Tuesday, October 12, 2021

First Impressions by Glen Engel-Cox

I've read book reviews by Glen Engel-Cox for a long time, as I find him an interesting critic who expresses himself quite nicely, and one with whom I share a fair number of author-interests. Now comes a supersized (500 oversized pages) collection a lot of the reviews, titled First Impressions (2021). The book's subtitle notes he has been "Dancing about Literature since 1986," though the bulk of the reviews date from the decade of the 1990s, after which the number of books reviewed drops considerably. 

Reading (or rereading) reviews of favorite authors do bring insights, and recommendations for other books I haven't read. Besides masters like Borges and John Crowley, Engel-Cox has a taste for quirky modern fantasists like Jonathan Carroll, Graham Joyce, William Browning Spencer, Tim Powers, James Morrow, and many others. But his praise is not unconditional, and flaws are pointed out and discussed. And Engel-Cox does single out books that he expected to like more but in the end found disappointing. I certainly agree with him on Ellen Kushner's Swordspoint,  Edward Whittemore's Sinai Tapestry and even the supposed classic anthology, Dangerous Visions edited by Harlan Ellison.  

Of course the real value of this book is in the descriptions of books I haven't read that the reviewer found especially worthwhile. So I'm making yet another list of books to read, or to acquire (if I don't already have them). And I look forward to some worthwhile reading. I do hope Engel-Cox will do a follow-up volume, covering more thoroughly the speculative fiction of the 2010s. I wonder if he feels the heavy disappointment I have found in a great many of the supposed standout books of the modern era.

No comments:

Post a Comment