jenks

thread death
I'm reading a new fantasy thing called Mordew by Alex Pheby. Just read a review and thought it sounded good so I grabbed it.
The obvious comparison is Gormenghast, a weird and horrible gothic world with disgusting slums drowning in 'living mud' which randomly gives birth to deformed 'dead life' half creatures which die after a few minutes. Something really properly grimey about it which I really like, reminds me a little of Hard To Be A God in that respect, but at the same time it also somehow reminds me of the Narnia books, or at least how I remember them being after a lifetime of not reading them.
Read this last year as it was published by Galley Beggar and I really liked his book based on Lucia Joyce - very much outside of my genre zone. Not read something so plot heavy for a very long time. Kind of gripping and propulsive but also rather silly - at times felt more like YA fiction. I’ll be interested in volume 2 so I guess he’s done his job.
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
Read this last year as it was published by Galley Beggar and I really liked his book based on Lucia Joyce - very much outside of my genre zone. Not read something so plot heavy for a very long time. Kind of gripping and propulsive but also rather silly - at times felt more like YA fiction. I’ll be interested in volume 2 so I guess he’s done his job.
You are absolutely right there, at times it does put me in mind of a children's book - despite being a bit too nasty for that (or how I imagine a YA book should be, perhaps I am out of date with my feelings here). I simply didn't want to say that in my post describing it as I thought it would be perceived as a negative characteristic which might dissuade people from being interested... perhaps rightly so. Maybe if your protagonist is a child it's likely that the narrative will have some childish elements to it.. but no, there is more to it than that, it can't be denied.
Propulsive is a good word for it too; there is a story which is, I suppose one might say, a page turner - it moves quickly and, if not quite from one crisis to the next as in the way of those so desperate to grab your attention and afraid to let you stop and think that they end up sacrificing everything else for that aim*, it is not very very far from being one of those....
All that said, not too long ago I read Shadow of The Torturer by Gene Wolfe which is also a fantasy book, but one which is seemingly very highly regarded as something that transcends the genre cos it's filled with allegories and double meanings and so on; everything you read about that book specifically or Wolfe more generally is overflowing with praise for the complexity of his writing and plotting and the hidden meanings behind it and so on eg

"He was noted for his dense, allusive prose as well as the strong influence of his Catholic faith."

In 2003, award-winning science fiction author Michael Swanwick said: "Gene Wolfe is the greatest writer in the English language alive today. Let me repeat that: Gene Wolfe is the greatest writer in the English language alive today! I mean it. Shakespeare was a better stylist, Melville was more important to American letters, and Charles Dickens had a defter hand at creating characters. But among living writers, there is nobody who can even approach Gene Wolfe for brilliance of prose, clarity of thought, and depth in meaning."

O'Leary has said: "Forget 'Speculative Fiction.' Gene Wolfe is the best writer alive. Period. And as Wolfe once said, 'All novels are fantasies. Some are more honest about it.' No comparison. Nobody – I mean nobody – comes close to what this artist does.

Ursula K. Le Guin is frequently quoted on the jackets of Wolfe's books as having said "Wolfe is our Melville."

Now, all of that might be true I suppose, but when i read Shadow of the Torturer I was disappointed and surprised by the clunking inelegance of the - I was going to say plot but i don't think that that is really the right word for it - unfolding events, it really felt like a compendium of moments welded hastily and clumsily together with the joins still showing and with the aim of keeping the reader turning the page. No more or less than that.
Perhaps this was all ultimately in the service of big grown up concepts such as allegory but really, whatever it was for in the final analysis, to me it just felt like bad writing that lacked the imagination to let me guide myself through the book without the author's hand shoving me in the back, and which lacked the fluency and skill to fit it together naturally so that the seams and joins - even cracks - didn't show.
Huge digression there - sorry - but I wanted to mention Wolfe simply to contrast his attempt at a propulsive plot with that in Mordew - I felt quite strongly that, compared to the more famous attempt by the lavishly garlanded genius who is apparently the greatest living novelist (they're totally wrong on that - cos he's dead), the linear page-turning story line of Mordew was done with such a relative lightness of touch and refinement of style that they could almost be described as trying to do different things.
Also, let it be noted that I am highly surprised to learn that you have read this @jenks - and glad to hear your qualified approbation for it too.


*I always think of The 39 Steps as the perfect example here (the film not the book) - I don't know enough to say if it's true or not but i have read several times that it is considered the first "action film" in that it is the firs film which felt as though, rather than being "A gripping narrative adventure, livened up and made more exciting by a number of spectacular and dramatic action scenes" it would be better described as "A number of spectacular and dramatic action scenes tied together by a plot":
 
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IdleRich

IdleRich
Or, TLDR version - yes it does feel like a kid's book at times and yes it does depend on narrative which is something that all of us modern sophisticates grew out of long ago, however, if you are prepared to overlook those horrible failings you will discover that the plotting and writing are both far superior to those of highly feted author Gene Wolfe who is widely considered to have transcended the limitations of his genre.
 

wektor

Well-known member
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woops

is not like other people
red harvest by dashiell hammett. brilliant. proper hard-boiled degeneracy
personally i didn't like the dashiell hammett one i read. all i can remember is he was always drinking brandy to cut the phlegm. yes i know he really was a private dick but he's not a stylist like ross mcdonald or (obviously) raymond C. maybe i'll give him another go.
i just got a load of 4-novels-in-one-volumes by Jerome Charyn, Horace McCoy, Cornell Woolrich, looking forward to digging into those.
 

blockhead

Well-known member
personally i didn't like the dashiell hammett one i read. all i can remember is he was always drinking brandy to cut the phlegm. yes i know he really was a private dick but he's not a stylist like ross mcdonald or (obviously) raymond C. maybe i'll give him another go.
i just got a load of 4-novels-in-one-volumes by Jerome Charyn, Horace McCoy, Cornell Woolrich, looking forward to digging into those.
red harvest is his best imo. chandler tends to get swallowed by his own convoluted threads, marlowe was always a better character when adapted onscreen - prefer dorothy b. hughes.
 

woops

is not like other people
yesterday i found a book on the street called "Les mots du vin et de l'ivresse", which is a kind of dictionary of French words pertaining to drinking wine and getting drunk with an introduction. illustrated in the best style
 

catalog

Well-known member
I just finished Ashley blue's autobio a couple weeks ago. Pretty good. She did a lot of gak.

Stated up til 4 reading a really good comic last night, the hunting accident. Made me wanna get hold Dante's Divine Comedy, cos it's a big part of the story, gets staged in a prison.

Anyone read it? I like this extract

I9zGNUX.png

Tree branches described as spray, that's class.

Also got Suzane Simard's book about mother trees on the go, its a bit ploddy tho, just keeps repeating her insights over and over and going on about her frontier family. Bit repetitive.

Much better is Jenn Ashworth's "Notes made while falling", which I've had about the house fof ages but only now picked it up.

Sort of a record of descent into mental illness, but coupled with tight literary theory and memoir about growing up Mormon. Few levels. Like Maggie Nelson (who she mentions) but from Preston.

And then finally, I started John higgs Blake bio. It's actually pretty readable, he's breaking everything down in quite a straightforward way, particularly about Blake holding two contesting ideas in his head at once.

And I never knew about the apparent symbolism of the brain as God's cloud background in Michaelangelo's Sistine Chapel, as a sneak way of saying its all in yr head.

img.jpg
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
@catalog - that looks really cool - the flow of the poetry reminds me of Milton, something like that. And the art recalls Edward Gorey. Speaking of graphic novels, Junji Ito has a big new manga volume called Sensor that's coming out in English in a few weeks, which I think I'll have to get.

I've recently (finally! I really dragged my feet over it...) finished Gravity's Rainbow. Still can't quite make up my mind what I think about it, which I guess is kind of the point. It's an amazing work but perhaps the most frustrating book I've ever read. @version rates TCoL49 highly, so maybe I'll tackle that next.

I've dived back into this collection of travelogues by mediaeval Arab writers who journeyed into Central Asia and what's now Ukraine and Russia, Ibn Fadlan and the Land of Darkness. Most of the accounts are very matter-of-fact, as these guys from Baghdad or Damascus encounter various Khazars, Bulghars, Slavs, Vikings, etc. It's actually quite funny how often the narration goes from purely practical matters of social organization or how the economy works - slavery features very heavily, so you get a good idea of how many fox pelts an attractive Greek girl is worth, for example - to stuff like this:

fishes_ear.jpg
 

catalog

Well-known member
That ibn fadlan guy is the same one who is the main source material for the viking nerd that @william_kent told us about a while ago.

Post in thread 'Feats of Nerdiness' https://www.dissensus.com/index.php?threads/16346/post-563791

If youve not already watched those youtube lectures, I think you'll really dig em.

Likewise, Im gonna add this travelogue book of yours to my list.

GR... was just talking to someone in the pub about this the other day. He's read it several times.

Anyway, he pointed me in the direction of Phillip Best's PhD thesis on Pynchon, Burroughs, Ballard, says he explains it really well. Phillip Best as in Whitehouse etc.

I've had a flick through, spent more time on the Burroughs section, but he is pretty good on it all.

You might dig it:

PDF: http://etheses.dur.ac.uk/994/
 

jenks

thread death
I just finished Ashley blue's autobio a couple weeks ago. Pretty good. She did a lot of gak.

Stated up til 4 reading a really good comic last night, the hunting accident. Made me wanna get hold Dante's Divine Comedy, cos it's a big part of the story, gets staged in a prison.

Anyone read it? I like this extract

I9zGNUX.png

Tree branches described as spray, that's class.

Also got Suzane Simard's book about mother trees on the go, its a bit ploddy tho, just keeps repeating her insights over and over and going on about her frontier family. Bit repetitive.

Much better is Jenn Ashworth's "Notes made while falling", which I've had about the house fof ages but only now picked it up.

Sort of a record of descent into mental illness, but coupled with tight literary theory and memoir about growing up Mormon. Few levels. Like Maggie Nelson (who she mentions) but from Preston.

And then finally, I started John higgs Blake bio. It's actually pretty readable, he's breaking everything down in quite a straightforward way, particularly about Blake holding two contesting ideas in his head at once.

And I never knew about the apparent symbolism of the brain as God's cloud background in Michaelangelo's Sistine Chapel, as a sneak way of saying its all in yr head.

img.jpg
That passage reminded me of the suicides encased within trees in Dante - then I googled it to find Blake had done a series of illustrations- drawing two of your themes together. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wood_of_the_Self-Murderers:_The_Harpies_and_the_Suicides
 

catalog

Well-known member
Yeah i think its that exact passage, the whole extract is all Dante. In the comic, they adapt it as a puppet show, translating characters from Inferno into different prisoners, so the audience can relate.

Ive seen those blake drawings before, really like em. Examples of tree humans.

The higgs is pretty good for getting into blakes poetry which ive always found really inpenetrable.

Im gonna get hold of the divine comedy i think.
 
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