Barker, Duncan, Vandermeer, Mieville, Irving, and Kant

Life has a strange texture lately.  Always hectic, even in intense repose, as if a subtle yet insistent subterranean pulse threatens to explode the surface.  It’s a bit unsettling but exciting as well.  New guitars, new music, pushing forward on my two cd projects (Eleventh Hour and the follow up to 2006’s Speaking to Stones).  And reading.

Barker’s The Adventures of Maximillian Bachus and His Traveling Circus was rather exceptional.  Beautiful, striking narratives with a talking crocodile.  It reads as a precursor to both his plays and the Abarat series, with some hints at Weaveworld.

Duncan’s The Night Cache is a nice, poignant ghost story but not too much more than that.

Vandermeer’s Finch almost makes me want to quit as a writer.  Such unified vision with stark, machine-gun prose.  God I hate him.

Mieville’s Perdido Street Station: a classic now, I know, but I still can’t wade through his descriptions of the city—they’re beautiful, but they lack the lens of central characters.

Washington Irving’s Sketchbook—surprisingly beautiful and Romantic.  A clear goad to the American Fantastic Tradition.

Kant—German Idealism in the most painfully careful prose.  Love the ideas; want to stab myself with multiple sporks because of the sentences.

Thomsen’s anthology: The American Fantasy Tradition.  This will be a primary inspiration for my dissertation.  Thomsen argues quickly and assertively that American literature has its own significant contribution to the Fantasy genre; moreover, there are certain threads of fantasy that could not have been created by any other nation.  I’d like to extend his thesis by arguing that this burgeoning American Fantasy offers an essential component to what John Clute and Farah Mendelssohn call “portal fantasy.”

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3 Responses to “Barker, Duncan, Vandermeer, Mieville, Irving, and Kant”

  1. Speaking of Vandermeer, I just finished his “Booklife” and am eager to start reading some of his fiction. Is “Finch” a good gateway, or should I start someplace earlier?

  2. Also, I’m grinding my way through the extremely dense, extremely complex, extremely wordy, and mildly science-fictiony “Infinite Jest,” by David Foster Wallace, along side his “Consider the Lobster” essay collection. Slow going, but rewarding.

  3. Hey, and check out my blog as well, sir! woodybattaglia.wordpress.com

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