Arthur Machen’s The Chronicle of Clemendy

“Rubrican’s First Tale,” facsimile edition of 35 numbered and signed prints. 11.5” x 8.25” on heavy, acid-free paper, available from Yard Dog, along with other prints from the edition.

Tomorrow (August 23, 2022) is the official release day of The Silverberg Business. Today, I’m writing about some of the book’s interconnected underpinnings.

My main character is a Jewish detective named Shannon (family name originally Chanun, Americanized by immigration). He’s from Galveston, Texas and lives and works in Chicago, Illinois. Most of the book takes place in Texas.

Allan Pinkerton founded the Pinkerton National Detective Agency in Chicago in the 1850s. I chose Chicago as Shannon’s home and made Shannon’s boss a former Pinkerton agent.

The writer Dashiell Hammet worked for a time as a Pinkerton agent; I used Hammet’s Continental Op character as a base when I began formulating Shannon.

I love the weird fiction writing of Welsh author Arthur Llewellyn Jones, who wrote as Arthur Machen. I decided to name Shannon’s boss Arthur Llewellyn.

Scottish-born Pinkerton was a Chartist. Before reading about Pinkerton, I hadn’t known about Chartism, which was a working-class political reform movement in Britain from around 1838 to 1857. In 1839, the Newport Rising occurred, in Newport, Wales. Police arrested Chartists, protests followed, soldiers shot miners. (This is an oversimplification; for more information on the Newport Rising, please look elsewhere, including the book listed a few paragraphs down.)

I decided that my Llewellyn was a former Chartist who moved to the U.S. after the uprising. As fellow Chartists, it would make sense for him to have worked with Pinkerton.

Jon Langford is Welsh, from Newport, and lives in Chicago. His skull-head art was one of the formative elements for the novel and he created the Silverberg cover art.

Bringing more elements together, Three Impostors, a small publisher based in Newport, Wales, has been publishing special illustrated editions of Arthur Machen’s work. In March 2022, they released The Chronicle of Clemendy, first published in 1888, with ten illustrations by Langford.

Lovely editions of many Machen books are also available from Tartarus Press.

Three Imposters also published a book, Render the Chartists Defenceless: John Frost’s Voyage with Dr McKechnie to Van Diemen’s Land in 1840, by Les James, about the transportation to Tasmania of the leaders of the 1839 Newport Rising.

Is it coincidence that The Chronicle of Clemendy came out the year that The Silverberg Business is set? I doubt it.

Interview with Undiscovered Territories Cover Artist

New interview I did with Undiscovered Territories cover artist Chris Roberts, for the PS Publishing newsletter.

Cover art by Chris Robert for the PS edition of The Babylonian Trilogy

From the intro to the interview: “I was introduced to the art of Chris Roberts while working on page design and layout for Seb Doubinsky’s 2009 PS novel The Babylonian Trilogy, an insanely creative work that still affects my subconscious (Aside from writing fiction, I also design books, mainly interiors, and have been working with PS since 2003.). The interview is available online here.

Mekons Documentary

The Mekons are one of my favorite bands. They’ve transformed themselves over the years, passed through personnel changes and reincarnations. I’ve only managed to catch them live once, many years ago in Austin. Various members live in the U.S. and England. They don’t get together, record, or tour often. But there is a new documentary about them coming out. Which I’m hoping soon comes to a theater nearby.

Rich Needs To Become A Famous Solo Artist; Let’s Help Him Out

manchild
Manchild Rich Malley.

Old friend Rich Malley, drummer for a multitude of Austin bands, Kamikaze Refrigerators, Scratch Acid, Happy Family, The Horsies, has recorded a new album, as ManChildATX. It’s called My Mouse Finger Is Insured for $10M and is sure to provide long-lasting entertainment.

He’s running a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for pressing, packaging, and promoting. Those are three important Ps.

This is his second album. The first was digital-only, Kickass Tunes for Jamming Out, and is exactly what the title says. And how many things these days can have such honest labeling? He’s funny and he’s serious. He’s funrious. And that’s just one of the reasons to support his music. You can order Kickass Tunes here, and his Kickstarter page for My Mouse Finger is here.

Being a drummer, Rich has spent most of his career sitting at the back of the stage, with nothing to look at but the posteriors of his band-mates. It takes some chutzpah to push that drum kit aside and move to the front. Let’s help him stay there.

Stepan Chapman

Stepan Chapman died. I knew him only briefly and not very well. His novel, The Troika, was an amazing piece of wacky and thoughtful weirdness. I hadn’t seen him in several years. He had a starring role in the The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric and Discredited Diseases, a book put together by Jeff VanderMeer & Mark Roberts. Writers were asked to create a story built around a fake disease. I wrote a letter (as Dr. Wexler) to the fictional Dr. Lambshead begging him not to publish the Pocket Guide. Stepan incorporated my letter into the history of the Pocket Guide, treating Dr. Wexler as the villain, always stealing Dr. Lambshead’s research, etc. We did some readings together (I couldn’t see him, but was told that when I read my Dr. Wexler letter, he would make silly faces to the audience to mock me).

I’m at work, listening to “Sensorium” an episode from Flotsam Beach, a series of podcasts that Stepan did. I’ve only just discovered them. In which he reads from Guy Murchie’s The Seven Mysteries of Life, interwoven with a variety of sounds.

“In this sequel to Leeuwenhoek’s Lenses, Stepan reads more pages from Guy Murchie’s The Seven Mysteries of Life, in order to explore the sensory apparatus of the animal world.

Background choir of aquatic insect larvae provided by David Dunn. Zoological interlude music provided by Marc Hollander of France, Lars Hollmer of Sweden, Kimpereli of Switzerland, and Fred Frith of Britain.

Protoplasm. Did we discover it? Or did it discover us?

After a year of imaginary broadcasting, Flotsam Beach is still asking The Big Questions.”

The combination of his reading style and material, plus background music works to make listening to the program oddly stimulating and soothing. Plus, it’s nice to hear his voice.

Fanciful Flight

Some time ago (maybe April 2012, because that’s the date on the web page), Liz Hand posted a link to an article about a friend of hers at the Smithsonian who has made models based on pictures of fanciful flying machines.

Looking at the models gave me ideas…I wanted to try making some myself, and wanted to use them in fiction.  I filed the article away for the future. And have since used one of the aircraft and its artist in “Untitled Western Novella.” The story is set on the gulf coast of Texas in 1888. One of the artists profiled in the Smithsonian article, Charles Dellschau, was a German-born butcher who ended up in Houston, TX; he created his art-and-tales about flying machines around the time of my story.

I’ve modified his life to fit the story: his exploits were supposed to have occurred a number of years earlier than 1888.

Another Dellschau sighting occurred last week. My friend Doug Lain, he of the intriguing-sounding forthcoming novel Billy Moon, posted a link to an article on a neat blog called Messy Nessy Chic. There’s also a new book about him.