R.A. Lafferty, Lafferty in Orbit. This is a collection of short stories, originally published in the Orbit anthologies edited by Damon Knight. Lafferty is known as a science fiction writer, but much of his work isn't that easily categorized. I've been reading a fair amount of Lafferty the past few years. This book, like many of Lafferty's later works, was published by a small press and has an unfortunate number of obvious typos.
"Black Red had been sixteen years at stud. This was after a strict colthood and eight years of competitive horse racing. Now he had become a very slow and undependable stud. He was one old horse.
He gnawed a clump of prickly pear. He had been a stupid and rock-headed horse from his youth, and now that his eyes were shot he would eat anything. His owner chewed on a length of big bluestem grass and contemplated him. It was too bad to sell, for nine dollars for cat meat, a horse that had earned five million dollars. But what else could be done with the old animal?
But Black Red smelled a brother horse, an old flyer like himself, and he raised his head. So did the owner, and he saw in the distance a rare contraption: an ancient horse pulling an ancient medicine wagon that had once known gay paint; and the driver was more than ancient; he was timeless."
-- from Royal Licorice
Sarban, Ringstones and Other Curious Tales. I hunted down a copy of this long out-of-print book after reading a favourable mention from someone on my friends list. I've only read the first two stories, not really enough to form an opinion of Sarban, except to say that he writes very well and I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the book.
Clark Ashton Smith, The Last Oblivion: Best Fantastic Poems of Clark Ashton Smith. I am not a great reader of poetry, but I'm reading this collection because of my love for Clark Ashton Smith's short stories, which I was first introduced to by the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series in the early 1970s. I remember going every month to a newsstand in downtown Lethbridge to buy the latest release. I liked CAS at the time, though his decadent subject matter was sometimes a little much for my youthful sensibilities. I appreciate his work much more now.
"O many-gulfed, unalterable one,
Whose deep sustains
Far-drifting world and sun,
Thou wast ere ever star put out on thee;
And thou shalt be
When never world remains;
When all the suns' triumphant strength and pride
Is sunk in voidness absolute,
And their majestic music wide
In vaster silence rendered mute.
And though God's will were night to dusk the blue,
And law to cancel and disperse
The tangled tissues of the universe,
His might were impotent to conquer thee,
O indivisible infinity!"
-- from Ode to the Abyss