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What are you reading? — Page 54


Hodgson, William Hope - Little Aquamarine Book Of Agitated Water

For the most part, this is a well chosen collection of Hodgson’s “watery” tales.
A mix of stories and poems, set out in turbulent waves or still pools.
“On The Bridge” opens, and this could be the night watch of the RMS Titanic. Steaming though dense fog, eyes sharp for icebergs. A thousand souls depend on a split second, accurate decision.
Steer southwards, where the fathomless depths hide many a grim scavenger. In “A Tropical Horror,” one rises from the deep and hauls itself aboard.
“The Voice In The Night,” much anthologized, is justly famous. A devoted couple, lost at sea, clamber aboard an abandoned vessel. Salvation, there are provisions and water. They take note that the ship, stem to stern, seems to be covered in an odious fungus. Well, that should be easily cleaned. Matango fans, this!
Plunder from India brings death and anxiety to a small hamlet. Two recent arrivals are curious about the large marble statue that, some whisper, moves during the night. “The Goddess Of Death,” while not set in the seven seas, does splash to a watery conclusion.


Walsh, J. M. - A Journal

A journal of word activity. Exercises. Forced structure of word restriction, per day, per month.
Day 1 = 1 word. Day 2 = 2 words. Day 6 = 6 words. Day 22 = 22 words, etc ………
Some of the wordplay is inspired, at times the result resembles haiku. Other times it seems like top hats pulled from the rabbit’s ass.
Midway, Walsh finds a rhythm, recognizes the path, and there are a flow of jeweled phrases that might well find their way into a book one day.
This is a souvenir, a copy of a writing notebook, the equivalent of an artist’s sketchpad.
More rewarding than a vanity project, better than a curio, this is worthwhile in allowing readers to “look under the hood” of a writer’s creative process.
Do not overlook the brief notes following.


Von Biela, Lisa - Ash And Bone

Eileen, ex jailbird, chances upon the remote coastal hamlet of Cromwell.
She finds a hotel for sale, abandoned but in suitable condition.
An investment of sorts, and Cromwell is a perfect place to lay low.
The story follows a traditional route of a building with a history.
Midway, gears shift. Actually, characters shift. Eileen disappears from the narrative, replaced by newsman Frank, passing through, looking for a night’s rest.
He senses a mystery and roots around, although nothing shattering emerges.
Frank is an inept reporter, and the buried secrets you will pick up quicker than he did.
The book has some interesting elements, but overall it reminds one of the “movie of the week” installment.
Predictable, fills a hole, then done.


I am reading Wired by Bob Woodward about the life and death of John belushi


Connell, Brendan - Heqet

Diary, journal, jottings of our narrator: visionary, artiste, street bum.
The repeating arc follows our narrator’s encounters with a timeless enchantress. While these break him from his lethargy, afterward he seems in ruins. Maybe.
He uses, abuses copious amounts of drugs and stimulants, opening his eyes to hitherto invisible dangers, yet blinding him to readily apparent perils.
Throughout, there are a flash of fevered words, concentrated prose poems, leavened with the odd prattle of the deranged street person.
I found our narrator to be unsympathetic and unreliable.
For every stray insight, there are pages where I think his mind is a nest of moldy cobwebs.
Following the novella are stories, fragments, exercises.
“The Sweet Princess Prized” would have made a ripe conte cruel, a hundred years earlier. Spoiled aristocrat sisters, jealousy, envy.
“The Organist” could have come from Huysmans. Holy cathedrals are the battlefields where performers of darkness and light duel in thunderous crescendos.

One of the reasons I bought Heqet was because this collection was hailed as modern decadence.
Curious, I thought. I reside in a time where electorates routinely install liars as representatives and judges.
Where children are massacred weekly in classrooms and citizens no nothing.
What fictions will be transgressive and taboo in an ethically bankrupt society?
Invention pales next to our ugly daily realities. Vitam vivere.