Currently Watching : Richard Linklater’s BEFORE SUNRISE

‘The Answer must be in the attempt.’

I had no desire to see this film, but finally watched, it is quite a lovely film. Covering one day, one chance encounter between two people. There is something very relateable and universal about meeting someone in passing, and bridging that gap between is there or isn’t there something there.

It’s a wonderful film about those fleeting glances we have all had, followed and acted upon, and leading to something by chance begun. Here that unlikely and awkward and magical and inept circumstance of burgeoning love is told against the backdrop of one of the most beautiful of cities, Vienna, immortalized by Carol Reed’s and Orson Welles’ THIRD MAN.

It’s a wonderful way to pass an hour and a half. Watching a film about the moments that live… because of the attempt.

 

“I believe if there’s any kind of God it wouldn’t be in any of us, not you or me but just this little space in between. If there’s any kind of magic in this world it must be in the attempt of understanding someone, sharing something. I know, it’s almost impossible to succeed but who cares really? The answer must be in the attempt.” — Celine in BEFORE SUNRISE

 

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Stranger Things

“It is only proper for a man to taste misery in his thirty-third year, Nathaniel decided. While waiting in the airport lounge Nathaniel realized that, in some small way, he was approaching his own customized Golgotha. Though he doubted that the effects of his journey would ever equal those of the messiah, he nonetheless found himself wondering whether Venice would bring him peace or a sword.”
—‘Strange Advances’ by Richard Gavin available in his collection OMENS

Travel is such an interesting thing. You meet people, you overhear stories, you see sites, you endure mishaps and happy accidents. For a writer travel is not just a thing… it is the thing. Of more value than house or hearth or home… the collecting of experiences is all. And whether those experiences are good or bad, that is indifferent. What matters is places that bear your footsteps, of sites both mundane and marvelous… that you have born witness to.

I’m trying to gather my resources, pay my debt-holders (a venal and vicious bunch to be sure), rally my forces… for one mad push to the sea.

A trip at the end of July, that has been calling to me since the world was young, and I was younger still. A trip all the way… to the mountain where God sits. And all such a trip will cost me… is everything. But the real crazy part, you wanna hear?… the real crazy part is… I have no qualms in paying it.

And all I have to do to get there… is survive the spring. Stranger things have happened. 🙂

To Find in Motion

Man I really suck at the guitar. :).

This self teaching thing… not going well.

Oh well, that’s a complaint for another post, this post I wanted to talk to you… about traveling.

I like traveling.

I like to move. I like to… find in motion what was lost in space, to quote Tennessee Williams.

I like to find in motion, what was lost in space.

I like traveling by train, I can deal with traveling by bus, but flying? Due to what our government has made of the flying experience, the chore just getting to your plane has become, I abhor flying. Well, let me correct that, I like flying; I abhor the cancer inducing process it has become just getting to your flight. :).

So most weekends I hit the train, or the bus. I could do the car, but part of traveling, is about sitting back, relaxing, watching the country at speed, reading, writing; all things you can’t do when behind the wheel and stressing in traffic.

So I get on the train or the bus, and I…find in motion what was lost in space.

Last weekend the seven or so hours on the road gave me a chance to read a book that has been on my to-read pile for sometime. Namely Richard Laymon’s THE WOODS ARE DARK. I’ll talk more on that later, suffice to say, the book defines page-turning.

A horror/thriller novel, the late Laymon has his share of writing issues in this book, with wildly inconsistent character behavior and actions (and these inaccuracies are both in the original and revised edition) but he moves the story along at such a pace that you don’t pause too long pondering the inconsistent, illogical, even nonsensical behavior of his characters. I was dragged along by his story all the way to the curt end. Flaws and all, it was a fun read and a recommended read.

But more on that later.

This weekend, I’m not sure where the road will lead me yet. I have an idea, but I’m not a huge planner, I never know until I’m on the bus, or the train, or in rare occasions the plane. I never know— until I’m in motion.

Finding in motion what was lost in space.

Three tentative books on the pile to finish up this weekend while traveling (when home I’m so busy doing, that reading can get difficult to make time for, so traveling is a godsend), the options are:

OMENS by Richard Gavin. I’ve read most of the stories in this collection, but I have two or so left. And a couple I wouldn’t mind rereading.

AS THE SUN GOES DOWN by Tim Lebbon

USE ONCE THEN DESTROY by Conrad Williams

I’ve read a couple stories from the last two books, really, really strong. All three books and writers share a thematic feel, the use of understated horror.

So yeah, looking forward to some good reading, which will translate to some reviews in the next couple of posts. And yes the MONARCHS OF MAYHEM revised Interview schedule will go up this weekend as well. So the death threats can stop now. 🙂

Thanks for looking, come back tomorrow and I’ll have some wacky pics or something. Till then be well and be good. 🙂

BOOKS OF THE DAY: THE BEST OF FANTASY! From Charles Saunders to Robert E. Howard

Fantasy can be, for whatever reason, a difficult sell for me. I’m not really an elf and faires fan, which is seemingly 99% of fantasy fiction.

This article then is about the other eloquent, less trope filled, yet still imaginative, 1% of Fantasy that I am a fan of:

ROBERT E. HOWARD- I Find his Solomon Kane to be the far more interesting of Howard’s creations. If you’re going to pick up one Robert E. Howard book, you would be hard pressed to choose a better one than the Gary Gianni spot-illustrated THE SAVAGE TALES OF SOLOMON KANE.The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane

CHARLES SAUNDERS- At the risk of sacrilege someone who did and does the noble warrior and tribal civilizations and fantastic action, better than just about everybody else, past or present, is Charles Saunders. Much in the way Howard was pretty much overlooked while he was writing, I really think Charles Saunders is similarly an incredibly overlooked talent. His IMARO series, is required reading and I think would make both Burroughs and Howard go… “Damn! This guy’s good!” Four books have come out in the series and by all reports the fifth book is on the way.

The original out of print DAW paperbacks are striking, with gorgeous cover art (at least one if not more by artist James Gurney), and are worth having just for the art alone, add the great stories and it’s win-win, but the new revised/improved editions are must buys.

Particularly because Saunders is another Fantasy writer who unfortunately goes out of print way too quickly, pick up the whole series while prices are reasonable.
Imaro: Price your Copy Here

Purchase Link to all In-Print Imaro Books

The only negative I’d lay against this series is the cover art for book #4 (and to a lesser extent book #3)is not good. See for yourself here:

While we all bandy about the saying ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, I really am (like most of us) inclined to great looking covers. So a great book with a lousy cover is like shooting yourself in the foot. Pay the money, get a decent artist to do your cover. Make it easy for people to recommend your books, get that great cover art.


“Charles Saunders is one of the most innovative writers in the so-called Sword and Sorcery field. He was in the second wave of pioneers. Those who actually made what Robert E. Howard invented move into a new and equally exciting arena. I always loved his ground-breaking novels and stories. And it’s good to see him back.”
-Joe R. Lansdale, author of Sunset and Sawdust and The Bottoms

“Lord knows, the field needs the fresh and discerning insights that only Charles R. Saunders can bring to it.”
-Charles de Lint, author of The Blue Girl and Someplace to Be Flying


KARL EDWARD WAGNER- The Midnight Sun: The Complete Stories of Kane- Let me get on the bandwagon with saying the short fiction of Karl Edward Wagner and his tales of the immortal and amoral Kane/Cain is the way to go. Unfortunately getting this sadly out of print edition is going to set you back, quite a bit.

The Midnight Sun: The Complete Stories of Kane

GEORGE R.R. MARTIN- Martin is seemingly everywhere these days, particularly with the critical and commercial success of the television adaptation of his GAME OF THRONES. He’s now on his fifth book in the series.

NNEDI OKORAFOR-MBACHU- Her novels set in the Sahara of the coming dawn, are among some of the most imaginative and innovative and fresh fantasy of the last couple of decades and her The Shadow Speaker is an essential read.
The Shadow Speaker:Price Your Copy Here

STEPHEN R. DONALDSON- His series of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever is required reading.
Lord Foul’s Bane (The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Book 1):Price your copy here

“Since its first publication in 1977, Stephen Donaldson’s best-selling Thomas Covenant trilogy has become an indisputable classic – acclaimed around the world as the most compelling work of epic fantasy since Tolkien’s ‘The Lord of the Rings’.”— Voyager

STEVEN BARNES- Steve Barnes masterfully jumps genres from science fiction to fantasy to historical fiction, and while you can make a strong argument for keeping him in the former rather than the latter I just think his work is too rich in all camps to exclude from any camp. An amazingly prolific writer, he’s a writers writer. There’s a ton of places you can jump in and enjoy his work. Check the upcoming links!

STEPHEN KING- Speaking of writers writer, I personally ran out of interest before finishing King’s multi-book Dark Tower series. And by all reports I’m not the only one. That said, on rare occasions adaptations can improve on the source, can perhaps focus and streamline it. Zack Snyder’s 300 film being an improvement of Frank Miller’s 300 Graphic Novel. With the DARK TOWER that seemingly works in reverse, the collected graphic novel omnibus seems to be hitting all the right notes, garnering a level of satisfaction even from those less than satisfied with the original prose wrap-up. Wherever you fall on this you cannot deny the huge mythology that King has created.

Dark Tower Omnibus

MINISTER FAUST- A great moniker for an elegant and irreverent writer. His work tinged a bit with that gonzo element of social satire that marks the work of one of my favorite writers, Ishmael Reed . But Minister Faust jettisons most of the baggage of our every day world, skewing toward fun and fantastic fantasy.

The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad

“If Spike Lee, Quentin Tarantino, William S. Burroughs and H.P.Lovecraft were to collaborate on a novel, the result might be The Coyote Kings. Pick up a copy. You’ll be glad you did.”– Sci-fi Dimensions

J.K. ROWLING- There is nothing you can say to add or detract from Rowling’s HARRY POTTER series, love it or hate it, it is an undeniable success. However, I tend to be a contrarian and have a knee jerk reaction against the uni-mind of culture, when everybody’s reading the same thing, I worry about the books that aren’t getting attention and aren’t getting read, because the media has eyes only for its chosen flavor. That said you cannot deny the books place or their popularity, and they should be sampled for familiarity’s sake if no other reason.

NALO HOPKINSON- SKIN FOLK is one of the best debuts, and best anthologies in years, and in a genre of stale Dragons and insipid elves and tired tropes it is that rarest of things… something new and good.

Skin Folk

MERVYN PEAKE- The Illustrated Gormenghast Trilogy. Do I really need to say anything else? Not only is this volume a work of literature, it’s also a work of art.
The Illustrated Gormenghast Trilogy


Well that’s it kids, some of the greatest Fantasy writers!

Support the writers (or their memories) and buy the books. Support this blog, and purchase through the handy dandy links. Your Karma will thank you. 🙂

GRAPHIC NOVEL Review: OLD MAN LOGAN HC

OLD MAN LOGAN- One of the reasons I’m just now getting around to reading this graphic novel has to do with Marvel Comic’s piss poor pricing. The individual issues of Marvel Comics I gave up reading/caring about years ago when most of them…

A/ reached $3.99 in price for less than a couple dozen pages of story and

B/filled the issues with ads that broke up the story (rather than the Independent comics way of placing ads, if any, at the back of the magazine) and

C/ did away with the letters pages/backmatter.

So generally speaking I take a wait and see approach to anything coming from this company. If the buzz/hype is positive I’ll check the book out in trade, providing even in trade format I’m not paying more than $3 per issue. The OLD MAN LOGAN hardcover at $35 retail, clocks in at nearly $4.50 per issue. I call shenanigans on that.

So I basically refused to buy the book until I could get it at a price point I was willing to pay, or rent it from the library. In this case the former scenario popped up, allowing me to purchase OLD MAN LOGAN for $14. At that price, the book is worth every penny.

Now getting beyond the politics of pricing, what did I think of the book itself? It’s AWESOME!!! I am not a Mark Millar fan, being not a fan of his previous ENEMY OF THE STATE Wolverine storyline, I find he can be a very hit and miss writer. Often sensationalism for sensationalism’s sake. but when he dials it back a bit, and stops trying to be the shock jock, and plays in a more mainstream pool, he can tell good stories.

And OLD MAN LOGAN is case in point. It is by no means anything deep, and at times goes too ludicrous, but overall he tells a big grandiose, absurd, post apocalyptic story, Superhero tale as a western of all things, and it just works. Particularly to someone like me who came up on the same stories that informs Millar’s work, his crazy quilt dystopian future hits all the right buttons to garner much ‘gosh’ and ‘oh gee’ enthusiasm. The art by Steve McNiven is rough, stocky, almost off-putting, but it serves the story.

It’s a loud boisterous unsubtle tale, that while nothing new under the sun, works because it gives us familiar characters in unfamiliar situations. Yet another variation of Star Trek’s MIRROR MIRROR or X-Men’s DAYS OF FUTURE PAST, and those variations, more often then not are enjoyable.

And OLD MAN LOGAN, flaws acknowledged is enjoyable.

And to speak on its flaws a bit, the biggest flaw with this book, is the big flaw most writers make, be it Millar or Jason Aaron, when writing Wolverine. They think character and cool translates into ever more egregious ways of showing Wolverine mutilated. All that type of ‘storytelling’ shows me is, the character of Wolverine is a piss poor soldier, that relies too much on the crutch of a healing factor.

What is cooler… a buffoon who gets shot in the face every other page, or a fast fluid killer who you can’t touch, and you don’t even know he has a healing factor, cause that’s how rarely he needs it? I’d vote for the latter. The latter seems the more formidable protagonist. A protagonist that… when on the rare occasions he does get tagged and comes back, it is a moment with real weight.

All these writers in trying to outdo each other in more, more, more, gives the character of Logan/Wolverine nowhere to go. And unfortunately Millar is as guilty of that as every writer since Claremont in trying to make the character of Wolverine into some unkillable badass, who can kill every other superhero. It’s a bit lazy, and bs.

Let’s put it in the perspective of the fictional conceit that has been setup, he’s a dude with claws, and a temper. An interesting character, a scrapper to be sure, but trying to define him as more than that, in a world of God’s and Giants doesn’t ring true (he’s a Spiderman or Daredevil level hero, not in the league of a Thor or Hulk or IronMan). When Claremont was writing him in his Miller and Paul Smith days, as a secret agent/ronin, is the Wolverine character at his best, and most relateable.

Millar’s take on the guy as someone who is by himself going to take out a room full of heroes or villains is bs. But that said, you go into the story accepting the conceit, go with the outlandish premise, just turn your higher brain functions off, and it’s an enjoyable enough romp as a standalone story.

All in all this tale of an older Wolverine in a world where the villains have won and he has hung up his claws. Is imaginative, if absurd entertainment. Grade: B+.

OLD MAN LOGAN HC— Price your copy Here!

CLICK HERE to SeE the DEVIL Pt 1 of 2

Part 2 will be made available only to subscribers. So if you’re not a subscriber, it’s a decent incentive to become one.

Picture… Darkness.

True, true darkness.

You wake up.., no wake up, wrong word, it implies a noticeable transition, an easy, gradual awareness; this rather is the darkness of beginning and end, the first and only.

This is a Darkness that has always been here, but is ever new.

Has always been waiting for you, and has never left you.

In the beginning… Darkness, as it were.

And you are there.

Alone.

For a second or a century, both words have as much and as little meaning here.

But then

something

moves.

It is absolutely dark, and yet

You are clearly aware of something moving toward you

You are looking straight ahead

Standing

You know that much

You think

And are aware

of something

walking

slowly

toward you.

Something moving in the darkness

that is beyond darkness

It’s like if you close your

eyes

and put your palms over top of them

If you keep them there long enough

You may in that absolute darkness

begin to see a speck of light

Moving.

And that now was coming in this dark

with your eyes wide open

and seeing nothing

but something beyond Dark…

coming closer.

And was moving

With a primal grace

like worlds uncoiling at their dawn.

You saw it now

something luminous

in the dark

A face

on top a form

and eyes

that sidled madly back and forth

back and forth

but never losing track of you

And a tongue that rolled

And lips that grinned

unbidden and eternal

and behind it

there were the dream of wings

great

vast

and slow

And never losing track,

Never losing focus

Never losing you

those mad, mad eyes of its,

and that eternal grin

that was not a grin,

this thing that was so dark,

that it made darkness pale

that it was white

luminous, ghastly white in its black

it came on

skittered

walked

drifted

closer

to you.

And you

being only flesh

did what all flesh must do

when such a thing comes near

You froze

And prepared to endure.

Copyright 2011 –HT

On Travel, Thoreau, and Writing

Traveling is an expensive way to commit yourself to writing, but I find it works for me. Something about the open road, and watching the country slide past you on your way from here to there. Something about hotels, and room service, and new cities to explore, new people to meet, that I find oddly conducive to writing.

That I find oddly conducive to life.

“I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear”

I find travel… feels for me, like life. And staying still too long, I find to fit the above Henry David Thoreau definition of… not life.

So I travel. And I live.

Three days in Raleigh, a 120 pages of writing. Not bad.

I’ve had various people tell me things about Raleigh, some not complimentary, but me being me, I never write a person or a place off till I’ve looked them in the eye and taken their measure, and they have taken mine.

I find you learn a lot, if you have the courage to wander beyond your preconceptions and your comfort zone.

Everything informs you.

You meet interesting people, and have engaging conversations, where you least expect them.

When I’m out and about, people tend to feel comfortable talking to me. Never sure why. Perhaps seeing in my eyes some knowledge that what they say will be more than heard, but understood. But maybe it is simpler than that. We spend so much time conversing with people who will discuss with us trivialities, even when discussing the most significant items of the day, people who tend to not penetrate the topic, but talk upon it in only the most shallow way, the way the media teaches us to talk on topics; so that we are all hungry, antennas up if you will, for someone who is actually interested in anything of real substance.

For someone who is technically adept, I have very little use for technology. It’s acceptable for communication of generalities or to generalities, but in the specific, in the personal, you’ve got to put down the computer, the phone, and be of the moment.

Because that is… all we have.

In the dining car of a train, moving at speed past landscapes made myth-like by that speed, sharing the table with a young lady, of Peruvian descent, a congressional aide who had been to most states of the union, and many South American countries, or speaking to a teaching Administrator in Raleigh, in a bar at the top of the world, she spoke in almost Tennessee Williams’ terms of a life of sports, dancing, and lands searched for; sought for first without, and then within.

Everything informs.

If you have ears to hear, and heart to listen.

Everything informs.

If you let it.