Friday 19 May 2023

DREAM FOX AND OTHER STRANGE STORIES by Rosalie Parker (Tartarus Press 2023)

NB I received a review copy of this book, and a very fine-looking volume it is.

Some authors are inspired by a particular landscape. The obvious example in the context of weird fiction is Arthur Machen, who often returned to the Welsh hills and valleys. In her new collection Rosalie Parker frequents the moors and dales of Yorkshire. Like Machen, her characters often encounter strange, sometimes mystical phenomena. However, they are seldom confronted with outright horror so much as a sense of unease and confusion shading into dread at times. Nature is not always red in tooth and claw but that's the way to bet. The title story, of a farm girl who finds a fox family more loving than her human kin, is playful but does not shy away from the violent implications of rejecting humanity in one way or another.

Monday 1 May 2023

Charles Wilkinson - Books from Egaeus Press

I pride myself on knowing a good story when I see one, and I'm proud to have published several stories by Charles Wilkinson. He's won mainstream awards for his short fiction, so his work transcends genre. Most of Charles' stories have appeared elsewhere, in publications that are more prestigious than ST. And he has had several collections published by Egaeus Press. I am fortunate enough to own some of these books and can say with confidence that they really are collectors' items. 

The latest Wilkinson collection is The Harmony of the Stares, pictured above. 'These are tales in which music often plays a role: music as ritual, music as language, impossible music, lethal music. But here also are the silences, the stop-gaps between notes, the attempted retreats from the audible world.' 

Earlier collections are still available. Mills of Silence consists of eleven stories, plus the title novella. The theme of strange phenomena intruding on the everyday world is common to most if not all of the tales here. While the tone can be playful, it's arguably a case of whistling past the graveyard for many of the hapless individuals caught up in the cogs of various dark machinations.

'On the face of it, these are often recognisable realities populated by ordinary people; conspicuously so perhaps! Yet they are realities whose gossamer veneers are liable to tear, prone to reveal the insidious agencies, mad philosophers, fake-philanthropic organisations and amorphous forces that are really running things!' 

I note that two earlier collections of Charles Wilkinson's works are sold out. These will soon be gone, secreted no doubt on the more readily accessible shelves of discerning readers. These are the sort of books you take down to peruse when the rain lashes the window of your garret or (if you're lucky) turret. Modern fiction, but very much in the Gothic tradition. Fantastical, certainly, yet all too realistic in their portrayal of the grim farce that is life in England now. 

ATARASHII GAKKO! - HANAKO (Official Music Video)

'Hanako of the Toilet' is a famous Japanese urban myth of a girl ghost that haunts... well, you can work it out for yourself.  (I th...