Archive of ‘bookish’ category

Currently {August}

13277644_739243496216166_85591962_nGosh. It’s been a while since I’ve written about what I am currently up to! I tried to put a brief missive together back in June but I was so frazzled with my grandmother’s illness, I just couldn’t think straight. Let’s try again.

I finally put to use the kitchen aid ice cream paddle attachment that I received as a gift last Christmas (or was it two Christmases ago? Jeez.) and made a beautiful batch of coffee ice cream, just in time for some seriously hot Florida weather. Nearly two months later it has only gotten hotter, but have I made any more ice cream? No. The answer is no, I have not. It will probably be another two years. Such is the life of frou-frou kitchen gadgets.

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Speaking of unused Christmas gifts, I received Yotam Ottolenghi’s beautiful vegetarian cookbook Plenty More a year or two ago, and I will shamefacedly admit that other an initial flip through to gaze at the dazzling photos, I hadn’t opened it again since. In searching out some meals that I could ostensibly cook ahead of time and then nibble off pieces for breakfast or lunch as needed, I came across the “cauliflower cake” and thought it looked perfect. I think his recipes are a sort of…Mediterranean fusion, you could say? So, the sort of book with lots of interesting ideas requiring not readily on hand ingredients, and instances where you might look at the recipe title and think, huh, I wonder if that’s really going to work? The cauliflower cake is like a more labor intensive and fancier and perhaps heftier version of a quiche, and we ended up really enjoying it. You can find the recipe over at smitten kitchen, so if you are interested in dusting off your spring form pan and turning on your stove, give it a try.

All summer long I have been making this avocado and crab salad, I think it’s a Tyler Florence recipe, maybe? It’s basically lump crabmeat from the fish guy in your supermarket (not the canned stuff on the shelf, I don’t trust it), mixed with some mayo, sriracha, black sesame seeds, minced green onion, and a wee splash of sesame oil. If I have it on hand, I stir in some diced, seeded cucumber for texture and for, well… roughage, I guess.  In the meantime, dice an avocado, sprinkle with lime juice and salt, and mold it together in a little cracked glass dish that is too cute to throw away. Voilà!

This is the perfect breakfast for me. I cannot eat cold cereal in the morning (it makes me a little nauseous; I think I associate it with the existential dread I felt at the prospect of facing a classroom of second graders when I was 7 years old), and I don’t really love oatmeal or fruit because it’s sweet and sweets in the morning make me rather ill. Wow. I never realized how picky I am.

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13731239_1090341507717227_207964854_nIn early June my office got a bit of a revamp, and though I was opposed to it at first (probably because I didn’t want to do any of the work), I was thrilled with how it turned out. No more stacks and piles of crap! No more hand-me-down particle board!

We have bookshelves elsewhere in the house, so these particular cubbyholes are housing reading for research and edification rather than entertainment– as well as a perfume sample station, knitting nooks and a mini mom altar. There’s some empty spaces yet to fill, though, so that either means I will be stuffing junk in them or saving them for something special. Probably the former.

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My reading has been all over the place over the past few months. I just finished book one of the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and I will confess I know nothing of Sabrina, I never even watched the television series in the 90s. I don’t think I would have expected how…dark this story was; I thought it might be lighthearted and campy/spooky. Except I totally expected how dark it was, because the internet spoiled it for me. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I can’t wait to read more.

I was immediately sold on I Have to Go Back to 1994 and Kill a Girl  after reading the Amazon blurb: a “… film noir set in verse, each poem a miniature crime scene with its own set of clues—frosted eye-shadow, a pistol under a horse’s eye, dripping window units, an aneurysm opening its lethal trap. ….”  But in the reading of it…well, to be perfectly honest. I was left feeling pretty dumb and filled with self-loathing. Why wasn’t I getting it? What were all of these readers who have rated it 5-stars seeing that I wasn’t? There were portions in while I was almost there…I was lost in the words and the imagery for just a second, and there was nearly a glimmering of understanding, and then I lost it. As the book wore on, these instances became more frequent and so overall, I mean, yeah–I got it. I think. But it wasn’t a very enjoyable read and I think I finished it out of spite.

I have had my eyes on The Decadent Cookbook for several years now and used a recent  weird and creepy cookbook purchasing binge as an excuse to finally pick it up. Described as a slightly sinister and highly literate feast of decadent writing on food, and with chapters such as “Dinner With Caligula”, “Blood, The Vital Ingredient”, and “I Can Recommend the Poodle”, I can’t tell you how excited I am to dig in. Expect a roast flamingo on my supper table very soon.
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I have been meaning to watch Morgiana for years and just got around to it this weekend (it’s on YouTube, with subtitles!) It’s gorgeous and captivating and quite eccentric. And as one reviewer says:”… Edward Gorey as filmed by Ken Russell–a sardonic chunk of Victorian penny-dreadful melodrama tweaked to new levels of aesthetic and emotional hysteria.”

More one-word reviews for you on other recently watched films…
Hush*–maybe
Late Phases*–yes
Session 9–yes
Sin City 2: A Dame To Kill For*–eh
Big Hero 6–maybe
They Look Like People*-maybe
The Invitation*–YES
Darling*–maybe
They’re Watching*–YES(but)**
The Martian–eh
Baskin*–um

*these titles can be found on netflix
** I loved it, in spite of….well. Just don’t kill me for suggesting it.

 

12 Terrifying Tales

Image: Ghost Of Perdition by Chris Dessaigne

Image: Ghost Of Perdition by Chris Dessaigne

This was originally written for and posted at After Dark In the Playing Fields on Halloween in 2010, by my partner in the enterprise at that time, to whom we at Unquiet Things refer to, with much love, as a “Kindred Spirit”.

However, I can’t think of a better time to indulge in a chilling tale than during summer’s infernal furnace when the promise of autumn’s cooling glooms are still a dreadfully long way off. And so, you can thank a feverish August heatwave for the re-sharing of this this delightfully spooky list.

Some of the listed items below are complete books, whereas others are shorter stories. I have attempted to include links to read for free on the web, where possible;otherwise, the links will lead you to amazon where the books/stories can be purchased.

1. “The Music of Erich Zann” by H.P. Lovecraft. The shrieking and whining of desperate viols…defending against…what exactly?

2. The Tenant by Roland Topor. The most disturbing novel I have ever read, a nauseating crescendo of paranoia and sinister characters.

3. “O Whistle and I’ll Come to You My Lad” by M.R. James. Mysterious medieval whistles with Latin inscriptions and the infamous “face of crumpled linen”.

4. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. Evocative, eerie and I first read it in one sitting.

5. “The White People” by Arthur Machen. “And if the roses in your garden sang a weird song, you would go mad. And suppose the stones in the road began to swell and grow before your eyes, and if the pebble that you noticed at night had shot out stony blossoms in the morning?”

6. “The Willows” by Algernon Blackwood. Two campers encounter a place where the veil between the worlds has grown thin…an alien world, a world tenanted by willows only and the souls of willows.

7. “A Haunted Island” by Algernon Blackwood. Chilling terror and remniscent of the Adirondacks island camp I stay at in the summers. (Blackwood makes this list twice, because he is truly the master of the unsettling tale.)

8. The House on the Borderland by William Hope Hodgson. A found manuscript, swine creatures and the swift passing of the universe…is the narrator sane or not?

9. “The Spider” by Hanns Heinz Ewers. Mysterious suicides take place in the same apartment, seemingly without cause.

10. “The Human Chair” by Edogawa Rampo. A bizarre tale of the Japanese gothic.

11. “The Room in the Tower” by E.F. Benson. Sinister dreams and unfriendly nocturnal visitors.

12. “The Damned Thing” by Ambrose Bierce. What may happen in a field of wild oats.

A bonus pick from your host, Mlle. Ghoul:

  • 13.  The House Next Door by Anne River Siddons.  A singular tale, and from what I can tell the author’s lone foray into the genre. A unique take on the haunted house story – is the evil housed within in the structure of the dwelling, or is it the wickedness of the inhabitants that drive the horrors that occur within?  The chills are so subtly sinister and so elegantly written that it is difficult to pinpoint exactly why the book is so frightening; I imagine the shudders provoked by these pages will be very different for each reader.

Feel free to leave your own recommendations in the comments!

Things I Love Right Now

things i loveFor a while now I’ve been wanting to do another Stinkers & Duds post but oddly enough, there’s really been nothing I’ve hated enough to include in a round-up of loathesome stuff.
I guess that’s a good thing?

Instead, here are a few things I have really been enjoying lately.

Le Baume Absolution has a concentrate of Marula, Perilla and Calendula in it and is absolutely fantastic, but whatever– I would love this lip balm for it’s chubby, stubby, easy-to-fit-in-the-hand shape, regardless. It is a wonderful formula, though–not too greasy or too heavy, and not mentholated (which is a huge NOPE for me.) This is, without a doubt, my favorite lip product ever.  I have already replaced it three times now.

L.A. Splash Studio Shine Lip Lustre in Catrina is a gorgeous deep brown base color with a strong metallic blue-green shift, or at least that’s how it is described, but on me, this is definitely less of the beetle-winged color and almost straight-up shimmery green-blue.  Also, you may never have to re-apply this stuff. It doesn’t fade, it doesn’t wear off. Hell, you can barely even get it off your face. (Hint: I use this stuff and a really scrubby washcloth).

Ear Scoops! Yes, yes, I know–we’re not supposed to be sticking anything in our ears. But there’s nothing quite so satisfying as cleaning the gloopy, glunky stuff out of our ears with a q-tip, after a shower, right? That’s what I thought, but then I read this and was immediately intrigued and had to stock up. I’ve already had one weird scare, but I’m an idiot and won’t let that stop me. I’m gonna stick things in my ears and there’s really nothing you can do about it.

The Uncanny Valley by Perturbator is both eerie and energizing and is full of aggressive retro-synth and jazzy noir and groovy bits and I yeah, everyone I know is over this 1980s sci fi/horror sound, but I can’t seem to get enough of it. It’s perfect writing music if you need some melodic noises in the background but you don’t want someone distracting you with a bunch of lyrics. *See also: thisquietarmy’s entire discography.  It’s different sound (ambient/drone/post-rock), but perfectly suited to this use.*

Sunday Riley Luna Oil is a product I have mentioned before, but it’s really just that good.  Advertised as a “next generation retinoid oil [that] reduces pore size, improves appearance of damaged skin, and helps fight wrinkles.”–it’s basically a nighttime vitamin A treatment oil.  It gets mixed reviews for the ingredients (here’s a list), the price, the blue tint, but I wake up with the most velvety skin after having applied it before bed. When I run out I would love to find a more cost-effective version of this stuff, but for now it is pretty amazing.

Satanic Panic has got Kier-La Janisse’s name attached to the project, so I already love it, but how does this sound? “In the 1980s, everywhere you turned there were warnings about a widespread evil conspiracy to indoctrinate the vulnerable through the media they consumed. This percolating cultural hysteria, now known as the “Satanic Panic,” was both illuminated and propagated through almost every pop culture pathway in the 1980s, from heavy metal music to Dungeons & Dragons role playing games, Christian comics, direct-to-VHS scare films, pulp paperbacks, Saturday morning cartoons and TV talk shows —and created its own fascinating cultural legacy of Satan-battling VHS tapes, music and literature. From con artists to pranksters and moralists to martyrs, Satanic Panic: Pop-Cultural Paranoia in the 1980s aims to capture the untold story of the how the Satanic Panic was fought on the pop culture frontlines and the serious consequences it had for many involved.”

I am only a few pages in, but I am already deeply engrossed.  The link above is a pre-order on Amazon; I got my copy directly through the publisher, but I think that version is sold out now.

Wow. I just realized there is no perfume on this list! I think it’s because I am testing a bunch of stuff right now and I’m not ready to talk about any of it yet, ha.
What’s got you excited lately? Books, musics, perfumes? Tell me all!

this, that, & the other thing {xxv}

Abandoned-LEGO-Victorian-Houses-by-Mike-Doyle-1Victorian Lego houses!

 

A timeline of influential and aesthetically beautiful horror movies from 1895 until 2016.

skellyCartoonist Katie Skelly On Creating The Erotic & Intimate Agent Series

13510760_10208911024520474_2864935256194117897_nA sneak peek of some of the pages for the next Occult Activity Book, with mad-libs inspired words by madman Jack Shear.

13521942_1220316641344833_6520443789216168133_n In love with the stick & poke tattoo art by Tati Compton

KS_Suspiria500If you’re in Southern California, you must go see “My Blood Runs Yellow: A Tribute to Giallos” at Sloane Fine Art Gallery

The Secret of Taste: Why We Like What We Like – Fascinating!
† I can’t wait to read this: Films of the New French Extremity
Short Film Roundup: Horror Edition
Magical Advice We Got From A Real Fitness Witch
New Book To Celebrate 35 Years of Elvira!
17 Female Ghosts & Demons in Japanese Folklore
Demonologica: Dressing in the Demons of Ben Templesmith
A fantastic Best of 2016 list from the inimitable Tenebrous Kate
A Conversation on the Occult Practices in the Arts

48/75

Books

Though I never again will see the days where I would devour an entire stack of library books in one week, I have made diligent attempts over the past few years to ensure that I don’t neglect one of my favorite past times (I was terribly guilty of this neglect in my late teenage years and early twenties and I cannot tell you how much I regret the reading that I did not do at that time!)

Last year I challenged myself to read 50 books–which seems a rather paltry amount now that I have typed it out–nonetheless, I achieved that goal, and upped my number this year to 75! Now, to be perfectly honest, I include in this number comic books and graphic novels and slim volumes of poetry. But whatever.  Reading is reading, I reckon.

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So far I am at 48/75 which isn’t bad at all, although I think I can do better. I’m certainly working hard to diminish these countless stacks of newly accumulated books, at any rate.

My standout reads more than halfway into the year are:

The Etched City – languid, decadent, dark fantasy; gorgeous but short on plot.
Salt Is For Curing – witchy recipe/poems of curses & murder & bones & bodies
Yurei – entertaining, engaging, and thoroughly enjoyable book about Japanese ghosts
Geek Love – everyone knows this wildly marvelous, heartbreaking book, I won’t embarrass myself by synopsisizing it
Wylding Hall – ghosts, a haunted manse in a remote locale, and a British acid-folk band
A Head Ful of Ghosts -teenage madness and/or possession funtimes
Bluets – a poet’s memoir and brilliant investigation of/reflection upon the color blue
Megg and Mogg in Amsterdam -further adventures of depressed, disgusting degenerates
Margaret the First – beautifully imagined story of Margaret Cavendish, the eccentric and wildly unconventional 17th-century Duchess.

Have you got a reading goal for yourself this year? Are you keeping up with it? And what have you enjoyed thus far? Do tell!

In Search of Lost Literature: Unearthing Gothic Gems at Valancourt Books

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(This was originally written for and posted at After Dark In the Playing Fields in 2010, by my partner in the enterprise at that time, who shall henceforth be known as A Kindred Spirit)

‘Valancourt? and who was he?’ cry the young people. Valancourt, my dears, was the hero of one of the most famous romances which ever was published in this country. The beauty and elegance of Valancourt made your young grandmammas’ gentle hearts to beat with respectful sympathy. He and his glory have passed away. Ah, woe is me that the glory of novels should ever decay… Inquire at Mudie’s, or the London Library, who asks for ‘The Mysteries of Udolpho’ now? Have not even ‘The Mysteries of Paris’ ceased to frighten? Alas! our best novels are but for a season…“

–William Makepeace Thackeray

Several years ago, I returned to upstate NY after spending several months living in semi-tropical Taiwan. That winter was particularly cold and I spent much of it huddled under woolen blankets on the couch reading anything that was within arm’s reach. Eventually, I had to venture out to an actual bookstore, where on a whim I picked up a reprint of Sheridan Le Fanu’s Victorian gothic thriller Uncle Silas (1865). To my surprise, I became completely engrossed in the plot twists set in its creepy conspiracy-laden corridors. All too soon, the book was finished and I was unable to find anything remotely like it.

Fortunately, thanks to the wonders of the Internet, I had two newly reprinted gothic novels from Valancourt Books in the mail before I could despair too much. (As you can see from above, more have followed.)

Valancourt Books is an independent small (micro) press founded in late 2004 and presently based in Kansas City, specializing in quality new editions of rare literature from the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. They now have over 102 books in print, with many more on the way, in a variety of genres, but mainly focusing on Gothic, Romantic and Victorian literature.

Recently, I had the opportunity to ask James D. Jenkins, the publisher and editor of Valancourt Books, some questions about this type of literature and the appeal of this genre to readers in the twenty-first century.

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OTB: What makes these types of works considered “gothic”–and how did you become interested in this type of literature? What is your favorite work of this type?

JDJ: Really, looking back, I think I’ve always been drawn to the Gothic. I remember one summer as a child when my dad sent me to the public library and told me to bring home a classic book to read. I came home with Dracula, which apparently wasn’t what he had in mind. But, as far as the types of Gothic works that Valancourt Books specializes in, I first became interested in those as an undergraduate. I recall being in the university library one afternoon and stumbling across this old book in a black binding called The Castle of Otranto. Something about it intrigued me, and I took it home and stayed up late that night reading it. I was totally riveted by it (and still am!) I started reading other Gothic novels and was completely fascinated by books like Maturin’s Melmoth the Wanderer. The press, of course, is named after the hero of Ann Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho, which I first stumbled upon in the bookstore at the Roma Termini train station when I was 20. I read it for the first time in a medieval castle I stayed at in a place called Montagnana, Italy. I’ve really been hooked ever since.

As far as what makes them Gothic, I guess that’s a little hard to define. It’s one of those things where you know it when you see it. Most of them do share common elements, such as being set in ruined castles or monasteries and featuring heroines in distress and dastardly villains, as well as common set pieces like skeletons, phantoms, rusty daggers, old manuscripts, and the like. Typically in the old Gothic novels, those published between 1764 and 1830, there are two main types-–the “terror Gothic,” which attempted to terrify the reader through mystery and suspense, and the “horror Gothic,” which tended to shock readers with explicit sex and violence. As for a favorite, I don’t know if I could pick one. I really love The Castle of Otranto, which I’ve read repeatedly, and The Mysteries of Udolpho, which always amazes me. Among the minor Gothics, I’m a huge fan of The Necromancer; or, The Tale of the Black Forest (1794) and Francis Lathom’s The Midnight Bell (1798), two of Jane Austen’s “Horrid Novels.”*

What made you decide to found a press? I know I was fortunate enough to stumble across your website several years ago–there really were no other publishers of these kinds of novels at that time. Have you encountered any particular difficulties unique to this kind of business?

I think you were actually our first customer! I’m glad you found us! The short story of how the press was founded is that I graduated law school in 2004 and couldn’t find a job. I had a lot of time on my hands in between applying for work, and by that time I had read all of the dozen or so classic Gothic novels published by Oxford and Penguin. I wanted to read more, but they just weren’t available. I started thinking, “Someone should be publishing more of these,” and then somehow it just hit me that rather than wait for someone else to do it, I could start doing it. So, I started spending my free time typing The Animated Skeleton and The Castle of Ollada from microfiche, and now, over 100 books later, I’ve never looked back!

 Some of these works could rightly be considered, for lack of a better word, the “bestsellers” of their day. Why did the majority of these works go out of print, in spite of their original popularity? Why did certain works like those of Radcliffe or Walpole, remain in print over the years? Were they really that much better in terms of story quality than the ones that faded into relative obscurity?

That’s a great question, and I don’t think there’s an easy answer to it. Just like today, I’m sure a lot of these books were published back then to critical disdain and poor sales and didn’t go into a second edition. Many of them quite deservedly fell out of print. But then there are some that make you scratch your head. Eaton Stannard Barrett’s The Heroine (1813), which we are preparing for the press at the moment, comes to mind. It was hugely popular and went through several editions, and found numerous admirers, among them Jane Austen and Edgar Allan Poe. It’s also incredibly funny, even two hundred years later. Why did satires of Gothic literature by writers like Austen and Thomas Love Peacock survive in print into the 21st century, while Barrett’s did not? I don’t know. The great thing is that with the greater availability of rare old texts through sources like Google Books and other electronic and print sources, more and more of these books can be rediscovered and those that were undeservedly lost can be republished in new editions.

 Despite their sometimes initial popularity, these works were often marginalized and dismissed by the critics of the time, considered pulp or cheap entertainments. Over the years, they only became of interest to academics or other specialists–do you see a value in bringing these works back into print for something other than scholarly pursuits? Are they worthwhile to the modern reader simply as historical artifacts or for an intrinsic entertainment value?

I guess that depends on taste! A lot of our readers enjoy these works simply for their entertainment value. In fact, I’ve never liked to think of them as historical artifacts and I’ve tried to encourage our editors to avoid that sort of thing in their introductions. I mean, with all the books available-–both classics and contemporary literature – why would you want to waste your time reading something that’s only worthwhile as an historical artifact? That said, I think I’d have to concede that we’ve published one or two that were of more interest for their rarity than their literary value!

Why do you think gothic literature could still resonate with readers today?

I think the Gothic has always resonated with readers. Even in ancient texts, you find mention of such things as ghosts and apparitions, and of course in early British literature, such as Shakespeare’s plays, you pretty regularly find things like phantoms and witches. These sorts of works of course gave rise to the Gothic works of authors like Walpole and Radcliffe. But I think it would be a mistake to assume that the Gothic ever really went away. In the Victorian era, you had mystery and supernatural works by writers like Wilkie Collins and Sheridan Le Fanu, and a little later popular novelists like Richard Marsh and Bram Stoker. Even in recent years, we’ve had Stephen King, Anne Rice, and now Stephenie Meyer. I think something about the Gothic, about scary stories and tales of horror and mystery, is a universal impulse-–it’s something that has always existed both in our literature and other countries’ literatures, and that I think always will.

What are your most popular titles? Do any have a surprising popularity or affect readers in unexpected ways? I would imagine that the lesser known works of Bram Stoker or perhaps the previously mentioned “Horrid Novels” would have especial appeal to someone interested in this type of literature.

You’re absolutely right. The Horrid Novels and works by authors that are better known, like Sheridan Le Fanu and Bram Stoker, tend to be among our best sellers. One book that, year in, year out, is always among our bestsellers, though, and which I always find surprising, is George Brewer’s The Witch of Ravensworth (1808). It’s really a wonderful little book and I’m happy that people have discovered it, but I’m nonetheless always a little perplexed at the levels of its sales.

 I have noticed over the last few years that Valancourt Books has been expanding in scope to include titles from the later Victorian period as well as the twentieth century. What was your motivation to include these sorts of books in the catalogue? Are there still more areas you might decide to cover in the future?

Well, one thing that tends to happen when you have your own press (and especially when it’s a one-person press) is that what the press publishes tends pretty much to be whatever you’re interested in. As I’ve gotten older and read more widely in other areas, I’ve discovered new areas of interest and other obscure works that I wanted to bring back into print and share with readers. One of these is the popular literature of the 1890s, which is just an amazing decade. It’s in the 1890s that Sherlock Holmes rises to prominence, that we get characters like Dorian Gray, Dracula, and The Beetle, and perhaps even more importantly, it’s the decade where the three-volume novel that had dominated publishing for a century or more and had made books largely unaffordable to everyday readers was finally abandoned in favor of inexpensive, one-volume editions that were accessible to all. So we start to see just an explosion of popular, thrilling, cheap novels, many of which are truly fascinating and worthy of new attention. We’ve also started doing some gay-themed literature from the early 20th century, which is another interest of mine, and something that’s getting a lot of scholarly attention these days. Presently we don’t have plans for any new series, although we plan to continue expanding our 18th century and Victorian collections, which have been gradually growing.

What titles will be forthcoming over the next year or so? Is there anything particularly intriguing or obscure that you’re still trying to track down for future publication? Are there some known works so hard to locate that original copies to work from do not exist or are too rare to even get access to?

JDJ: Probably the two that are the most highly anticipated are the final two “Horrid Novels”: Horrid Mysteries by Carl Grosse and Eleanor Sleath’s The Orphan of the Rhine, probably the two rarest of the lot. Although probably twenty, thirty years ago, there would have been works so rare that you couldn’t get copies of them, that’s not really the case anymore. With online library catalogs like Worldcat and COPAC, it’s pretty quick and easy to find out what libraries hold a given book. And although the books we publish are usually so rare that the copies do not circulate, with modern reproduction and scanning technology, the books can usually be copied or scanned for us (for an often lofty price!) For example, The Forest of Valancourt (1813), which we published in hardcover, survives in only one known copy–-at the Bodleian Library at Oxford, and we were able to get a photocopy of it so we could republish it. There are a couple old Gothic novels mentioned in reference works that we have not been able to track down (the most notable is probably W. H. Ireland’s Bruno; or, The Sepulchral Summons), but for some of these lost works, we have been unable to verify after extensive research that they ever really existed in the first place.

Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. As always, I wish you and everyone at Valancourt Books every possible success for making these titles available to everyone.

JDJ: Thanks, Jessica, always a pleasure. Thanks for the opportunity to share some info about Valancourt Books with you and your readers!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Valancourt Books’ list of currently published works can be found here; they are widely available at Amazon or other booksellers.

*The “Horrid Novels” refers to a selection of 18th century Gothic fiction mentioned by Jane Austen in her gothic satire, Northanger Abbey. Most of the ‘horrid novels’ were believed to be inventions of Austen until the early twentieth century. For a complete list of titles, see here. Valancourt Books has published five of the seven and has plans to release the other two in the future.

Make The Most Of Your Weird Library With The Arcane Art Of Bibliomancy

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Amongst my acquaintances it would seem that we all appear to have a similar predicament with regard to the printed word: that is to say, an intense, almost obsessive acquisition of books. Whether for pleasure, research, or keeping up our nerdy/witchy Instagram appearances, we acquire stacks and piles of bound, printed matter much faster than we actually read through them.

No doubt if I were to quiz one of these friends at random they will admit, with a strange sort of embarrassed pride, that they have shelves upon shelves of unread novels–and yet there is an Amazon Prime parcel on their doorstep, a small press delivery on the way, and their virtual cart is brimming with another order ready to be placed. Oh, and they’ve just come back from a stroll through the musty, dim-lit shelves of a local used bookstore, and hey look, what a surprise–here’s a few more books.

What if I told you that you could use these mountains of books as more than doorstops and spider-squashers? What if I revealed to you a use for that collection of charming, old-timey ghost stories that has been gathering dust and cobwebs on your nightstand? Yes, yes, I know–you are going to read it eventually, and I do appreciate that sentiment: I’ve got the same book next to my bed that I’ve been too sleepy or too busy looking at my Twitter feed to actually pick up and peruse.

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You are no doubt familiar with the practice of divination, or, the seeking knowledge of the future or the unknown by supernatural means. One can foretell the future through cards, clouds, drops of mercury, even a pile of steaming entrails. Today, however, we are hitting the books for our divinatory purposes! Divination from books or verse is an ancient process known as bibliomancy and is sometimes used synonymously with the terms stichomancy (divination from lines) or rhapsodomancy (divination through a random passage of a poem).

There are, of course, different schools of thought as to how bibliomancy works. Originally, it was a means of seeking divine answers, and the most popular book used for this practice was American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis (just kidding! It’s the Bible)–though this is not the only text that’s been used for this purpose. Other popular texts included the Aeneid of Virgil, the Iliad and the Odyssey of Homer, and The I Ching has also been used in a similar manner. Seekers of illumination would meditate upon their questions and blindly select a passage in the book, which supposedly would impart to them the divine wisdom they needed for the solution to their problem. In this theory, it is believed that one is led deliberately to their answers by some sort of higher power, or perhaps an angel, spirit guide, or aliens.

Other folks see it as more of a psychological enterprise—a means of communicating with your own damn higher self. Meaning, we most likely already contain the answers to our problems, we just can’t always easily tap into them due to all of the “mental filters” that we have built up through our lives and experiences, clouding our ability to see the issues clearly. By this ideology, it’s not really the book that contains any special or wondrous answers; you already know the solutions you seek, and the chosen passage just acts as a tool to help you access them.

But back to the books– you mustn’t feel compelled to use one of those “sacred” texts to practice bibliomancy. All that’s required is a book that speaks to you at that moment. This could be from the library, a new book you’ve purchased for this inaugural divinatory occasion, or something from your own bogged-down shelves. It could be a spiritual book, fiction, nonfiction, that smutty romance novel that sits on the back of your toilet, or even your beloved, dog-eared, 30-year-old stolen library copy of Harriet The Spy. The books you adore will have had an enormous influence on who you are and your beliefs. These beloved writings will have caused you to examine your own depths, encourage you to think in new ways, and eventually become part of who you are, which is why they are great vehicles for shedding light on the questions to which you are seeking answers.

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Let’s get started, shall we? In preparation for a bibliomantic ritual, give some thought as to the kind of question you want to ask: are you seeking romantic resolution or perhaps repairing a relationship? Or maybe you’re all like,”Love? Fuck that horseshit! Where did my great-great-grandpa bury that hidden treasure?” Perhaps you just want guidance on what to make for dinner tonight, but somehow opening an actual cookbook seems too mundane. Words taken out of their larger context could trigger something deeper than you imagine is possible. This could be the most amazing Monday night supper you’ve ever made!

Focus your question and find your book. Trail your fingertips along the spines of those lonely, mostly unread books (again, no judgment) and see what calls to you. The titles themselves can often reflect how you are feeling, or coincide with a situation you have been dealing with. Maybe the embossed detailing tickles your fancy. Maybe the cracked, faded lettering on your dear copy of The Complete Grimoire of Pope Honorius makes your innards go all cozy and it just feels right. Go with it!

Sit with your chosen book in a quiet space and close your eyes. Clear your mind and try to not focus overly much on the emotions attached to the question you need help in answering. What you are aiming for is a state of “calm expectation.” When you feel comfortable, relaxed, and emotionally and spiritually in a good place, ask your question– out loud if you don’t feel too weird about it, or quietly in your mind, if you prefer. Take a few seconds to allow your question to be heard and absorbed. Then pick up the book.

Close your eyes and let your fingers meander through the book’s pages, lingering over the paper wherever you may feel compelled. At some point while doing so, you will intuitively feel the “right” place to stop (or your finger will get tired, that’s a good place to stop, too.) Place your finger on the spot you are drawn to.

Read from where you finger is resting, be it for a few words, a sentence, a paragraph, or an entire passage if you’re into it. At first glance, the words may have no bearing on your question. “What the fuck is this nonsense?” you may wonder, “I asked if my girlfriend is cheating on me and this asshole is talking about cherry blossoms. Thanks a lot, Basho!” Give it some time. Look at the words you are reading: what do they have to tell you about your situation? Do they offer any guidance or inspiration? Do you connect emotionally with what you have just read–did it leave you gleeful, frightened, peevish? Repeat the passage aloud or write it down by hand–your higher mind has deliberately selected these words to help you in some way and eventually you will understand their importance and meaning.

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Some mystics suggest for this exercise that if you’re left even more confused than when you started and you require more clarity, try it again from the start. Pick a book that seems to fit your question, and then merge your chosen answer with the last passage. It is said that sooner or later you will be able to see what the words are trying to get through to you. Or you’ll go crazy. Because I’ll be honest, at this point I am thinking of a freaky Jorge Luis Borges’ Library of Babel scenario involving infinite permutations of all these passages mashed together and it’s sort of creeping me out.

There you have it, bookworms! Since you’re clearly not ever going to read anything from those dangerously teetering, towering book stacks, why not harness the power and the magic of those beautiful, potent words contained within to get some questions answered and get your shit together?

Okay, okay, I poke fun, but I get it. I am one of you, truly! I just checked out eight books from the library but I’m still plowing through a pile of books I bought two years ago. And yet, somehow I just purchased four more books for Summer Reading 2019? How does this even happen? It’s a sickness.

So let’s do this for a start. Read through the above thoroughly, and as your first foray into the arcane art of bibliomancy, I want you to think long and hard on this question. Meditate, roll it around in your mind, choose your title from your shelf and ask aloud of the angels, aliens, your intuitive brain-meats, and who/whatever else…

“What book shall I read next?”

Photo credit: Maika Keuben / @liquidnight

And, as always–a bonus!  How to wear a bibliomantic ritual.

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Currently {May 2016}

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I cannot believe it is almost the end of May already! I guess I’ve been busy, although I sincerely couldn’t even say what I have been up to, it’s all been a bit of a blur, really. I read some things, knit some things, had a bit of a milestone birthday and did some fun stuff, and today happens to be the birthday of my youngest sister.  Happy birthday to you, little toaster-mouth!

Speaking of knitting, it was my goal this year to tackle again those projects that gave me troubles in 2015.  Strangely enough, both of these patterns were by the same author, and the part that is really odd is that I normally love her designs and have no issues with them! I reached the conclusion that clearly, the problem here is me–my evidence being that when I slowed down, paid attention, and stopped being so careless and lackadaisical about things, they came together wonderfully. Featured above is the Chinquapin Wrap by Romi Hill and for those interested it was knit in Knitpicks Palette, a wool, fingering weight yarn. The color is “Briar Heather” and I think it was knit on size 5 or 6 needles. The previously finished problem knit was Terpsichore Street, also by Romi Hill.  Both of these have been gifted away.

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Our garden is growing things!  Approximately 50 different kinds of kale, to be precise! Ok, let’s not exaggerate, it’s maybe three different kinds of kale. A few lettuces, some collards, peppers, green onions, eggplants, and even the cutest tangling green tendrils from the pea plants have begun to shoot up from the dirt.  I am basically just going to put kale in everything this summer, I guess.

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Taking a page from Eaumg’s book, I’m trying to keep better track of my empties; that is, the products that I end up actually using completely, thus emptying the package or container. I’m very guilty of jumping on bandwagons and collecting beauty products that sit on the shelf, never being used–and that’s dumb. I’m wasting money and not reaping the (probably dubious) benefits of these potions and elixirs! So, no more of that. Last month I used up two masks and some various samples. I really liked the Tony Moly broccoli mask, it was cooling and soothing…even though the boyfriend suggested that it made my face feel weird and clammy afterward. Ha! The rest of it was ….meh. Nothing I would purchase for myself, though if I stumble across another sample of the Tatcha cleansing oil, I’d give it one more try. In the meantime, I’ve gathered up all my samples in an adorably tiny basket and placed them strategically in my bathroom so that I will actually remember to use them.

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I’ve picked up this weird habit lately where I am reading three things at once + knitting on a thing. A Sunday afternoon basically looks like this: read a few poems from a slim book of poetry, read a chapter from a larger novel, read book one in whatever volume of whatever graphic novel, knit four or five rows, repeat. Then I get up and hop around a lot because my butt has usually fallen asleep by this point.

I recently finished You Can’t Pick Your Genre by Emily O’Neill, which was inspired by the Scream movies, and are described as “warnings, testimonials, declarations”. One reviewer describes it thusly: “These poems are not tropes, but triumphs. Instead of running up the stairs, they are charging towards the killer and digging a pair of scissors through the eyehole of his shitty patriarchal creep mask”. YES! I loved this book and these poems immensely.

Also: The Late Work of Margaret Kroftis by Mark Gluth. Themes of loss and grief and daydreams and stories within stories within stories. A series of vignettes, a chain of lives connected by death. Spare yet dreamy prose. SO many reasons to recommend this to so many people, and yet, I feel that I must warn you. Steel your sweet hearts. This is a rough one for sensitive readers.

Also pictured but not yet read: A Pillow Book by Suzanne Buffam and Cities I’ve Never Lived In by Sara Majka. Not pictured and not yet read, but it looks to be quite wonderful is In The Hours of Darkness by Katie Metcalfe, a lovely Swedish blogger.

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I’ve been catching up on my movie watching over the past month or so and it seems like I’ve been able to cross quite a few off my list! Here are my one-word reviews:

Thale*–Yes
We Are Still Here*–No
Road Games–Maybe
The House At The End of Time*–Yes
The Purge–No
The Purge: Anarchy–Maybe

*currently available on Netflix

To be honest, I’m a bit off my music game lately.  I’ve been listening to the same things for months now, which is fairly unusual for me because I’m constantly amassing new sounds, never listening to the same thing twice.  My current obsession is Ruby The Hatchet, a hypnotic, hallucinogenic, headbanging blend of compelling psych rock energy and thunderous melodies. For fans of Jex Thoth, Purson and the like.

What are you into now? What amazing things are you reading or doing or listening to?

 

Will Errickson’s resplendent horror fiction reviews

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(Originally posted in 2011 over at After Dark In The Playing Fields)

Perhaps a month or so ago whilst puttering around on the internet late at night, a memory, unbidden, came to mind. A book I had read when I was younger.  Though I could not recall much of the plot (except that it was a riveting combination of almost-unacceptably-unbelievable and strangely compelling),  or the story details, or even the names of the characters – the cover, and the title were for some reason burned indelibly into my brain.

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On a whim, I thought I might poke around to see if what, if anything, other readers had to say about The Manitou, and it was then that I stumbled onto Will Errickson’s Too Much Horror Fiction blog.  Will’s sharp, smart, and endlessly amusing synopsis of the story and review of the book compelled me to dig deeper into his site, and in doing so I came across many strange, moldering titles that I had not thought of or seen in years…some I barely remembered and some which were so bizarre that I actually thought I  had dreamed them up. Before I knew it several hours had passed and it was 2:00 AM in the morning; I was exhausted but full of a sort of demented exultation –   I think it is safe to say that I have never in my life been excited to stumble across a corner of the internet as I was when I discovered Will’s blog, which is dedicated to “reviewing and collecting horror literature and celebrating its resplendent paperback cover art”.

Will graciously agreed to do a bit of a Q&A with us over at After Dark in the Playing Fields; read on for, among other things, his thoughts on terror in the formative years, his picks for a compellingly horrifying read and a top ten list of his favourite deranged horror fiction book covers!

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Mlleghoul: To quote you, paraphrasing Poe and Lovecraft: “Horror… is that singular frisson of terror itself”. Can you hearken back to the time when you first experienced that dread feeling and share with us the details surrounding that, and the myriad ways it has manifested in your life up to this point?

Will Errickson: I’ve tried before to nail down early moments of fear and horror from when I was a kid, and I just can’t. All I can really say is that growing up in the 1970s and early ‘80s there was no lack of spooky stuff on TV that you couldn’t avoid, whether it was IN SEARCH OF… or a commercial for movies like SILENT SCREAM, THE PROPHECY, THE SHINING and ALIEN. I remember finding a horror movie magazine that a teenage relative had that completely freaked me out; I couldn’t even look at the cover. Christopher Lee’s Dracula was pretty impressively scary at that age. Of course JAWS was inescapable, but once I actually *saw* the movie when I was 8 or 9 I became obsessed with it. Can’t quite remember how I began reading horror, because those trashy old paperbacks with skulls on the covers unsettled me. Think I just picked up one of my mom’s Stephen King novels when I was about 13 or so. So ever since I was a kid I’ve been into horror as well as the people who create it.

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Back to the above referenced paraphrasing – what are some of your favourite books or stories that evoke such a feeling for you?  I believe I culled the quote from your post on The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy, so I imagine that might be one of them?

Several of Ellroy’s novels have been disturbing, not just BLACK DAHLIA but also L.A. CONFIDENTIAL–the parts that *didn’t* make it into the movie version. Books such as DRACULA and THE AMITYVILLE HORROR were perhaps the first scary things I read; later Lovecraft’s “The Dunwich Horror” and various stories/novels by King (especially “The Mist”) and Peter Straub. SONG OF KALI by Dan Simmons, THE CIPHER by Kathe Koja, FINISHING TOUCHES by Thomas Tessier, THE SEARCH FOR JOSEPH TULLY by William Hallahan. I read tons and tons of short stories in different anthologies as a teen and in my early ’20s; some of my favorites from that era are “Night They Missed the Horror Show” by Joe Lansdale; “His Mouth Will Taste of Wormwood” and “Calcutta, Lord of Nerves” by Poppy Z. Brite; “Dread” by Clive Barker; “Old Man and the Dead” by Mort Castle; “Sticks” by Karl Edward Wagner; “Orange is for Anguish, Blue for Insanity” by David Morrell; “The Answer Tree” by Steven Boyett; various Shirley Jackson and Thomas Ligotti tales. It’s difficult to pin some down. Rereading them now is cool because many hold up and are still effective. I’m slowly making my way through the two-volume Library of America’s AMERICAN FANTASTIC TALES… Short stories really show the horror genre in its best light. There are great novels, of course, but short stories… yeah. I’m sure I’m forgetting some right now.

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In this vein, what is your general criteria for a satisfying read?  Can you give some examples of the books which might fit this criteria?  And this may be a silly question, but how much does the cover art play into this for you?

Pacing is probably the single most important aspect. Atmosphere is great too. I don’t need great writing but it does have to be good. A lot of ’70s horror novels, and even going back further, had a real professionalism about them; you knew you were in the hands of masters. But by the ’80s more horror glutted the shelves so many, many books were very poorly written and edited and conceived. You can forgive a lot if the author is sure of himself, which is the case with Graham Masterton’s THE MANITOU. It was rather ridiculous but his conviction carried it. THE AUCTIONEER by Joan Samson is a wonderful example of strong writing and story, as are Michael McDowell’s works. You can’t ever go wrong with Shirley Jackson. I loved THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR by Anne Rivers Siddons. Fritz Leiber’s OUR LADY OF DARKNESS was excellent as well. ALL HEADS TURN AS THE HUNT GOES BY by John Farris. THE RATS by James Herbert. As for supernatural violence and the like, I like a quiet chiller as much as a gory thriller. Joe Lansdale’s THE NIGHTRUNNERS blew me away back in the day but I haven’t read it since. As for cover art, it doesn’t play into my interest in reading a book; I’ve gotten past that these days and if the books has a truly terrible cover, I try to imagine I’m reading it in manuscript form! So yes, I guess cover art can color your imagination as you read.

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You reference John Farris’ Son of the Endless Night as a quintessential 80’s horror novel, with its “blurb from Stephen King and a review quote comparing it to The Exorcist, and its artwork of both a scary-looking young girl as well as a black-winged demon” –I’d be interested in hearing more about this idea of a quintessential 80’s   horror novel.  Also, do you feel there are elements of the story itself that make it a prime example of the decade’s horror offerings?  So…what would be a quintessential 90’s horror novel?  70’s?  60’s?  Ok, I’ll stop there.

1980s horror to me is big and badass, influenced by more graphic horror movies. Huge set pieces of bizarre horror carnage, lots of characters, a go-for-broke attitude. Another cool ’80s novel is THE SCREAM by Skipp and Spector: big, bold, vivid, outrageous, energetic. A bit dated in a fun way. Let’s see… for the ’60s I’d say ROSEMARY’S BABY by Ira Levin: ironic, cool, blackly comic, lightly satirizing modern mores. The ’70s quintessential horror would probably be ’SALEM’S LOT, but I think an argument could be made for HARVEST HOME or THE OTHER by Thomas Tryon. Quieter and more reserved than King, but still creepy; a mainstream bestseller kind of vibe before the paperback horror boom of the ’80s fractioned off the audience. For the ’90s, that’s tougher, because I stopped reading contemporary horror in about 1993 or ’94. Kathe Koja’s THE CIPHER turned horror around by taking the focus off “regular folks” as it’d been in the ’80s and made it about artists, slackers, young people on the fringes of society. What can I say, I identified!

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For as long as you’ve been running your blog, what would you say are the top 10 most ridiculous/absurd/batshit insane horror novel covers you’ve featured? 

NIGHTSCAPE by Stephen George

ROCKABYE BABY by Stephen Gresham

SANDMAN by William W. Johnstone

DEW CLAWS by Stephen Gresham

SEE NO EVIL by Patricia Wllace

DEAD TO THE WORLD by J.N. Williamson

TRICYCLE by Russell Rhodes

LURKING FEAR & OTHERS by Lovecraft

WAIT AND SEE by Ruby Jean Jensen

RESURRECTION DREAMS by Richard Laymon

But there are still many, many more out there! I will always be on the lookout to feature them on my blog…

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What is your opinion of “pulp” and what purpose it serves–what can we learn from it about our culture that isn’t a part of canonical literature? “Pulp” novels are considered low-end and sort of disdained, but obviously they are popular to read.  What about the lurid themes found in them resonates with the reader? 

When it comes to the worth of any kind of pulp or genre fiction and its status, I like to turn it around and posit that lots of literature, the high-end, culturally-sanctioned stuff, isn’t nearly as profound or insightful as some people like to think it is. There is just as much cliche, lack of imagination, and poor–as in pretentious–writing in that kind of fiction as in pulp or genre fiction. Writers who began in the pulp fields are now considered major American authors, crime writers like Raymond Chandler as well as a horror writer like H.P. Lovecraft. Horror fiction deals with the same themes as any other kind of fiction: families, history, love, sex, death, violence, grief, guilt, etc. Sure, a horror novel might accentuate the less savory aspects of these themes, but I’d say a classic writer like Dostoevsky, for instance, is also exploiting them as well. I *think* that literary critics these days are little more amenable to that idea, anyway.

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Finally – The Nursery, by David Lippincott (a cult favourite here at After Dark in the Playing Fields) – any opinions?*

I’m unfamiliar with that title but the cover art is awesome! Added to my to-be-read list.

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A heartfelt thanks to Will Errickson for taking the time to answer our questions and share his thoughts!

 

The void and the fire: Maggie Nelson’s Bluets

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Behold the stack of poetry that I have been working through for over a year now! Some of them are more recent acquisitions, some recommendations from friends, a few were purchased on a whim and tucked away for another time. Perhaps to forget about, and then stumble upon sometime in the future, on a rainy afternoon. Or a sunny afternoon during which I will dim the lights and draw the shades and pretend like the intermittent cycles of the dishwasher are the onslaught of a summer sudden storm.

Pictured: Dark Matter // Objects For A Fog Death // Bluets // Glowing Enigmas // The Collected Poems Of Chika Sawgaga // The Moon Is Always Female // Complicated Grief // The Book Of Nightmares // Cemetery Nights // Mad Honey Symposium

In truth, so far I have only read two of these volumes of poetry: The Moon is Always Female by Marge Piercy  and Bluets by Maggie Nelson (though I just started the Chika Sagawa book yesterday…it is elusive and fascinating, and will no doubt bear multiple reads.)

The Moon Is Always Female is perhaps best left for another time; months later I am still digesting the potent, revelatory lessons I squirreled away whilst reading it. Piercy, in a voice earthy and strong and brimming with joyful humor, writes of longings, warnings, and dreams–and with a sense of absolute, empowering conviction that made me want to rejoice in laughter and song, scream in triumph. Someone on the internet commented that they thought this collection seemed “dated” (it was published in 1980) and I must disagree with every fiber of my being. It’s an intensely energizing read that I foresee engaging and inspiring women 50 years from now.

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Much like my favorite volume of poetry last year, Bluets was initially suggested to me by Pam Grossman, and I am so grateful that she shared the recommendation with me.
I am, however,  sad to say that in thumbing through Bluets now I am disappointed to see that I did not mark pages or underline passages; nothing to indicate that there was something that struck me as profound or which gave me pause for reflection that I’d like to revisit and re-read. Though I know marking up books in such a way is frowned upon by some people, I personally have no problem with it. They’re my books aren’t they? I’ll underline and asterisk and highlight as I please!  I personally find pristine books highly suspect. Regardless, my unblemished copy of Bluets remains a rare treat. Perhaps the lack of scribbled notes and underlined text is because there was so much in it to love and I could not isolate and elevate any particular passage over the others.

It is written as a series of small vignettes–numbered lists, really–exploring reflections upon the color blue and the connections that Nelson draws between those collected observations and her own experiences.

“1. Suppose I were to tell you that I had fallen in love with a color”, she begins.

From a reader’s perspective, it presents as a collector’s secret diary of sorts, whose pages offer glimpses of morbid heartbreak, pervasive loneliness, pain both artistic and physical, ecstatic grief, and deep sadness, as well as compassion, beauty, and fleeting joy. These confessions are collaged together with all manner of scraps and detritus relating to every blue in the spectrum, consulting numerous writers, artists and thinkers along the way.

156. Why is the sky blue? -A fair enough question, and one I have learned the answer to several times. Yet every time I try to explain it to someone or remember it to myself, it eludes me. Now I like to remember the question alone, as it reminds me that my mind is essentially a sieve, that I am mortal.

157. The part I do remember: that the blue of the sky depends on the darkness of empty space behind it. As one optics journal puts it, “The color of any planetary atmosphere viewed against the black of space and illuminated by a sunlike star will also be blue.” In which case blue is something of an ecstatic accident produced by void and fire.”

I read a review of Bluets wherein Nelson is accused of indulgent navel-gazing, and my response to that is: “…and? So?”.  That’s what poets do, isn’t it?  A poet, I think, is its own favorite subject, and that’s precisely as it should be. Evan J. Peterson writes “The poet is stereotyped as a different kind of pervert, one who enjoys the depths of his own navel and the taste of his own toes, and furthermore, one who wants everyone to know this about him.” Just so!

A handful of readers have noted that they are able to pick this book up and peruse these pages willy-nilly, in no particular order, but I think you are doing yourself a disservice to treat it like that sort of a read.  These writings have a flow, wherein one thought or recollection or recounting of facts leads into the next and though sometimes the connections between them are fragile, tenuous–they still exist. To skip around is to lose the link, and I believe that’s where precisely where the magic, the blue-tinged marrow is found. Not in the bittersweet experiences she shares, and not in the facets or features or characteristics of the color, but in how she links all of these things together.

“238. I want you to know, if you ever read this, there was a time when I would rather have had you by my side than any one of these words; I would rather have had you by my side than all the blue in the world.

239. But now you are talking as if love were a consolation. Simone Weil warned otherwise. “Love is not consolation,” she wrote. “It is light.”

240. All right then, let me try to rephrase. When I was alive, I aimed to be a student not of longing but of light.”

 

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