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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #1001
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Re: Recent Reading

Started reading The Anatomy of Fascism by Robert O. Paxton, which I got for Christmas from somebody who knows how utterly fed up I am with the world right now.

'I believe in what the Germans term Ehrfurcht: reverence for things one cannot understand.'
― Robert Aickman, An Essay
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #1002
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Re: Recent Reading

After spending most of Christmas reading ghost stories, I have dived into another Arthur Machen collection: The White People and Other Stories from Chaosium. It has some other tales in it than the Penguin collection by the same name, specifically the prose poems Ornaments in Jade, which I enjoyed immensely!

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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #1003
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Re: Recent Reading

What to make of 2017? Well, it has been a rather polarizing year, with triumphs in the field and an increasing sense of despair in the world at large. I have read many interesting books over the past eleven months. Here are some of the many interesting books that I have read in 2017:

The novels of William Burroughs -- well, I knew that Burroughs packed a punch -- but I did not expect to be blown away when visiting the horrific and tortured dreamscapes of Naked Lunch -- followed by the maverick delirium of The Wild Boys, the Cut-Up Trilogy, and the wistful melancholy of the Red Night Trilogy -- The wraith of Burroughs hovers over the pitiful chaos of Earth -- He gently strokes the Pan-face of the sad and handsome youth.

The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch -- my first Philip K. Dick book. It is quintessential Dick: an angry exploration of the numerous layers of artificially engineered realities that our hapless protagonists find themselves lost in, whilst wicked Demiurgic forces cackle and sneer from unapproachable zones. Of course, his prose is workmanlike at best, but his imagination and ideas are never short of extraordinary.

The works of Leonora Carrington -- there is much to admire in a young and headstrong woman from the North of England who rebelled against her affluent family and ran away to Paris to marry Max Ernst. Her wondrous paintings conjure up a hermetic universe of animals and symbols and mysticism, and her writings feature similar visions. Her short stories are like fables, some charming fusion of Saki and Roald Dahl and Alejandro Jodorowsky that could only have been blended in the cauldron of Carrington's imagination, whilst her novels are, by turns, delightful, melancholic, harrowing, and visionary, but always Leonora Carrington.

The Motion Demon -- the great Stefan Grabinski was fascinated by the mystic worlds and symbols that underlie the thin veneer of our reality, and this fascination did not stop at modern technology. Whether it is outsiders who gain a demonic potency when riding trains, becoming pathetic cowards when on static ground, or dreamy railwaymen who receive ominous premonitions of things yet to be, Grabinski ruthlessly exploits the supernatural qualities latent in locomotives.

Steppenwolf -- Hermann Hesse's semi-autobiographical novel explores the themes of his previous work, Demian, but on a somewhat more oblique fashion. Harry Haller is a man torn between the quotidian world of men and women, and some elusive Eternal world beyond; he is a des Esseintes afflicted with German pensiveness. Eventually, a group of mysterious individuals introduce the Steppenwold to the joys of the common life that he despises, culminating in a phantasmal ''Magic Theatre'' where he is given the chance to relive certain moments of his life. A powerful and thoughtful book that weaves a lingering spell around disaffected and plaintive youth.

Metrophilias -- I was spurred on to read this book after viewing recent comments here concerning the book in question. Mr. Connell has been repeatedly described as a Neo-Decadent and a twenty-first-century Huysmans, and one can see why. In this excellent collection of prose poems, mavericks in many cities of the world throughout time pursue bizarre lusts and fetishes, often to the point of tragedy; so a Scot might develop an erotic, and fatal, obession with the letter ''W', and a Spaniard might prefer the otherworldly splendours concocted by absinthe to the common beauty of mortal women. This is a must-read for those who have Baudelaire's Anywhere Out of the World etched on their souls.

The poetry of Georg Trakl -- despite being interested in Trakl's poetry, I did not have the chance to read the Austrian's poems until this autumn, which is the perfect time to read his darkly lush and splendid verse. In these lines, he sings the praises of peasants who toil in muddy ploughs and fields under darkening skies, and gleefully anticipates the foetid and ghoulish darkness that encroaches upon these gloomy pastoral scenes. Despite the tranquility of these surface scenes, Trakl's soul silently screams in the excrement-caked asylum of his body.

The Wanderer -- a novel by a leading writer of the uncanny and wyrd that I had been eager to read and did not disappoint. For his canvas, Mr. Jarvis has chosen the entire grand tradition of wyrd literature, and the associated Romantics and Decadents and Symbolists and Surrealists; those who have felt the allure of the imagination and the Unknown have all been to Tartarus, and they have returned with haunted hearts and accursed souls. Those who have witnessed its chimerical horrors are doomed to wander the earth until the end of Time. In this fiendish labyrinth constructed by a demonically-possessed Borges, Mr. Jarvis is the cackling showman who leads us through tales of horror and brooding menace and evil. That's the way to do it!

Teatro Grottesco -- this was the first Thomas Ligotti book that I ever read, five years ago; I was much too foolish to understand Mr. Ligotti's dark brilliance then, but, upon re-reading it, I have been utterly enthralled by the strange world that he conjures in these pages. It is a dim and fog-bound world of desolate towns where the laws of reality have lost all meaning, where the employees of inscrutable companies find themselves at the mercy of unseen and possibly non-human supervisors, where the universe is merely one step away from descending into a carnivalesque maelstrom of madness and metaphysical malevolence. Now to re-read Songs of a Dead Dreamer and Grimscribe. . .

The Passion of New Eve -- the great Angela Carter's novel sees an Englishman, Evelyn, travel to an apocalyptic United States where, amidst the violence and chaos engulfing the country, he meets an aging Czech alchemist, is kidnapped by a band of underground-dwelling women, is then surgically transformed into a woman by an immense Mother Goddess, and ends up the slave of a lecherous ''poet''. As much as I found the primary theme irritating, I am amazed at Carter's fiery, kaleidoscopic imagination and her fiercely independent spirit. (On a side note, I always lament how Carter could have been one of Scotland's most powerful and original writers had her father, a Scot, remained north of the border, but c'est la vie.)

The Golem -- I visited Prague for the first time in September. It was a city I had always wanted to visit, and I enjoyed its Gothic architecture and its occult history and its vibrant cosmopolitan atmosphere. I visited, among other places, the Castle, the Musuem of Alchemy -- where I saw John Dee and Edward Kelley's old study --, the Kafka Museum, and the Jewish Quarter, all of which I loved. I had very little time for reading there, but I brought a copy of Gustav Meyrink's The Golem. The novel can be slow in places, but the author weaves a rich tapestry of occult-tinged dreams replete with Symbolist splendour. A good book, but I have a feeling that Meyrink's other novel, The Angel of the West Window, will be even greater.

Severin's Journey Into the Dark -- another Prague book, but one that I personally preferred to The Golem. Paul Leppin's short Decadent novel follows the titular character's lonely perambulations around that fascinating and visionary city, where he falls in with all manner of dark and eccentric characters. In true Decadent fashion, those weary of life and who seek nameless splendours and pleasures are the pitiful prey of Death, for life is cold and unforgiving to those who see beyond its saccharine illusions.


I wonder what joys and tribulations 2018 has in store for the world? Given the current circumstances, my hopes are not high; but if society and politics prove to be inevitably disappointing, then one can only hope that there will be great triumphs for the wyrd. I have plenty of books to occupy me next year. I am currently reading a book I should have read a long time ago, but Huysmans's A Rebours is proving to be an excellent book. Farewell, 2017; you were kind and cruel in many ways that I and everyone else will never forget. Will 2018 outdo you in misery? Let us turn the page and find out.

I believe in the power of the imagination to remake the world, to release the truth within us, to hold back the night, to transcend death, to charm motorways, to ingratiate ourselves with birds, to enlist the confidences of madmen.
-- J.G. Ballard

Golgonooza
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #1004
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Re: Recent Reading

Over the course of Christmas and my Birthday (27th), I received a nice pile of books, consisting of:

Crypt(O)spasm by Gary J. Shipley
Folk Horror Revival: Field Studies
True Detection
Dadaoism: ed. Justin Isis
The Collected Connoisseur by Mark Valentine and John Howard
Folk Horror Revival: Corpse Roads
Marked to Die - A Tribute to Mark Samuels: ed. Justin Isis
Touchstones by John Howard
The Italian by Ann Radcliffe


While I have also ordered myself a copy of:

A Tea Dance at Savoy by Robert Meadley
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #1005
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Re: Recent Reading

Some hardcover talk from elsewhere, mainly about comics...

Somehow Yoe Books comics reprints are considered a cheap-ass option but they're still in hardcover, I've been buying a few and they add up to a lot.
Who insists that everything be in hardcover? Are these people carrying these through lengthy travels and hoping they'll outlive their own greatgreatgreat grandchildren?
Why not make them 20% hardcover 80% paperback?

I've been trying to make a habit of frequenting the art & photography section of waterstones and the hardcover domination is even worse there. Everything good is between 25-60 pounds. I bought a very nice David Jones book today, I was expecting it to cost 20 or 25 pounds but it was 40. How is anyone supposed to make a habit of buying these books without resorting to Amazon? It's ####ing crazy.

Egaeus books being more expensive makes sense but most of these art, photography and comics hardcovers really aren't that special, they're just shockingly expensive for what they are.

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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #1006
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Re: Recent Reading

I recently reread City of Glass. Predictably, I failed to complete my planned reread of the entire New York Trilogy.

After reading a dozen or so pages and after a short deliberation with myself, I left The Futurological Congress by Lem unfinished. For reasons also having to do with excessive levity of tone, I am finding it hard to move on with A Canticle for Leibowitz. 60 pages in and I am struggling. I am also revisiting some of the stories in Grimscribe.

A month or so ago I read Le Carré's The Pigeon Tunnel. I have read most of his novels and I have always considered him one of the greatest living novelists writing in English. I also read a couple of short stories by Kleist relatively recently. I have written reviews of books I read earlier this year in relevant threads.

I read fewer books these days. I note that I have become a slow reader. Yet I keep buying new ones. I came back from a trip to Nepal, where I discovered with delight and trepidation that Kathmandu is a bibliophile's paradise and filled with not only second hand bookshops, but bookshops filled with rare and first editions. I almost bought all ten volumes of the first edition of Burton's translation of the Arabian Nights. Then, I reconsidered, and purchased a paperback edition of King Vikram and the Vampire - not an early edition, but one that reproduces the typeface and the original illustrations of the first.

I look at my bookcase to remind myself of books recently purchased. I decide that I will read whatever I have from Trakl, Ungar, and Danilo Kiš.

Another new year's resolution that will soon be forgotten.

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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #1007
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Re: Recent Reading

One of the few nice things happening these days
Algorithm is a dancer: Is YouTube starting to determine vinyl reissues?
Midori Takada’s Through The Looking Glass is really nice by the way.

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Old 1 Week Ago   #1008
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Re: Recent Reading

Just finished reading Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray and I enjoyed it immensely, really a remarkable novel. Now I think I shall turn my appetite towards an Algernon Blackwood collection.

"For he who passes the gateways always wins a shadow, and never again can he be alone."
- H.P. Lovecraft

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Old 1 Week Ago   #1009
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Re: Recent Reading

As well as continuing the mammoth trek through Gary J. Shipley's 'Crypt(0)Spasm', recently I have been reading 'Kaiki: Uncanny Tales from Japan - Volume 3: Tales of the Metropolis'.

Currently on its way to me by mail is a copy of Alexander Zelenyj's collection 'Experiments at 3 Billion A.M.', so I dare say that shall be begun in the coming days as well.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #1010
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Re: Recent Reading

Finished The Green Man by Kingsley Amis. I enjoyed it very much. Parts of The Boke of the Divill by Reggie Oliver, which I am still reading, and enjoying, remind me of The Green Man.

Still reading, and enjoying very much The Spirit of Place and Other Strange Tales by Elizabeth Walter. It is a much needed and consistently good reading experience.

Lucian pigeon-holed the letter solemnly in the receptacle lettered 'Barbarians.' ~ The Hill of Dreams by Arthur Machen

“The wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other of us has to go.” – Oscar Wilde
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