Couple of Links

I liked this piece on Bookslut by Greer Mansfield about the fiction of Sheridan Le Fanu, M.R. James, and Robert Aickman. I haven’t read much Le Fanu or James. In fact, I didn’t even realize that I own a copy of Le Fanu’s collection, Madam Crowl’s Ghost and other stories. Which I obviously need to read soon.

Here’s something Mansfield said about Aickman, which I would have said in my Aickman post if I had thought of it:

Aickman never spells out his meaning. His stories end abruptly and inconclusively, and in fact the “meaning” is less important than the utter mysteriousness of what happens. Like a true poem or a vivid dream, Aickman’s stories hover on the edge of being understood, but never quite are. They are meant to be listened to and wondered at, and their mystery grows stronger the more one puzzles over them

And an interesting interview at The Center for Fiction with a writer I’m unfamiliar with named Steve Almond. I like his attitude toward big publishing and the need for doing it yourself sometimes but not all the time. Some good bits like this:

That’s the fundamental design flaw in the publishing industry: It pairs an artist with a corporation. Occasionally, this produces a great piece of art that makes all parties involved dough. More often, a literary book loses money—all but one of mine have—and the writer winds up feeling like a loser because his piece of art didn’t move more units. That’s a pretty crazy way to measure success.


Bill Morrissey

I just heard today that singer/songwriter Bill Morrissey died in July, of heart failure. Various obituaries and tributes here. I talked to him once at one of his shows and we shared a French publisher, but I didn’t know him.

As I type, I’m listening to his 1989 album, Standing Eight. Which, if Amazon is correct, is out of print.

The first album I heard, after catching him live in Austin in ’93 or ’94, was Night Train, which has “Birches,” probably his best-known song. It’s a song that struck me a perfect short-short story, set to music. So I wasn’t surprised when he wrote a novel, Edson, which came out in ’96. I had some problems with it (mostly repetition that should have been edited out), but it had some impressive story-telling and characterization. He wrote a second novel that never came out in the U.S. It was to have appeared in France this year, but the publisher went bankrupt (soon after their edition of The Painting and the City came out—sorry Bill, if it’s my fault).

A couple of years ago, I read on his website that he had been dealing with alcoholism and depression. Depression that he had self-medicated for years with the alcohol. Which happens. I wish it hadn’t. He might still be here.