tribute to his favorite character actors, or working with emotionally and mentally disturbed characters from American literature, Waldrop writes with authority and panache--his creativity is a true marvel (this is the reason the story descriptions are minimal, since part of the pleasure in reading these stories is watching the plots unfurl). Combining seemingly disparate elements into a cohesive whole, he extracts every drop of story value from his subject matter.
In his introduction, Waldrop says that "the stories, contrary to the popular notion, have gotten harder, not easier to do as time goes on." He obviously sweats the details, which explains both the quality and paucity of his output. It's also clear he feels compelled to write, despite the fact that "You absolutely cannot make a living writing short stories..." Be of good cheer, though, because Waldrop promises to keep writing as long as editors keep buying and readers keep reading. I'm not worried about readers, because Waldrop makes fans easily. Editors, however, should take heed--it would be a crime to let a natural resource like this go to waste.
Most recent customer reviews
Keystone Kops, vampires, werewolves, mummies, and Oswald Spengler! ("Flatfeet!Read more