Saturday, 31 March 2018

'Notes on the Border'

The final story in the collection The Uncertainty of All Earthly Things is, rather cunningly, not so much a story as a collection of notes that might make any number of cracking tales. It consists of a series of entries in a journal starting on 13th September 2001 and ending in the following September. Not surprisingly the author finds himself in small towns, visiting bookshops, the odd record shop, and of course historic buildings.

Along the way we learn about Mark Valentine's literary tastes. I've heard of most of the authors he mentions, read somewhat fewer of them. He is of course a Machen fan, but also an admirer of the late W.G. Sebald, somewhat less keen on Simon Raven. A 'PJB' is, I presume, the author Peter Bell, who joins Mark for some bibliophile adventures. Along the way we find the killing of the last wolf in England (allegedly), some nice pubs, and find out what a cittern is. This story-cum-essay is a tad Borgesian in its eclecticism and a very pleasant, relaxing end to the collection.

So, overall, this is a darn good book. Anyone who likes well-crafted, erudite, and unsettling fiction will not be disappointed. And well done Zagava for producing such a fine hardback, while also offering TUOAET as a nicely-priced paperback.

I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.


Collyforbla said...

I can't see a paperback edition on offer; or were you being ironic!
I'd buy a paperback edition at a more reasonable price.

valdemar said...

Hi! The publisher told me there would be a pb edition, so I assume one will be along eventually!