Submitter: Just found this in the stacks today. I wish that I could have gotten a better picture of the uniform goldenrod color. Besides the very yellowed pages and cover, the book is being held together with a prayer and a wish. On a scale of gross to disgusting, it’s disgusting.
Holly: Oh good, a popular old fiction title for our readers to discuss! I can’t speak for any other public library, but my library no longer owns this title – or any other title in the Wagons West series – and we haven’t missed it. There are 15 copies available in our inter-library loan system. I wonder what kind of shape some of those are in! Submitter’s specimen is particularly…ripe.
Submitter: We came across this 1989 copyright doozie awhile ago while we were doing our first major weed. It has been stored in our favorite weed collection for a few years now. It features a cyborg cowboy in a dystopian post-apocalyptic western frontier. His name is Hong and he has to prove himself. This gem was written before dystopia was a thing. I am surprised we don’t have a line to check it out. Even the animals are cyborg, such as the oxenites. The author even has some creative cowboy tunes scattered about. Can’t put it down!
Holly: This is cataloged as juvenile fiction. I can maybe see adults going for it, but kids or teens? That would be a hard sell in my public library. It was a nominee for both the Nebula and Hugo awards, so someone clearly enjoyed it (and in the immortal words of Ranganathan, “Every book his/her reader”). It’s a weird mashup of futuristic and historical, with the wagons and the range but also the cyborgs.
I’m more intrigued by Submitter’s “favorite weed collection.” Tell us more about that, Submitter!
Submitter: This is a controversial tale of two star crossed lovers. Taking place in the cold landscapes of Canada, this bizarre love story goes where most books don’t. You will explore themes of love like never before. That is, if you can muster up the courage to open the cover. Even though many people consider themselves to be avid animal lovers, no one loves animals as much as the main character Lou. Some consider the book to be about a spiritual journey and how all living creatures are connected in this way. Others just see the cover and think one thing “Is that lady really getting it on with a bear?” But hey, maybe the controversy is enough to spark reader interest, which in turn, sells more books. Wise move Marian Engel. Nevertheless, I think that’s too much for a library book. (This book was found in my college library.)
Holly: I have a confession to make. Submitter included a sample page from within the book that isn’t included below. But I know you’re all dying to read it, so here’s a link to it. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. To each their own and all that, but I think we can all agree the whole concept is bizarre.
By the way, this book won the Canadian “Governor General’s Literary Award” the year it was published (1976). Also by the way, the main character is a librarian. Of course. It was written as part of a fund raiser for the Canadian Writer’s Union – a project in which “serious writers” contributed pornographic fiction. It is, naturally, dedicated to Engel’s therapist. See the Wikipedia article for more great trivia tidbits about this book!