Monday 31 May 2010

Literary Remains

R(ay) B Russell is best known in the world of publishing for co-founding Tartarus Press with his wife, Rosalie Parker. Recently both Ray and Rosalie have taken to writing as well as publishing fiction. It's an interesting variation on the usual pattern, whereby the writer moves into editing because it's steadier work. So far RBR has published three books - two collections and one novella. The second collection, Literary Remains, is just out from PS Publishing. And a remarkable read it is.

While I'll have a longer review in ST18, it's worth noting that the stories are not conventional horror or ghostly tales. Instead they fall into a vaguely-defined territory between the supernatural, the psychological and the downright baffling. Influences? Well, Robert Aickman is in the mix insofar as dream logic seems to be at work in stories such as 'A Revelation', in which a council housing inspector finds something strange in an attic, then concludes he must have imagined it. 'Blue Glow', which is vaguely science fictional, I found reminiscent of M. John Harrison's work in The Ice Monkey. There are also hints of de la Mare, I think.

To those who value plot above all these stories will no doubt be frustrating. But they are perhaps best scene as sketches of a chaotic and dangerous world, offering unusual imagery and memorable scenes, but no simple conclusions. Well, not usually.

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