So! I finished Phantasm Japan. Go read it. Tim Pratt's "Those Who Hunt Monster Hunters" is probably my favorite story of the volume because it intersects neatly with my own thematic concerns, plus it mocks online dating sites and their denizens.
I also liked Joseph Tomaras' "Thirty-Eight Observations on the Nature of the Self," both naughty and dark, and Project Itoh's "From the Nothing, With Love" is the perfect take on the James Bond stories. Nothing here left me cold and I feel a little bad not giving them all a little shout-out.
Now I am about halfway through "The History of Rock'n'Roll in Ten Songs" by Greil Marcus, which I picked up on a whim while the kids were out of town two weeks ago. I found his take on "All I Could Do Was Cry" a little...off, a little tainted with reflexive disdain for pop music. Maybe this was always going to happen when you put Etta James and Beyonce next to each other within the confines of a single song; I mean, I wasn't happy with Beyonce's performance of James in "Cadillac Records" either, except for that one song. But I came out of that essay with a bit of side-eye going on.
On the other hand, he has turned in the best essay on Buddy Holly I have ever read.
The concept of the book, exactly as advertised on the label -- ten songs, not necessarily "the best" or the most famous or whatever, but ten songs that reach forward and back through the history of post-WW2 popular music -- is, so far, executed perfectly. As in, it makes all chronological discussions seem plodding and unimaginative. This sort of associational thinking and writing is what Marcus is best at, of course. And also the kind I enjoy most when reading about music, which I do a lot. (Probably, as a topic, it is second behind food.)
Next up will probably be "Who We Be" by Jeff Chang, which I have been eagerly anticipating for, oh, a couple years now. Unless I take a break between chunks of nonfiction. We'll see.