'Oi', said God, 'listen to me'
'Keep your hands off the apple tree'
Eve and Adam wondered why
Made some cider and gave it a try
God came back and he made a row
'Go and toil by the sweat of your brow!'
The snake said: 'To hell with the daily bread'
He showed 'em how to do the latest dance instead
and it's The Old Dance - and a crooked dance too
Step outside the law
Play the tune on your damned old fiddle
It'll burn you up like straw

Oysterband's 'The Old Dance'

We have a rather nice look at Elizabeth Hand's private library here at the Green Man building this edition!

After you finish reading that peek at her library, turn your attention to our offerings this edition where you can read a lovely interview with Kevin Crawford of Lünasa; marvel at a graphic novel that tells the history of this world; find out why you can avoid a Rolling Stones DVD that doesn't seem to include much Rolling Stones at all; read about a novel that looks at the experience of urban life in modern Egypt; take a peek at a rich, dark and sometimes bitter fairy tale; read about tasty music from a Brooklyn-based ensemble that plays Romanian Gypsy and Balkan-inspired music; see why Jörmungandr is still important; look at a children's novel from an English socialist; discover two ensembles based in the U.S. playing music from the Middle East; find out why one always shops at ACME™ for pogo stick sneakers; and much, much more.

Come in -- let's take a short walk as Elizabeth Hand, author of many wonderful books including Illyria, Saffron and Brimstone, and Mortal Love, who has a private library here at Green Man has agreed to let us visit her space. Yes, you enter it by way of the hidden doorway tucked under that staircase. . . . Mind your head!

She says it is 'like the old Children's Room at the Hiram Halle Memorial Library in Pound Ridge, 40 years ago. Worn wood, low very worn wooden benches, low shelves and high, a cat sleeping in a window-seat, some vines in dubious-looking glass bottles trailing leaves along the shelves (and the cat). Old caucasian rugs on the floor; on the wall my signed photograph of G.K. Chesteron, Roberta Bayley's photos of Patti Smith, the signed Auden and Anne Carson poems given me by my muse David.

On a low shelf you can find Spenser's Faerie Queen , for reasons no one can recall, nestled alongside Walter de la Mare's The Three Mulla Mulgars, both books to be consulted seldomly but subscribers have much peace of mind at the thought that they are there. Elsewhere: that late 1950's hardbound edition of The Lord of The Rings, with the wonderful fold-out maps in back, as well as the Complete History of Middle Earth (11 vols.); Phyllis Wise's Great Tales of Terror and Supernatural ; the annotated Yale Shakespeare in umpteen volumes; a very old edition of Roget's Thesaurus; a concise OED; the multi-volume Dictionary of British Folklore edited by Katherine Briggs; Arthur Rimbaud's collected works; C.P. Cavafy's collected poetry, in the Rae Dalven translation; all of Auden; everything Laurie Colwin ever wrote; The Worm Ouroboros in the original edition, ditto Lud-In-The-Mist; the complete Ballantine Adult Fantasy series of reprints, edited by Lin Carter; Symbolists and Symbolism; Robert Stone's Children of Light ; all of Isak Dinesen's short stories; Eros the Bittersweet by Anne Carson; Lolita; Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol and David Copperfield; My Family And Other Animals by Gerald Durrell and Balthazar by his brother Lawrence; Edie: An American Biography (I have reread this a dozen times); Mapplethorpe by Patricia Morrisoe (ditto); Paul Bowles' Midnight Mass; a King James Bible; Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk. The Giant Golden Book of Elves and Fairies, illustrated by Garth Williams; Yonkers Illustrated, 1905.'

Now let's head down to the kitchen where Mrs. Ware is preparing Elevenses, a snack similar to an English afternoon tea, but consumed in the late morning. It is generally less savoury than brunch, and might consist of some cake or biscuits with a cup of tea or coffee, but knowing Mrs. Ware, I expect it'll be much more than just a simple repast as our redoubtable Mrs. Ware would never lay out a slab of sweet biscuit folded less than one hundred times before baking (she's been heard to count), and this morning is no exception! Soft ripe cheeses and even riper figs adorn the table (the latter gathered by nimble, invisible hands and spirited from warmer lands to our Winter'd halls). We've currant scones, dishes of almonds, thick wedges of fresh bread, and tiny silver bowls of still-warm pudding. And over there; slices of lightly-sugared oranges, peppered cucumbers, and a pot or four or six of honeys and jams. This slice of delightfully dense, sweet biscuit, though it would melt in the mouth with no assistance, should be generously slathered with sweet cream butter just so, and there's nothing like a cup of thick Barcelonian chocolate to round the whole repast. . . .

Choice bit of conversation overheard in our Pub this week: 'I could say many other things regarding that bloody review of my recording, mainly dealing with the musical tastes, writing skills, and obvious questionable breeding of the reviewer, but I shall not.' (He did add more pithy commentary after consuming several flagons of Ryhope Wood Hard Cider, but those comments are best left unsaid 'ere.) Indeed I expect several of our reviews this edition will no doubt cause similar comments!

 

Like Clive Barker did some time ago in The Thief of Always novel, China Mieville has written (at long last in his case) a novel for children of all ages. Let's have Kathleen Bartholomew tell the tale: 'China Mieville is renowned for the world he has created around the great, multi-species, many-storied city of New Crobuzon. Those are adult works, beyond a doubt: ferocious and frightening, full of the incandescent mysteries and fatal sins of maturity. At the same time, one of the conundrums of Mr. Mieville's style has been the sense of a small boy peeking through his writing; the kind of little boy who delights in snot and crawly bugs, who chases his sister with a frog and forgets to take that interesting dead bird out of his lunch box. Sometimes this gleeful grossness amuses the reader in turn. Sometimes it seems unnecessarily provoking. But it has always reminded me of how young Mr. Mieville is. Un Lun Dun is his first actual novel for young readers, and -- marvelous paradox -- it is a wonderfully mature work. The writer's voice is focused through the child's vision like light through a ruby, becoming coherent energy, light with a sword's edge. His previous hints of childishness become instead a clear-eyed look at fantasy, heroism, tragedy and redemption from the viewpoint of a 12 year old girl.' Read her Excellence in Writing Award-winning review here!

A Rolling Stones DVD, that doesn't seem to include much Rolling Stones at all, according to Scott Gianelli. 'The commentators try their best to place the Stones' music and image in a cultural and historical context, but given no actual performance footage to support them, their statements feel hollow... The Rolling Stones: Truth and Lies has nothing to offer anybody already familiar with the band's story.' Have a read of Scott's Grinch Award winning review to see why he found this release so disappointing.

Michael Hunter was lucky enough to catch up with Kevin Crawford, flute, whistle and bodhran player with Irish traditional band, Lünasa. Kevin was over in Australia with the rest of the lads for a tour that would include the WOMADelaide festival. Michael teased some interesting insight out of Mr. Crawford, during the course of his thorough and interesting interview, including the story of how the band originally got together back in 1997, almost by accident. 'It started in the Blue Mountains and it went so well, we came home from that trip and decided to really put some work into it, and we went out there again the following year and that was when it began a real, full-time kind of band. So Australia has a lot to answer for.' Read Michael's full interview and find out more about life in a band, life on the road, and even a bit about Lunasa's musical heroes!

Next up David Kidney heads for Switzerland for his DVD review of a 1973 recording of Canned Heat, performing live at the Montreux Festival. 'This a a double DVD set with one disc devoted to a 1973 Montreux appearance, and the other to a two-and-a-half hour documentary called The Canned Heat Story... This special edition two-disc set is a wonderful tribute to the on-going devotion of this band to the blues. They may not have been the best blues band ever, but they lived the blues they sang about! The blues surrounded them. Don't miss this excellent collection!' And don't miss David's excellent review of Canned Heat, Live at Montreux, 1973 either... read it here!

Mike Wilson says 'Swill and the Swaggerband is the vehicle for the roots-rock solo exploits of Phil (Swill) Odgers, one-time punk musician, and founder member of The Men They Couldn't Hang. Writing credits on four tracks belong to Swill himself, whilst another four tracks are penned by his fellow TMTCH comrade, Paul Simmonds. Elvis Lives Here has an engaging, loose and natural feel about it, with catchy choruses that have you singing along from the first listen, as if they're old, familiar favourites. There is a distinctive 'live' ambience about this entire recording, which is no surprise when you read of Swill's casual approach in putting together this project. Elvis Lives Here knits together a plethora of acoustic instruments; fiddle, ringing mandolin, strong steady guitar and driving banjo. Then there are Swill's impressive vocals -- they are somehow familiar, comfortable and easy to listen to -- almost inviting you to join in!' Read his glowing review 'ere!

Our review copy of Wildwood Dancing is now in her hands which is why Camille Alexa went back and looked at two earlier novels by the very talented author who wrote it: 'I had the good fortune of reading Juliet Marillier's Wolfskin and Foxmask one immediately after the other. Though connected, these are very different books, for the most part about very different people, and each is capable of standing on its own. Together, however, they achieve more than the sum of their parts.' She goes on to note that 'Both books achieve fantastic heights of lyric storytelling, weaving myth and history and fantasy together with the richness of one of Creidhe's tapestries. Recommended reads, for sure.' Read her review here. (Her review of Wildwood Dancing will be up in our next edition.)

Sandra Schwab's Castle of the Wolf review by Camille ends this way: 'If you want a rich, dark and sometimes bitter fairy tale, complete with a couple heavy-panting boudoir scenes and evocative descriptions of nineteenth-century Europe and antique architecture, you might find this a good read. For some of us -- in some of our moods -- character and prose and ambiance are more important in a novel than other elements. The characters here, even tertiary ones, are memorable and unique to themselves within the confines of the book. The narrative language is expressive and full-bodied, and if you want a real treat, you'll go listen to Schwab reading her own words in her soft and lilting, charmingly accented voice. You can find the podcast link on her Web site. Her voice is hypnotic and beautiful, and hearing her read her work helped the printed words come alive more gracefully in my mind as I read Castle of the Wolf the second time 'round.' Now remember who Jörmungandr was? If you do remember this particular serpent, you know why you should read her review now.

Kathleen Bartholomew is a lover of Warner Brothers cartoons which is why she was the perfect reviewer for this choice item: 'You have to like Warner Brothers cartoons to enjoy this book. If you don't, it will whoosh over your head like an archetypical cartoon bullet, probably sticking its tongue out at you as it passes. But if you are a fan, this book is a delight. Charles Carney has been writing for Warner Brothers for only 16 years, but his ad copy for The ACME Catalog is vintage quality humor. He makes one laugh at the idea of, say, pogo stick sneakers, while simultaneously igniting a mad lust to possess them with his fulsome description, At the same time, he is a master of the asterisk. Do read all the asterisked disclaimers, warnings and other caveats. Your only risk then becomes snorting unbecomingly with laughter.'

Kathleen also looked at Iron Council, the latest novel from a well-known English socialist: 'China Mieville's novels -- King Rat, Perdido Street Station and The Scar -- are all remarkable. Perdido Street Station (2001) was probably the first to bring him to the general attention of the science fiction and fantasy community, but his debut novel King Rat (1998) had already won the Bram Stoker Horror Award. He is an authentic wordsmith, a great craftsman of language, and the arc of his work has grown steadily in beauty, power and humanity over the brief course of nine years.'

I tried reading the novel, Keeping It Real, that Kathleen reviews next. I lost interest after the first chapter. Now I know why, as Kathleen notes this of it: 'Justina Robson is a journeyman writer (Natural History, Mappa Mundi) known for big ideas in her novels. She is considered a hard science fiction writer in her native Britain. However, her newest novel, Keeping It Real does not impress one with her ability to handle the big ideas in which she frames her story; nor does it indicate any real understanding of hard science. Using terms like 'quantum', 'unstable carbon' and 'cyborg' does not make a writer competent in explaining them any more than writing about elves, demons and magic makes one a sorcerer.' Ouch. Read her review here.

Blade Runner is perhaps the quintessential dystopian film ever made, which is why reviewer John Benninghouse was pleased with a book about it we gave him to review: 'Paul Sammon's Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner is great reading for film geeks, especially those who are fanatics of the film the likes of whom will debate for hours as to whether Deckard is a replicant or not. Just like me. Sammon spent almost 15 years on this labor of love and it shows in the remarkable detail which overflows from the pages. . . . This is the bible for Blade Runner fans.' Read John's Excellence in Writing Award-winning review thisaway.

William Dietrich's Napoleon's Pyramids was one of many pieces of fiction that appear rather unexpectedly 'ere at Green Man which is how Donna Bird who really, really loves a good historical novel ended up reviewing it: 'One of those pesky mailroom brownies probably left this book on my desk after noticing that I had been spending quite a lot of literary travel time in Egypt. What's even funnier is that this novel begins in Paris, one of the cities I visit most often in my reading life.  Napoleon's Pyramids tells a very entertaining fictionalized version of the brief occupation of Egypt by Napoleon's army early in that gentleman's career, when his ambitions were still intriguing potentialities.' Read her review to see why this novel didn't quite work for her!

Needless to say again, she loves a good historical novel and as a special fondness for things set in the Middle East: 'Along with Great Cairo: Mother of the World, we received this book [Birds of Amber] in a shipment of review copies from International Publishers Marketing. It's an English translation from the original Arabic, although I should note that the translator (Farouk Abdel Wahab) is a native Arabic speaker who teaches at the University of Chicago. I have been dabbling on the edges of modern Arabic fiction for the last year or so. It's not easy stuff to find in the bookstores I frequent-even the largest ones. However, I have discovered that at least some of the titles published by AUCP are readily available from Amazon, which is good to know, since their list is long and very alluring! The author of Birds of Amber, Ibrahim Abdel Meguid, has written a number of other works of fiction, including one (The Other Place, 1997) that earned him the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature. I could easily see similarities between Birds of Amber and Mahfouz's The Cairo Trilogy, which I read earlier this year. Both provide rich and detailed accounts of the experience of urban life in modern Egypt (Mahfouz in Cairo, Meguid in Alexandria) within a particular political and cultural milieu (Birds of Amber takes place in the 1950s and 1960s, right after Sugar Street, the last book in The Cairo Trilogy).' Read her review here.

There's nothing like a collection of short stories that works well according to Craig Clarke: 'Besides being the head of PS Publishing, and the editor of Postscripts magazine and numerous anthologies, Peter Crowther is also a widely acclaimed short story writer. His novella collection Lonesome Roads won the British Fantasy Award and Songs of Leaving was nominated for the World Fantasy Award, but readers will likely be more familiar with his debut short-story collection The Longest Single Note, which contains twenty-six 'compositions.' The Spaces Between the Lines gathers together a dozen more. . . . The stories in The Spaces Between the Lines are tied together not only by the pet phrase 'time-to-go time' (which appears in at least three of the included tales), but also by the height of their imagination and ambition. And also apparently a favorite subject (or fear) of Crowther's: there are three stories featuring men trying to prevent (or reverse!) the deaths of their wives. A curious coincidence, or fodder for a psychoanalyst? You decide. But before you try to read into the stories, first enjoy them on their own terms; they deserve it.' Read Craig's Excellence in Writing Award winning review here.

Cat Eldridge who loves a good urban fantasy found a promising one: 'When City of Bones arrived this week, I had forgotten that I had asked the publicist for McElderry Books at Simon & Schuster for an ARC of this forthcoming YA novel. (That is not an indication of what I thought of the novel itself -- it reflects the fact that we ask, for and receive, more books than you want to really think about. Not quite grains of sand on an infinite beach but close sometimes.) It only took reading a chapter to remind me why I wanted to read it. It is that ever-so-rare rare creature these days -- well-crafted YA fiction where at least some of the teenagers are both likable and believable. It is possible for this to happen, but I've found that most adult writers just aren't that good at creating characters that are not the same age as themselves. (I find that most conceptualised immortals suffer from the same lack of imagination.) Holly Black does it exceeding well in Tithe as does Guy Gavriel Kay in Ysabel, and there are others, such as Susan Cooper in her Dark is Rising series, but handling contemporary youth well is a difficult task.' Read his review to see why he thinks this author succeeds where so many have failed.

New staffer Claire Owen found a good read in Golden and Grey (The Nightmares That Ghosts Have) : 'As a young girl in a British junior school, Louise Arnold wrote a story, 'Invisible Friends,' for a writing composition. 'Invisible Friends' told the story of a ghost, Boo, who was rather unable to scare anyone. Fifteen years later, she participated in the British online competition 'Are you the next J.K. Rowling?' and won. An agent contacted her, introduced her to a publisher, and now she is the author of two books, this being her second.' Read her review to see why this novel appealed to her!

Kestrell Rath has a recommendation for your reading pleasure: 'Steve Berman's Vintage: A Ghost Story combines the vibrancy of the contemporary YA fantasy novel with the atmosphere of the traditional ghost story to produce a work reminiscent of that of Robert Aickman or Algernon Blackwood, where the ghosts exist both as manifestations of tragedies from the past and as echoes of modern loneliness and social isolation.' She goes on to note that 'the fact that the main character is a gay teen specifically does not make this story any less of a commentary on other teen issues.' Read her Excellence in Writing Award-winning review here.

Karen Joy Fowler, Pat Murphy, Debbie Notkin, and Jeffrey D. Smith are collectively responsible for editing The James Tiptree Award Anthology 3, an anthology that gave posed a quandary for Robert M. Tilendis which often arises for reviewers 'ere at Green Man: 'Anyone experiencing art, particularly with the goal of commenting on it, inevitably faces a quandary: how much of the meaning was the intent of the artist, and how much was supplied by the audience? This observation is particularly relevant to The James Tiptree Award Anthology 3, and that relevance is multifold. And there's part of the quandary.' Read his review to see if this Jörmungandr of a question had an answer!

A good laugh can be had in The Cartoon History of the Modern World, Part I according to Gary Whitehouse: 'Harvard mathematician Larry Gonick continues his wildly successful Cartoon History of the Universe series with this book, an irreverent cartoon look at world history 'From Columbus to the U.S. Constitution.' Anyone who loves history, comics or both should have this volume. I bought Gonick's first Cartoon History of the Universe volume for one of my daughters when she was in middle school, and she remains a lover of history, particularly the unexpurgated kind Gonick puts forth.' A few quibbles aside, Gary loved this work as you shall see in his review.

Anatolia's Folk Songs and Dance Music of Turkey and the Arab World and Chicago Classical Oriental Ensemble's 'Soul of a People' The Songs of Sheikh Sayyed Darweesh get the once-over by Donna Bird: 'These two CDs have been sitting in my 'to review' pile for quite a few weeks. They made it to the top this time because the characters in Birds of Amber, which I just reviewed, refer to Darweesh's music with great reverence. I decided to review them together because they both feature ensembles based in the U.S. playing music from the Middle East and playing it well, without trying to 'Westernize' it.' Read her review to see why both of these recordings work very well for her!

Cara Dillon's After The Morning tickled the fancy of Peter Massey: 'What can you say about Cara Dillon. that already hasn't been said? She comes from an Irish background, from a family with established roots in traditional music. She sings like an angel with a sweet milky voice as smooth as Baileys Irish Cream and an inherent style that is to die for. If you are reading this review, chances are you are already a fan of Cara Dillon. But if you're not, get a copy of this album and you soon will be.'

Next up for Peter is a recording called 'Part Time Rebel': 'This is singer songwriter Bill Malkins¹ fourth album. I mused that the title of the album, coincidently taken from the third song. 'Part Time Rebel', is a very apt description of Bill, for not only can he turn out really good quality songs that any professional performer would be proud of, but he also holds down a high-powered executive full-time occupation. So is he a part time rebel? There are 10 songs on the album, all penned by Bill except the title song and three others (more about them later) co-written with Graham Bellinger, The music is very easy listening, with leaning towards Americana ­ folk rock. I like it and I am sure you will too.

English ceilidh band Stömp's I Claim My Five Pounds and The Glencraig Scottish Dance Band's The Ceilidh, Are Ye Dancin'? both appealed to Peter who professed he didn't know all of the tunes played on these recordings, but that didn't really matter to him! Now go read his review to see if they'll get your feet stompin' as well!

Arturo Toscanini's The Complete Philadelphia Orchestra Recordings 1941-42 is a welcome addition to his collection of music says Robert M. Tilendis: 'There are vanishingly few twentieth-century conductors of classical music whose names have become household words. Perhaps foremost among those few is Arturo Toscanini. There will be objections, I'm sure -- Stokowski has a strong following (as well as film credits), as does Koussevitsky, not to mention Leonard Bernstein, Herbert von Karajan and Sir George Solti from the latter half of the century. But, whatever the objections and votes for favorite sons, the name 'Toscanini' not only stands out but has come to denote the archetype. . . . . .The original recordings have been digitally remastered for this collection, and the sound quality is very high. What is especially nice, though, is being able to have a first-class recording of history: a great conductor leading one of the world's great orchestras.'

MTO Vol. I by Steven Bernstein's Millennial Territory Orchestra proves that some music defies explaining: 'Bernstein has decided to resurrect the form, with this mid-sized combo that includes clarinet, saxophones, trombone, guitar, banjo, violin and Bernstein on trumpet and the extremely rare slide trumpet, also known as a soprano trombone. Well. All that makes it sound very academic, but MTO's music is anything but. It's a lot of fun, and there's not much jazz these days that you can say that about.' Read the review by Gary Whitehouse for a possible explanation of this recording!

He also really loved a band from his home city: 'Of all of Portland, Oregon's excellent independent bands, Dolorean is probably the best-kept secret and most worthy of much wider acclaim. Dolorean's third album, You Can't Win, evokes the spirits of great singer-songwriters of the past on some of Al James' best songs ever. And for the first time, this collection sounds as though Dolorean were playing as a full creative partnership rather than a backing group interpreting James' visions.' Read his review for a look at a quietly hopeful recording.

Country rock is up next for Gary: 'Five guys from Atlanta, Georgia, who call their band National Grain make some fine country-rock music on their self-titled debut full-length CD. It's a disc full of honest music about real stuff like heartbreak, heartache, hard work and hard liquor, those staples of country music. And it's made with real country instruments: electric guitars, steel guitars and such for twang, and the occasional organ for that little bit of soul.'

Gary looks at a recording, So Far So Good, that he says of that ' If you want to experience some hard-rocking, southern-fried music, one of the best places for you to start -- and finish -- is with Paul Thorn. I've reviewed a couple of Thorn's CDs in the past few years but never caught his live show. If you're in the same boat, or never even heard him, this DVD/CD set is a great opportunity.' Read his review 'ere.

Mike Wilson has a charity project for you to consider: 'Bairn's Kist is much more than just a collection of songs -- it is a product of a worthy and interesting project that Christina Stewart, a traditional singer from the Scottish Highlands, has been involved in over the last few years. In 2004, after around five years of research, Christina realised the first stage of her project, Kist O Dreams, aimed at promoting the singing of traditional lullabies. The CD Kist O Dreams was originally made available free-of-charge to new parents in the Scottish Highlands, though its popularity ensured that it would eventually become available commercially. Further resources were also made available including a Web site and a series of presentations and classes for parents and children across the Scottish Highlands.' So is it worth hearing? Read his review to answer that question!

We are, as any reader of Green Man is aware of by now, rather fond of food and drink 'ere at Green Man so we were quite pleased when Tanya Smith told us about her new review site. Here's the skinny on this exciting and rather tasty new endeavour as she told the tale over pints of Double Chocolate Stout in the Green Man Pub :

Can you imagine a site where both intellect and appetite are woven into one delicious finger licking tapestry, allowing you to orgasm with delight over the multi-sensory experience that I will bestow upon you. Stop right here and google elsewhere if you are under the impression that this is a porn site. I do not wish to ruin your sexual high, so off you trot to tug and pull somewhere else.

This my friends is 'Readthemandeat'. A site dedicated to the art of writing and food. Where each book I review, will be compared to a dish of my choosing that I feel sums it up. My God what a concept… Can you imagine..It’s really quite incredible not to mention edible…I'm so excited I think I need to dab a cold flannel between my thighs. (On second thoughts, porn site prowlers might as well stay tuned).

This Da Vinci idea came to me in a dream. My inner child spoke and said 'read and though shall eat’ 'What does this all mean?” I wondered as I woke to find my cat using my bellybutton as a water bowl. I'm really not sure if I understand this summons at this time but I'm hell bent on investigating. Let’s uncover the truth together …..

If you look closely, if you really look closely you will see a smoke ring blowing past Jesus’ left ear in Leonardo’s 'Last Supper'. It’s direction comes from under the table…..Man was it a good cuban…Welcome to my world!

Go here for a look at this most delectable site!

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