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Latest Comic Book Acqusitions

From July 11-November 11, 2015 (may be a gap with last update)…

1. Harley Quinn (2014) #1
2. Hellblazer (1988) #99
3. Prez (2015) #5
4. Prez (2015) #4
5. Where Monsters Dwell (2015) #5
6. Howard the Duck (2016) #1
7. Neon Joe, Werewolf Hunter (2015) #1
8. Bitten Original Halloween Mini-Comic (2015) nn
9. Doctor Strange: The Oath (2006) #1
10. Skylanders Halloweenfest 2015 (2015) nn n
11. The Batman Adventures (1992) #1
12. Howling Commandos of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2015) #1
13. Weirdworld (2015) #5
14. Weirdworld (2015) #2
15. Infinity Inc. (1984) #6
16. Infinity Inc. (1984) #4
17. Infinity Inc. (1984) #2
18. Infinity Inc. (1984) #1
19. Imagine (1978) #2
20. Hawkworld (1990) #28
21. Skin Graft: The Adventures of a Tattooed Man (1993) #2
22. Animal Man (1988) #89
23. Animal Man (1988) #88
24. Animal Man (1988) #87
25. Animal Man (1988) #61
26. Nightmares & Fairy Tales (2002) #1
27. The Twelve (2008) #0
28. Song of the Cid (1991) #2
29. Amethyst (1985) #6
30. Madhouse Comics (1974) #97
31. Madhouse Comics (1974) #96
32. Hawkworld (1990) #32
33. Machine Man (1978) #2
34. Morbius: The Living Vampire (1992) #29
35. Animal Man (1988) #53
36. Animal Man (1988) #52
37. Animal Man (1988) #51
38. Justice League of America (1960) #191
39. Ghosts (1971) #98
40. Ghost Manor (1968) #4
41. Ghost Rider (1990) #11 n
42. The Original Ghost Rider (1992) #14
43. The Original Ghost Rider (1992) #9
44. Mrs. Deadpool and the Howling Commandos (2015) #4
45. Weirdworld (2015) #4
46. Weirdworld (2015) #3
47. Justice League of America (1960) #87
48. Where Monsters Dwell (2015) #4
49. Haunted Horror (2012) #18
50. Astonishing Tales (2009) #5
51. Evil Dead 2: Beyond Dead By Dawn (2015) #2
52. Evil Dead 2: Beyond Dead By Dawn (2015) #1
53. Mockingbird: S.H.I.E.L.D. 50th Anniversary (2015) #1
54. Animal Man (1988) #84
55. Doom Patrol (2009) #4
56. Doorman: Family Secrets (1995) #1
57. Brightest Day (2010) #23
58. Ambush Bug: Year None (2008) #4
59. Ambush Bug: Year None (2008) #2
60. Ambush Bug: Year None (2008) #1
61. Wolverines (2015) #19
62. Prez (2015) #3
63. CBLDF Defender (2015) #3
64. Doctor Fate (2015) #3
65. Doctor Fate (2015) #2
66. Howard the Human (2015) #1
67. Howard the Duck (2015) #5
68. Mrs. Deadpool and the Howling Commandos (2015) #3
69. Secret Wars: Secret Love (2015) #1
70. Tales from the Aniverse (1985) #4
71. Tales from the Aniverse (1985) #3
72. Superman (1939) #411
73. Suicide Squad (1987) #62
74. Stray Toasters (1988) #1
75. Steel, The Indestructible Man (1978) #1
76. Spring-Heel Jack (1991) #3
77. Spring-Heel Jack (1991) #2
78. Spring-Heel Jack (1991) #1
79. Secret Six (2008) #12
80. The Flash (2010) #6
81. Enchanted Valley (1987) #1
82. The Demon (1990) #10
83. The Demon (1990) #9
84. Doom Patrol (2004) #2n
85. Doom Patrol (2004) #1
86. Secret Origins (1986) #50
87. Secret Origins (1986) #15
88. Arrow Anthology (1997) #1
89. Wonderland (1998) #2
90. Where Monsters Dwell (2015) #3
91. Prez (2015) #2
92. JSA: Classified (2005) #32
93. Skin Graft: The Adventures of a Tattooed Man (1993) #1
94. New Gods (1989) #13
95. New Gods (1989) #19
96. Captain Atom: Armageddon (2005) #2
97. The Unwritten (2009) #2
98. Book of Angels (1997) #1
99. Haunted Horror (2012) #17
100. Constantine: The Hellblazer (2015) #2

So-Called Progressive DeBlasio Reveals Latest Housing Scam


NYC starts construction on affordable housing project that includes homeless shelter

Tuesday, September 22, 2015, 8:33 PM
The city broke ground Tuesday on a new program aimed to help Mayor de Blasio kill two birds with one stone — reducing homelessness and increasing affordable housing in the Bronx.HANDOUT

The city broke ground Tuesday on a new program aimed to help Mayor de Blasio kill two birds with one stone — reducing homelessness and increasing affordable housing in the Bronx.

For the first time, the city is tackling two of its most pressing issues — homelessness and affordable housing — under one roof.

This is incorrect. The cluster site program, despised by city officials, homeless people, and the general public alike, are exactly”affordable housing” and homeless shelters under the same roof. The Legal Aid Society is currently suing a landlord for taking rent-stabilized units offline to make them available to the Department of Homeless Services as family shelter units.

De Blasio administration officials Tuesday broke ground on a first-of-its-kind combination homeless shelter/affordable housing development in the Bronx, part of an effort to maximize resources to combat the parallel problems.

Again, it’s not first-of-its-kind (Fermino needs to learn to fact-check), and the problems aren’t so much parallel as in one being the cause of the other–lack of affordable housing is the primary cause of homelessness.

The new $62 million “Landing Road Residence” in the borough’s University Heights section will feature 135 units of housing alongside a 200-bed shelter for homeless working adults.

Look at that. The fact that they are building a shelter for homeless working adults rather than affordable housing shows how far into the depths of depravity the administration has gone. Why are they building new shelters for such people instead of permanent housing they can actually afford? This is an ethically bankrupt policy.

The permanent housing is reserved for people with very low-incomes, with the majority of the studios for people who earn $21,175 a year or less.

Again, this is indicative of New York City’s disastrous economy. Someone making $21,175 a year should be able to live in a multiroom home and be able to support a family. I am currently temping at MTA for $12.50 an hour, which is why updates to this blog have mostly been restricted to my reading progress pages, since it’s much harder to get online in the evening, and extensions of library computer time are much scarcer with fewer libraries open. Since I’m scheduled to work only 35 hours per week (although overtime is allowed, with only 35 hours regularly scheduled, I’ve hit it only once, and only for .75 hours), that puts my annual gross income (though the job is almost sure to end as soon as the project does) at $22,750. That’s with a master’s degree, mind you, since most white collar jobs are gone. I used to live in a one-bedroom apartment for $981.93 per month. I left in 2012 when the rent was raised to $1,018.75, because I was broke and had a job offer in Jacksonville (I just had my bank account levied when it went over $2,100 following the shelter savings plan). My ex-landlord’s attorneys Gutman, Mintz, Baker, and Sonnenfeldt, which a housing activist acquaintance called “the worst scumlord attorneys” in a private communication to me, are demanding $2,093.29 from me in backed rent, even though my property was in storage and I was in Jacksonville, Florida in those months.

Worst of all, according to Automated City Register Information System (ACRIS), my ex-landlord, North Rim, LLC, has not even owned the property since November 21, 2012, when it failed to pay its mortgage. They could not have been significantly impacted by the loss of my rent money. They stated in court that they received the key in late April, 2012 (I sent it in late February, but did not get a certificate of mailing to prove it, putting me at a disadvantage in court), and had a new tenant in May 1, meaning that I left the apartment in excellent condition relative to what it was when I rented it. The next building owner then lost the property on November 19, 2014.

It’s disgusting that they are allowed to collect this money. Apparently, under New York State contract law, they have a right to collect rent from me even if they had rented the apartment to someone else for those months. Talk about profits-over-people in a supposedly liberal bastion like New York City! Why should I have to pay them for services not rendered? If you agree with that, you should have to pay me for two months in apartments that I do not own in which you did not stay. That’s exactly what is being demanded of me. I should be allowed to do the same with others if we are all equal under the law. That I’m not shows how ridiculous and unjust such a law is. It makes me an indentured servant to my ex-landlord, unable to enjoy the fruits of my labors, since it’s all taken away for something that gives me no benefit in return.


The shelter and the housing development will have separate entrances, but will share some of the same social services from the provider, the non-profit Bowery Resident’s Committee.

Ah! The return of the “poor door” controversy, which have been made illegal in New York City, and it’s run by the Bowery Residents Committee. Its president, Muzzy Rosenblatt, was the first commissioner of the Department of Homeless Services. He convinced Mayor Koch that he could run it more effectively than the Human Resources Administration, so it became a separate department. What it did was create bloated bureaucracy and cause the Department of Housing Preservation and Development to rescind its duties to buildings supervised by the Department of Homeless Services, so that the less stringent inspection methods of DHS leave homeless people in unsafe conditions that HPD could never allow. If a shelter resident makes a 311 complaint about building code violations, they can’t mention that it’s a shelter or 311 will make them talk to DHS, which will do nothing to alleviate the problem.

In addition to providing a new type of mixed-use housing, the development is also a marked departure from past city policy, which relied heavily on for-profit providers to run homeless shelters.

A rendering of the new 'Landing Road Residence' in the Bronx.HANDOUT

A rendering of the new ‘Landing Road Residence’ in the Bronx.

By law, the non-profits must funnel any extra money they make back into the development.

The shelters are easily getting around this. They often put 15 people in a single room and get $3,500, luxury condo rates, for each resident, while providing them with little in the way of useful services. The director of my current shelter, the Bowery Mission Transitional Center, Robert De Guzman, who looks about 25 and I seriously doubt actually earned such a high position, reminded us at last Friday night’s house meeting how much we don’t want to get transferred from this shelter, where each of us gets an 8 foot by 10 foot private room. The vast majority of the money is going to the salaries of the executive director and upper staff. It’s got lots of mice and roaches and is still putting too many people in too small a space for the amount of money it receives per head.

“Doesn’t it make a lot more sense to pay the good guys to run the shelters and have them take the same money and put it back into affordable housing?” said Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen. “That’s the big idea.”

If Alicia Glen considers non-profit shelter providers “the good guys,” she is clearly unaware of reality or is in bed with Muzzy Rosenblatt.

Several other developments that will be run by non-profits and include shelter beds and permanent housing are in the pipeline, she said.

The new Landing Road Residence — which is primarily funded by the city, but also includes state and federal monies — is expected to open within two years.

The bottom line is that homeless shelters make so much money that that their revenue is being used to build so-called “affordable housing,” which isn’t affordable (in this case) to anyone making less than $12 an hour. Most so-called “affordable housing” is for people who make above the median income for their area. This is why Picture the Homeless is proposing a pilot project that would eventually shut down the shelter system entirely and build permanently affordable housing with the government funds that are currently being used to line the wallets of so-called non-profit shelter providers. Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services (a position that oversees DHS and HRA, among others) Lilliam Barrios-Paoli was on board with our plan, but mysteriously resigned from her paid position for an unpaid position with New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation. Needless to say, many of us do not believe that her resignation was really voluntary even if it appears so on the surface.

It’s unfortunate that The New York Daily News seems to have hired Jennifer Fermino to be a public relations writer for the city rather than an investigative journalist. I don’t want to blame her personally, because she was probably not provided with the resources to to the job the residents of New York City needed her to do.

I’m a huge “F-word,” and you probably are, too!

I'm a huge "F-word," and you probably are, too!.

Book Review: A Garden of Cucumbers by Poyntz Tyler

A Garden of CucumbersA Garden of Cucumbers by Poyntz Tyler

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

At 964 5th Avenue today, you will find a dermatology office at the bottom of a large residential tower. The number itself is not to be found, but there are both odd and even numbers along the same side of the street, which faces the east side of Central Park. 8 East 78th Street is around the corner, number also unmarked, a four story building. They appear to have been there well before 1960. On the other side of 78th Street, is the James B. Duke Mansion, which since 1958 has been the home of New York University’s School of Fine Arts, so the idea of a mansion at this location in 1960 is not altogether implausible, although there is nothing resembling the mansion shown in the film Fitzwilly, which is based on this novel.

I saw that film prior to 2003, when I moved to New York. I asked the Indianapolis Public Library to buy a copy of the VHS when it came out, which they did, which would have been around late 1990s. I found it in the Critic’s Choice Video catalog not long after buying the early John Williams “Original Motion Picture Score” (which in those days meant that the music was rerecorded for the album rather than the performance used in the film) on a $2 cassette at Meijer that I played until parts of it were worn out (I have since purchased the Film Score Monthly CD).

The book is recognizably the basis for the movie. I did not remember Mr. Buckmaster from the film, although he was played by Cecil Kellaway (I have not had a chance to re-screen the film for writing this review–someone uploaded it to YouTube recently, but it’s very pixelly and nigh-unwatchable). In the novel, Mr. Buckmaster is really the main character. Mr. Fitzwilliam is the romantic lead, but he doesn’t get nearly as much page time as Mr. Buckmaster, although he is one of the novel’s major characters.

The one review of this I found that was written recently found the humor dated, while I found myself laughing aloud at numerous points (no pun intended). There are some references you might have to look up, and the characters have some classical education and make casual references to mythology, but the most dated part of the book is probably the funniest–in order to pull off the the big Macy’s heist (which is Gimbel’s in the film and more directly involves Fitzwilliam) is to trap people in the subway system to distract from their crime by putting tokens in every turnstile slot in the IRT and BMT in Manhattan so that no one can exit. Since no one would expect a free ride, the insertion of their token would keep the turnstile perpetually locked for exit. I have exited a turnstile after someone swiped their Metrocard on the other side. They thought they lost their swipe and were unhappy until they got through, but sure looked at me like a jerk. Perhaps the people who set up the Metrocard system were aware of this book and thought it better to risk this than to have exiting customers crash into entering ones. They get the Boy Scouts from Garland’s troop to do this in the local stations, who think they are making it easier for homeless people to get to family in the suburbs. That the homeless guy mentioned is an alcoholic didn’t bother me so much since before Reagan, most homeless people were alcoholics.

The book has a lot of fascinating characters, who tell tales of interacting with real-life people (hence their inclusion in the character list–I didn’t include simple name drops). The credits list shows Pierre and Garland in the film, too but I didn’t remember them, although I do remember the entire household staff working together as a team. Pierre is a very important character in the novel, and his story is very amusing, especially given my experiences with Occupy’s anarchists and my reading of the Engels/Lafargue correspondence and how anti-socialist laws were always in response to crimes committed by anarchists, rather than socialists.

Mr. Buckmaster is much greedier and less honest than Fitzwilliam in the film, who is presented there as the mastermind, but also tailors his crimes so that only rich people are affected, and any complaints they have would cause them to lose face, since it would involve publicly saying that they didn’t donate to one charity or another. This element is barely hinted at in the book and may originate with screenwriter Isobel Leonart. Buckmaster began his career whining that in the Great Depression that only the poor had money. He comes across as a spoiled right-winger. Unlike Tyler, he is a Republican, and the right-wing element had probably crept quite a bit into the Republican Party by 1960. Republicans today deny it, but the party was originally very far left and opposed private property rights, not just slavery, at the time of its founding. While Fitzwilliam is charmed by Buckmaster’s bible charity, even that resulted from a heist that was supposed to fill the household wine cellars but came from a subservient taking the wrong delivery truck. While in the film, Fitzwilliam is all about allowing Miss Woodhouse (her name in the film, probably because a socialist named Victoria Clafin Woodhull ran for President of the United States under the Equal Rights Party in 1872, and they thought grafting the charity aspect onto the character might offend people) to keep up her charity giving (again only hinted at in the book). Mr. Buckmaster is clearly in it to maintain the lifestyle. He doesn’t mind being a servant in a mansion in which he has a big apartment and everything he could want. Fitzwilliam and Juliet (who is Miss Woodhull’s maid, not secretary, in the novel) want to get out of the racket before they get married, fearing it might encourage their future children to steal. Many chapters are vignettes in which he persuades the well-defined other members of the household staff, or his brother Roderick, who has a front with a Philadelphia thrift shop called Saint Dismas (the penitent thief) to commit crimes, and demonstrating how he is the mastermind by having thought of so many possibilities for the scheme not to work, although sometimes they are still bungled, although, being a comedy, the climactic one with Pierre turns out to be all right in spite of all the complications, and things turn out for the better, anyway. The character was probably untenable as the lead in a mainstream comedy in 1967. Fitzwilliam and Juliet are sort of a Claudio and Hero re: Much Ado About Nothing by comparison to Mr. Buckmaster’s role in the novel.

The book is tempered in its politics apart from its overt references to devotion to the Republican Party. Tyler does not want to politicize the scandal of members of the gentry regularly committing shoplifting, fraud, etc., so in may seem a little soft to contemporary readers who want a skewering of the rich. They may find it disappointing that Victoria Woodhull’s biggest vice is having visited the 21 Club during prohibition. I thought the resolution in the film seemed too abrupt, but the plot about her dictionary for the illiterate (really a bad speller’s dictionary, but the term appears enough times) and how it resolves, as well as the issues with Pierre, tie the novel up really nicely (and comedically), with the usual novelistic jabs at Hollywood schlock, and of course includes the wedding of the juvenile and the ingenue.

I’ve seen that this book is available as a print on demand. I had the fortune of reading a first edition, although the lack of a dust jacket made the plain yellow cover not worth scanning.

Quotes Scott Liked

“Juliet is so beautiful,” Mr. Buckmaster agreed, “that her being a maid is a reflection on capitalism.”
Poyntz Tyler, A Garden of Cucumbers
“To Pierre,” said Mr. Buckmaster, “the Communists are of the Right. The far Right. He refers to them as ‘those goddamned Bourbons.’ Pierre is an anarchist. That’s why he’s so happy in his shoplifting–he feels it helps undermine the state.”
Poyntz Tyler, A Garden of Cucumbers

View all my reviews

Protest Against Aguila Shelter Violations by Zishun Ning

Mark and I followed the tall guy chewing gum and the bearded guy onto the subway at the Jackson Avenue subway stop, shaming them as slumlords and child murderers every time more people got onto the train. Mark got off at 125th Street, leaving me alone with them. The tall guy got off at 96th Street, and the bearded guy got off at 42nd Street. I supplied them with plenty of details (unfortunately, I had not remembered Juan Sanchez’s name–the little boy who ate the rat poison), but people were asking me to spell Aguila and typing it into their smart phones. The two men said nothing, but looked like they were having the worst day of their life as Mark and I (and later just I) berated them about things they knew to be true (although from some of their murmuring to each other, they weren’t necessarily sure).

Aguila is merely the service provider to the shelter. The landlord is the Podolsky family, which got a big write-up in the December 2013 issue of New York Magazine:

Picture the Homeless will be having a sleepout in front of CEO Stuart Podolsky’s $5 million condominium at 117 East 57th Street on Thursday, August 20. Please join us and get a big crowd. We will be there from 5 PM until some time in the morning (except those of us who live in shelters and have to be back by 10 PM curfew). You might get a glimpse of David Copperfield, who lives a floor below.

Interview with mü

This interview was recorded May 7 and posted on August 8.


This is the article mentioned that got me fired even though the marketing director and both clients liked it:

This is the compilation of quotes from Rocky reviews mentioned:

Here is my review of Scott Timberg’s Culture Crash:  The Killing of the Creative Class

Here is my interview with Coffee with the Homeless.  She revised her assessment after I complained:

I have never publicly posted my exit exam response on Joe Dante, although he read it via Tim Lucas of Video Watchdog.  He said most of my ideas he had read before, but that I was the first to point out that he was doing a running commentary on American gun culture.

Review of Linda Tirado’s Hand to Mouth:

Book Review: Novels I of Samuel Beckett (MurphyWattMercier and Camier)

Novels I of Samuel Beckett: Volume I of The Grove Centenary EditionsNovels I of Samuel Beckett: Volume I of The Grove Centenary Editions by Samuel Beckett

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I purchased the four-volume The Grove Centenary Editions of Samuel Beckett Boxed Set in 2007, I went straight to the second volume, having read all of Beckett’s plays and then The Complete Short Prose, 1929-1989 on the recommendation of my unreciprocated college crush, Katherine E. Ellison, who had also recommended to me the Trilogy of Molloy (1951), Malone Dies (1951), and The Unnamable (1953). I didn’t know much about these early books, which on glancing through, look startling conventional by comparison to the later books, although the principal characters are mentioned near the end of The Unnamable drawing all the books together (except the later How It Is, which came out in 1961). At the end of Mercier and Camier, Watt meets the title characters, and Mercier mentions having known Murphy. Watt makes a statement that seems to obliquely refer to The Unnamable, which was yet to be written in 1946 but probably would have been well known to most readers when the book was finally published in 1970. These three books all have a wit and charm and even the weirdness of the later books despite their more conventional form.

Murphy is the most amusing of the three books. It is told in third person about an eccentric and suicidal fellow trying to put together a respectable life and not doing a good job of it. He wants to marry his lover, Celia Kelly, but her grandfather, Willoughby, who is elderly and confined to a wheelchair, is proud of her that she is able to support herself through prostitution! That this is the 1930s is readily apparent, since a guy can walk into a hospital and get a job as a nurse without any special training. The world seems more open to possibilities then than it does now, if the story is at all realistic, which it probably isn’t. Murphy is eventually successful in his suicide attempts, surviving one that is especially bloody but rescued by his landlady, but the book ends with the Kellys flying a kite in the park. The book has a comic tone throughout, lightening up its overall dark story. It’s a shame that the most recent issue of this book has a green cover, since such a big deal is made that lemon yellow is Murphy’s favorite color, and the previous edition of this book did, as well.

I had thought the cover of the collected volume was some sort of metaphor for Murphy, but it is a concrete, if upside down and backwards, representation of an abstract painting in Watt’s room when he is moved to the second floor of the mansion in Watt, which is the most difficult of the three novels here. In many ways, it is a literary breakthrough in dealing with the minutiae of everyday thought, but it goes to far, often lapsing into tedious Shrödinger’s cat lists of possibilities, such as what Watt’s employer could wear on his feet at any given day, often unmatching. I recently wrote the Wikipedia article on catalogue arias, and these do seem like they could be good material for setting, but I don’t think Beckett’s estate would ever allow that as long as copyright laws protect it. It’s a bit dry at times, which doesn’t mean it’s not often laugh-out-loud funny. The book is narrated in the first person minor by Sam, a servant in a neighboring house who rescues Watt from a hole in a barbed wire fence, who is probably meant to be Beckett himself, although as English majors we are taught never to assume such things. Watt narrated his story in pretty intense detail to Sam, since it reads like third person limited omniscient, and Sam barely appears in the book. I really messed up on adding the characters because there’s a giant family I thought sure was only Watt’s reverie that are pretty well shown to be real people by the end of the book. I am surprised man and dog aren’t poisoned by the concoction Watt makes, however. Watt himself is a milk drinker, although often assumed to be a drunken derelict by those who see him, even though he is said by those who know him to never touch alcohol. I found it ironic, considering I’m still living in a homeless shelter, drink a lot of milk, and never drink alcohol. The book begins and ends with Watt coming and going to the house via foot and train, and incidents at the station. His arrival is strange, but he seems to be welcome, if not expected, and his departure seems random, as if he just decided he didn’t want his job anymore. Weird detail about the length of the station master’s arm is memorable for a totally gratuitous mention of the glans penis.

Mercier and Camier is probably the most accessible and Waiting for Godot-like of the three books, in that it focuses on two character rather than one, and has numerous exchanges that allowed me to complete it in less than four days of commutes. The last page notes that the English version is a fourth shorter than the French version (Beckett himself was the translator). So little happens in the title characters’ journeys that lists of incidents after every two chapters are really quite helpful in recalling what happened. The book starts claiming it was witness by the unnamed narrator, possibly Sam again, but with nothing explicit, although, as mentioned, the two do meet Watt at the end. Inspector Francis Xavier Camier, short and stout, is best friends with Mr. Mercier, tall and bearded, who dislikes his wife, and the two are described as younger old men, I’m guessing late 50s-early 60s. The book was written in 1946 and the characters were around at the turn of the century. The opening of chapter four really reads like the two are a gay couple, although I wonder if I’m reading too much in. One of my graduate school colleagues said that when he showed Astaire and Rogers movies to his media students, they would assume that Fred Astaire and Edward Everett Horton’s characters are gay, but this actually has them naked under bed covers at the house of a woman named Helen in whom neither seems to have any but platonic interest.

The two do have major encounters with police at three points in the book. The second is extremely brutal and unprovoked, and the cop’s head at the end of the encounter is described as like part of a shell peeling off the egg, although the prose is such that one can’t be sure if they invoked what in the United States would be Plummer v. State. They are never punished, which may have had something to do with its initial rejection, although sales of Murphy were the publisher’s official reason for non-acceptances. The use of F and C words, and the graphic description of dog fornication at the beginning, make me wonder if Beckett ever submitted it to Viking, which published his mentor, James Joyce, whose use of F and C words in Ulysses resulted in a winning court case. Colm Toíbín’s introduction has quite a bit of Beckett biography as well as details about his own court case dealing with obscenity. In spite of some of the vulgar language, it is hard to see any of these three novels as the least bit obscene by contemporary standards.

When Watt meets them at the end of the book, he’s not very much in character, drinking three rounds of alcohol and smashing Camier’s walking stick, which is an heirloom, causing Camier to reflect upon how little the two ever talk about each other, and probably leads to his separation from Mercier at the end of the book.

All three books made me laugh out loud at intentional humor, while also reading as both profound and spare. They seem like great books to be read aloud, even if you wouldn’t want kids around. While Beckett’s most serious devotees generally find Beckett’s novels superior to his theatrical work, they do have a definite theatricality to them due to his very deliberate use of language, impacted by the fact that he had started writing in French and translating back into English because the English language is so much bigger and full of loan words, and felt that his writing was too poetic in English. It still seems to me poetic in English, and my knowledge of French makes me want to get an untranslated copy. Reading Beckett is like reading few other novelists’ work, distinctive even in a less radical form than the subsequent four novels, and quite a different voice, I believe, from Joyce (although, as I write this, I have read only Finnegans Wake and a few stories from Dubliners, including “The Dead,” although I have purchased the Norton A Portait of the Artist as a Young Man and expect to read it soon). I have now read all of Beckett’s novels except the omitted Dream of Fair to Middling Women, which was published posthumously and not included in this collection, although the edition made available at the time of this edition had a cover that looked almost uniform with these editions, unfortunately no longer easily available.

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