99: Stories of the Game by Wayne Gretzky (2016, Putnam)
Wayne Gretzky is widely accepted to be among the greatest hockey players of all time. Wearing the number 99 on his jersey, he broke records while earning and maintaining the respect of fans, teammates and opponents alike. For the 99th year of professional hockey, it seemed like a natural fit to ask him to write a book about the sport.
Luckily, what could have been an easy paycheck turned into exactly what fans would want in such a book: an extensive lesson in the basic history and key moments of the sport for casual followers of the game, a series of personal revelations and anecdotes for Gretzky’s legion of personal fans, and behind-the-scenes insight into some of the sport’s critical events gleaned from Gretzky’s conversations from other masters.
The writing is what one would expect from a sports book. Publishers want something that’s not challenging to read but retains the interest of the hardcore fans likely to put down the money for a hardcover. To that end, there’s no challenging constructions or words likely to send anyone hunting for a dictionary. If it weren’t very informative it would be a “popcorn” book, but instead it’s simply a great resource for anyone curious about the history of hockey or the mentality of its players.
The Complete Stories of Robert Bloch vol. 1 : Final Reckonings by Robert Bloch (Citadel Twilight, 1990)
The book I should be reviewing is The Selected Stories of Robert Bloch. That’s what this book was called in its original 1987 hardcover release. There’s something very appropriate to Bloch’s writing when one considers the title change, though. The Selected Stories came in three volumes, constituted more than 100 stories and barely managed to scrape together a representative sample of his work, which included many hundreds of published short fiction pieces.
So, the “Complete” Stories, even in all three volumes, is astonishingly incomplete. There’s even an entire series of short works, the Lefty Feep stories, which is left out of the collection. Still, what the books do provide are some pleasant light chills, some tension, and some humor.
The first book contains many of the stories which he adapted for film and television, whether for the old Thriller anthology hosted by Boris Karloff or the 1980s Darkroom series or anything in between. It also contains some of his early Lovecraftian / Cthulhu mythos works, and a few examples of his humor .
Basically, if you’re curious about the author of works like Psycho, this is an excellent place to start. It’ll provide a book with a series of short fiction pieces that can be enjoyed just about any time of day or night.