Circus came out in hardback from Prime Books in 2004. Locus Magazine called it “a fascinating, deeply bizarre adventure.” Jane Andrews gave us permission to re-use her way cool painting “Moving On” for the cover.
Recently, I strolled through Robert Aickman’s short story collection The Wine-Dark Sea. I had been wanting to read some of his stories and picked this one because it was available from the library.
The book is made up of stories pulled from other collections. Other than a story (“The Hospice”) that I had read in an anthology (Masterpieces of Terror and the Supernatural, A Treasury of Spellbinding Tales Old & New, Selected by Marin Kaye), the collection was my first exposure to Aickman’s writing. It’s rare, at such an advanced and jaded age, to fall in love with a new-to-me writer.
Paul Charles Smith has a discussion of the title story here, which he posted, coincidentally, around the time I finished reading the story. He mentions how different the mood is compared to other Aickman stories. At the time I read Smith’s post, I hadn’t read enough Aickman to understand what Smith was talking about. Aickman stories show the strange in the everyday. They build at a pace that some might call slow. They bubble with unease and a feeling that uncanny or uncomfortable things exist just out of our sight. He used allusion (what some might call vagueness), grounding characters and setting while placing bits of strange, a grain here and there, grains that accumulate past the end. Grains that linger.
The Wine-Dark Sea is an excellent introduction to his work, and is available in paperback from Faber Finds, along with another reprint collection (The Unsettled Dust) and an original collection (Cold Hand In Mine). Tartarus Press has reprinted several of his collections, in attractive but expensive hardbacks (though less expensive than used copies of the original editions). I’m looking forward to reading them all.
The Painting and the City is now out on audiobook, from iambic audiobooks.
Checking the audio proofs has been an interesting experience. I hope to conduct an interview soon with the main narrator, Robert Keiper.
I’m back home after a short trip to New York for the Carol Emshwiller 90th birthday reading party event. Jim Freund, who runs the New York Review of Science Fiction reading series and hosts the Hour of the Wolf show on WBAI asked me to interview Carol as part of the event. Which sounded like a good idea at the time…
His plan was to start out the evening by reading a section from Ursula Le Guin’s introduction to the War side of Carol’s forthcoming PS collection, then have Carol read the beginning of a story, with Jim continuing it, and Carol reading the last section. Because of her eye problems, she didn’t think she could read all of it. At first, she didn’t think she could read anything. She was shaky at the start, but did great with the end.
After the reading, we went right into the interview. I’ve never done anything like that and I’m not sure I want to again. Part of the problem (aside from my inexperience) is that Carol and I spent about an hour and a half at her apartment talking about what we would talk about, and by interview time I felt like we had said everything. I wish we had recorded our conversation. So I asked a few questions, Carol talked, and long before I should have been finished, I had nothing else to say. Jim (the experienced radio host) took over, and audience members asked questions (which had been our plan, only not so soon). And it ended (as everything does). Unfortunately, it was videotaped, and recorded for radio. I don’t want to watch.
But still, it was a fun night. It was great to see all the support and admiration for Carol. For her life and writing—not just for making it to 90.
I’m heading to New York next week for part one of the Carol Emshwiller birthday events.
Tuesday, April 12, The New York Review of Science Fiction Readings
The SoHo Gallery for Digital Art
138 Sullivan Street
Doors open at 6:30 PM
Program begins at 7:00
$7 donation suggested
There’s a second event the following Monday, but I’ll be back home.
Details: April 18, 2011, 7.30pm/WORD Bookstore in Greenpoint, Brooklyn/126 Franklin Street, Brooklyn, NY 11222
“In OCTOBER DARK, so-called movie magic is real, the special effects masters are its practitioners, and it’s the only thing protecting the world from unspeakable evil. Filled with nostalgia triggers for baby boomers and Gen Xers alike, with an original story and the liberally dropped names of a pantheon of horror moviemakers, OCTOBER DARK is a delight.”
“Partly, perhaps, the world Khair creates seems so real because foggy Victorian London is so well entrenched in the imagination. However, much more is due to Khair’s own peculiar genius. He is a renowned poet, and like many poets before him, has a rare gift for prose. He can, in a few words, a brief alliterative phrase, conjure up a picture, inspire horror, pity, fear or love. He has also crafted a novel full of suspense where the various strands of mystery, human relationships and crime are expertly woven into one absorbing and fast-moving tale. This is a book that deserves to stand the test of time and join the other masterpieces of Victorian London.”
“Every generation throws up a few genuine Masters of the Weird. There simply is no hyperbole in the statement that Brendan Connell is a member of this elite group right now, perhaps the most accomplished of them all. His work is very strange but always proceeds with rigorous logic and his use of language is original, concise and often startling, employing the alchemy of a ferocious intelligence to create dreamscapes that have the solidity and cruelty of stone and iron. The blend of profound melancholy, decadent atmosphere and abstruse erudition work beautifully and the magic of his prose gets under the skin of your soul and remains there forever.”
“This haunting debut from a brilliant new voice is sure to be as captivating as it is controversial, a shocking look at the imminent collapse of American civilization—and what will succeed it.”
I’m looking forward to some reading…
Jon Armstrong, author of Grey and the forthcoming Yarn and Loom, is the leading and perhaps sole practitioner of the new genre of FashionPunk.
In Grey, which I just finished reading, the main character and much of society are true dedicated followers of fashion, building their lives around their anthemic magazines and music. Armstrong takes this concept and pushes it with vigor. Fashion is the lens through which the main character sees the world. Maintaining this fashion-centric viewpoint is one of the most admirable parts of this admirable book.
Yarn, which is, I believe, set before Grey and features a minor character from Grey, is up for pre-order at Night Shade’s website, and Night Shade is currently running an offer of half-off current books and pre-orders, So this would be an excellent time to pick up some great books.