Archive | March 2015

Wylder’s Hand by J. Sheridan Le Fanu

6150285Wylder’s Hand by J. Sheridan Le Fanu (1864)

A Gothic tales of Victorian real estate… which means there’s murder, blackmail, and at least one mentally maladjusted relative wandering around the estate like a ghost.

I have to admit to being the type of person that’s skeptical of popular books unless they’re over a hundred years old. I have no patience for the page turning genre bullshit of today, but give me some Karl May novel or a forgotten “sensation novel”, and I’m there. Maybe I should approach contemporary page-turners in the same way, because it’s fun to breeze through a book, scanning pages, snidely commenting on how awful it all is – there’s a 1st person narrator in this book, but only for a third of it, yet he knows everything! How!?! WHY!?! No explanation – Wylder’s Hand is awful, but for a good bit it’s deliciously awful. The problem being that it then becomes awful again.

At the end you realize the plot could have been solved by the two heroines moving to Switzerland and becoming lesbians sooner. At least they were one of the two couples in the book that showed any affection for each other. The other was the Vicar and his wife, but their relations were so insipidly treacle-laden that I needed an insulin shot just to get through their chapters of endless, “Wha’does’wittle’wapsie’tink’I’should’do’boo’?” It was horrible.

But, geez, what a great cover – and for all the rage-reading I ended up doing at the end, skimming vast swaths of the book because it was written like this, “The cart road leading down to Redman’s Dell and passing the mill near Redman’s Farm diverges from the footpath with which we are so well acquainted, near that perpendicular block of stone which stands a little above the steps which the footpath here descends…” I have to admit I want to read another one of these great, clunky, shittily-written beasts of a Gothic novel. But if you want to read Le Fanu, don’t start here. Find a copy of In A Glass Darkly. It’s the better book by far.

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When the Clear Days Come

“A L’Entrada Del Temps Clar” is a 12th century Occitan poem celebrating spring’s arrival. Its name means “When the Clear Days Come”. And here in Pohang Spring has arrived, so enjoy:

When the clear days come, eya
To be joyful again, eya
And to annoy the jealous ones, eya
The queen wants to show
That she’s so amorous.
Go away, go away, you jealous ones,
Let us, let us,
Dance together, together.

She had a message sent everywhere, eya
That as far as the sea, eya
Let there be neither maiden nor young man, eya
Who shall not come to dance,
The joyous dance.
Go away, go away, you jealous ones,
Let us, let us,
Dance together, together.

The king comes, eya
To disturb the dance, eya
For he is very afraid, eya
That someone will want to steal,
The April Queen.
Go away, go away, you jealous ones.
Let us, let us,
Dance together, together.

But she wouldn’t let him do it, eya
For she needs not an old man, eya
But a graceful young one, eya
Who would well know how to comfort,
The delightful lady.
Go away, go away, you jealous ones,
Let us, let us,
Dance together, together.

Whoever would see her dance, eya
And her pretty body move, eya
Could well say, in truth, eya
That in all the world she has no equal,
The joyous queen.
Go away, go away, you jealous ones,
Let us, let us,
Dance together, together.

The translation comes from here.

February Books

Books read last month. I started more than I finished

Shadows on the Rock – Willa Cather (1931)

Life in late 17th century Quebec as seen through the eyes of an adolescent girl, Cecile. Odd to start the month with this and finish it with Revenants. Of course, there’s nothing supernatural here. Well, sort of, I guess it depends on how you feel about Catholicism. Cecile’s father is an apothecary and attends to the count who oversees the colony. The count is involved in feuds with the two head churchmen in the colony, who in turn feud with each other. Meanwhile Cecile’s father employs a deformed handy-man and has friends among the trappers and itinerants within town. There’s little in the way of overt plot, but I found it a page turner. If there’s any conflict it’s between Cecile’s attachment to the colony versus her father’s attachment to France.

The Witch of Napoli – Michael Schmicker (2015)

A historical novel based on the life of Italian spiritualist Eusapia Palladino. It started off great, and I had hopes it would be up there with John Harwood’s stuff, but in the end it pulled too long on the is it or isn’t it supernatural thread. It finally comes down on the supernatural side, but by then the novel’s over and done with when really in a way it’s just starting.

It would be like ending Scanners right after the guy’s head explodes.

Let Me In – John Ajvide Lindquist (2010)

My usual complaint: I would have liked this more if it were 100 pages shorter. As it was I started off liking it quite a bit, then lost interest as the narrative fragmented into multiple POVs. People tell me the movies did away with a lot of the extraneous stuff.

Revenants – Daniel Mills (2011)

I blathered about this elsewhere.  Read it. It’s good.

Revenants by Daniel Mills

B004OEILAY.01._SCLZZZZZZZ_SL500_I’m now reviewing books for the site My Bookish Ways. Here’s my first: Revenants by Daniel Mills.

Actually, “reviewer” is kind of a misnomer. I’m more of a “recommender” since I’m only going to review stuff I like or my curiosity for overcomes my curmudgeonishness.

And if you don’t want to read the review, then I’ll just say you should read Revenants by Daniel Mills. It’s good.