Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Lovecraft revisited?

Last night, I read Alan Moore's "Neonomicon", one of the most hotly debated, discussed, criticised and admired books of recent times: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Alan-Moores-Neonomicon-Avatar-Moore/dp/1592911307/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1333516837&sr=1-1
These are my thoughts concerning this book: -
  • Quality of drawing: Superb, and one of the best that I have recently seen in works by Alan Moore.
  • Story: The first part ("The Courtyard") was better, while the second part was the bleakest & darkest piece that has originated from Moore's Pen (except "From Hell", but there truth was darker than fiction).
  • Concept: Many authors have tried to re-interpret H.P.Lovecraft and his mythos, according to their own perceptions, and Moore makes his own contribution. But in the 2nd half, the sexual stuff becomes mind-numbingly big (no pun intended), and dwarves everything else. The concept of re-inventing language to provide it with a dimensional depth was good, but it was overshadowed by the scenes of rape & bestiality. Too explicit, according to my opinion.
Summing up: Better than the recent deplorable efforts in the 'League of Extraordinary Gentlemen' series, but too dark to be appreciated properly.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Reading more strange tales

Completed reading this book last night: http://www.pspublishing.co.uk/literary-remains-jhc-by-rb-russell-619-p.asp
My humble review is like this:

Horror, as a genre, is like a country-fair. It is not necessary that everything you come across would be likeable; in fact some of them might disturb/distress/infuriate you to the point where you simply decide not to attend such fairs in future. But at times you would come across such elegant and charming pieces that would move you like never before. Fortunately, the present volume under review is one such exquisite & delightful piece, which should rekindle a reader’s romance with ghost stories. Although this is not the author’s latest book (that honour rests with “Ghosts”, published by Swan River Press very recently), chronologically they are later than those included in the aforesaid collection. This gets reflected in the tone & tenor of the stories. They are “strange”, “Aickmanesque”, slightly off-balance to induce a giddiness in the mind of the reader with respect to the reliability of the vision of the narrator/protagonist. But despite all these attributes, they were also smoother and better than the author’s earlier stories.

The stories in this collection are: -

1.      Literary Remains: a brilliant ghost story that kept me hanging till the last line, and even then left much-much to my imagination.

2.      An Artist’s Model: I am unable to classify this story, but it was shocking, and a superb read.

3.      Llanfihangel: Ghost story? Love story? Con-couple’s story? Feel free to make up your mind, although I am unable to decide anything. But what a story…….!

4.      Una Furtiva Lagrima: This is a story of lost love, quest, murder, and lots & lots of “what if…”. You have to read this story to understand what I am raving about, but believe me, you would be chilled to the core after you have read it.

5.      Another Country: sophisticated, but this theme has been practised & perfected by past masters; nevertheless, a very good & pacey read.

6.      Loup-garou: this was the first piece of fiction written by the author that I had read in an anthology edited by Mark Valentine, and reading only this story should be sufficient to prove how accomplished an author R.B. Russell is, and how he can alter an entire sub-genre within horror into something different.

7.      Blue Glow: The most “open” horror story that I have read in some time. It dissatisfied me, since I was reading it like a mystery (which it is), and it ended rather suddenly.

8.      A Revelation: Ghost story? Delusion? Optical illusion? Something else? Take your pick, but after reading this jaw-droppingly fresh story, you would be stunned.

9.      Asphodel: the simplest story in this collection which has a conventional shape, and is a decent read.

10.  Where They Cannot Be Seen: The perfect story to round up this delightfully horrifying collection.

I found these stories elegant, charming, compact, and deliciously ambiguous. The author respects the reader’s imagination and allows us to ‘complete’ the picture, while leaving us with enough threads & colours to do so. Highly recommended.