between 4 and 5, rounded up. This book is one I really didn't appreciate fully until stepping away from it for a while. There is a longer version at mbetween 4 and 5, rounded up. This book is one I really didn't appreciate fully until stepping away from it for a while. There is a longer version at my online reading journal; or if you just want the "what did I think" thing, here you are:
There are nine stories in this bizarre but really, really good anthology, and from the moment it opens with a big bang in his "Vernichtungsschmerz" until the final page of "It's Not Feelings of Anxiety; It's One Constant Feeling: Anxiety," the book is simply unputdownable. Actually, if he'd given the name of the last story to this collection, it wouldn't be far off the mark -- this book is just loaded with anxieties of all sorts, and while not quite as dark, there's a general feel (at least to me) of some of Ligotti's work running underneath these stories. Then again, the story about the goodreads reviewer "Soon Enough This Will Essentially Be a True Story" had enough of a funny, snarky, sarcastic edge that just made me laugh. I'm not one to generally think serial killer stories are laughable, but the main character reminds me of so many people on goodreads and on other social media as well who produce an out and out eye roll when I see their posts -- and the author caught that vibe spot on. Well, that and the book titles ...
I'm not going to go into each and every story here -- many people writing online have done that, but this book is most definitely something readers should experience for themselves. I will say that the beauty of this collection is in the author's ability to take mundane, normal situations and twist them so that by the time I was not even midway through each one, I started getting those stomach knots that for me tend to signal some sort of impending doom on the horizon.
I defy anyone to come away from this book without even a slight frisson of horror or creepiness running up his or her spine; like the very best modern dark fiction/horror/weird fiction authors out there, Hamantaschen has a way of commenting on our societal anxieties and fears without having to spell it out or get in one's face about it. The thing is, a reader won't clue into just how uneasy this author makes him/her feel until that twisty but personal moment in every story that resonates with having been there, seen that -- and that's seriously how it should be, in my opinion.
Oh yeah. I'm definitely passing on my recommendation to anyone who will listen. ...more
I received this book but I am not at all interested in reading it -- not my thing. If anyone wants it (and you live in the US), please take it. Free,I received this book but I am not at all interested in reading it -- not my thing. If anyone wants it (and you live in the US), please take it. Free, I pay postage. Signed edition.
Please be generous during the holidays and give my book a good home where it's wanted.
In a rare perfect storm, Book Passage, Indiespensable, and Politics and Prose Bookstore are featuring the same book for their first-editions clubs. SoIn a rare perfect storm, Book Passage, Indiespensable, and Politics and Prose Bookstore are featuring the same book for their first-editions clubs. So now I'm going to end up with three, count them three copies. I have one to give away right now so if you live in the US, please take it. I certainly don't need more than one. I may not get it mailed to you for a week or so, but you can stake your claim. Free -- I pay postage....more
This book was so much fun to read and it hit all of my classic mystery reading buttons -- an isolated family home, a murderer on the prowl and all ofThis book was so much fun to read and it hit all of my classic mystery reading buttons -- an isolated family home, a murderer on the prowl and all of it set against the proverbial dark and stormy night, complete with banging shutters and an elderly bedridden woman predicting doom and gloom. How could it possibly be any better??? Having said that, I don't think it's a 5-star read but I definitely had a great time with it. In fact, just thinking about it right now makes me want to do that evil villain laugh, the "muah-hah-hah-hah-hah" reminiscent of the old Shadow radio show opening because this is just that type of book. And while I thought it was clever and well paced, with ratcheting tension that continues throughout the night making me flip pages in a frenzy, I see that some readers weren't so crazy about it. Well, it sort of goes with Ethel Lina White territory that there are a lot of psychological observations from the characters in her work, so here the talky parts didn't bother me at all. Personally, I think the dynamics among the characters are just as much a part of this story as the mystery, so I quite enjoyed it.
There's more, of course, at my reading journal . On the whole -- not great literature, but definitely a fun read, one right up my old-school mystery-reading alley. ...more
2 things: 1) this isbn (9781910124703) is for the UK version which I picked up at Book Depository. The hardcover edition is not yet available in the U2 things: 1) this isbn (9781910124703) is for the UK version which I picked up at Book Depository. The hardcover edition is not yet available in the US, but never fear -- there is an e-book available for anyone who wants to read this book.
2) I have to thank Keara at Sandstone who commented on a post I made about Tey's The Franchise Affair, asking me if I'd be interested in reading this book. At the time I said no because frankly I detest e-books, so I bought my copy. But without her, I may have not known for some time that this book even existed. So, thanks, Keara!!
I have posted about this book at my online reading journal, so if you want the whole enchilada written strictly from the pov of an avid Tey fan, click on this link.
otherwise, here's the gist:
As writer Val McDermid notes about Tey in her introduction to this book,
"Biographical information has always been scant, mostly because that's the way this most private of authors wanted it. The brief details on her book jackets reveal that Tey was born Elizabeth MacKintosh and that she also enjoyed success under another pseudonym -- Gordon Daviot, author of the West End hit Richard of Bordeaux, the springboard that launched John Gielgud to stardom.
Sometimes they mention that she was a native of Inverness who lived most of her life there. But until now, Josephine Tey was herself the greatest mystery at the heart of her fiction." (xviii)
Well, that's all changed now with the publication of Jennifer Morag Henderson's Josephine Tey: A Life. Henderson has done an invaluable service to Tey fans everywhere through her meticulous research: as McDermid reveals, Henderson has been through Tey's family papers, as well as material that's never been published before to produce this simply amazing biography that
"gives us the chance to understand what shaped Beth MacKintosh into the writer she became." (xix)
As the author explains, the book "aims to present the story of Beth's life -- of her many different lives..." and to set her "full body of work" in terms of Tey's life and within "the context of the literary canon." It seems to me that Ms. Henderson has most deftly and most thoroughly accomplished what she set out to do here. Tey was not just an amazing novelist (as most readers of her work like myself consider her), but also a well-established, well-respected playwright whose performances featured such actors as John Gielgud; she was also a screenwriter (which I did not know), a devoted daughter who helped take care of the family business and then her father and their home when he became very ill, and through it all, she continuously shunned the limelight, preferring her private life over her public one.
Sterling, superb, and all manner of superlatives -- this book is a must-read for anyone even remotely interested in Josephine Tey. She is one of my all-time favorite mystery novelists, but as Henderson illustrates here, her career and her life go well beyond just that of a few books. Definitely and most highly recommended. ...more
The back cover blurb of this book says that Mercer
"channeled his antiquarian interests and his love of GothI really liked this one. I liked it a LOT.
The back cover blurb of this book says that Mercer
"channeled his antiquarian interests and his love of Gothic literature into November Night Tales (1928), a volume of highly imaginative weird tales in the mode of M.R. James."
I went into the book as I normally do, without expectations, but it wasn't too long into the first story, "Castle Valley," when I started thinking "I've read something like this before." Sorting through all of the clutter in my head, I realized that in its own way, "Castle Valley" sort of reminded me of James' "View From a Hill." In James' story, an archaeologist gets a view of the past with the help of some rather sinister binoculars; here, a painter and his friend discover a scrying stone that does much the same. But this doesn't mean that November Night Tales is a James ripoff -- au contraire -- it is quite an original collection of stories that should be read and appreciated on its own merit. This book gathers together many facets of Mercer's personal interests: the natural landscape, local legends, mythology, and above all, castles. As the introduction notes,
"Indeed, to Mercer, the very presence of a castle suggested an almost infinite number of possibilities. 'Castles, Castles, Castles -- Where do their stories begin or end?"
As happens often with James (especially in his Antiquary stories), Mercer's characters tend to find themselves in the position of coming across something they probably shouldn't be messing with, but are all the same compelled to explore further in hopes of some sort of satisfactory, rational answer. In the process, these people end up discovering that there are often things that exist well beyond their understanding, but they also tend to realize something about themselves as well.
The table of contents is as follows (I won't go into each story here, since it's best to discover Mercer on one's own):
"Castle Valley" "The North Ferry Bridge" "The Blackbirds" "The Wolf Book" "The Dolls' Castle" "The Sunken City" "The Well of Monte Corbo"
I will say that while I thought all of the stories in this book were quite good, I found three I enjoyed just a bit more than the others. There's "The Dolls' Castle," a great gothic haunted-house sort of story that was just downright creepy, as was "The Wolf Book," which starts in an old monastery in the Carpathians. I don't know about anyone else, but the combination of old text, monastery and the Carpathians is a definite draw for me, a scenario I can't resist; there were other very cool historical bits in this story as well as a look at how local legends and myths can transform a community. "The North Ferry Bridge" was also quite fun, with a little dark, pulpy creeposity in the telling which was a definite plus for me; added to that aspect, I also got the horrific tale of an escaped madman, another story type that I can't not read. While these three elevated my heart rate for a while, all of the stories in November Night Tales were definitely "highly imaginative" and "weird," as promised. Then, of course, comes the added bonus of finding a previously-unknown (to me) author and reading his work ...
While the stories may not exactly scare the pants off of readers, they are highly intelligent, well written and they set the brain into high gear while reading them. These are dark tales for thinking people who don't need everything spelled out for them and frankly, they're just plain fun.
As always Valancourt, thanks for bringing the obscure back into the light. ...more