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Old 05-05-2007   #11
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Re: Robert Aickman

It's funny that Ligotti doesn't like Aickman (read that in some interview conducted by David Tibet), because I think at least some of their work does deal with the same issues.

I've read The Collected Strange Stories some years ago, and it's one of the best things I've ever read, albeit some of his stories aren't quite up to the standard's he's set for himself (and "Pages From a Young Girl's Journal" is terrible). The Attempted Rescue is magnificent as well.

"My Poor Friend" - is that the one about the MP's wife who refuses to be a hostess for his MP friends, dress up, etc.?

I found that thoroughly disturbing, even though the horror seems to lie merely in the ignoring of social conventions.

It's odd how the strangeness is so diffuse in his writings. "The Postman" (I think it's called - can't remember) is another which springs to my mind.


I really should be re-reading him.
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Old 05-05-2007   #12
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Re: Robert Aickman

It's amazing about RA how slippery his stories are.
I only read (or re-read?) MY POOR FRIEND a few weeks ago but your question, although ringing a bell, doesn't ring loud enough. I recall that the MP's children became winged creatures...

========
Interested to hear that TL may not like RA's work.

========
Just read another very strange story: A CHOICE OF WEAPONS.
Includes stale confetti and the smell of bloaters.

=======

I've just started re-reading 'The Insufficient Answer' from the above WE ARE FOR THE DARK.
It mentions an art show in a gallery entitled:
Women Who've Made As Good As Men.
I think I would have guessed the story was by Mr Aickman not Ms Howard (had I not already known)!

This story seems, from among RA's work, uniquely a story that one is intended to understand fully, but one which I understood less than any other!

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Old 05-05-2007   #13
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Re: Robert Aickman

des, thank you for reviving this thread. Sorry to say, I've only read a few of Robert Aickman's stories over the years. None of them has left an indelible impression upon my memory. However, "Growing Boys" just might be the story that caused me some discomfiture when I read it years ago in an anthology. I simply don't remember with certainty. I never came back to Aickman's work with enthusiasm. My reading of Cold Hand in Mine was shoved back to an even more remote burner...

And, Brian, thank you for the wonderful Robert Aickman website which you have established! Through your resources, I have determined that I have no less than 18 or 19 (where are my issues of The Arkham Collector?) of Mr. Aickman's stories in my collection of books and magazines. The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction alone (of which I have a nearly complete run) published nine of Mr. Aickman's stories in the 1970s. A great service to American readers, indeed.

It is now time for me to delve into new territory with an open mind. Thank you, ElHI, Brian, and des.

"What does it mean to be alive except to court disaster and suffering at every moment?"

Tibet: Carnivals?
Ligotti: Ceremonies for initiating children into the cult of the sinister.
Tibet: Gas stations?
Ligotti: Nothing to say about gas stations as such, although I've always responded to the smell of gasoline as if it were a kind of perfume.
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Old 05-05-2007   #14
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Re: Robert Aickman

Quote Originally Posted by G. S. Carnivals View Post
However, "Growing Boys" just might be the story that caused me some discomfiture when I read it years ago in an anthology..
That's an amazing coincidence. About ten minutes before reading your post, I had randomly chosen 'Growing Boys' to read next!!!!!!

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Old 05-06-2007   #15
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Re: Robert Aickman

Quote
It's amazing about RA how slippery his stories are.
I only read (or re-read?) MY POOR FRIEND a few weeks ago but your question, although ringing a bell, doesn't ring loud enough. I recall that the MP's children became winged creatures...
Maybe I should just re-read it. I remember liking it.
And it is quite interesting how his stories create a large amount of discomfort, even though you're not wholly sure of what exactly the mystery is.

Quote
========
Interested to hear that TL may not like RA's work.

========
I have it at home (am at work right now), and I can't remember the exact quote, but he was asked about Aickman and answered something like this: "An author whom people often tend to think I like, because his tales are so obscure. They certainly are."
I would have thought TL to like Aickman, so I was a bit baffled when reading it. It was published in a book printed by Tartarus Press, don't recall which.
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Old 05-06-2007   #16
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Re: Robert Aickman

Quote Originally Posted by MadsPLP View Post
I have it at home (am at work right now), and I can't remember the exact quote, but he was asked about Aickman and answered something like this: "An author whom people often tend to think I like, because his tales are so obscure. They certainly are."
I would have thought TL to like Aickman, so I was a bit baffled when reading it. It was published in a book printed by Tartarus Press, don't recall which.
MadsPLP, you have paraphrased a quotation from an interview conducted by David Tibet with Thomas Ligotti which appeared in AKLO edited by Mark Valentine, Roger Dobson and R. B. Russell.

A favorite of mine from the same interview:

Tibet: Carnivals?
Ligotti: Ceremonies for initiating children into the cult of the sinister.
Tibet: Gas stations?
Ligotti: Nothing to say about gas stations as such, although I've always responded to the smell of gasoline as if it were a kind of perfume.

"What does it mean to be alive except to court disaster and suffering at every moment?"

Tibet: Carnivals?
Ligotti: Ceremonies for initiating children into the cult of the sinister.
Tibet: Gas stations?
Ligotti: Nothing to say about gas stations as such, although I've always responded to the smell of gasoline as if it were a kind of perfume.
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Old 05-07-2007   #17
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Re: Robert Aickman

'Growing Boys', when I read it the first time a generation ago, had more of an effect than it did now. Having just re-read it, it seems like Dr Who burlesque. No bad thing that, though.

'The Swords', however, has today redoubled its power. The seediest story I've ever read. Patrick Hamilton squared.

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Old 05-08-2007   #18
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Re: Robert Aickman

I'm semi-surprised that TL doesn't like Aickman. ("Semi," because there seems to be a considerable disconnect between TL's opinions/tastes and my own.) Personally, I love them both, although I haven't read as much Aickman as I would like....

If I may be so bold, I find a similar pleasure in Aickman's stories as I do in some of D.F. Lewis'... which is to say, they lodge like cancers in the mind, sometimes nesting quietly, "benignly," sometimes bursting forth in malignant explosions of meaning....

"The Swords" is one of my favorite stories of all time. Perhaps I am speaking only as a young male with a seedy sexual history himself... (!)
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Old 05-09-2007   #19
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Re: Robert Aickman

Thanks, V, for that endorsement. In normal circumstances, I'd be really be pleased and honoured for some of my work to be compared to RA's, if it were not that I've just read his story 'Marriage' which stuck me as the most scandalously salacious fiction I've ever read!

I hesitate to add a smiley to the above. But, seriously, I couldn't remember reading 'Marriage' before, but I must have done as it's contained in a book I know I've read before many years ago. Selective memory?

Or are RA's stories so very slippery that they actually transmute through time?

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Old 05-23-2007   #20
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Re: Robert Aickman

I hadn't read much Aickman before reading Ligotti, but I soon tracked down some old anthologies only to come to the realisation that these were some of the most quietly disturbing stories I have ever read.

'The Inner Room' is particularly bothering, perhaps most of all because of the unknowing-innocence of the protagonist. It reminds me of what Ligotti said about M.R. James' 'Count Magnus', where Wraxall unwittingly stumbles upon spheres of knowledge he simply had no idea were forbidden, resisting the old conventions of didactic, desert-based supernatural fiction. 'The Inner Room' also has some extremely powerful ambiguity towards the end with its vague suggestions of the dolls 'feasting' upon god-only-knows-what in some inaccessible room of their house.

Another story of Aickman's that gave immense pleasure was 'The Hospice'. Aickman goes to great lengths to ensure that the reader is never given the security of knowing what is going on, largely by throwing out 'false trails' in the way of suggestive clues that seem like they should bear some critical importance to the plot. However, these loose ends just seem to flail about in a nebulous cloud, generating an atmosphere of suffocating disquiet as the reader struggles to ascertain the cause of his psychological discomfort. The horror in both of these tales exists beyond the 'conclusion' of the story, and even subsequent readings will not deliver the core of the horror that is so carefully suggested throughout. This also happens to be what I value most about Ligotti's fiction, as well as that of M.R. James ('Mrs. Rinaldi's Angel' seems particularly Jamesian with its suggestion of the demon/angel as a 'pile of filthy rags').

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