Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Aaron's Book of the Week :: Rumble by Harlan Ellison

RumbleContinuing our tribute to Harlan Ellison, the Book of the Week is the 1958 first printing, paperback original of Ellison's first book, Rumble (later retitled Web of the City), cover art by Rudy DeReyna. As the first edition of Harlan Ellison's first book, Rumble is a notable collector's item, prized by both science fiction fans and collectors of "juvenile delinquent" paperbacks from the 50's and 60's. It is not, however, Ellison's most valuable book -- that honor belongs to his pseudonymous pornographic book Sex Gang, of which you will be relieved to know I do not have a copy.

Rumble is a novel based on Ellison's experiences in a Brooklyn street gang. Ellison joined the gang after he was purportedly expelled from Ohio State University for punching out a professor who said he had no talent. For ten weeks Ellison passed himself off as a 17-year-old Italian named Cheech (21-year-old Jews were not welcome in the gang) to research this book. Like a significant portion of Ellison's work, the novel is not science fiction; indeed, Ellison often resists classification as a science fiction writer. Notwithstanding his objections, next week's Book of the Week will be Ellison's first science fiction book.

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