Partial Review of The Man with the Aura: The Collected Short Work of R.A. Lafferty Volume Two

And I mean very partial. It arrived five minutes after I left for work and was waiting for me when I got home (which was not too long ago). But I read the Introduction and the Afterward.


First, there just doesn’t seem to be many photographs taken of Lafferty in his lifetime. Or else the publisher didn’t think it necessary to include different pictures than the last volume. They are even in the exact same locations as previously.

The afterword by John Palen was fine, although I wonder if he does one for every volume (as he did the afterword on the last as well) if he’ll have anything left in later editions.

Harlan Ellison (now I’m really serious about the SPOILERS!, people) had the Introductory duty on this volume. And you know when you see his name followed by a trademark symbol you’re about to get doused with the ego and not much substance.

And there wasn’t. He pontificated on a couple of peeves of his, meanders here and there, remembers he’s writing an introduction to someone else’s material, then veers off on his ego-cart again.

You will know he has a disdain for people who report every little thing in their, presumably, small lives (and I am sure some of them are small indeed) online – such as I am doing now. There are a couple of other things that irritate him as well, but I’ll let you discover that for yourself.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Ellison, even liked that self-biography movie of his, and I love the (too little) stories of his I have read, but the man is a blowhard. He spends two pages going over how he came to publish Dangerous Visions. Why do we care? Well, there was a Lafferty story in it. And we find out Lafferty was the fourth person he solicited for a story.

However, Ellison practically humbles himself at Lafferty’s feet. Correction, it was a full humble – and that, folks, was surprising. Even calls him a genius, which, Ellison assures us, is a word he predicates to the human race sparingly. I’d imagine very sparingly.

Can you blame him?

You can’t beat the end of the introduction, for all its superfluous bulge in the middle, the ending was sweet. It was similar to watching his movie; on hearing of him, I expected to hate the guy, and I was to surprised to find I did not. And that experience, at being wrong, is always a pleasure because I am usually dead on.

Depressingly dead on.

I don’t think I will give an actual review of the book itself when I’m done. It is Lafferty, it is going to be great. What I will do is post some gems of word play when I come across it, or some observation, or hail a particular story. Also, the book is going to sell what it is going to sell and probably not a whit more no matter what I say. It matters not what I say, and you may be in danger of wasting precious life moments reading my bloviating. I may be in similar danger as the writer. But if I am, then I am not, because then it doesn’t matter because there would be nothing to be wasted.

Damn, I still have a couple stories to finish on the last volume! I do not want to rush it. I know, I know, I bitched and bitched about volume 2’s delays. But I wanted the book in my hands just as much as I want to read it.

Am I still babbling on after calling Harlan Ellison a blowhard?

I should learn shame.


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