I know what you’ve always wanted: a version of Dracula with cars in it, set in Istanbul. And where the head vein-drainer is a military coward instead of a great warlord. And where there’s lots of reference to God, and the steadfast nature of a good Turkish gent is the highest achievement one can have.
So it seems I’m on another Gothic Lit jag. And where better to continue with the granddaddy of fanged fiction: Dracula?
You know this novel, though, right? It’s pretty much the ur-text for how we conceive of vampires, and throws a long shadow. (Though not, presumably, in a mirror.) It’s overwritten and can flip between boredom and action in a moment. I always find it a drag to read until about halfway – I am almost always of a mind to give it away – but then it snaps back in and I’m pulled through to the end.
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.
Dave Graney is someone who I’ve never understood. But then, I suspect that’s exactly how he likes it.
See, when I first came to hear him – circa Night of the Wolverine – it was just before he blew up into an ARIA-winnin’ pink-suit effigy. I didn’t get the trip: it was a bit too arch for me, who was very meat-and-spuds rock. But over the years I’ve come ’round to what’s on offer – the range of moves and the dedication the man and his machine have towards making their particular kind of music. (I mean fuck, he’s still at it, and still good at it, which is more than can be said for some outta the same starting-blocks.) (more…)
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.
So it’s coming up to the holidays so I thought to myself what better time to check out the first English supernatural novel, progenitor of the Gothic genre and on-point guide to decorating your home with revenge-themed supernatural armour? And so I reached for Horace Walpole’s 1764 banger.
Basically, everything you know about the Gothic mode – weird religious symbolism, perverse family intertwinings, twisted tunnels, ghosts kicking arse from beyond death, the horror of landscape and the terror of the built environment – is in here. (more…)