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Finished Pogue Mahone after Covid put a dampener down, few spoilers

There haven’t been many books where, after reading the final line, you place the book down and think wtf was that? Its lingering presence of Una Fogerty, a donkey with hooves stuck in buckets, Lady Ocean, jfc what a character. V v v v v

The exact role of the gruagach - is it autonomous and a physical presence or a subconscious manipulation? Lord Offaly of Down’s end, intercut with humour eg the ghost hunter and caretaker Alex Gordon’s repeating line “look at the bristols on that”. Or Mike Yarwood

My favourite lines are Brendan Behan’s’ “cough softening blue jaysus of a walloping“ and Alex Gordon as a kid in the sports shop. He’s picked up a cricket bat or something and then he sees a bright pink shape bobbing in the air back and forth (phallic undertones) where it stays forever in the back of his mind, “just waving”. Killer

Dan Fogerty, I stopped caring that no-one ever saw or spoke to him but his shapeshifter qualities are rendered even more troubling by his wee birdies, or presencing as a blackbird, or the more sinister presencing like the old lady, grasshoppers behind vents and ploc, ploc, ploc

If it had a linearly driven temporal plot, it wouldn’t work. Instead its cyclical rounds have each aspect building on or expanding upon a character or plot which further cranks up the tension. So, you get the first few deaths but they’re elaborated and extrapolated until a greater totality of events exist. It never lets up, eg Troy Mclory’s fate. Best book I’ve read in years
So glad you like it. I think about it quite often a month or so after finishing it. Even started listening to early King Crimson! For someone with Irish relatives in London whom I used to visit in the 70s it was particularly evocative.
I don’t think it matters what Dan is, I do think it’s an ambitious and brilliant way to deal with dementia, the weight of memory, loss, guilt…
The voice, its cadences, verbal tics and rhythms are totally believable.
If you get a chance see me f you can hear McCabe read it himself, it’s a fucking tour de force.


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Keep meaning to have a proper go Vargas Llosa,

I'm about halfway through Death in the Andes and it's pretty good. Some of the prose is a bit clunky - might be him, might be the translation - and there's some stuff in there that hasn't aged well, but I'm intrigued.

A bunch of people go missing in the Andes and a couple of military guys stationed there are trying to get to the bottom of it in the midst of everyone shitting themselves over Shining Path and rumours of some sort of folkloric Peruvian vampire sort of thing knocking about that feeds on human fat.


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man without qualities
I read the first volume last year and put the second volume down after a couple of hundred pages earlier in the year. I’ll expect I’ll get through the final 600 or more pages eventually.


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I've been grabbed by McCabe's Butcher Boy. I've a horrible feeling about this book. Very powerful and effective. Wow.

Before that I read Pour Me by A. A. Gill. He's frustrating and fickle. At times he's laddish and a bore, and smug and pretentious and tries far too hard. He admits to priggishness. Women he doesn't fancy are either 'frightfully' clever or fat, it seems. He's also enamoured with class and tradition, not without some perspective - but certainly without a fair dose of criticality. This book is 'of its time' to put it mildly. But he can offer a wonderful turn of phrase or insight too, and the chapter that focusses on food, memory and his lost brother is very powerful and full of humility. The best part is on p.140 - his address to dyslexic school children (Gill was severely dyslexic and dictated almost all his work). It's an ode to how wonderful the English language is, that no one owns or polices it, that no one can tell 'you' you speak incorrectly or that your grammar is wrong. The dictionary just plays catch up with the English language. It's an anti-education speech to some degree, it's a wonderful page of text, by a man damaged not by dyslexia but by those with 'small, clogged and clotted minds' that tell others they are wrong.

"Dictionaries don’t police language, they chase along behind it. Grammar is whatever suits your design and need…it wasn’t made by a committee or a common room or a club, it was built by people like us, millions of them, not in classrooms or halls or palaces or churches, but in streets and fields, in trenches, at sea, in forests and tundras, in jungles and on top of mountains. In shops and stinking laboratories, in barracks and hovels and tents and gibbets and styles, in ditches and over garden walls, in cradles and in dreams. It is the only true, wholly democratic free and limitless thing we all own, it is yours." - p.140​

I mention this only partially for the sentiment, but more for the obvious that Gill was an orator, a man of one-liners, a man that could verbalise his thoughts for a living (he had a stammer as a child). From Dickens, to McCabe to Erskine the verbal aspect or force or approach behind a text keeps cropping up here.


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Just finished The Anomaly by Hervé Le Tellier - really recommend it as one for all of the Ouli[po fans ( @IdleRich among others ) - both entertaining and very clever, literally a literature of potentialities - i don't really want to give any spoiler alerts but a letter in the lrb this week said nearly all reviews and the blurb reveal an important plot point. I am one of those who likes to be kept in the dark and if i know i'm going to read a new book i won't read a review. My wife, on the other hand, will read the final page of a book at the start and regularly flicks forward to see if characters are still alive.


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And the new David Keenan Industry of Light and Magic- it is as if he is working in his on multiverse now - totally and utterly in his own world combining pop culture and visionary mysticism, the only person i can think of doing something similar os Alan Moore - creating his own mythos. It can lead to some pretty ripe language and a few missteps but i love the fact that in this age of po faced, self reflexive, ironised everything that he is sincerely following this individual path. I wish more writers were willing to be like him


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Been doing a bit more digging and Jarett kobek has a website where he's posted links up to all the el Ray zines

@catalog you should have a read of this article, "Has The Zodiac Killer Mystery Been Solved (Again)?", which describes a meeting between Jarett Kobek and the daughter of the man Kobek names as the Zodiac Killer. A potentially awkward encounter that reveals some more information about the suspect and will no doubt feature in an appendix to the new and revised second edition of "How To Find Zodiac"