Thursday, November 15, 2007
NOT QUITE DEAD, AND EXTREMELY TASTY
posted 12:45 PM
Three of my favorite novels of the past four years are John MacLachlan Gray's The Fiend In Human (2003), White Stone Day (2005), and the very recently published Not Quite Dead , all of which might be described as Victorian thrillers, but all of which are something else as well, though it's difficult to put a handle on just what that might be.
Perhaps what I find most magical about them isn't Gray's ability to shrug himself so snugly into their era, an act requiring more imaginative muscle than the creation of any wholesale fantasy-world, but rather his gorgeously subtle recursion of what we as a culture think we understand about the Victorians. To step into the rancid fog of Seven Dials with Edmund Whitty, polypharmically-challenged correspondent for The Falcon, is to enter a most satisfyingly strange universe, yet one based firmly (however wonderfully peculiarly) in that fundamentally speculative discipline that is history.
Through Gray's fine optics, we observe phenomena that echo powerfully for us today: serial killings in The Fiend In Human, child pornography in White Stone Day, and ethno-secular terrorism (and that singular horror, my friends, that is the *book tour*) in Not Quite Dead.
And have I mentioned that they are all extremely, achingly, and really very darkly, funny?
While being not one word longer than they need to be?
The Fiend In Human and White Stone Day both feature the redoubtable Whitty, and should be read, for optimum reward, in their order of publication. One could, however, read Not Quite Dead immediately, particularly if you want to know who's buried in Edgar Allen Poe's grave, or how Charles Dickens' triumphal tour of the United States was undone by a Frenchwoman who knew how to roll a proper Parisian cigarette. That is what I recommend you do. (Read Not Quite Dead, that is, though if you must roll a cigarette, I suppose you must.)
"There is no greater human hazard than a defeated Irishman abroad." --Not Quite Dead
Thursday, November 08, 2007
posted 9:56 PM
'"There you are, " said Juana. "Of course he was." She brushed her wrinkled hand together, as if wishing to be free of the traces of something. "But who did he work for? Think of our saints, Tito. Two faces. Always, two."
Who is this in referrence to and what do you think it means?'
Each god in their pantheon can also be known as a specific Catholic saint.
IN THEIR MATING SEASON, THEY SOUND LIKE MOTORCYCLES
posted 7:08 AM