i do know jim btw. he's an old friend of mine. he knew i was being silly.
It absolutely sounds like Aickman.
To give him his credit, there are numerous instances where he suggested that the ambiguities of a ghost story, the unanswered nagging demi-questions, are one of the points of writing about—or around—what we call 'the supernatural'. He dabbled in ghost and supernatural societies too - so there is something in this in the sense of his valuing vague possibilities over reduced and flat explanations.
have you ever read Jim Thompson,Idle? more than one of his stories end on a note that's not even so much ambiguous as just left on a note that's so strange and singular that it had me saying "WHAT?" out loud by the end of itI reckon it as Aitken. I don't know this guy at all well but my impression of him was that it's the sort of thing he might well like. In fact, the circumstances of our meeting was on this "Machen walk" in East/Central Londonn which was kinda like a Ripper Tour relating to the Welsh Lovecraft instead of the Royal Sex Murderer - pointing out a bench where he used to sit and write or a corner where he used to hang out with homeless people or whatever.
I'm not sure I said this very well yesterday but what I was thinking is that, most likely, I would imagine most of the people here would view an Agatha Christie style ending in which everything is perfectly explained and every loose end neatly tucked away as overly simplistic - something we might expect as a child, but which, maybe by adulthood we've grown out of. We recognise that life isn't like that and we expect literature to reflect that.
But actually, I think that there is room for all types. Stories that finish neatly tied up, or with some ambiguity, or even with so much ambiguity we barely know if something happened, never mind what - these are all simply different options in the story teller's toolbox. Between them they create variety - and let's face it, if we know every time we embark on a story, that the ending will inevitably never provide all the answers, then that in itself becomes a kind of rigid predictability. Imagine how surprised you would be if, in an anthology of Robert Aitken, one of his stories unexpectly finished with a detailed explanaton of every single little event that had happened and how it bore on what happened later and so on - that would surely shock the reader far more than any subtly implied hint of supernatural events creepily impinging on our daily grind.
Have read... "no" - but I am holidng one of his in my hand right now and I have a few pages of it, so soon I will be able to answer in the affirmative.have you ever read Jim Thompson,Idle? more than one of his stories end on a note that's not even so much ambiguous as just left on a note that's so strange and singular that it had me saying "WHAT?" out loud by the end of it
If you ever saw Fellini's Satyricon, I believe that part of the reason that it's so hard to follow - in that, they will be in one place doing one thing, and then suddenly they are in a completely different scene - is that he adapted it from a work which survived only in fragments and he chose to adapt the fragments including the gaps. A different way to arrive at a similar result I suppose.it's good to read a story that just leaves things out like that i think this is just another example of "spoiler culture" raring its ugly head where the effects and power a story has gets reduced down to either being a series of twists or details revealed that for some reason is thought to "ruin" the story even if its just character background stuff.
but at the same time there's this thing i've noticed with some folk where its like if you don't say it outright everytime you might aswell not be saying anything, makes me think of how decades ago when people would still want to talk Tupac v Biggie, one of the critiques lobbed at Big was that he was a gifted technical but there was "no depth" to anything he rapped about just boiled down to robbing people or materialism when compared to Tupac who for better and for worse wore his politics on his sleeves.
I read some of M. John Harrison's short stories a while back and was struck by him leaving things out.
You'd get dumped into the middle of something, follow it for a bit then get chucked out again with no real resolution or explanation as to what had just happened.
Reminds me of this guy I used to know who did this thing where he would say "can you smell onions?" and then you would most likely sniff a bit and say "no" and then he would say "What, even if you hold them right up by your nose?" - it was very disconcerting and sinister.There is a classic anecdote of Aickman being asked, on a boating holiday of course, if it would rain. He pauses, for too long, and slowly turns to the person that posed this anodyne excuse for conversation, and looks them in eye and says. 'Yes.' It will always rain - but when?
Yeah, that's the one I read - loved it. Felt it was all middle, no beginning and no end. You'd just get fragments of a process or situation, like seeing a ghost and just having to deal with it. You've been shown something and that's all you can really say, that something's happened.I think that's a wonderful aspect of M. John Harrison's stories, especially in You Should Come With Me Now.
"I thought we might end this delightful evening in my den; my study, you know. It's much warmer and cosier. I don't usually show it to visitors. I like to keep somewhere private. for work, you know. But you are no ordinary visitors. I've just looked in and there's even a fire burning." This last slightly odd remark was not to Margaret made less odd by the way it was spoken; as if the speaker had prepared in advance a triviality too slight to sustain preparation convincingly.
Suddenly, looking at Mimi sprawling in her trousers and tight high-necked sweater, Margaret saw the point, clearer than in any book: Mimi was physically attractive; she herself in all probability was not. And nothing else in all life, in all the world, really counted. Nothing, nothing. Being cleverer on the whole (as she thought) kinder; more refined; the daughter of a Lord: such things were the dust beneath Mimi's chariot wheels, items in the list of life's innumerable unwantable impedimenta.
The room seemed to be filling with colourless light. Though even now this light was extremely dim, the process of its first appearance and increase seemed to have been going on for a very long time. As she realised this, another part of Margaret's mind remembered that it could none the less have been only a matter of minutes. She struggled to make consistent the consciousness of the nearly endless with the consciousness of the precisely brief. The light seemed, moreover, the exact visual counterpart of the noise she had heard made by the new train.
Isn't there another story where a guy has to stay overnight in an abandoned old station near the new one cos he misses a train or something? Wonder if it's supposed to be the same one...I read "The Trains" in a few sittings, finished this morning. Really good, will be checking Story is a couple of girls out hiking and they get stuck in bad weather, take refuge in an old station house, bad vibes.