Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
06/24/16 -- Vol. 34, No. 51, Whole Number 1916

Co-Editor: Mark Leeper,
Co-Editor: Evelyn Leeper,
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        Science Fiction (and Other) Discussion Groups, Films,
                Lectures, etc. (NJ)
        Yet More Hugo Changes (comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)
        Every Bit Helps (comments by Mark R. Leeper)
        My Picks for Turner Classic Movies in July (comments
                by Mark R. Leeper)
        SOUTHBOUND (film review by Mark R. Leeper)
        GYPSY by Carter Scholz (book review by Dale Skran)
        Reading Community (letter of comment by Charles S. Harris)
        Fake Movies (letter of comment by Kevin R)
        THE DIARY OF SAMUEL PEPYS by Samuel Pepys (letter of comment
                by Kevin R)
        THE DIARY OF SAMUEL PEPYS by Samuel Pepys (Part 4) (comments
                by Evelyn C. Leeper)
        This Week's Reading (Cranbury Bookworm and the Death of Used
                Bookstores in General) (book comments
                by Evelyn C. Leeper)


TOPIC: Science Fiction (and Other) Discussion Groups, Films,
Lectures, etc. (NJ)

July 14: ROBOCOP (1987) and story "Brillo" by Ben Bova and Harlan
        Ellison ( or, Middletown (NJ)
        Public Library, 5:30PM
July 28: "The Spectre General" by Theodore R. Cogswell and "The
        Witches of Karres" by James H. Schmitz (both in SCIENCE
        FICTION HALL OF FAME 2B), Old Bridge (NJ) Public Library,
August 25: TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE by Solomon Northup, Old Bridge (NJ)
        Public Library, 7PM
September 22: "In Hiding [Children of the Atom]" by Wilmar
        H. Shiras and "The Big Front Yard" by Clifford D. Simak
        (both in SCIENCE FICTION HALL OF FAME 2B), Old Bridge (NJ)
        Public Library, 7PM
October 27: TBD,         Old Bridge (NJ) Public Library, 7PM
November 17: "Rogue Moon" by Algis Budrys and "The Moon Moth" by
        Jack Vance (both in SCIENCE FICTION HALL OF FAME 2B),
        Old Bridge (NJ) Public Library, 7PM
December 22(?): TBD, Old Bridge (NJ) Public Library, 7PM

Garden State Spec. Fiction Writers Lectures (subject to change):

July 9: Michael Swanwick, Building Stories, Old Bridge (NJ) Public
        Library, 12N
August: TBD, Old Bridge (NJ) Public Library, 12N
September 10: Ellen Datlow, The State of Horror, Old Bridge (NJ)
        Public Library, 12N
October 1: Ken Altabef, Adventures in Publishing, Old Bridge (NJ)
        Public Library, 12N
November 5: David Sklar, Character Dreaming, Old Bridge (NJ)
        Public Library, 12N

Northern New Jersey events are listed at:


TOPIC: Yet More Hugo Changes (comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)

Just when you thought it was safe to read the Hugo finalists...

MidAmericon II has just announced a change to the Retro Hugo
ballot:  "Darker Than You Think" was mistakenly categorized as a
novelette.  It is a novella, but did not receive enough nominations
to qualify in that category, so no longer appears on the ballot.
"Vault of the Beast" by A. E. Van Vogt (Astounding, August 1940)
has taken its place for novelette category.  [-ecl]


TOPIC: Every Bit Helps (comments by Mark R. Leeper)

The airlines have a new way of making a profit.  They realize that
people who fly coach do not like the narrow the narrow center
seats.  For an extra fee a passenger can get an assured aisle seat.


And for a few dollars more you can arrange a seat with no broken
glass or baby vomit.  [-mrl]


TOPIC: My Picks for Turner Classic Movies in July (comments by Mark
R. Leeper)

Well, we are starting the second half of 2016.  I guess I should be
listing my choices for what on Turner Classic Movies you might have
never heard of, or heard of but never seen.  When I look at the
films I have chosen for this month I notice that they are from
1955, 1957, and 1958.  I wonder if I have a bias for the 1950s.
Certainly there were a lot of good movies made in the 1950s, though
outside of people with interest in science fiction, not many people
seem to remember that decade with a particular fondness.  But in
the '50s there were a lot of interesting and hard-hitting films
that one way or another went against the rules of the formula.
Then they would be shown on television in the 1960s when I was a
teen and starting to appreciate unusual cinema.  Anyway, give these
films a try if you will.  As usual, all times are East Coast times.
Also as usual if I am caught mischaracterizing any of the films
here the Turner Corporation will disavow any knowledge of my
actions or of me.  And that is not surprising since they probably
never heard of me.

I have a special fondness for 3:10 TO YUMA (1957), a Western well
enough liked in its time but rarely seen these days.  But someone
must be remembering it because it did get a high-budget remake in
2007.  Both versions are good, but I like the simplicity of the
monochrome original, a film somewhat along the lines of HIGH NOON.
In this adaptation of the story by popular crime writer Elmore
Leonard Glenn Ford plays Ben Wade a killer who is somehow actually
likable but seductive as a snake.  He has the strange talent of
charming anyone he wants to use.  Dan Evans (Van Heflin) is a
rancher whose cattle herding efforts are about to fail because of a
three-year drought.  Desperate to get money to buy water to save
his cattle Dan agrees to escort Wade to the train to Yuma to stand
trial.  He knows full well that he risks getting killed by Wade's
powerful gang.  Wade decides to use his charm on Evans.  Let the
mind games begin.  Watch the film the first time for the suspense
that continues pretty much to the end of the film.  And watch it a
second time for the characters.  Glenn Ford rarely plays a villain
(maybe only this once), but he is just about perfect as Ben Wade.
One odd note: listen carefully to the song lyrics sung by Frankie
Laine.  They must have been written as some sort of a parody of
Western song lyrics.  And it made a hit record in spite of the
bizarre lyrics.  [Wednesday, July 20, 4:45 PM]

MARTY won the Oscar for Best Picture in 1955, but outside of TCM it
gets very little play these days.  The whole premise is a hard sell
to today's audiences.  Marty Piletti (played by Ernest Borgnine
when he was an unknown) is a 34-year-old, overweight butcher who
lives with his mother.  He is sick to death of his family and
friends asking him, "When are you going to get married?"  Marty
knows the answer to that question.  It is "never." He would love to
get married.  He would love to have a girlfriend.  What he has
instead is a string of years of empty evenings and disappointments.
Then the unthinkable happens.  Marty meets a girl who might be
interested in him.  That destabilizes Marty's relationships with
his family and his friends.  MARTY was the first of several 1950s
films that were big screen adaptations/remakes of plays that
appeared on live TV.  Rod Steiger played the part of Marty Piletti
on television as Ernest Borgnine did in the movie.  The play and
the screenplay were written by Paddy Chayefsky who also wrote THE
STATES (1980), and most famously NETWORK (1976).  Borgnine was a
very unusual choice for the lead of a film.  At this point most
film leads were very attractive.  Actors who did not have good
looks were relegated to character roles.  Putting Borgnine in the
lead was a real risk, but United Artists even used Borgnine's
weight as a selling point on the posters.  You should watch how
well Borgnine carries this film.  [Sunday, July 10, 2:15 PM]

Best film of the month?  I have to go with Stanley Kubrick's THE
PATHS OF GLORY (1958).  [Monday, July 4, 4:30 AM]



TOPIC: SOUTHBOUND (film review by Mark R. Leeper)

CAPSULE: A powerful variation on the multi-story film.  SOUTHBOUND
is five horrific stories, each of which fades into the next.  Some
of the story types are familiar, some new.  All take place along or
around a nearly empty California highway without a number.  Six
writers, four of whom direct the film, give us a well-made and
weird horror film.  Rating: low +2 (-4 to +4) or 7/10

SOUTHBOUND opens in the middle of a story already in progress.  Two
men splattered with blood are driving down an empty highway
apparently haunted by what look like black rags that seem to be
hanging from the sky.  When we get a better look at them we see
that they are hellish demons who seemingly come out of the ground.
As we watch the story we suddenly realize that the characters have
changed and there was a smooth transition to the second film
without us realizing it.  Soon it becomes clear that each story
will smoothly pass the baton to the story that follows it.  One
story after another goes by, and most are creepy as all get-out.
There is little explained about the stories and somehow that makes
them all the scarier.  One family eats unidentified and
unidentifiable meat that cause pairs of people to synchronize with
each other.  Sometimes the ground cracks open for little reason
unless it is to create a passageway to Hell.  Each story is
recognizable as a separate story only after it is over.

Some of the stories at least start in familiar territory.  One has
three girls from a girl jazz band having a tire blowout on the
seemingly endless road that is common to all the stories.  Just in
time they get an offer of a ride from some seemingly nice people.
That start has been done many times before, but where the story
goes is all SOUTHBOUND's own.  Another story has a careless driver
knocking down a pedestrian and having to perform surgery on the
victim guided by a doctor on a phone connection.  Things do not go

Present in this film are many elements of different sub-genres of
the horror film.  There is the supernatural; there is a monster;
there are demons; there is a house invasion; devil worshipers show
up.  This film is a Whitman Sampler of sub-genres of the horror

The same morbid atmosphere continues from story to story which is a
little surprising since there are different directors for each
story with Roxanne Benjamin, David Bruckner, Patrick Horvath, and
someone who chooses to be called "Radio Silence" each directing one
segment.  Each but perhaps the last took a hand in writing the
film.  Hanging over all the stories is a bizarre commentary by a
radio talk host played by Larry Fessenden.

This film is the great-grandchild of the old horror anthology films
(e.g. TALES FROM THE CRYPT) made by Amicus in the 1960s and 1970s).
But where Amicus created their horror by implication, SOUTHBOUND
goes straight for the throat (at times literally).  It is strong
stuff and maybe these days a horror film has to be.  I rate it a
low +2 on the -4 to +4 scale or 7/10.

Film Credits:

What others are saying:



THE MAGICIAN'S LAND) by Lev Grossman (book reviews by Dale Skran)

Based on generally liking THE MAGICIANS first season on Syfy, I
decided to buy THE MAGICIANS and read it.  About half-way through
the book I ordered the second two from Amazon.  There is a lot in
this trilogy, and I more or less read straight through it.  There
are a number of differences in how the SyFy version handles the
story. The first season of THE MAGICIANS takes elements from the
first two books, and changes some of the key conflicts in
significant ways while retaining the overall flavor of the written
work. This is a somewhat long and quite dense series (each book is
about 400 pages) so I'm not going to recapitulate the plot or list
all the characters.  Instead I am going to focus on the themes that
I found the most compelling.

On some level THE MAGICIANS is FRIENDS with magic.  We follow the
lives of six main characters (Quentin, Eliot, Janet, Alice, Penny,
and Julia) as they first learn magic and then embark on their
careers as magicians.  Each travels a different road but all
survive to the end of the trilogy and achieve through painful
experience a considerable degree of success.  There is a soap opera
aspect here, as Quentin falls in love with Alice, but then sleeps
with Janet and Elliot, leading Alice to sleep with Penny) but
probably to no greater degree than would be the case with some
random group of six friends.

Grossman's genius is that he has created a kind of magic that is
more or less the kind of magic we have in the real world--science
and technology.  It is not a coincidence that Quentin's final
Brakebills project (flying to the Moon) and Alice's final project
(trapping a single photon) are both tasks that scientists/engineers
have actually accomplished in the real world.  Grossman's magic is
hard to learn and hard to perform.  It takes many years of study of
arcane languages, extreme amounts of practice with complex hand
motions, and a single slip-up can be hazardous.  Many of the
characters attend the hidden but elite magical university of
Brakebills, a sort of Harvard for magicians.  Getting into
Brakebills requires genius level intelligence combined with passing
a complex magical test.  Here they are subjected to a richly
imagined old-school college experience, with bizarre professors,
quaint traditions, harrowing exams, and fascinating cliques.
Quentin, Alice, Janet, and Elliot are part of the "Physical Kids."
They hang out in a magical cottage, and the test to join is to
break into the cottage using physical magic.

In the outer world, Julia, who has failed the Brakebill's exam for
reasons that are better explained in the TV show than the novel,
leads the life of a "hedge witch," drifting from safe house to safe
house, picking up magic via any means she can acquire it, including
sex, slowly becoming a machine for the acquisition of power.
Eventually she is invited to join an elite group of hedge witches
operating in France. For the first time she feels at home, but then
becomes involved in the group's efforts to contact the old gods.
This sets her on a painful and dangerous path that by the end of
the trilogy has resulted in her becoming "a three-fourths" goddess,
the Queen of the Dryads, living on the bottom side of Fillory.

Interleaved with the tale of "friends with magic" is the story of
Fillory, which might be understood as "dark Narnia" or maybe what
Narnia would be if it were real.   This story is a novel within a
novel, cleverly laid out over the whole series as we gradually
learn the full story of the Chatwin brothers and sisters who found
the doorways into Fillory, became High Kings and Queens there, and
in some cases met terrible ends.  Quentin has been obsessed with
Fillory since he first discovered the novels, and knows true
happiness for the first time when he travels there and realizes
that it has always been a real place.

Magicians in Grossman's universe suffer the same curse as we who
live in the real world, especially those of us smart enough and
lucky enough to attend top universities and have decent jobs.
Quentin and his friends can easily make money, buy drugs, have sex,
party, learn magic, write papers, make magical gadgets, or simply
live ordinary lives.  What they can't to is cure cancer, be
immortal, or use magic to find love.  In other words, although they
have the powers of super-heroes, they don't have anything they
really want.  Just as for us, finding meaning in life is for the
magicians by far the toughest trick. Many fall into lives of empty
hedonism, like Alice's magician parents.  Others while away the
days manipulating human affairs or using magic to play dangerous
games.  Some become members of the Wizards' court, engage in
magical scholarship, or teach at magical universities, of which
there are many scattered around the world.  Still others work in
secret to prevent crime or protect the Earth from incoming
asteroids and comets.

For Quentin and his friends, the siren lure of Fillory beckons, but
leads many of them on dangerous paths. Alice becomes a niffin, a
vastly powerful but not very human spirit of pure magic, after
being consumed by magic as a consequence of a battle.  Penny
becomes a librarian in the Neitherlands, a world between all
worlds, his hands having been bitten off in the same battle where
Alice became a niffin.   Quentin, exiled from Fillory, and
desperate for money in the third novel after having been fired from
a teaching job for violating Brakebill's rules, signs up with a
band of magical thieves to steal an unknown object of power.

The trilogy is all of Heinlein's three story types.  We have "Boy
meets girl"--Quentin meets Alice, along with some boy meets boy
involving Elliot.  There is also the "Man who learned better" as
Quentin, Elliot, Janet, and Alice all outgrow the fears and
weaknesses that have driven them to Fillory.   And there is, of
course, "Boy/girl grows up," which especially applies to Quentin
and Alice, who are the central characters, but also to Elliot,
Janet, and Julia in different ways.

The MAGICIANS trilogy has received large amounts of serious
critical praise. For example with regard to THE MAGICIAN'S LAND the
NEW YORK TIMES said it was "richly imagined and continually
surprising novel" and "the strongest book in Grossman's series."
Grossman won the 2011 John W. Campbell award for best new SF writer
on the strength of THE MAGICIANS, the first book in the series.
Grossman appears to be a relatively unique author who has received
high praise both from mainstream critics and traditional SF fans.

There is a super-heroish aspect to the MAGICIANS.  At one point
Elliot uses magic to enhance his speed, strength, and durability so
that he can win a single combat with the champion of a rival
Kingdom.  At various points Janet battles a giant snapping turtle
and a ram god using flight, Ice-man like freeze powers, and ice-
tipped battle axes made of anti-magic metals.  In still another
instance Quentin and Alice battle both of the gods of Fillory, with
Alice at one point transforming Quentin into a dragon.  And there
is one colossal running battle with a horde of monsters that
concludes with a throw-down with the nearly all-powerful Martin
Chatwin, who sold his humanity to one of the ram gods of Fillory
for power so he could stay in Fillory forever.  This is the point
at which everyone finds out (as if they didn't already know) that
Alice is by far the best magician among them. Alice's special
magical craft is control of light, which means in practice she can
do whatever the comic book character Dr. Light can do, but this is
only a small part of the vast array of powers she can bring to bear
on an enemy.

One aspect of this series I find fascinating is that Lev Grossman
has a twin brother, Austin, who is a game designer and the author
of SOON I WILL BE INVINCIBLE, a super-hero pastiche that received a
lot of positive critical attention and that I liked a lot.
Further, they have an older sister, Bathsheba, who is an artist
that specializes in sculptures having a mathematical origin.  All
three siblings attended the highly regarded Lexington High in
Massachusetts, rated the 19th best high school in America, and all
three have distinguished academic backgrounds at schools like
Harvard and Yale.  The Grossman parents are also well-known writers
and poets of an earlier generation.  I suspect that THE MAGICIANS
draws a lot on Grossman's own family and the schools he attended,
but you would have to know the family well to draw any specific

THE MAGICIANS trilogy is mature fantasy at its best.  I recommend
it to a wide audience ranging from SF fans to people who mainly
read "serious" literature.  My review has not fully captured the
depth and resonance of Grossman's work.  Highly recommended, but
only for teens and up due to non-explicit sex, violence, and drug
use, as well as adult themes including non-explicit child
molestation.  [-dls]


TOPIC: GYPSY by Carter Scholz (book review by Dale Skran)

While trolling the Internet looking for Hugo award suggested
reading, I noticed some references to a tale of interstellar
exploration by one Carter Scholz, who I was not familiar with.
Sometime later I picked up the book GYPSY PLUS... which is part of
the PM Press "Outspoken Authors" Series.  [It includes GYPSY and
four other pieces.]  At the risk of generalizing without having
read the seventeen volumes, they appear to be mainly authors of the
left-wing persuasion.  Certainly Mr. Scholz turns out to be from
that church.

GYPSY reminds me a great deal of LEVEL 7 by Mordecai Roshwald.
Written in the 1960s, LEVEL 7 is a "just so" story that might be
best described as propaganda.  The point is that nuclear war is bad
and we will all die. Repeated over and over and over.  Roshwald
(and Scholz) are decent writers.  The pages are readable, the
characters somewhat compelling.  However, when you are done you
realize that you are the victim of a trick--that the author is just
trying to make a point, and in a somewhat leaden fashion.

In GYPSY the point seems to be that humans are not meant to make
interstellar voyages or have high technology.  To escape a dying
hyper-technological and over-heating Earth, a daring entrepreneur
secretly builds and launches an interstellar ship. This ship is an
Orion type hibernation vessel that is well conceived technically.
As in all such "just so" stores (and in a fashion similar to that
in Kim Stanley Robinson's AURORA) one by one the systems fail, and
eventually everyone dies, although a single person does reach the
target star.  At the very end they appear to hear an apology from
Earth, which is most probably the hallucination of a dying person.

Just to confirm what sort of a writer Scholz was I read the "United
States of Impunity," an essay included with GYPSY. This turned out
to be a channeling of Noam Chomsky about all the vile deeds of the
US related to the economic crash of 2008.  In this style of
fabulism, which never applies logic to any of its conclusions, the
writer works backward from "the US is bad" to find facts that
appear to buttress the argument.  Perfectly correct statements are
juxtaposed with wild-eyed nonsense in a farrago of left-wing clap-

Far from being "outspoken" Scholz is part of the left-wing echo
chamber that dominates universities in the modern age.  And this is
sad, because in a lot of ways GYPSY is a well-done SF tale, even if
all the facts have been aligned to create a propagandistic result.

I don't plan on reading anything more from Scholz, and neither
should you!  [-dls]


TOPIC: Reading Community (letter of comment by Charles S. Harris)

In response to Mark's comments on his brother-in-law's column in
the 06/17/16 issue of the MT VOID, Charles S. Harris writes:

What is a reading community?  Is it like a book club on steroids?

Mark replies:

Just the opposite.  It is more diffuse but encompasses more than
three or four people who get together.  [Note: this sort of an
inside reference.  Evelyn, Charles, and I make up the core of two
very small book clubs.]  [-mrl]


TOPIC: Fake Movies (letter of comment by Kevin R)

In response to Steve Coltrin's comments on "fake movies" in the
06/17/16 issue of the MT VOID, Kevin R writes:

I'd really like to see "See You Next Wednesday."  [-kr]

Mark replies:

"See You Next Wednesday" (2014) is a 15-minute Australian film.


TOPIC: THE DIARY OF SAMUEL PEPYS by Samuel Pepys (letter of comment
by Kevin R)

In response to Evelyn's comments on Samuel Pepys's DIARY in the
06/17/16 issue of the MT VOID, Kevin R writes:

[Regarding starting the washing at 1AM:] Possibly the washing was
done before dawn so the clean wash could be put out to dry at

[Regarding place-holders in lines:] While I was raised on "no
cuts!" when lining up for a show I can't really condemn a fellow
for wanting to while away the queuing time in a bookstore.

The last bookshop I worked in before moving back east was on the
same block as a movie theater, and our Friday and Saturday night
crowds were definitely affected by the curtain times of the films
showing a few doors down!  [-kr]

Philip Chee writes:

[Regarding Evelyn's comments on a multi-course meal Pepys
describes:] You haven't been to a contemporary 10 course Chinese
dinner then?  [-pc]


TOPIC: THE DIARY OF SAMUEL PEPYS by Samuel Pepys (Part 4) (comments
by Evelyn C. Leeper)

Comments on Women:

Pepys had a serious jealousy problem.  He got it into his head that
his wife was having an affair with her dancing instructor and so he
writes, "I am ashamed to think what a course I did take by lying to
see whether my wife did wear drawers to-day as she used to do."
[May 15, 1663]

Then he feels sorry: "Up with my mind disturbed and with my last
night's doubts upon me, for which I deserve to be beaten if not
really served as I am fearful of being, especially since God knows
that I do not find honesty enough in my own mind but that upon a
small temptation I could be false to her, and therefore ought not
to expect more justice from her, but God pardon both my sin and my
folly herein." [May 16, 1663]

He even goes to the extent of swearing to levy fines against
himself for future infractions: "... I having high words about her
dancing to that degree that I did enter and make a vow to myself
not to oppose her or say anything to dispraise or correct her
therein as long as her month [of lessons] lasts, in pain of 2s. 6d.
for every time," [May 20, 1663]

[This levying of fines against himself extended to other "vices" or
"sins" as well; see the next section for comments.]

But all this does no good; soon enough he writes that of "how my
jealousy wrought so far that I went softly up to see whether any of
the beds were out of order or no," [May 26, 1663]  And later, "I
did watch to see my wife put on drawers," [June 4, 1663]

And later: "[My wife] answering me some way that I did not like I
pulled her by the nose, indeed to offend her"  [April 5, 1664]
Okay, now we can add wife abuse to Pepys's list of sins.  And later
he writes, "Lay pretty while with some discontent abed, even to the
having bad words with my wife, and blows too, about the ill-serving
up of our victuals yesterday..."  [October 7, 1664]  And again: "I
was very angry and begun to find fault with my wife for not
commanding her servants as she ought.  Thereupon she giving me some
cross answer I did strike her over her left eye such a blow as the
poor wretch did cry out and was in great pain, but yet her spirit
was such as to endeavour to bite and scratch me."  [December 19,

For all his jealousy about his wife, Pepys seems to think himself
not bound by the same rules.  There are so many examples, I could
not include them all, but a few samples will suffice.

For example, he writes that he went "through the Fleete Ally to see
a couple of pretty [strumpets] that stood off the doors there, and
God forgive me I could scarce stay myself from going into their
houses with them, so apt is my nature to evil after once, as I have
these two days, set upon pleasure again." [May 29, 1663]

And later in an uncoded passage he writes that he "fell to talk
with Mrs. Lane, and after great talk that she never went abroad
with any man as she used heretofore to do, I with one word got her
to go with me at the furthest Rhenish wine-house, where I did give
her a Lobster and do so touse [tousle, rumple] her and feel her all
over," [June 29, 1663]

He even describes his fantasies: "and to bed, before I sleep
fancying myself to sport with Mrs. Stewart with great pleasure"
[July 13, 1663] and "to bed, sporting in my fancy with the Queen."
[July 15, 1663]  It really is unbelievable how frank Pepys is in
his diary!

But he also apparently loves his wife, writing that he is "sad for
want of my wife, whom I love with all my heart, though of late she
has given me some troubled thoughts." [June 15, 1663]

Pepys hits his low when he relates, "This night late coming in my
coach, coming up Ludgate Hill, I saw two gallants and their footmen
taking a pretty wench.  ...  They seek to drag he by some force,
but the wench went, and I believe had her turn served, but God
forgive me! what thoughts and wishes I had of being in their
place."  [February 4, 1664]  I am sure that such attitudes persist
to this day, but I doubt most would commit these thoughts to paper.

However, even if he had attempted to help the victim above, it
might have had only a temporary result, since it appears that then,
as now, the well-connected seem to get off from crimes that the
poor and politically weak pay heavily for: "The rape upon a woman
at Turnstile the other day, her husband being bound in his shirt,
they both being in be together, it being night, by two Frenchmen,
who did not only lye with her but abused her with a linke, is
hushed up for L300, being the Queen Mother's servants."  [February
22, 1664]

By May 28, 1667, he has mellowed at least to the point that he
first describes "two pretty woman alone" being pursued by "some
idle gentlemen [who] would needs take them up."  The women would
run away and join up with some other people, and the men would fall
back, and eventually the women managed to get away from them by
taking a boat.  Pepys then writes, "I was so troubled to see them
abused so; and could have found in my heart, as little desire of
fighting as I have, to have protected the ladies."  Of course, he
didn't *actually* do anything to help them, but at least he is not
fantasizing about joining the men.

And others are equally reprehensible.  Pepys writes, "My uncle
Wight came to me to my office this afternoon to speak with me about
Mr. Maes's business again, and from me went to my house to see my
wife, and strange to think that my wife should by and by send for
me after he was gone to tell me that he should begin discourse of
her want of children and he also, and how he thought it would be
best for him and her to have one between them, and he would give
her L500 either in money or jewells beforehand, and make the child
his heir.  He commended his body, and discoursed that for all he
knew the thing was lawful."  [May 11, 1664]  Pepys's reaction is
surprisingly mild considering how jealous he normally is.  The
whole thing sounds very strange--given the promised bequest and
inheritance, it would seem as though he did not intend it to be
kept a secret from Pepys, yet it is hard to believe he intended the
thing openly.

(As an aside, it has always been treated as piling Pelion on Ossa
for Henry VIII's ministers to accuse Anne Boleyn of adultery with
her own brother, when the other "co-respondents" were so much more
likely.  But WOLF HALL makes clear that this accusation was not as
far-fetched as it seems.  Having had a daughter, Anne was still
under pressure to produce a son and heir to the throne.  If she was
not conceiving with Henry, she may have decided to get some
assistance.  But she could not produce an heir that looked like her
music teacher or Lord Thus-and-So.  Her only option might have
seemed her own brother, since producing a son who looked like a
Boleyn would seem perfectly normal.)

Pepys does see to occasionally have a bout of conscience (though
not very often), as when he writes, "From thence walked toward
Westminster, and being in an idle and wanton humour, walked through
Fleet Alley, and there stood a most pretty wench at one of the
doors, so I took a turn or two, but by what sense of honour and
conscience I would not go in..."  [July 23, 1664]

One is reminded of Captain Renault in CASABLANCA when one reads, "I
had my pleasure here of her, and she, like an impudent jade,
depends upon my kindness to her husband, but I will have no more to
do with her, let her brew as she has baked, ..."  [August 15, 1664]
At least Captain Renault would keep his word to assist the women
who agreed to sleep with him (or so Rick said, and he would have no
reason to lie).

Pepys's womanizing did occasionally prove an embarrassment to him.
On October 1, 1666, he writes, "But pretty! how I took another
woman for [Betty Mitchell], taking her a clap on the breech,
thinking verily it had been her."

It is interesting, given the frankness in his diary, that Pepys
should write that he spent most of a day "looking over and tearing
and burning all the unnecessary letters, which I have had upon my
file for four or five years backward, which I intend to do quite
through all my papers, that I may have nothing but what is worth
keeping and fit to be seen, if I should miscarry." [December

Every once in a while, Pepys does something to remind us what a
scumbag he is.  On December 21, 1666, a woman comes to him and he
writes, "I took her to my chamber, and there it was to help her
husband to the command of a little new pleasure boat building,
which I promised to assist in.  And here I had opportunity para
baiser elle, and toucher ses mamailles' [to kiss her and to touch
her breasts]..."

In July 1667 Pepys gets a bit of a scare, wherein his long-time
mistress Mrs. Martin tells him that she is pregnant with his child.
The panic lasts for only a couple of days.

But one wonders if that had any cautionary effect on Pepys.  One is
reminded of his past and his attitudes when not a paragraph later
he writes about a woman who comes in complaining that she was
"pulled into a stable [by a Dutch captain who] did tumble her and
toss her ... when she knows that [she] hath suffered [Pepys] to do
any thing with her a hundred times."  The idea that she might
actually have a preference in whom she lies with apparently does
not occur to him.

By August 18, 1667, though, we definitely discover that Pepys has
not turned over a new leaf regarding women: "[I] turned into St.
Dunstan's Church, where I heard an able sermon of the minister of
the place; and stood by a pretty, modest maid, whom I did labour to
take by the hand and the body; but she  would not, but got further
and further, from me; and, at last, I could perceive her to take
pins out of her pocket to prick me if I should touch her again--
which seeing I did forbear, and was glad I did spy her design."
Good for her, and I just wish he had not noticed it ahead of time!

Finally, on October 25, 1668, it all comes to a head, when he
writes, "... my wife, coming up suddenly, did find me embracing
[Deb.] CON my hand SUB SU coats; and endeed, I was with my MAIN
[hand] in her c*nny."  [The final phrase is omitted even from
Project Gutenberg's supposedly complete edition.]  On November 9,
1668, he manages to get Deb. a note telling her to deny he had
kissed her.  His justification for this is pretty astonishing: "The
truth is that I did adventure upon God's pardoning me this lie,
knowing how heavy a thing it would be for me to the ruin of the
poor girle, and next knowing that if my wife should know all it
were impossible ever for her to be at peace with me again, and so
our whole lives would be uncomfortable."  How noble of him!

[I am also astonished that found as he was, whether or not he
actually *kissed* Deb. would matter that much, but apparently it
did--unless that is code for something else.]

And his concern for Deb. and for his wife might be more convincing
if on November 13, 1668, he had not written, "... the truth is, I
have a good mind to have the maidenhead of this girl, which I
should not doubt to have if je could get some time para be con

All this led to that favorite passage of Helene Hanff's: "At last,
about one o'clock, she come to my side of the bed, and drew my
curtaine open, and with the tongs red hot at the ends, made as if
she did design to pinch me with them, at which, in dismay, I rose
up, and with a few words she laid them down..." [January 12, 1669)
(This, of course, does not exactly match Hanff's description of
"his wife chased him out of bed and round the bedroom with a red-
hot poker."  She also got the date wrong, citing it as 1668.
Admittedly, that is how Pepys dated it, but we would call it 1669.)

Needless to say, all this led to much contention between him and
his wife, with her noticing every time he even looked at another
woman.  Finally, he writes that his wife was "mighty dogged, and I
vexed to see it, being mightily troubled, of late, at her being out
of humour, for fear of her discovering any new matter of offence
against me, though I am conscious of none; but do hate to be
unquiet at home.  So, late up, silent, and not supping, but hearing
her utter some words of discontent to me with silence, and so to
bed, weeping to myself for grief..." [December 21, 1668]

Next week: a few odds and ends.  (Don't worry, I will be getting to
the Great Plague and the Great Fire eventually.)  [-ecl]


TOPIC: This Week's Reading (book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)

For God's sake, let us sit upon the ground
And tell sad stories of the death of kings;
How some have been deposed; some slain in war,
Some haunted by the ghosts they have deposed;
Some poison6d by their wives: some sleeping kill'd;
All murder'd...

Well, I am not going to tell sad stories about the death of kings,
but of bookshops, and in particular the latest, the Cranbury

Let me start with what someone wrote of its original location:
"Just outside Princeton, there's a small town (whose name I've
forgotten) that a friend once took me to visit.  On the main street
through the town, there's a large three-storey, white-boarded house
with a porch and garden, a little ramshackle but otherwise
unexceptional.  But inside, the house as a completely different
character--it's an Aladdin's library of books. From basement to
attic, every inch of wall, every available table and much of the
floor is covered with books.  It's impossible to describe the
atmosphere of musty seediness, of volumes lying sadly neglected,
tired and shelf-worn, in the gloomy basement under the creaky
floor, of the stacks piled up the main staircase, of prize books
locked in glass cabinets, and of rooms where the light seems to
seep through the windows with the speed of slowly-turned pages.
It's like a kind of treasure house, full of common copper coins and
fancy inflated banknotes.  I came out feeling a little book-happy,
bibliothecally-overdosed."  [-Si Courtenage]

Well, they closed the basement off many years before they moved--
the uneven floors and low beams made it a real safety hazard, I
guess.  But they still had a good SF section (paperbacks were
mostly a dollar or less each!).  Really cheap books were on the

A couple of years ago, they were forced to vacate the old building.
(My understanding is that the owner of the building was a relative
of the owner of the bookshop, and let them use it either rent-free
or very cheaply.  But then she needed to sell the building, and the
Bookworm was forced to move.

It moved to a much smaller location (one floor, one large room) a
block and a half away.  Its new location, alas, was a pale shadow
of its former self, approximately equal to the space in the
SF/mystery/children's room and the history room in the former
location.  Where one would leave the old Bookworm with a bag (or
two) of books, from the new Bookworm one is more likely to find
only one or two books.  They put a lot of inventory into storage in
anticipation of a larger space, and said that they considered this
an interim location until they could find something larger in

But in the three years in their new location, they could not really
make a go of it.  The older customers were loyal, but there was no
build-up of younger patrons.  (The person I spoke to said that
almost all their current customers had been coming to the Bookworm
since the 1980s!)  The current owner (who had worked in the old
Bookworm for years) had two small children and realized that he
would never be able to save money for college or any other purpose
if he continued running a brick-and-mortar used bookshop.
So by early July, the Cranbury Bookworm will be no more.  Or rather
it will do what so many brick-and-mortar used bookshops do--it will
become a virtual bookshop.  The Bookworm has always had a selection
of better-quality books, and one presumes that will be their on-
line stock, since one does not make money on-line selling
paperbacks for a dollar.

So the last, and best, general used bookstore in my area (for a
fairly expansive definition of area) is closing.  Red Bank had
three used bookshops; all are gone.  Highland Park had two; both
are gone.  Shrewsbury, Keyport, Matawan, and Milltown had used
bookstores--all gone.  Even New Brunswick (home of Rutgers) and
Princeton have none to speak of.  The closest ones to me are in
Colonia (14 miles), Cream Ridge (28 miles), Hopewell (31 miles),
and (possibly) North Brunswick.

There are also the "non-shops": periodic or on-going Friends of the
Library sales, annual fund-raising sales, Goodwill stores, and even
Freecycle.  But today only the large annual sales are still around
to give me the opportunity that used bookshops used to provide: to
browse a large selection of books on all subjects and in all
categories, not looking for anything specific, but just looking,
hoping to find that book I want, but did not know I wanted, because
I did not know it existed.

And it is not just New Jersey.  Every year, we have people from
Massachusetts and New Jersey get together for a "mini-convention."
Over the years, it has gotten more and more mini, down from a high
of 15 or so, to about 7 or 8.  But the attractions have decreased
as well.  The highlight used to be the trip into Manhattan, with
visits to Dover Books, the Science Fiction Shop, Kim's Video,
Mercer Street Books, Barnes & Noble used book section, Academy
Books, 8th Street Books, Weiser's Used Books, 12th Street Books,
Tower Records, Tower Books, Shakespeare & Co., Footlight Records,
Forbidden Planet, and (the grand finale) the Strand.  (Well, not
always each one, but trying to decide was part of the fun, and they
were all in a fairly compact area near where we parked.)  Over the
years, they faded away until all that are left are Mercer Street
Books, Shakespeare & Co., and the Strand.  (Forbidden Planet is
still there, but has no books anymore.)

I haven't had such depressing news since I heard of the closing of
Johnson's Bookstore in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1998 after
over a hundred years of business.  It wasn't only that Johnson's
was a great used bookstore, but also that Mark and I used to meet
there once a week while we were "sparking"!  [-ecl]


                                           Mark Leeper

           I love Mickey Mouse more than any woman I have ever known.
                                           --Walt Disney