A gallimaufrey


I have much that should be blogged, and so, to save time, I’m going to throw it all in here together and have done. It’ll be a bit of a higgle-piggle or hodge-podge, but in the spirit of the season, there should be something here for everybody.

  • I did indeed reread Alan Garner’s The Moon of Gomrath and found it full of the splendour of high magic but perhaps less of a well-rounded story than the Weirdstone. Poor Collin seems almost incidental in it, as his sister Susan goes, as it were, away with the fairies, but there’s some heady, visionary stuff along the way. This is how it ends (NO SPOILER ALERT: don’t worry, I don’t think I’m giving much away here):

    The horsemen climbed from the hillside to the air, growing vast in the sky, and to meet them came nine women, their hair like wind. And away they rode together across the night, over the waves, and beyond the isles, and the Old Magic was free forever, and the moon was new.

  • While reading Gomrath I got interested in the Wild Hunt motif, and guess how I found some really good material? By searching Google Books. From a volume of Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, for instance, I learned that “a dark gigantic rider, upon a steed of vast dimensions, was wont to traverse in stormy nights the hills of Horwich Moor”, a few miles north of Manchester, on the outskirts of Bolton.
  • The previous post’s title, “Dark Materials” was meant, in its roundabout way, to allude to the fact that I’m reading children’s fantasy literature again as a prelude to reading Philip Pullman’s trilogy. This might have to be put off a little bit longer, however, owing to my discovery of Susan Cooper’s five-book Dark is Rising sequence. If the other four are as good as The Dark is Rising itself, then I’m in for a treat. The character of Hawkin, terribly abused by Light and Dark alike, is a finely ambivalent creation; dark materials indeed.
  • Switching genres almost unfeasibly, my eye was caught lately by avant garde Canadian poet Christian Bök’s choice of “five of the best books of avant-garde poetry published in Canada during this last year”, chiefly because one of them is The Alphabet Game, a compendium of material by bpNichol. As an aside, I’m tempted to refer to this list as Bök’s Globules, the (umlaut-free) existence of which I discovered while idly browsing Google Sky (see how this all comes together. Who said hodge-podge?)
  • That excellent site Ballardian has had a redesign. Very nice. [via del.icio.us/bldgblog]
  • What, no ‘Books of the Year’ list? Not when The Millions and ReadySteadyBook do these things so much better. Here, though are some of the titles the monkey will be immersing himself in over the Christmas period: Will Cohu’s Out of the Woods, with its beautiful illustrations by Mungo McCosh, was a must-buy as soon as I saw it, and has already taught me more than a thing or two I didn’t know about trees; Angela Carter’s Book of Fairy Tales, also finely illustrated, by Corinna Sargood, and wickedly funny; Jerome K. Jerome’s Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow – not that I have that many days to be idle in, more’s the pity; John Masefield’s The Box of Delights – who could resist the tagline “Christmas ought to be brought up to date, it ought to have gangsters, and aeroplanes and a lot of automatic pistols.”?; and Laetitia Wolff’s monograph on the French graphic designer Robert Massin – wonderfully creative, rough-edged work inspired by vernacular typography. Happy holiday!

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