Laconic and dry. That’s probably the write-up you’ve got in mind for Shots, songwriter Don Walker’s first book. And you’re probably not all that far wrong. But that reductionism is a disservice: The book is dry, with one economical eye on the door, but there’s a lot more going on.
The book is an autobiography, more or less, but it’s not a lot like that of his on-again off-again bandmate Tex Perkins, say. It’s a collection of images gathered together under the names of places that exist, or are a state of mind – Home, Carr’s Creek, Kings Cross, The Road, Paris and so on – but they flit, moment to moment. (more…)
This book serves as a re-translation of an early Icelandic translation of Bram Stoker’s bitey classic, Dracula. The Icelandic version of the Count’s tale dropped in 1900, only two years after the first translation (into Hungarian), and is notable because there’s evidence – lovingly detailed in forewords, afterwords and footnotes – that Stoker was in touch with the Icelandic translator of the work, Valdimar Ásmundsson, founder of the newspaper Fjallkonan, providing information from draft versions of the English text to work with. (more…)
A great example of a book that does exactly what you’d expect, Soviet Bus Stops is the outcome of years spent travelling through the former Soviet Union by Canadian photographer Christopher Herwig. (more…)
You know, the brick. The thing. The book. The enormous tome. The encyclopaedic novel of encyclopaedic novels. The objet d’enthousiasme I’ve been lugging across the world since 1999, a brick-sized chunk of narrative excess that I’d promised my then-partner – a DFW army footsoldier for life – that I would read, such was their enthusiasm for the wordy luggage-filler.
So, this is Gerald Murnane’s final book. Depending on how well you sit with his writing style, you may well find that cause for celebration. I’m not that critical, but I must admit that Murnane is an author whose work requires reading at the appropriate time. And while I didn’t hate Border Districts, I didn’t particularly love it, either. (more…)
Vathek is another one of those books I probably should’ve read during a uni literature course but never did. It’s one of those novels that was written as the Gothic style of fiction took off, but it’s not as easy to set it next to a Frankenstein, say. For starters, it’s been shelved in the Orientalism section for years, even though its author knew more of the world of Islam than other fabulists of the time.
It’s also a work that doesn’t really know what it wants to be. There’s a love story in there, some intentional riffing on Paradise Lost and The Divine Comedy, some big-noting about travellers’ arcana, a stab at voluptuous prose and some sheer fucking oddity, held together with minarets and eunuchs. (more…)
So, here’s something I picked up in an ebook bundle. And conveniently, it turns out to be one of the more enjoyable comic series I’ve dipped my toe into.
(It probably helps that I was a bit of a fan of Vaughan’s Y: The Last Man series, though.)
The setup is pretty easy: it’s a space opera. So it features rocket-ships (albeit ones made out of wood, on occasion), and plenty of pew pew action. There’s TV-headed robot royalty. One-eyed interspecies erotica authors. Sex planets. Freelance assassins. And an interspecies baby that’s not supposed to be – folk with wings don’t get it on with dudes with horns, at least they’re not supposed to. Oh, and there’s magic and spirits and talking cats that know when you’re lying, too.
I guess Lying Cat is like every other cat in the universe, then.
Rex Warner is these days more known for his translation of Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War than for his fiction. But it’s still worth reading his 1941 work The Aerodrome – one of ten he wrote – because though it’s flawed, it contains an odd power. (more…)
This is the third of Kerr’s books I’ve read. The first, I found vital, the second not so much. So this sits neatly in the middle, for me. Where it departs from the first two books, though, is in its level of personality: in Another Kyoto I think the reader receives much more of a sense of the author as a person. (more…)
I recently read Vanessa Berry’s Strawberry Hills Forever (reviewed here) while I waited for this work, Mirror Sydney, to be published. This most recent work surpasses the former, and scratches a psychogeographic itch – think Ackroyd or Sinclair – that I hadn’t realised I had. (more…)