30 July 2018

The Dustiest Bookcase: G is for Gotlieb

Short pieces on books I've always meant to review (but haven't).
They're in storage as we build our new home.
Patience, please.

O Master Caliban!
Phyllis Gotlieb
New York: Harper & Row, 1976
244 pages

A childhood enthusiasm, I gave up on science fiction at about the time this book was published, which pretty much explains how it is that I had no idea Phyllis Gotlieb wrote sci-fi novels. Before coming across a copy of her first, Sunburst, at last fall's Friends of the St Marys Public Library book sale. I knew her only as a poet. I've never read her verse, but the fact that it had been published by Oxford University Press holds considerable weight.

O Master Caliban! was Gotlieb's third novel. I found this pristine, seemingly unread first edition one cold January day at Attic Books. The price - $3.00 - encouraged purchase, but I hesitated after reading the first sentence of the front flap:
Esther, an intelligent, articulate, motherly gibbon; Yigal, a large, grumpy white goat who talks; and Sven, a moody young man with four arms, are the protagonists of this fast-paced and delightful novel.
Oh, dear.

I bought it just the same, but can't bring myself to start in on the thing. The cover of the 1979 Seal mass market paperback all but guarantees I never will.


  1. I later used Sven in an ad for IKEA Germany:


    1. He must have appreciated the work, especially after John Carter of Mars flopped.

  2. Despite your hesitancy, Gotlieb is worth a try.

    1. I heed your advice, Jerry, and have just put Sunburst on my night table.