The Irresistible Henry House by Lisa Grunwald
I saw Lisa Grunwald’s The Irresistible Henry House reviewed in The New York Times Sunday Book Review, and the concept of a “practice baby” absolutely blew my mind. Who on earth thought it was a good idea to let college home economics departments adopt children and use them as practice for students? I almost thought it wasn’t true. But it absolutely is, as Grunwald points out in a note at the end, and she wanted to explore how much that screws up a person. (In reality, the babies were adopted by real families when they were two, but still, you know, that’s messed up.) While I had to return the book the first time I rented it from the library (somebody else wanted to read it), I finally managed to get my hands on The Irresistible Henry House.
Recently, my mother found a Books-a-Million gift card lying around the house, and handed it off to me. There were ten dollars left on it, or, in reader terms, one mass-market paperback. I started picking through the sci-fi/fantasy section. I must have looked lost, as a very nice employee came to my aid with plenty of recommendations. (I ended up buying The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss.) During our conversation, I asked him where to start with Mercedes Lackey. He suggested The Shadow of the Lion over Magic’s Pawn, where he started. I asked him why, and he said to me, lowering his voice to a conspiratorial level, that the main character was gay.
I really didn’t have to the heart to tell him that not only was he talking to a queer girl, but an ace one at that. (It’s just so awkward when this happens.) As I regaled my mother with the story, she suggested that perhaps it was difficult for him, a straight male, to identify with a gay male. I think that’s no excuse, but it did get me to thinking about how I identify and empathize with characters.
Good Show, Sir, the blog that encourages readers to photograph terrible speculative fiction covers and send them in, is a constant source of delight and nostalgia for me. It’s just good clean fun with lots of weirdly muscular cat people involved. However, there are these covers that I’m itching to send into Good Show, Sir, that I can’t, because I can’t produce pictures of it in the wild (although I have run across the fourth and most hilarious cover in the wild, and neglected to take a picture). While I’ve discovered the first of them, you really need the other three to appreciate the entire picture. So, in tribute to Good Show, Sir, I give you the… interesting covers to the fifth Ballantine Books edition of The Lord of the Rings.
I’ve actually managed to accidentally fulfill the original requirements for The Literary Horizon–one newly published book and one to be published book that have caught my eye! This week, we’re looking at the curious phenomena of practice babies and a novel that attempts to marry mild body horror with something much lighter.