Books I Read in 2020

2020 wasn’t the year where I got caught up on all my reading. As promising as a year in lockdown seemed for my reading habits, I didn’t manage to pull off any incredible feats of readership.

Books I read:

SA Corey – Caliban’s War
SA Corey – Abaddon’s Gate
Harper – The Dry
Sheen – Life is Worth Living (volumes 1, 2, 3, 4)
Sheen – Treasure in Clay
Sheen – Communism and the Conscience of the West
Gibson – Neuromancer
Gibson – Count Zero
Gibson – Mona Lisa Overdrive
Frissen + Jodorowsky – Sans Nom, Le Techno Baron
Gibson + Christmas – Alien 3
Capote – In Cold Blood
Achiman – Call Me By Your Name
Swarup – Q & A
Alder-Olsen – The Keeper of Lost Causes
Alder-Olsen – The Absent One
Oster – Crib Sheet
Malerman – Bird Box
Cummings – A Saint of Our Own
Various Authors – Ireland and Masculinities in History
O’Toole – The Faithful
Puzo – The Family
Beynon – Masculinities and Culture
Nyman – Men Alone
Gerstner – Manly Arts
Spillane – Kiss Me Deadly
Burroughs – Tarzan of the Apes
Druon – The Irong King
Druon – The Strangled Queen
Druon – The Poisoned Crown
Druon – The Royal Succession
Druon – The She Wolf
Druon – The Lily and the Lion
Matusow – Joseph R McCarthy
Greely – The Church and the Suburbs
Sherwood – The Rhetorical Leadership of Fulton J. Sheen, Norman Vincent Peale, and Billy Graham in the Age of Extremes
Hudnut-Beumer – Looking for God in the Suburbs
Murakami – Colourless Tsukuru and His Years of Pilgrimage

I also read the complete issue of Andromeda Spaceways Magazine #77 where one of my stories (The World’s a Junkheap and We’re All Visitors Here) appeared and Shotgun Honey’s Recoil (where my story “Detour” was featured).

Some highlights and lowlights and thoughts:

Maurice Druon’s Accrused Kings series is still one of my favourites. I had read the first three a few years ago and then re-read those and the next three. Written much like the Godfather but with Medieval French kings. If only the 7th book which I am currently reading were as good as the others…

Tarzan of The Apes was remarkable trash. Very readable, but almost a wonder that it became as famous as it did. I suppose it has a lot of the conventions of pulp of the day (overly breeze prose, he-man male protagonists, waify women, “evil blacks”, etc.). All the accusations of racism against it are pretty much well founded – and not just a “things were different back then” kind of way. I understand why Spike Lee badmouthed it in Blackkklansman.

Reading Mickey Spillane in the context of the global rise of fascism makes his books remarkably darker than they were intended. While Mike Hammer is your usual tough-guy, smash things first kind of detective, the casual disdain for organized society, the failures of legitimate police work, and the need for he-men to solve problems in his world has some eerie parallels to contemporary neo-fascist discourses. I suppose Spillane was mostly your usual right-wing crime author of his day, but his characterizations of people and society are likely viewed with rosy red classes by neo-cons today. Not that I think Mike Hammer needs to be saved from such views – I suspect the character would have invited them.

By alexander

Drinker of bad wine and writer of many things. Alexander writes fiction, manages a team of SEOs, and dabbles in food history. He also has a Doctorate in North American Religion and Culture and used to teach at Concordia University.