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Er...yeah. So. Anyway. There's also a pretty good review of Alabaster out from Publisher's Weekly. I quote:

ALABASTER

Caitlí­n R. Kiernan. Subterranean (www.subterraneanpress.com), $25 (160p) ISBN 1-59606-060-3

Dancy Flammarion, an albino adolescent who speaks to angels and slays monsters in human guise in the backwoods of contemporary Georgia, is the heroine of the five interlocking stories that make up this eerie dark fantasy collection. Kiernan introduced Dancy as an enigmatic waif in her horror opus
Threshold (2001) and has since conceived an elaborate cosmology in which the fey girl is one of many human avatars fighting small skirmishes on Earth that have cataclysmic repercussions across planes of reality. In "Les Fleurs Empoisonnées," Dancy is taken captive by a matriarchy of necrophiles whose decaying mansion is a nexus point for perverse and grotesque phenomena. "Bainbridge" interweaves multiple story lines that cut across time and space to show the far-reaching ramifications of Dancy's efforts to exorcise an ancient evil infesting an abandoned church. Kiernan imbues the tales with disquieting gothic imagery and envelops them in rich, evocative prose that conveys cohesiveness beyond their fragmentary plots. (Sept.)

At least, I think that's a pretty good review.

Also, congratulations to Steve Jones and Kim Newman for receiving the Bram Stoker Award in the category of Best Nonfiction for Horror: Another 100 Best Books, for which I wrote an essay on Kathe Koja's novel Skin (1993).

And I neglected to mention that the ToC of Mondo Zombie has robbed me of my middle intitial. Will these indignities never end? I'd just start publishing everything under the name Nar'eth, except then the accent mark denoting the "glottal click" would inevitably get left out, which is surely just as bad.

And because I'm sure that everyone is wondering why the first half of this entry began with that particular Wordsworth quotation, Spooky and I watched Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty in Elia Kazan's Splendor in the Grass (1961) last night. Kazan is one of my very favourite directors, and Spooky had never seen the film before. I want to find out where the film was shot, the scenes at the water fall/waterworks, as it's a place I'd like to visit someday.

Now, I think that I shall go to bed. I've not been sleeping enough. Spooky says that I get the next two days off, as I've worked straight through most of the preceding seven, and now it's time for Gay Pride and her birthday and, yes, sleep.

Comments

( 8 comments — Have your say! )
blakesrealm
Jun. 23rd, 2006 08:26 am (UTC)
Here are the locations that IMDB associates with the film, perhaps High Falls, NY?

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0055471/locations
sovay
Jun. 23rd, 2006 03:02 pm (UTC)
Kiernan imbues the tales with disquieting gothic imagery and envelops them in rich, evocative prose that conveys cohesiveness beyond their fragmentary plots.

That looks like a pretty good review to me. Congratulations.
mackatlaw
Jun. 23rd, 2006 08:23 pm (UTC)
Review
Yeah, but it's so vague as to be almost useless. We can tell the review liked it. But what sort of "disquieting gothic imagery"? Details, please!

Similarly, "rich evocative prose" is a rubbish phrase, full of useless odds and ends that should be thrown out.

Also, how exactly does Kiernan's prose compensate for fragmented plots? (Which is how I parse that sentence.)

That was my trouble with the entire review, when I put it under a magnifying glass: long words, little said.

Mack
sovay
Jun. 23rd, 2006 08:54 pm (UTC)
That was my trouble with the entire review, when I put it under a magnifying glass: long words, little said.

I don't consider it a great critical analysis. I do consider it positive, meaning that with any luck it will encourage people to buy copies of Alabaster and enjoy the stories in greater depth than this gloss provides. Which is, I think, all that a Publisher's Weekly review is supposed to do.

Similarly, "rich evocative prose" is a rubbish phrase, full of useless odds and ends that should be thrown out.

There's only three words in that phrase: you wouldn't have much left when you were done. Or with what would you replace it?

Also, how exactly does Kiernan's prose compensate for fragmented plots? (Which is how I parse that sentence.)

I don't parse it as compensation—"rich, evocative prose that conveys cohesiveness beyond their fragmentary plots." Without making too much of this one sentence, I took it rather as a suggestion that the story exists more in the language and the atmosphere than in the actions. Which may not be not complimentary toward the plotting, but I don't think it's an inaccurate statement. What's important, in these stories, often happens in the spaces between what's seen or said.

Okay. That was way more thought than should have gone into that review.
mackatlaw
Jun. 28th, 2006 08:00 pm (UTC)
Review Parsing
“Which is, I think, all that a Publisher's Weekly review is supposed to do.”

I’ll buy that. I hadn’t thought sufficiently through that angle.

Similarly, "rich evocative prose" is a rubbish phrase, full of useless odds and ends that should be thrown out.

There's only three words in that phrase: you wouldn't have much left when you were done. Or with what would you replace it?

A better wording on my part should have included the word “all.” I’d take it out entirely; I don’t think it adds to the review. But then, my background is newspaper writing where space is a premum and every word has to count. Those three words only tell me the reviewer liked it. I’d rather know what emotions were invoked and why. “Rich evocative prose” sounds good but feels too vague.

Without making too much of this one sentence, I took it rather as a suggestion that the story exists more in the language and the atmosphere than in the actions. Which may not be not complimentary toward the plotting, but I don't think it's an inaccurate statement. What's important, in these stories, often happens in the spaces between what's seen or said.

I find what you said to be far more what I would like from a review. If that’s what the author meant, I wish he or she had said it more clearly! I agree that much of the atmosphere of Kiernan’s works seems to come from what she is invoking in the space between “panels.” Scott McCloud of “Understanding Comics” had a word for this specific effect, but I can’t recall it. Essentially the reader fills in the details of “B” between drawing “A” and “B” in a comic, and I get that feeling a lot from Kiernan. We are told enough to imagine, and then our minds take it from there.

“Okay. That was way more thought than should have gone into that review.”

I had time on my hands at the office. Sorry about that?

Mack
sfmarty
Jun. 23rd, 2006 04:34 pm (UTC)
Sometimes I wish you would stop mentioning good films to me. My Netflix list is soooo long!

I trust your taste tho.

Congrats on the review!
mackatlaw
Jun. 23rd, 2006 07:25 pm (UTC)
Hemingway Filter
Allow me to run this review through my “Hemingway Filter” and turn it into newspaper style, with shorter words, concrete nouns, and action verbs. See what you think.

Dancy Flammarion, an albino teenager, speaks to angels and slays monsters with human faces in the backwoods of modern Georgia. She is the heroine of five linked stories in Caitlin Kierna’s newest dark fantasy collection, “Alabaster.” Kiernan introduced Dancy as a mysterious waif in her novel “Threshold” (2001). Since then, the Southern writer has crafted a cosmology where the girl, an agent for mysterious beings, fights small battles with large consequences. This could remind readers of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” only it’s totally different and should have discussed. Dancy may be delusional, hearing actual supernatural voices, or some combination of the two. Her patrons in monster-slayer quite possibly have self-serving motives, and she is far from glamorous in looks or background.

In "Les Fleurs Empoisonnées” (French for “Poisonous Flowers”), a family of female witches and animal-like ghouls takes her captive in their decaying mansion. Actually, the witches live in the house; the ghouls live below in the catacombs. “Bainbridge” shows Dancy’s efforts to exorcise ancient evils (are there any other kind? Not in Kiernan’s works.) infesting an abandoned church. There are other short stories in this collection that the review writer didn’t bother to talk about.



mackatlaw
Jun. 23rd, 2006 08:20 pm (UTC)
Edit: typographical errors
"should have been discussed"

"patrons in monster-slaying"

But you got the idea and amusement, I hope.
( 8 comments — Have your say! )