May 9th, 2013 / 8:17 am
Author News

7 more points on Barry N. Malzberg

Back on April 1st, I reviewed three of Barry N. Malzberg’s brilliant 1970s novels: Beyond Apollo (1972), The Men Inside (1972), and Galaxies (1975). The post provoked some interesting responses that I’d like to highlight.

1. Beyond Apollo is currently being adapted into a feature-length film. Bill Pullman has been cast as the Captain, which seems to me an excellent choice. The project’s only in pre-production, though, so we may not make it to Venus. (You can read more about the project at Bloody Disgusting.)

2. Derik Badman pointed out that several Malzberg titles are coming back into print in Kindle eBook editions, including Galaxies and Herovit’s World (1973), among others.

3. Audible editions are also becoming available: Beyond Apollo, Herovit’s World, Underlay (1974), The Sodom and Gomorrah Business (1974), Guernica Night (1974), and Galaxies, among others.

4. In my review, I noted how Malzberg referenced several of his contemporaries in Galaxies—Donald Barthelme, John Cheever, Philip Roth, Joyce Carol Oates—then wondered whether any of them had read him. Well, according to Jeffrey Canino:

Joyce Carol Oates did read Malzberg: in 1975 she reviewed his excellent SF novel Guernica Night for The New York Times. She was rather complimentary, noting that its concerns were “poetic and philosophical” while bemoaning the default categorization that SF like this suffers, regardless of merit, from general fiction-reading audiences. This review was, I believe the only major piece of critical attention Malzberg received outside of the field.

I found a copy of the review in ProQuest; it ran on 21 September, 1975 (“A Speculative Fiction”).

5. Oates’s recent anthology New Jersey Noir (2011) also contains a piece by Malzberg. I believe that volume is available only as a Kindle eBook?

6. While poking around in the Times, I came across an 8 March 1987 letter to the editor by Malzberg, regarding Harold Bloom’s critique of Thomas Wolfe:

But before we leave the word “unreadable” as the final judgment on Wolfe’s prose, it ought to be noted that buried in the many millions of words of edited or unedited garbage is a short piece (extracted for a collection) called “Only the Dead Know Brooklyn,” which, I submit, is one of the great American short stories.

7. Finally, here are two lengthy Malzberg bibliographies I’ve found. The first is at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database, and the second one is from an old Geocities site. (I haven’t cross-referenced them, though—yet!)

Happy reading!

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  1. Daniel Pecznik

      hmm… apparently he wrote pulpy noir stuff too, under the pseudonym
      Mike Barry. I wonder what’s that like? Richard Stark meets Coover?

  2. Matt Rowan

      Once again, Adam, you’ve put me on to someone I wasn’t previously familiar with but absolutely, definitely should be. Which of these three novels would you recommend I check out first?

  3. A D Jameson

      I know of the following pseudonyms: Mike Barry, Francine di Natale, Claudine Dumas, M. L. Johnson, Mel Johnson, Howard Lee, Lee W. Mason, K. M. O’Donnell, and Gerrold Watkins.

  4. A D Jameson

      Galaxies is my personal favorite, but I love all three, and they all have their champions. Beyond Apollo probably makes for an easier place to start (at least stylistically), and the movie version may be coming soon!

  5. Matt Rowan

      Yeah, I think Beyond Apollo is the one I’ll go for, based on what I’m reading of it.

  6. A D Jameson

      I’ll cast you as the Captain in my home movie adaptation.

  7. PeterLandau

      Barry N. Malzberg sounds like a pseudonym. It may be his greatest invention. Thanks for the update.

  8. Nick Mamatas

      New Jersey Noir is of course also available as a paperback.

  9. A D Jameson

      Oh, thanks! For some reason I could find only the eBook version.

  10. Matt Rowan


  11. Don

      This guy reads like a character in a Thomas Pynchon novel OR as an alter-ego of Mr. Pynchon himself.

  12. Zack Wentz

      It is deeply heartening to see Barry covered here! I’ve been pressing his work on people for decades now (M.Grodner among them–cross your fingers for the movie!), and it seems in just the last few years his name has been popping up more frequently online.

      His work is *painfully* overdue for rediscovery.

      Nonstop has a “Very Best Of” that seems to have been delayed for over a year (although I do know someone with a galley). If they aren’t going to get around to it, would love to see someone like NYRB take it on (they’ve done Priest and Sheckley, so why not?).

      The ISFDB has a fairly thorough Malzberg bibliography, but the best is actually a 120 page pamphlet put out by Galactic Central (Volume 58, BARRY N. MALZBERG: DWELLER IN THE DEEPS). Might still be available.

      GALAXIES was my first as well! Difficult to say what of his work is finest. REVELATIONS is certainly up there w/the other “astronaut” books. His non-SF novel UNDERLAY is outstanding, and completely overlooked (ranks with the best Hawkes, Gass, Coover easily). BREAKFAST IN THE RUINS is (of course) essential. One of most intensely “real” books about being a writer (of SF, or otherwise) written in the last 50 years.

      At any rate, thank you very much for bringing attention to this modern master, Mr. Jameson.

      PS: RE: Cheever: Malzberg has been interviewed by Cheever’s son Benjamin more than once. One of the interviews is available online.