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Literature's posts - English uPOST

Setsuled Setsuled Jul 14, 2019.

Building Against Death

Building Against Death

I looked at the news around the time I awoke at 4am yesterday and then not again until late in the afternoon. During that time, one of the things I was doing was reading Dracula again, and, has it often does when I re-read that book, the incredible amount of death impressed me. There’s so much of it that’s typically omitted from film productions, probably because it seems redundant. I was...

Setsuled Setsuled Jul 12, 2019.

Ghosts and Fossils

Ghosts and Fossils

Here are some fossils I saw in a science building at San Diego State University to-day. A Phorusrhacos skull and a little Archaeopteryx. Along with the strange feeling of seeing physical evidence of a creature long extinct, seeing fossils up close makes me think about how incredible it is that these things exist at all, imagining these shapes in soil and stone over such a long, long period....

Setsuled Setsuled Jul 12, 2019.

A Cold Resonance

A Cold Resonance

I just bought a bag of dried kelp, it occurred to me afterwards I could have gone to the beach and just gotten armloads of the stuff for free. Though from what I read now, getting it to an edible state does sound kind of time consuming.

It seems like I'm eating either Irish or Japanese meals lately. Last night I had boxty and watched The Quiet Man, the night before I watched Tokyo Story again...

Setsuled Setsuled Jul 12, 2019.

A Lady's Distorted Glass Continues to Disseminate

A Lady's Distorted Glass Continues to Disseminate

I’d been in the mood for some good fantasy fiction lately and rarely have one of my wishes been granted more efficiently and effectively than when I read the new Sirenia Digest last night. “Which Describes a Looking-Glass and the Broken Fragments”, the new story by Caitlin R. Kiernan contained in the Digest, takes its name from the first segment of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen”....

Setsuled Setsuled Jul 10, 2019.

The Unprotected Dream Lands

The Unprotected Dream Lands

Wikipedia quotes H.P. Lovecraft, about his Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, as worrying that “Randolph Carter’s adventures may have reached the point of palling on the reader; or that the very plethora of weird imagery may have destroyed the power of any one image to produce the desired impression of strangeness.” Though virtually all of Lovecraft’s fiction implies a strange, hostile universe...

Setsuled Setsuled Jul 10, 2019.

All About Eve

All About Eve

God is great, Eve is beautiful but unintelligent, Adam is a paragon of integrity, Satan is the epitome of evil. Whether or not any of these things are true in Paradise Lost, they are ideas presented by characters in the works to be taken as true or as believed by those characters. So the fundamental conflict is a conflict of perception. Eve might be vain but so is everyone else. As the quote...

Setsuled Setsuled Jul 06, 2019.

Echoes and Arachnids

Echoes and Arachnids

Last night I read “BALLAD OF A CATAMITE REVOLVER”, the new story by Caitlin R. Kiernan in the latest Sirenia Digest. It’s a very nice cyberpunk noir vignette. A first person narrative told from the point of view of some kind of gangster making a trade with a glamorous, deadly woman during a, to say the least, experimental stage version of Echo and Narcissus, the story features Caitlin’s...

Setsuled Setsuled Jul 05, 2019.

Contrasting Elements and Shadows Between

Contrasting Elements and Shadows
Between

As I noted before, Caitlin R. Kiernan’s stories for her Sirenia Digest have frequently featured nightmarish, purgatorial dialogues between two people, one or both compulsively seeking answers from the other but rarely or never being satisfied. That’s true of this month’s issue but the new story, “Iodine & Iron”, is unusual in the warmth of its descriptions.

The two characters are described as...

Setsuled Setsuled Jul 05, 2019.

For Trees are Not Dead Things

For Trees are Not Dead Things

I read the new Sirenia Digest this morning which contains an excellent new story from Caitlin R. Kiernan, “Metamorphosis C”. In her prolegomenon, she discusses how it’s a follow-up to “A” and “B” from 2006 but I found myself thinking of it as a followup to last month’s exceptional story in the Digest, “Which Describes a Looking-Glass and the Broken Fragments”. Both beautifully construct a...

Setsuled Setsuled Jul 03, 2019.

A Strangely Familiar Bull

A Strangely Familiar Bull

I decided to spend all day working on my comic to-day so I got an audio book to listen to, William Hurt reading Ernest Hemingway’s 1926 novel The Sun Also Rises. I thought I’d never read it but what started as deja vu became a definite feeling that I’d read the book before. I have no memory of when or why but I definitely knew the book. It’s not bad, anyway I like the narrative structure. I...

Setsuled Setsuled Jul 01, 2019.

Gloomy and Morose and Dreary, the Black and Dark and Sable Armour and Protective Metal Covering was Sinister and the Women Swooned

Gloomy and Morose and Dreary, the Black
and Dark and Sable Armour and Protective Metal Covering was Sinister
and the Women Swooned

So you have a “howling tempest”. But is it dismal? Yes, says the first line of The Animated Skeleton, a 1798 novel by an anonymous author. In fact, “Dismally was the tempest howling round the cottage of Jacquemar.” What the story lacks in character development or restraint, it makes up for in sheer abundance of adjectives and adverbs. Not considered a great work of fiction by any means, I...

Setsuled Setsuled Jun 29, 2019.

The Baubles and Dreams

The Baubles and Dreams

Shadows aren’t tangible and neither is time and yet both have been a subject of preoccupation for humanity. In Shirley Jackson’s 1958 novel The Sundial, members of a wealthy family and their close associates find themselves obsessed with validation through the intangible and the abstract even as these things give the characters warning of a very concrete apocalypse. It’s a terrifically funny...

Setsuled Setsuled Jun 08, 2019.

Wolves Who Pass Cars in the Storm

Wolves Who Pass Cars in the Storm

The new Sirenia Digest this month has an exceptionally good story from Caitlin R. Kiernan called “Virginia Story.” Featuring two characters on a long, lonely night drive in the rain, it works like an old fashioned ghost story while also reminding me a bit of the film noir called Detour and Caitlin’s own The Drowning Girl.

A literature professor named Meg is driving home to New York from...

Setsuled Setsuled May 21, 2019.

Dialogues of Recognition

Dialogues of Recognition

Yesterday I read the lovely new Sirenia Digest which once again features the lovely art of Virgil Finlay, in this case two pieces. Caitlin R. Kiernan’s new story included in the Digest, “THE TAMENESS OF WOLVES”, is another dialogue like last month’s, told in second person in which the reader is put in the position of the narrator’s lover. This lover, the narrator’s “shadow’s shadow”, appears...

Setsuled Setsuled May 18, 2019.

Pin Pricks and Dangerous Weather

Pin Pricks and Dangerous Weather

There’s a dialogue between two women, one perhaps a predator, the other a victim, and some of the dialogue takes the form of vivid, frightening dreams. It’s a good new Caitlin R. Kiernan story in the new Sirenia Digest that came out a few days ago called “The Line Between the Devil’s Teeth”.

Caitlin’s stories in her Digest often take the form of dialogues between characters and they often...

Setsuled Setsuled May 11, 2019.

The Boxes of Our Lives and Deaths

The Boxes of Our Lives and Deaths

Anyone who’s read Robert Lewis Stevenson’s best known novels, Treasure Island and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, would have nothing to prepare them for The Wrong Box. Co-written by his stepson, Lloyd Osbourne, and published in 1889, The Wrong Box is as different from Stevenson’s best known two works as those two works are from each other, eschewing scientific horror and pirate adventure for a comedy...

Setsuled Setsuled Mar 04, 2019. 1 comments

The Road, the Sea, and the Psychiatrist

The Road, the Sea, and the Psychiatrist

Lovers of sinister, dreamlike, supernatural tales will enjoy this month’s new Sirenia Digest in which Caitlin R. Kiernan has included some extra scenes from her upcoming novella, The Tindalos Asset. This novella will be the third in her series for Tor, the first two being Agents of Dreamland and Black Helicopters. Both novellas are intriguing sensory explorations, sort of Expressionist...

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Setsuled Setsuled Feb 14, 2019.

By March or Train, by Word or Thought

By March or Train, by Word or Thought

Choosing a life of unyielding virtue may seem only a matter of choice and dedication, particularly to the young. But as George Eliot demonstrates in her great, 1871 novel Middlemarch, the difficulties involved in such an endeavour entail more than self-denial and resolve. The difficulties consist in shifting goal posts, the nature of virtue as its defined in one’s own mind contrasted with its...

Setsuled Setsuled Jan 04, 2019. 1 comments

Books and Stories, Read and Read

Books and Stories, Read and Read

On Sunday I read the new Sirenia Digest which contained an exceptionally beautiful story from Caitlin R. Kiernan, a story she wrote in 2009 for an anthology in tribute to Robert Silverberg and his novella Nightwings. I’ve never read Silverberg but if his work is anything like “The Jetsam of Disremembered Mechanics”, Caitlin’s story, I’d very much like to. Set apparently in a distant future...

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Setsuled Setsuled Dec 06, 2018.

A King and a Beggar

A King and a Beggar

An adventure film starring Errol Flynn, Claude Rains, and Alan Hale with a score by Erich Wolfgang Korngold can’t fail to be good. But 1937's The Prince and the Pauper isn’t as good as it could’ve been, and many of the choices made to adapt Mark Twain’s novel are hard to understand. Two of the most emotionally effective moments from the novel are absent from the film and changes are made to...

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