the_siobhan: (book skeleton)
[personal profile] the_siobhan
I have some catching up to do. I'm still reading on the bus every day, I'm just behind in listing them.



    


The New Gothic: A Collection of Contemporary Gothic Fiction edited by Bradford Morrow and Patrick McGrath


Apparently I bought this one.

There is a long intro that explains how Edgar Allan Poe brought "gothic" literature away from ghosts and creepy castles and into the minor incidents in the mundane world. This compilation is supposed to showcase the gothic theme in a variety of settings from Vietnam to the American suburbs. I kind of get that they were trying to go for atmosphere, but in all honestly I don't find the collection particularly strong one. I skipped a few stories because they went on for pages and nothing happened.



    


Burying the Shadow by Storm Constantine


Another book about vampires. This time they are an immortal race from another plane of existence who drink human blood because it helps them to maintain their meat-suit and therefore blend in with us mortal types. The ubiquitous luxury is actually explained here, they survive via human "patrons", wealthy and decadent ruling-class families who support them and feed them in exchange for the sublime art that they produce.

As usual the vampires left me cold, but there were some humans in the mix I found plenty interesting. I also found it a neat twist on the story to make them a non-earthly race to which the normal laws of biology don't really apply.


One thing that did occur to me when I was reading this book how very 80s it (and the Tanith Lee book) both feel to me. The opulent effete vampire trope was such a big part of the genre at the time, and it feels really dated now.

    


Calenture by Storm Constantine


This is an amazingly odd story. A man who lives alone in a city where all the other people have been turned into crystal dreams and writes of a world populated by moving cities. The characters in his stories take on a life of their own and start searching for their creator. It's fantastic and dreamlike and just brilliantly weird. The writing is very detached - I didn't ever really connect with any of them - but I suspect that was by design rather than accident as it really adds to the sense of unreality.



    


(Documents Relating to) The Sentimental Agents in the Volyen Empire by Doris Lessing

For some reason we seem to have a lot of books that are part of a series. But rarely the first book. Maybe that comes from picking up so many from give-away piles.

Anyway. A rather complicated story about various warring planets that (as far as I can make head or tail of it) is mostly the Cold War with the serial numbers filed off. The focus of the book is the role of language in war and it's use in propaganda. There is little plot and no focus on the characters at all, so although it's interesting and has some genuinely brilliant passages, I can't say that I recommend it as a work of fiction.


    


War Fever by JG Ballard


A collection of stories. Most of them seem to deal with themes of alienation and he seems fixated on space as a place that is best left alone.

I had an ex that was really into Ballard but this is my first time reading him. The stories aren't bad by any stretch, but they didn't really pull me in.


    


The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern


A friend loaned this to me. I adore this book.

Magic is real. Two magic-users have a long-standing disagreement over who's methods are superior. They use proxys to challenge each other; children raised and taught in their preferred techniques and then sent out into the world as young adults to compete, although neither is really sure of the rules of the contest. There have been other challenges, but this one take place in a circus that is partially powered by magic and only open after dusk. The challenge becomes more and more complicated as people join the circus as performers, patrons and followers and everybody and every thing gets tied up in the competition.

This is a gorgeous book. The writing is lush, the atmosphere it creates is magical and the people are compelling. I am both inspired and completely discouraged by the fact that she apparently wrote it for NaNoWriMo.
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