Wednesday, 15 January 2020
I had read one of the pieces contained within this book before; The Wanderer In Unknown Realms.John Connolly actually gave me a copy of this story himself, in a lovely wee ltd edition which is quite a treasure for me. I was lucky enough to spend some time in his company, with an old friend John Mc Mahon and John's other chum the writer Jeffrey Deaver. Actually very pleasant company despite the dark territory our conversations wandered through. There sometimes exists an inverse ratio between the talent of an artist and his social ease but in John Connolly one such talent mirrors the other. Affable, gregarious and as good a listener as a talker. Equally at home in a fancy resturant or in front of a camp fire, its an Irish storyteller tradition, I suppose. Talking for ones supper.
The story is expanded upon, part of a longer narrative.; The Fractured Atlas-Five Fragments. The terrible history of a terrible book. Anyone who comes into contact with this evil book finds themselves on the receiving end of a gruesome fate. Innocence is no buffer for the horrors that follow, with truly bad things happening to good people.
There are thirteen tales in all here. There are stories exploring arcane realms, pushing aside the thin veil that seperates us from them. The dark wilds are always closer than we could ever be comfortable with.
The Caxton Private Lending Library And Book Depository is a stand out tale for me, and the sequel, also contained in this volume. It felt to me as though MR James and Robert Aickman had collaborated on a modern tale for a Pan or a Fontana anthology , wanting to give something back to the genres that sustained them. Also the personal notes on his inspirations and creative insights which come at the tali end of the book; I Live Here. I found it pretty gripping stuff, almost conversational but hugely informative.
This is a wonderful anthology. Go on, make room for it on a book shelf near you.
Sunday, 12 January 2020
PJ Holden who illustrated two of the issues continues with this wee daft yarn.
He did a lovely job of the story within the story and I do enjoy the playful homeiness he brings to the page. Its not a superhero yarn and no one gets punched in the face, although some one does get swatted.
There is so much to like in this film. Its a nightmare to be sure, a pleasing terror in truth. Like a terrible dream you feel trapped in, awaiting exhausted and sweaty from that dream to fall deeper into another. The opening sequence in the boneyard proves itself a dream sequence and the soaring melancholy of the soundtrack draws you into a world where i was sure Geppetto sat behind a passing gable walk chiseling a son from wood, praying for the touch of the blue Fairy. Some of the haunting qualities of that soundtrack will stay with you long after you have seen the film, possibly even married to the singular vision of its director.
Bram stokers estate would not give permission to film his novel so FW Murnau, a German film maker, not wishing to abandon the project, was forced to adapt the original text as best he could, introducing Max Schrek as the Count , producing a silent expressionist nightmare that has dazzled and inspired generations. This is a vision from an other century that transcends the ages which over the years has risen above the muddled creative beginnings to become something of a defining artistic triumph in its own right. That Werner Herzog wanted to remain faithful to that original vision is not surprising to me, yet he introduces a few tweaks of his own and makes much of his freedom to wrap it in as haunting a sound-scape as the original possessed such visual flair but had to remain silent.
Its sad, haunting and timeless. A testament to all involved, in death as much as in life.
Thursday, 9 January 2020
Tuesday, 7 January 2020
Sunday, 5 January 2020
"Are you bloody singing Christmas songs in the middle of July?" one of them once asked me. It is because Prokofiev' music touches people on that level, well I believe so anyway. Something other, something magical, something better. I was a big Bowie enthusiast growing up and it took me forver to find this album. I found it hanging on a peg on a stall in a hilltop market in Armagh, which was basically a table covered in illegal bootleg movies (Dreadful, they all looked like they were recorded on cellotape by a cameraman experiencing the horrors of drink.) and batteries. I was astonished to see it swaying gently in the hilltop breeze. Staring at it I felt like William Blake seeing angels dancing in the branches of summer tree leaves.
I still treasure it.
Much like the occasional Blakean vision.