Showing posts from January, 2012

David Pinner - Poetic and hallucinatory sequences: protagonist is slowly subjected to a spectacle of psychological trickery, sexual seduction, ancient religious practices and nightmarish sacrificial rituals

David Pinner, Ritual, Finders Keepers, 2011.[1967]

The original seed from which grew the towering movie enigma The Wicker Man.

"Ritual's opulent dialogue, with the sickly richness of its countryside, and Pinner's decaying village, can stand alone from the book's illustrious successor. But, be warned, like The Wicker Man, it is quite likely to test your dreams of leaving the city for a shady nook by a babbling brook." - Bob Stanley

"Shrouded in the same brand of mystery and contradiction that forms its tangled plot, Ritual, the 1967 debut by RADA-trained playwright David Pinner is commonly recognised by cult cinema fanatics as the original seed that grew into the towering movie enigma The Wicker Man. Four decades since it first hit the bookshelves, rediscover this true modern rarity and historical keystone in the well-trodden bridge between occult fiction and cinematic pop culture. Set against an enclosed rural Cornish landscape, Ritual follows the trail of …

Ben Katchor - Part surrealistic travelogue and part satirical treatise on the very notion of culture, it is a book about imaginary places with enough heart to make its very real social commentary easily digestible

Ben Katchor, The Cardboard Valise, Pantheon, 2011.

"In this winsomely haunting graphic novel from Katchor—whose weekly strips have been collected into The Jew of New York and Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer, among others—an overstuffed suitcase becomes a ripe, comic metaphor for modern life. Set in a world tilted about 45 degrees away from reality, Katchor's story follows a number of characters through their quirky obsessions, each of which highlights a uniquely curious take on modernity. A hunt in the "Saccharine Mountains" turns a BLT into a tongue-in-cheek metaphor ("the lettuce symbolizes the cost of living"), while the citizens of "Outer Canthus" each undergo a symbolic funeral at the age of 47, after which they are "allowed to shed the burden of responsibility." In this slurry of sketchy and gray-tinged surrealism, the titular valise stands out with a certain haunting magic: a cheap and disposable thing (Katchor tracks its…

Alfred Kubin fits loosely within an Expressionist/Decadent/proto-Surrealist tradition. The Demiurge is a hybrid: It’s almost as if the novel channels Apocalypse Now by way of Hieronymus Bosch

Alfred Kubin, The Other Side, Trans. By Mike Mitchell, Dedalus, 2000. [1909.]

"Alfred Kubin (1877-1959) was one of the major graphic artists of the 20th century who was widely known for his illustrations of writers of the fantastic such as Balzac, E.T.A. Hoffmann, Gustav Meyrink and Edgar Allan Poe, of whom he illustrated at least 50 books. In his combination of the darkly decadent, the fantastic and the grotesque, in his evocations of dream and nightmare, his creation of an atmosphere of mystery and fear he resembles Mervyn Peake."
"One day as I was searching around the internet minding my own business, innocent and unsuspecting of any imminent peril, I stumbled upon a webpage called The Strangest Books Ever Written. There was a list for strange fiction and a list for strange nonfiction. Right there close to the top of the strange fiction list was The Other Side by Alfred Kubin. After a bit of research I discovered that he was an early twentieth century expressionist a…

Andrew Zornoza - A prose-photo book: a cryptic collection of random thoughts, experiences, and photographs of the author's fictional journey through the Western US and Mexico

Andrew Zornoza, Where I Stay, Tarpaulin Sky, 2009.

"In the process of constantly disappearing, the unhinged, unmoored and unnamed narrator of Where I Stay travels through a cracked North America, stalked by his own future self and the whispers of a distant love. From Arco, Idaho to Mexico City, he flees along the highways and dirt roads of a landscape filled with characters in transition: squatters, survivalists, prostitutes, drug runners, skinheads, border guards and con-men. Where I Stay is a meditation on desperation, identity, geography, memory, and love—a story about endurance, about the empty spaces in ourselves, about the new possibilities we find only after we have lost everything."

"Consider Andrew Zornoza’s Where I Stay a loose retelling of Werner Herzog’s 1974 march from Munich to Paris to try to save a dying friend—only set in the arid, ominous nowherescape of the contemporary Southwest and composed by a strung-out W.G. Sebald. Zornoza dedicates the book to …