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junipergreen

pareidolia

science fiction, new weird, old weird, very weird - and everything else. often, though not always, discussed in relation to gender identity and (a)sexuality.

The Night Cyclist - Stephen Graham Jones

The Night Cyclist - Stephen Graham Jones

 There must be no compulsion to hide the bodies. Otherwise I'd have never found them.

 

A middle-aged chef cycles home from work at night, every night. One early morning, he finds a couple of corpses. The next night, he meets a stranger, clad all in black, with a bike long out of date, and wicked fast - the night cyclist.

 

SGJ is one mad, bad-ass wizard. This short story is brilliantly executed, impeccably structured, and using the perfect voice.

Read it for yourself here.

Hemmersmoor / Your House Is On Fire, Your Children All Gone - Stefan Kiesbye

Hemmersmoor - Stefan Kiesbye Your House is on Fire, Your Children All Gone (Paperback) - Common - By (author) Stefan Kiesbye

Marienwürmchen, flieg heim, flieg heim! Dein Häuschen brennt! Die Kinder schrein!

(Lady bug, lady bug, fly away home. Your house is on fire, your children all gone.)

 

This pesky old nursery rhyme combines the sweetest melody with tales of greatest horror. In German, there are about a trazillion different versions², most of them referring to some war or the other - the 30 Years‘ War? The Seven Years‘ War? Historians are squabbling. Some sing about lady bugs, some about cockchafers³, but no matter the version, two facts remain: 1) the family the song refers to is very much dead. 2) The song is quintessentially German in origin. Wilhelm Grimm quoted one version of it for the German folk and children‘s song collection „Des Knaben Wunderhorn“. What better reference to use for tales of German small town horror? Tales inspired by the darkest, the most unsettling fairy-tales the Brothers Grimm collected?

 

Stefan Kiesbye leads us to the (fictional) village of Hemmersmoor in the Teufelsmoor (Devil‘s Moor, although the name is supposed to come from the old German doofes Moor, taubes Moor = deaf moor). Hemmersmoor seems strangely removed from the rest of the world, fallen out of time. Christian, Martin, Anke and Linde are our four first person narrators, children growing up in an atmosphere of superstition and gossip, peer pressure and casual violence. This is told about in short stories, separate but interconnected.

Just like the old nursery rhyme gains its unsettling quality through the dissonance between sweet melody and gruesome content, Kiesbye‘s stories gain their horror through their dispassionate, almost flat tone of voice. The darkness is nothing unfamiliar in Hemmersmoor, it‘s nothing remarkable; it‘s a part of everyday life, hardly noticed and soon forgotten. The nonchalance shown by our narrators while committing the most hideous acts quite literally made my blood curdle. The first two stories seem especially violent and frightening. After that the tone is set, the following crimes seem not nearly as outrageous. But the horror stays there, unrelenting, chewing away at you, never letting go. Making you shudder. I found the last story to be the creepiest of all: it‘s so easy not to see, it‘s so easy to forget…

 

Soundtrack: Tom Waits used the line „Your house is on fire, your children are alone“ for his song „Jacket Full of Bourbon“. But I‘m going with my favourite band this time, Get Well Soon and „The Only Thing We Have to Fear“.

 

²The probably best known version containing the lines “Vater ist in Pommerland, Pommerland ist abgebrannt.”

³Seriously? That’s what you call poor Maikäfer in English?

Nobel-o-Mat: Wem würdest du den Literatur-Nobelpreis geben?

Was für die deutschsprachigen Follower hier: Der Nobel-o-Mat von Zeit Online.

 

Mein Ergebnis: Reizt mich ehrlich gesagt so gar nicht. Und was zum Henker ist "Urlaub"?

 

 

Hemmersmoor / Your House Is On Fire, Your Children All Gone - Reading progress update: I've read 37 out of 208 pages.

Hemmersmoor - Stefan Kiesbye Your House is on Fire, Your Children All Gone (Paperback) - Common - By (author) Stefan Kiesbye

Wtf

 

What. The. Fuck?

The Honourable Schoolboy - Reading progress update: I've read 52%.

The Honourable Schoolboy - John le Carré

I've finally made it to the half-way mark - my slow progress is no fault of the book, I was otherwise occupied and work is really getting in the way of my reading.

This is also the start of the second big part, which, as I'm told, is quite different from the first and takes us away from Smiley and Guillam. So, a perfect time to put this aside for a bit and venture into my Halloween reading! And maybe to finally finish a book again.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy - John le Carré

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy - John le Carré

John le Carré has crafted a spy-thriller that gains its thrill exclusively from a psychological battle of wits between its main characters. Instead of action, stirred Martinis and shaken dames, we get George Smiley rifling through old files and interrogating people. Le Carré‘s spies are no glorious heroes flitting from adventure to adventure. They‘re ageing, downtrodden men – on the one hand deciding about the fate of the world and often about life and death, on the other hand being subjected to the same pathetic little whims and emotions like everybody else. And lonely. They are all so very lonely.

In the end, I couldn't even spare some anger for the mole and his political betrayal. His motives seemed just too pathetic. The personal betrayal hit far harder. Betrayal is the big, black spider at the core of this book, personal and professional alike. Ann betrays Smiley, Smiley betrays himself by telling Karla a bit too much about his relationship to Ann, Guillam feels betrayed, Jim probably suffers the hardest blow… and so it goes on.

 

Around this big, black spider of betrayal le Carré has woven an intricate, complex web. Entangling it demands full concentration (more concentration than I was capable of while reading this book). I‘d seen the film, I‘d seen the BBC adaption, and still I felt lost sometimes. I needed quite some time to get used to le Carré’s prose, too. But after a while I started to enjoy his way with words and the undeniable Britishness emanating from the pages.

 

A lack of action does by no means equal a lack of tension. There are some gripping moments, e.g. when Guillam tries to steal some files from the archive – that was one of my favourite moments from the film and one of the best scenes in the book as well.

 

Although they are such pathetic creatures, le Carré manages to arouse sympathy for his protagonists. His antagonists remain thoroughly unlikeable. And that‘s my main point of critique: I never quite understood why everyone seemed so enamoured with and charmed by our mole, I never got how he gained such loyalty, because he was shown as an all around unpleasant person. I‘d wished for a better rounded character development for the other antagonists, too.

 

By the by: Although the book describes him quite differently, and Alec Guinness‘ delivered a top-notch performance in the BBC adaption, Smiley will always look like Gary Oldman to me. And it was just a strike of genius to cast Tom Hardy as Ricky Tarr. They've changed Guillam‘s character quite a lot for the film, though – I‘m not talking about the fact they made him gay; film-Guillam shows little resemblance to book-Guillam at all.

The Honourable Schoolboy - Reading progress update: I've read 15%.

The Honourable Schoolboy - John le Carré

Guillam was exhausted. Forty is a difficult age at which to stay awake, he decided. At twenty or at sixty the body knows what it's about, but forty is an adolescence where one sleeps to grow up or to stay young.

 

Yeah, well,... that would actually explain a lot. *yawns*

 

Seriously though, it's kinda nice to read a book where a forty year old character is considered young for a change, and not an old fart with one leg in his grave.

Then again, Guillam is male. No idea if le Carré would extend the same courtesy to a female character.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy - Reading progress update: I've read 82%.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy - John le Carré

Jim, Jim, Jim. You seem like a really great fellow, but you have an extraordinary bad taste in partners.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy - Reading progress update: I've read 41%.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy - John le Carré

"As a good socialist I'm going for the money. As a good capitalist, I'm sticking with the revolution, because if you can't beat it, spy on it."

My reading is really suffering from my decision to re-watch - re-binge, rather - Blake's 7. And Doctor Who s10 is starting on German telly today. And Doctor Who s11 is starting in October. So, reading is going to take a backseat for a while, I guess.

Tinker, Tailer, Soldier, Spy - Reading progress update: I've read 30%.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy - John le Carré

Slow going. This spy stuff is complicated. 

 

I've seen the film, I've seen the BBC mini-series, and still I've to pay full attention to not miss some crucial detail and end up completely lost.

...and now...

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy - John le Carré

...to something completely different.

Apparently I wasn't quite finished :)
I added a few things.

Dhalgren - I'm finished!

Reblogged from pareidolia:
Dhalgren - Samuel R. Delany
There came a man
(”Those are radios, that were his eyes“)   
Who offered to sell us his bones.
 
Swing by starwhite buildings and   
Lights come to life with a sound   
Of bugs under the dead rib.
 
Miles of it. Still the same city.   
 
 
 
 

Escher

 

 

Sehr weit ist diese Nacht. Und Wolkenschein 

Zerreißet vor des Mondes Untergang. 

Und tausend Fenster stehn die Nacht entlang 

Und blinzeln mit den Lidern, rot und klein.    

 

Wie Aderwerk gehn Straßen durch die Stadt, 

Unzählig Menschen schwemmen aus und ein. 

Und ewig stumpfer Ton von stumpfem Sein 

Eintönig kommt heraus in Stille matt.    

 

Gebären, Tod, gewirktes Einerlei, 

Lallen der Wehen, langer Sterbeschrei, 

Im blinden Wechsel geht es dumpf vorbei.    

 

Und Schein und Feuer, Fackeln rot und Brand, 

Die drohn im Weiten mit gezückter Hand 

Und scheinen hoch von dunkler Wolkenwand.

 

Georg Heym, Die Stadt

 

---

 

I'm not going to write a review, but one thing I want to say, because I saw this error too often: This is NOT magical realism.

 

Dhalgren - I'm finished!

Dhalgren - Samuel R. Delany
There came a man
(”Those are radios, that were his eyes“)   
Who offered to sell us his bones.
 
Swing by starwhite buildings and   
Lights come to life with a sound   
Of bugs under the dead rib.
 
Miles of it. Still the same city.   
 
 
 
 

Escher

 

 

Sehr weit ist diese Nacht. Und Wolkenschein 

Zerreißet vor des Mondes Untergang. 

Und tausend Fenster stehn die Nacht entlang 

Und blinzeln mit den Lidern, rot und klein.    

 

Wie Aderwerk gehn Straßen durch die Stadt, 

Unzählig Menschen schwemmen aus und ein. 

Und ewig stumpfer Ton von stumpfem Sein 

Eintönig kommt heraus in Stille matt.    

 

Gebären, Tod, gewirktes Einerlei, 

Lallen der Wehen, langer Sterbeschrei, 

Im blinden Wechsel geht es dumpf vorbei.    

 

Und Schein und Feuer, Fackeln rot und Brand, 

Die drohn im Weiten mit gezückter Hand 

Und scheinen hoch von dunkler Wolkenwand.

 

Georg Heym, Die Stadt

 

---

 

I'm not going to write a review, but one thing I want to say, because I saw this error too often: This is NOT magical realism.

 

Dhalgren - Reading progress update: I've read 720 out of 801 pages.

Dhalgren - Samuel R. Delany

Clipping Dhalgren

Dhalgren - Reading progress update: I've read 603 out of 801 pages.

Dhalgren - Samuel R. Delany

"Now," Kamp said. "Well. What have you been doing since I saw you last?"

Glass said: "Nothing. You been doing anything?"

Kamp said: "No, not really."

 

Well, good to have that settled.

 

Btw, last night I dreamed about trying to re-write the last, long chapter of Dhalgren (which I haven't even read yet) into a palindrome poem that can be read forwards and backwards. 

It was rather bad.

Dhalgren - Reading progress update: I've read 553 out of 801 pages.

Dhalgren - Samuel R. Delany

Okay, now it's getting very David Lynch.