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Book Toss Report

by Berni Phillips, for Khazad-dûm

Weary of taking the high road, this year Khazad-dûm chose to take the low road at Mythcon and, instead of a book discussion, sponsored the first annual book toss. This was on Sunday afternoon, opposite the C.S. Lewis Memorial Service, which was expected to lessen the crowds (hey, they had to put it some time). Instead, we were more hampered by the never-ending members’ meeting which tied up three of Khazad-dûm members in their capacity as members of the Council of Stewards.

There was a bit of discussion as to exactly which wall should receive the honor of literary impact. I was of the opinion that the wall shared by the book toss and the members’ meeting was the obvious choice in an effort to hasten the close of the latter. Alas, I was disregarded.

The first toss was made by Mary Kay Kare, standing up for literary-minded fantasy fans everywhere as she hurled book 5 of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. The numbered volume — and a hefty tome it was: I hope MK didn’t hurt herself — was chosen deliberately to illustrate the pointlessness of these beyond-trilogies. I was unable to capture all of Mary Kay’s colorful remarks, but she summed them up by saying that he seemed unable to tell the difference between writing and mere typing, and that she really wished she could hurl the author against the wall instead of this pale (if weighty) substitute.

Mary Stolzenbach next stepped up to the plate with A. N. Wilson’s biography of C.S. Lewis, a timely tome. She quickly recounted many errors the book contained while lamenting his snideness and general attitude of an intelligent posterior. With an echoing, “A. N., this thud’s for you!” she delivered a mighty thunk against the wall.

Yours truly was torn between which of the two Sheri Tepper novels she desired to punt. I finally opted for The Family Tree as it was the most recent and therefore could lay no claim to the author’s having grown since then. While I find many things in Tepper’s writing to admire, there are just as many to deplore, and her books tend to be split as to which of these gets the upper hand. In Family Tree, Tepper has expanded her repertoire beyond man-the-sex-equals-evil into man-the-species-equals-evil. Advising her to have stopped with Gibbon’s Decline and Fall, I gave it my best shot, throwing it against the common wall, still trying to break up that members’ meeting.

By this time, we had depleted our supply of books physically present to throw and the discussion moved on to books which they would like to throw if they had them handy. Sarah Beach made a list of these, but I did not record them. I decided it was time to drag the Khazad-dûm stewards out of the members’ meeting so they could toss their bookies.

Our own kindly web administrator, Ellie Farrell, tossed C. S. Lewis’s Perelandra, denouncing it as “irritating, not very profound, not very subtle” and she also didn’t like the characterization of the Green Lady. Not to be outdone, Edith Crowe threw another of Lewis’s trilogy, That Hideous Strength. This, in fact, was actually the inspiration for the book toss. (Edith sheepishly gathered the book up again, saying she had to return it to her household’s collection. All other books were available to any who desired (dared?) to take them.)

Unable to pry my spouse from the meeting, I threw his book for him. As Proxy Bratman, I hurled Freedom & Necessity, citing David’s scorn of its history and his assertion that only an utter cad would write so of his love life.

Sarah and the others continued dissing books after this, but I decided that if I couldn’t throw them for real, it wasn’t fun anymore, so I left, sated for the nonce.