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Old 10-07-2013   #31
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Re: Recent Reading

I mentioned I had just finished The Face of Twilight and The Winter war in Tibet. Getting bit by the Durrenmatt bug, I ‘ve been rereading The Execution of Justice. It’s told by a lawyer who has succeeded in getting a human monster free of the consequences of his crime. He has killed a man casually in a swanky restaurant with dozens of potential witnesses dining, including a high police official. (Written before O. J., and Robert Blake, some readers found it a little fantastic that such a crime could escape punishment.) The lawyer is devastated by guilt and finally realizes that the first murder had no motive other than to start a chain of events that lead to other murders…his actual intended victims. There’s a scene at the very end in a fantastic country villa studded with antique and terrible statues; a scene where a young girl is hunted and abused by a predatory and wealthy beast of a woman (a woman of childlike appearance but with horribly malformed features) and her bald thuggish bodyguards (the girl at first mistakes the female creature for a statue). The scene has a Machen-like atmosphere of Decadence and Evil. Durrenmatt described the novel as a wicked fairy tale, hinting at an evil that lurks behind life; and even the sunset seems fantastical and evil as the child seeks to elude her pursuers…

The lawyer decides his only course of action is to kill the man he enabled to beat justice and then kill himself. He sinks into alcoholism, throws away a promising practice, becomes a lawyer for pimps and their whores, all the while hopelessly in love with the murderer’s daughter who may well be the willing accomplice of her monstrous father.
What’s fascinating is how Durrenmatt conveys the lawyer’s alcoholic state. The lawyer is writing, over the course of months, a confession that will explain all after his suicide. As you read the story a careful reader begins to notice a slightly suspect chronology. The amazing thing is this technique never interferes with flow of the novel, never confuses. You may begin to suspect that one incident didn’t happen in the order you thought it did; that it happened after a certain other incident though you felt certain it had happened before that incident. Some readers won’t even notice but I thought it was a great way of portraying the subtle distortions of time experienced by a man who needs alcohol just to function normally. The structure of the book is dictated by the narrator's alcoholism. After reading several bits of fiction with drunken protagonists—Samuels’ book, several Barron stories among others—I found this approach as realistic as it was clever; and it must have been a devil to pull off without creating a disjointed book in the process.

BTW, if you run across an old pb copy of this book, the cover will be a reproduction of a Durrenmatt painting: "The Astronomers".

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Old 10-07-2013   #32
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Re: Recent Reading

Druidic, Do you get the Centipede newsletter? Today's had an interesting list of Michael Cisco's top 20 horror novels. Some "usual suspects" on there but some hidden gems to be had, too. Even though I can't read Cisco's novels (listening to him read them is a great help I've found), I can still appreciate his short stories and these recommendations of his.
On Cisco himself for a moment: There is something about his own novels that make my eyes swim on the page and (so far) I have not found them to be engaging for me, somehow. I have reasoned that perhaps this is because they are very much in his particular voice and I can't get into his head through them for any extended period of time to really hear him at novel length. This is probably the reason I love his short stories which are excellent; some examples which spring readily to mind include his stories "Modern Cities..." which was a clear stand-out for me in Cinnabar's Gnosis and "The Thing in the Jar" which was an exceptional example of experimental horror writing.
Another possibility is that I have not found an environment conducive to the type of mental concentration necessary to read him; don't laugh, I have found this to be the case with various writers/individual books in the past: you need a place to sit where it can all properly sink in.
On McCarthy: I'd also forgotten about Outer Dark which I have here and have been meaning to read. Up to the top of the 'to read' pile it goes (along with everything I haven't yet read by Tony Burgess and Ben Marcus' The Flame Alphabet.
On John (JDATE): It is worth reading and sleazily ends openly-wide openly-for a sequel or sequels. There are 3 books in the series now right? Does the latest end firmly? Does David die at the end? actually don't answer that last.
On Nick Cave "Ass, Proposition, BM" (Not the S&M porno of the same name): Nick Cave is clearly a multi-talented gentleman, but I too think he did the right thing with regard to Blood Meridian. I tried to read "Ass" based on R.B. Russell's recommendation, and found the narration, which is all in dialect, to make it perfectly impenetrable for me. This added to the fact that it is also not exactly a novella, make me quite sure I will never read it. Could anyone who has read it attempt to sway me into a second attempt? I'm talking 'pep-talk' talk here.
On Blood Meridian: The Movie (which, I actually couldn't care less is ever made):
I'm not crazily into the Cohen's but do enjoy their work for what it is (sounds snotty, I know) and greatly enjoyed their No Country for Old Men which perfectly did the movie justice and in so doing gave Tommy Lee Jones at least one movie he can be proud of before he dies. They would, perhaps, be a good choice for Blood Meridian . John Goodman would make a passable Judge Holden and in so doing practically reprise his role as the Cyclops in "Oh Brother Where Art Thou"

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Old 10-07-2013   #33
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Re: Recent Reading

Quote Originally Posted by ramonoski View Post
Mark, if you still have a copy of FoT lying around, I'd be more than glad to take such a foul volume off your hands. Glyphotech too, even. I'll endure owning them so no one else has to
There is a copy on eBay UK right now starting at 10 pounds. Not bad, especially if Mark didn't bite at your "special pleading".;)
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Old 10-07-2013   #34
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Re: Recent Reading

Hey, Murony Pyre!

I don’t get the Centipede newsletter but I can imagine Cisco’s choices for the 20 best horror novels would be interesting. I like his short fiction—a month or so ago, I read Secret Hours—but I started The Divinity Student and only got in about 20 pages before I put it aside. Not that it was a bad book but it just didn’t draw me into it at the time. I’ll probably give it another shot at some point. You may have a point about some books needing to be read in a properly conductive environment.
I really liked No Country for Old Men but, like you, I’m not looking forward to seeing a film adaptation of Blood Meridian. That book is such a work of pure language, poetry and philosophy, any film version is going to be significantly different. The right writer and it just might work. Maybe. L. A. Confidential was thought to be unfilmable and yet ended up as a nice piece of work. Still, I remain cautious in any expectations for a film version.
Never thought of John Goodman but he would make a good Judge Holden! Cave’s movie really captured a bit of McCarthy. I want to see The Road which I missed when it hit the theaters a few years back. Did you know Harlan Ellison once implied to an interviewer that the McCarthy book seemed to be a reworking of A Boy and His Dog?

I’ve never read any of Cave’s novels and I suspect it’s because I admire his other work so much I don’t care to risk being disappointed. Leonard Cohen is the most masterful poet/lyricist I’ve ever encountered. His use of language is utterly brilliant. But I read Beautiful Losers and it was a dreadful ‘novel’. Sometimes genius in one area doesn’t carry through to another. I have read some decent reviews of Cave’s books though.
This review of Nick's The Death of Bunny Monroe is a bit different though and worth reading. Nick Caves Midlife Crisis or Valid Literature? | PopMatters

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Old 10-07-2013   #35
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Re: Recent Reading

Quote Originally Posted by blackout View Post
is there any chance someone could post cisco's list? i am very curious about it...
Michael Ciscoís Top Horror Novels, a lot of which youíve probably never heard of (I know I havenít!)
(listed in no order)


  1. Leonid Andreyev The Red Laugh
  2. J.G. Ballard The Unlimited Dream Company
  3. Thomas Bernhard The Lime Works
  4. Adolfo Bioy-Casares Asleep in the Sun
  5. William S. Burroughs Naked Lunch
  6. Walter de la Mare Memoirs of a Midget
  7. Sadegh Hedayat The Blind Owl
  8. Thomas Tryon The Other
  9. William Hope Hodgson The House on the Borderland
  10. Shirley Jackson The Haunting of Hill House
  11. T.E.D. Klein The Ceremonies
  12. Jerzy Kosinski The Painted Bird
  13. Alfred Kubin The Other Side
  14. H.P. Lovecraft The Case of Charles Dexter Ward
  15. Arthur Machen The Three Imposters
  16. Gustav Meyrink The Golem
  17. Vladimir Nabokov Invitation to a Beheading
  18. Jean Ray Malpertuis
  19. G.W. Stonier Memoirs of a Ghost
  20. Roland Topor The Tenant
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Old 10-08-2013   #36
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Re: Recent Reading

Thanks to Waffles! Beat me to it! It does seem like a good list, lots to explore (like I don't have a gi-huge pile of books beckoning with skeletal fingers!).
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Old 10-08-2013   #37
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Re: Recent Reading

Hi Druidic,

Quote Originally Posted by Druidic View Post

....I can imagine Cisco’s choices for the 20 best horror novels would be interesting. I like his short fiction—a month or so ago, I read Secret Hours—but I started The Divinity Student and only got in about 20 pages before I put it aside. Not that it was a bad book but it just didn’t draw me into it at the time. I’ll probably give it another shot at some point. You may have a point about some books needing to be read in a properly conductive environment.
It was crappy of me to mention the list and not provide it but it was late last night and I was a bit lazy, sorry about that. Anyway, the good Waffles was "on his job" and looking out for everybody!
I'm glad I'm not the only one with the "Cisco reaction" and like you I'm going to go back and try again---it worked for me with Lovecraft. With HPL, for the longest time I couldn't get through more than 2-3 pages but I think, for some odd reason, I kept trying to read "The Horror at Red Hook". I should have started with "The Whisperer in Darkness", "Dunwich" or "Innsmouth" instead, if I'd known. If I had, I would have probably devoured everything else by HPL much sooner. Really, as I said, listen to Cisco reading his work and then try---get his rhythm and then try again--that's what I'm going to do. Glad to see him give "Dexter Ward" some love---it is just about my favorite of HPL's works and every time it is brought up I sorely wish he'd written more longer works like it.

Quote
I really liked No Country for Old Men but, like you, I’m not looking forward to seeing a film adaptation of Blood Meridian. That book is such a work of pure language, poetry and philosophy, any film version is going to be significantly different. The right writer and it just might work. Maybe. L. A. Confidential was thought to be unfilmable and yet ended up as a nice piece of work. Still, I remain cautious in any expectations for a film version.
The main point for me is that not everything needs to be seen on the big screen:

I covet the images conjured and partially obscured by rickety skylight and cobwebs in my own cranium.

Like NCFOM, I will not watch The Road until after I have taken it upon myself to read the primary source. I sincerely hope it will be as rewarding an experience as with NCFOM.

Goodman Shaved like a big Butterball baby. As a side note to Judge Holden, I imagined him with black opals for eyes for most of the book.

I believe the thing that ties all of the books by McCarthy that I have so far read is their grim parabolic nature. You rightly point out the poetry and there is also---for Blood Meridian particularly---a cumulative effect involved: I liked how the gory battles and shoot outs started to get boring and deadening, in that you knew what The Kid was feeling and how he became inured what surrounded him more and more. The end somehow recalled for me the end of Machen's Hill of Dreams.

Quote
I want to see The Road which I missed when it hit the theaters a few years back. Did you know Harlan Ellison once implied to an interviewer that the McCarthy book seemed to be a reworking of A Boy and His Dog?
That is highly interesting and I admit that I've not read a great deal of Ellison. I read The Black Corridor because it was on Karl Edward Wagner's SF list and adored it. So it's weird that I've not read more but there you have it: I should.
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Old 10-08-2013   #38
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Re: Recent Reading

This:

http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/000352691

And this:

http://pushkinpress.com/book/the-str...th-the-daemon/

I am becoming very interested in what we have buried under our modern mental landscape.

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Old 10-08-2013   #39
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Re: Recent Reading

This is a great list. I'm looking for a lot of these now and finding some of them hard to find. Any suggestions? Thought I saw an ebook version of a few but didn't know if they were any good in terms of formatting.


Quote Originally Posted by waffles View Post
Quote Originally Posted by blackout View Post
is there any chance someone could post cisco's list? i am very curious about it...
Michael Ciscoís Top Horror Novels, a lot of which youíve probably never heard of (I know I havenít!)
(listed in no order)


  1. Leonid Andreyev The Red Laugh
  2. J.G. Ballard The Unlimited Dream Company
  3. Thomas Bernhard The Lime Works
  4. Adolfo Bioy-Casares Asleep in the Sun
  5. William S. Burroughs Naked Lunch
  6. Walter de la Mare Memoirs of a Midget
  7. Sadegh Hedayat The Blind Owl
  8. Thomas Tryon The Other
  9. William Hope Hodgson The House on the Borderland
  10. Shirley Jackson The Haunting of Hill House
  11. T.E.D. Klein The Ceremonies
  12. Jerzy Kosinski The Painted Bird
  13. Alfred Kubin The Other Side
  14. H.P. Lovecraft The Case of Charles Dexter Ward
  15. Arthur Machen The Three Imposters
  16. Gustav Meyrink The Golem
  17. Vladimir Nabokov Invitation to a Beheading
  18. Jean Ray Malpertuis
  19. G.W. Stonier Memoirs of a Ghost
  20. Roland Topor The Tenant
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Old 10-08-2013   #40
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Re: Recent Reading

Michael is right, it’s a great list. The value of a list like this is the stimulating effect it has…obviously there’s no “right/wrong” in any intelligent list of this kind…what we bring to a work of art determines what we take away from it. Not just the intrinsic excellence of a work but the life experiences and personal tastes of the reader are equally important in determining how deeply a specific work touches a reader.
Some of these selections might well appear on my own list (9, 10, 11, 14, 15, 18) while others, like The Painted Bird, probably wouldn’t. Several are new to me and I’ll keep them in mind during future book buying sprees.
This list may also stimulate me in regard to the possibility of a new post in the near future…a call for listings by TLO members of movies they felt were significantly better that the books they were based on. Sometimes it happens; Psycho is a good example. A solid piece of work by Robert Bloch, it was made into one of the greatest horror/suspense films ever. Joseph Stefano’s script was very faithful to the novel; yet the Hitchcock version is a masterpiece of the cinema. Bloch’s book is good, wickedly clever, and written in the kind of nut ‘n’ bolts style that often distinguished hard boiled crime thrillers. But Hitchcock brought such a degree of atmosphere to the story that it transformed everything…even though the script never deviated from the source work…

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