Have you ever seen a nightmare walking? Well, I have. Read Faith's look at the canines in all their guises that are here at Green Man as there's at least one canine that still gives me nightmares!
After you do so, turn your attentions to our offerings this edition which include some twenty-five book reviews with looks at both Icelandic and Tibetan folk tales, an essential companion to The Arabian Nights, English ghost stories, Angela Carter revisited, remembrances of all things Irish, yet more fantasy art, and a look at the early years of a beloved de Lint character, to name but a few of the book reviews while our music reviews look at Danish neo-traditional music, Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen, a Suzanne Vega concert, a band as good as the legendary Talking Heads, and, among other reviews, two long out of print recordings by Christy Moore!
Do check out the slew of interesting letters we got... Finally take a look at the coda piece about the strange story of Librarian Grubb...
Faith Cormier here. Welcome to the Green Man Building. Mind your step now.
We'll just go down this corridor to my office. Yes, I know it's a little dusty. I don't come here as often as I would like. Why? Well, it's the cats. You see, my husband is allergic to them, so before I leave here I have to have a shower and then sneak out the back way to avoid them, and when I get home I have to wash all my clothes separately, or he's miserable till I get rid of all the cat hair. So when I come, I stay at least a week, read all day and stay up all night listening to the Neverending Session. Might as well make it worth it.
Where was I? Oh yes, cats. I love cats. So does my husband, for that matter, which makes his affliction all the more tragic. Of course, the offices are crawling with them, and sometimes I wonder how the dogs stand it.
You didn't know we had dogs here? Saints preserve us, of course there are dogs! Couldn't get along without them. Get up, then, and I'll take you to meet them.
Actually, you don't want to meet Fergus and Fidelma. They guard the stables, they and their whelps. A fine brood they have, too. Their pups are always in high demand as guard dogs to the discerning.
You might not want to meet Colm and Connor and Ike, who patrol the grounds, either. They're bull mastiffs. Bred to catch poachers back in the Old Country, they were. No, of course we don't have trouble with poachers here - not with Colm and Connor and Ike on the job. Seriously, while the Building welcomes all who come with good will, there are always a few, fey or not, who don't come with good will at all. The bull mastiffs take care of them nicely. They don't hurt them, mind, just discourage them from hanging about.
Perhaps we'll just have a look out the window, then, and see if we can spot them. Look, there's Connor over there, on the other side of the moat. And the lovely little tyke drinking from it? She's Sophie, one of the junior music editors, working with Kim Bates. You're lucky you can see her. Not everyone can - she's half-fey.
Yes, of course we need a moat. See the hillock in it? That's where the bandog lives. Actually, he's a Cavalier King Charles spaniel named Jamie. Came here with a piper-lass named Tiffany. She ran off with one of the best squeeze-box players ever to grace the Neverending Session, but Jamie stayed. He seems to be under a spell of some sort, and he's vicious as all get-out. Thinks he can't cross running water, fortunately, so we managed to get him onto the hillock when he was asleep. He has a fine doghouse there, fit for a King Charles, and traditionally the newest staff member has the joy of feeding him.
Let's go on down to the Pub, then, but first I see you've meet Boomer, our hyperactive Boston terrier. Has quite the eye for the ladies, does our Boomer. They don't have quite as much of an eye for him, but he's ever hopeful. Some consider his leaping ability to be magical, but I'm fairly certain it's natural. Most of the fey consider it a blessing to be licked on the forehead by him -- except for the brownies, whom Boomer chases around like they were cats. They've taken to keeping tennis balls with them to distract him while they're cleaning.
Oh, dear, are you all right? Sorry to yank your arm so hard, but that was Hannah. I didn't hear her coming in time to warn you. No, of course you didn't see her, she's a phantom. She works with Kim as well, and rackets around the hallways on a little phantom motor-scooter when Kim isn't around. At least, that's what Kim says is going on. None of us have ever seen Hannah, but she's put bruises on almost all of us at some point.
Here we are, then, safely into the Pub. See those curly, cuddly dogs in the corner? That's our pack of bouviers des Flandres. They're a joint project of Gus the gardener and Mrs. Ware, the cook, actually. Mrs. Ware's cousin Danny is blind, you see, and has a bouvier as a service dog. The organizations that train them are always looking for places to foster the pups, and when Danny started courting Gus' daughter Ginevra who works in the stillroom, well, both Mrs. Ware and Gus fell in love with the dogs. Ginevra and Danny never made a match of it, but, to make a long story short, we've been raising bouviers des Flandres here ever since. Any dog raised in a Pub like ours will be socialized to handle anything, after all, and there's usually at least one blind harper or shanchaí around for the pups to practise on.
There are usually at least a few guest dogs here, too, accompanying visiting authors or musicians, or perhaps here on their own like poor Jamie. Fenrir is over there by the fire. He travels with The Old Man, though I'm not sure it would be appropriate to say Fenrir belongs to him. Indeed, you might just as well (or just as safely) say that The Old Man belongs to Fenrir. At any rate, Fenrir is supposed to be an Irish wolfhound, but he's a giant if he is. He's nearly as tall as I am when he stands up, and he can put his front paws on the mantelpiece.
Sit down, then, and have a glass of something cheering. What's wrong? Are you choking? Allergic, you say? Patrick be my shield and buckler, why didn't you tell me you were allergic to dogs, then?
All three of our featured reviews this edition are reminders that a review is not about the author or performer, it's about the work being reviewed. Enough said on that subject!
A review by Kathleen Bartholomew of Charles Butler's Four British Fantasists: Place and Culture in the Children's Fantasies of Penelope Lively, Alan Garner, Diana Wynne Jones, and Susan Cooper illustrates this rather nicely : 'Charles Butler is the author of several fantasies for children (The Fetch of Mardy Watt, The Darkling, Death of A Ghost). He also teaches English literature at the University of the West of England. In Four British Fantasists, he surveys juvenile fantasy through the lens of his professional scholarship, in a detailed analysis of the work of four acclaimed modern writers. He has chosen Alan Garner, Diane Wynne Jones, Susan Cooper and Penelope Lively as his subjects, identifying them with good reason as shining examples of the modern Golden Age of children's fantasy: inheritors of the traditions of both E. Nesbitt and J.R.R. Tolkien. This is a well-written and extremely scholarly work. It appears to be intended for an audience already grounded in both the historical roots of fantasy, and classic critical technique. The general reader should not be discouraged from approaching it, however. Good critiques act as a magnifying lens for the enjoyment provided by literature, and Four British Fantasists succeeds in this regard.'
John Benninghouse has for your listening consideration two re-released recordings by an icon of Irish folk music, Christy Moore: 'Growing up in the 1950s, he was surrounded by the music of his homeland, including such legends as The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem. After moving to England in 1966, Moore started down the path of the musician and was in various groups during the mid-to-late 1960s until he released his first solo album, Paddy on the Road in 1969. This was followed by Prosperous in 1972, which he recorded with some old schoolmates. The experience went so well that they formed a band together Planxty. The group achieved both commercial and critical success and is probably the seminal Irish folk band of the time. However, Moore departed in early 1975 and returned to life as a solo musician. In April of that year he released Whatever Tickles Your Fancy which he followed up with Christy Moore in 1976. These albums on re-release by Raven have been packaged together, and they give a snapshot of Moore getting back to his feet and establishing himself once again as a solo artist.'
We've had a few offerings from the Live at Montreux series passing through the Green Man offices in recent months -- Cat Eldridge has given this one a particularly enthusiastic write-up. 'Suzanne Vega: Live At Montreux 2004 is everything a concert recording should be -- reasonably priced (twenty dollars full price though far less depending on where you purchase it), of a decent length (twenty-one tracks totaling ninety minutes for the DVD, a dozen tracks totally fifty minutes on the CD), and simply perfectly produced, with the best voice in music today, singing with a perfect backing band that obviously knows Vega very, very well.' Cat concludes that 'If you haven't seen Vega live, this will make sure you catch her on the next tour that comes near you ... and if you've seen her, you'll very much want to have this DVD. It's that good.' Let Cat tell you more, by reading his review.
We lead off our book reviews with a look at Robert Irwin's The Arabian Nights: A Companion which gets a once-over by Donna Bird: 'This book has been sitting on my 'to be reviewed' shelf for longer than I care to admit -- although the publication date is a good clue. I think this is so in part because I have connected it in my mind with the larger, much larger, work for which this is a companion, and that seemed like too large a task to tackle. On Amazon.com, when you view any one of the in-stock editions of The Arabian Nights (or One Thousand and One Nights, as it is often called), you are likely to get a prompt suggesting that you order Robert Irwin's Companion as well. Now that I've read it, I can only suggest, better still urge, you to read this before you even consider reading The Arabian Nights, let alone buying a copy!' Read her Excellence in Writing Award winning review 'ere.
Deborah J. Brannon says 'Ever met a Christian elf? Have you ever been bridled by a witch and ridden to a meeting with the Devil himself? Have you ever seen a priest forgo blessing a mountainside because a troll begs him for a place to live? Ever seen books upon which the words were writ in fire? Climbed upon the back of a nennir (water horse) and found yourself drowned as a result? (Well, clearly not, as you're here reading this thus-far slightly rhetorical review.) Settle down, then, and crack open J.M. Bedell's Hildur, Queen of the Elves and Other Icelandic Legends. You'll find yourself enriched, intrigued, and confused only by some Icelandic names and why exactly this book is named after Hildur.'
More tales are up for her in this book: 'Tales of the Golden Corpse, a collection of Tibetan folk tales, as retold by Sandra Benson, is a brilliant introduction to a realm of folk tales little explored in the West. Useful for scholars wishing to begin their enquiry into Tibetan secular literature, the collection is also a gem for the layman's library. The stories in this collection are both familiar and new, instructional and absorbing: they use common fairy tale tropes, often tweaked in ways new to the Western understanding of such stories, while also teaching Tibetan values that are applicable across many cultures. People of all ages would do well to take heed of these stories, with their honoring of humility and cleverness and compassion: the wicked are punished and the good are rewarded, though not always in the ways one would normally wish.' Read her Excellence in Writing Award winning review 'ere.
Faith J. Cormier says that '[a]s befits the production of a university press, Looking Glasses and Neverlands is a work of scholarship. Karen Coats' mission is to explain the theories of French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan (1901-1981), using references to popular children's literature of the last century or so.' Her review of Looking Glasses and Neverlands: Lacan, Desire, and Subjectivity in Children's Literature can be found down this rabbit hole.
Richard Dansky apparently likes to spooked: 'The English ghost story, like, say, porcelain character jugs, is a peculiar beast. When done well, it's striking and absolutely unmistakable for anything else, not to mention ineffably English. When it's done poorly, the results are cringe-worthy. No doubt every reader of ghost stories has suffered through enough swings-and-misses, enough 'But he died last night a hundred miles away!' denouements to be wary of the next entry in line. Fool me once, and all that. This, then, is why any lover of ghost stories should move heaven and earth to get their hands on Left in the Dark: The Supernatural Tales of John Gordon. This is a marvelous example of the form done right, done with grace and delicacy and almost unbearable tension.'
Dansky also looked at Things Will Never Be The Same: A Howard Waldrop Reader: 'Howard Waldrop is a writer who is, perhaps, better known than purchased. Mention his name in science fiction circles and you'll get a chorus of 'Oh, he's great' from every corner of the room. Ask said chorus how many Waldrop books they own, however, and the discussion gets a bit quieter. Waldrop himself makes a similar point in the introduction, which comes across as a bittersweet mash note to his loyal readers, laced with regret that there are, in his words '3000 or so' of them. This book, then, is something of an attempt to rectify that situation. It's all the best Waldrop, or as near as makes no never mind, slammed between two covers and set out as a dare to the reading public: a greatest hits collection that includes all of the stories that passers-by are likely to have heard of. It's a feast of unrestrained, relentless fictional excellence, one great story after another.' Read his Excellence in Writing Award winning review 'ere.
Cat Eldridge continues his look at what he calls exhibition catalogs with this review: 'The website for this talented illustrator says of this impressive 'exhibition catalog' that 'Kinuko Craft: Drawings & Paintings collects for the first time an extraordinary selection from the artist’s thirty-six year career as she portrays mythic heroes and heroines, fairy princesses, historic figures, gods and goddesses and enchanted landscapes with profound insight into the true nature of the fantastic. These are works of remarkable beauty and power, glowing with jewel-like luminosity, a testament to the artist’s exceptional skill and craftsmanship, that are sure to appeal to lovers of fantasy of all ages.' Though accurate, it barely begins to tell the tale of just how good Craft is and how well this book represents her work.' Read his review 'ere!
Charles de Lint's Promises to Keep will please devoted readers of this talented writer: 'Jilly Coppercorn is perhaps the most beloved of the characters de Lint created for his Newford tales (Geordie Riddell, fiddler and friend of Jilly is certainly the other well-known and loved character.) Indeed she largely forms the tale of The Onion Girl and its sequel, Spirits in the Wires, the latter of which (sort of) concludes the story of Coppercorn as it has developed over the year of de Lint telling her tale. But little is known about how she came to be the talented if somewhat troubled artist in the Newford novels.' Read his review to see how Jilly came to be!
Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of the Beatles gets a look-see by Scott Gianelli: ' In 1962, a fifteen-year-old boy by the name of Geoff Emerick got a job as an assistant engineer at EMI recording studios, located at Number Three Abbey Road in London. Soon afterwards, he was invited to sit in on the first recording session of a pop quartet from Liverpool that producer George Martin had just signed. The Beatles were raw, but Martin saw something in them that a lot of other recording executives didn't. He saw something in Emerick as well. Over the next few years Emerick found himself adjusting the mikes and running the tapes for The Beatles increasingly often. When Norman Smith vacated his post as head engineer on The Beatles' sessions to become a producer himself, Martin made sure Emerick was chosen to take his place. His first task in this position, at the beginning of the sessions for what would become Revolver, was to take John Lennon's request to sound like a lama on a mountaintop for his lead vocal on 'Tomorrow Never Knows' and turn it into something concrete. Needless to say, The Beatles had begun experimenting in the studio to a degree that a band of lesser stature would never have been allowed to get away with. Did Emerick succeed in getting the right sounds recorded for Revolver and the subsequent Beatles albums? The results are on disc for everybody to hear, and at the risk of severely understating things, they speak for themselves.' Read his Excellence in Writing Award winning commentary for all the juicy details!
A Harlan Ellison novel gets the once-over from April Gutierrez: ' There have been many books written about rock and roll, some good, some bad, but this novel, originally published in 1961, has the singular distinction (as it proudly proclaims on the back cover) of being the only one enshrined in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Ellison is best known for his speculative fiction and non-fiction writing, so it's hard to imagine him tackling something so mundane as the story of a rock star, but as he comments in his author's note, Stag Preston is a symbol, rather than a portrayal of any particular rocker and Spider Kiss is a fable.'
David Kidney found a book which is indeed a true bargain: 'The signed, limited edition of I Me Mine was bound in leather, and was a bargain at only $400 or so. If you could find one, it would sell for many times that amount today. George Harrison was taken by cancer in 2001. He was a good songwriter, in a band with two other great song writers. He was offered one song per album because Lennon & McCartney were so prolific. So when it came time for his solo career, only a three record set was big enough to hold all his ideas. This new edition of I Me Mine is the first time it has appeared in paperback. It has a new foreword by Olivia Harrison, but it holds the same content that he published 27 years ago.'
Andrew Higgins Wyndham's Re-Imagining Ireland caused remembrance of all things Irish in David: 'I re-imagine Ireland almost daily. The two weeks I vacationed there burned indelible images in my mind. The lifetime I have spent enjoying my Irish ancestry hardly prepared me for the visit. My photos of the trip have become screen savers, and posters. The fact that I met an old poet named Charles Kidney at Blarney Castle only added to the mystical quality of that trip. It is just in this kind of mystical fantasy that most of the world sees Ireland, through mists of fable, tradition and story. That's why the University of Virginia held a conference in May 2003, to bring together more than a hundred Irish writers, scholars, artists, musicians, politicians, religious folk and others in Charlottsville, Virginia. The results of the conference have been turned into an hour-long film (included in DVD form with this book) which played on PBS in many cities, and on RTE (Irish Public Television). Then, there is the book itself, which is a sampling of many of the voices and opinions that were shared over those four days in May, some four years ago.' Read his review of this edited collection of musings on Ireland here.
Russell Hoban's Linger Awhile was, errr, an odd reading experience says David: 'Now this is an odd one! The reviews on the back cover trumpet a work of genius. They talk about the 'unsullied joy at the strange great coincidence of life that breathes through every sentence,' and call it 'fiercely comic and darkly moving.' Well. I suppose, in its own strange way, this little book is all that. But, I stick by my first sentence. This is an odd one.' Read his review to see why this was so.
David has a goodie for guitar lovers in the form of A Guitarmaker's Canvas: This is 'a book about the inlay art of Grit Laskin. Grit (William) Laskin, Luthier, began his career as an apprentice to Jean Claude Larrivee. Larrivee had been building guitars in the basement of his suburban home for about three years at that time. It was 1972, by 1973 Laskin was co-signing the guitars he built, and in '74 he set up his own workshop. But you can read all about this in this introductory chapter. It's what follows that makes this volume a must-have for any lover of beautiful guitars.' Our thanks to Grit for sending this review copy along!
Gayle F. Wald's Shout, Sister, Shout! the untold story of rock-and-roll trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe is a lovely book we got so David, who requested it, could review it: 'This is a compelling story. It'll keep you going all night. You could wish for more pictures, better reproduced. And you'll definitely want to be hunting down a CD of Sister Rosetta Tharpe's greatest hits. Because Shout, Sister, Shout! will just whet your appetite for a taste of the real thing. Highly recommended.' Read his review here which includes a link to her performing on YouTube!
Two works on Mary Poppins, Giorgia Grilli's Myth, Symbol and Meaning in Mary Poppins: the Governess as Provacteur and Valerie Lawson's Mary Poppins, She Wrote: The Life of P. L. Travers get a critical look by Farah Mendlesohn: 'Faced with two books on a similar theme, where one is a critical analysis and the other a biography, I am generally inclined to the critical analysis. As an academic historian I regard biography with a certain amount of suspicion: biography is a form of fiction, it creates for the reader a life story but simultaneously hides the Story nature of the text. Biography can close down the possibilities of reading. Critical analysis, when done well, opens up doorways and possibilities. However of these two books it is Valerie Lawson’s biography of Travers that serves both the woman and the texts best. I would go so far as to say that Grilli’s book is unusable unless you have first read the Lawson (or at least are familiar with Travers’ life).' Read her Excellence in Writing Award winning commentary for all the important details!
Albert Sánchez Piñol's Cold Skin gets looked at by Claire Owen, in which she says a good story gets overwhelmed by a wee bit too much overt sexuality: 'Though it was tantalizing, captivating and wonderfully written, there is far too much sexual content. There are only so many things you can say, it seems, and then it goes back to sneaking into the woods and removing one's clothing. Fred even finds a name for the beast, Aneris. Ah, what beauty! Her green skin is soft and hairless, her body is pure muscle, her body is beautifully sculpted and her eyes are such a wonderful, deep blue… I can only read that so many times before rolling my eyes and sighing.' She may have been sighing but her review left me chuckling!
She also looks at a novel by Scott Westerfeld: 'Specials presents the Earth three hundred years from now, where plastic surgery is obligatory when you turn sixteen, countries are replaced by cities independent of the others, hover boards are a favourite toy, wars are a thing of the past, and oblivious Bubbleheads ensure that crime is virtually non-existent. In fact, the twenty-first century is but a distant memory, dating from before the Rusties, a crazed group of people that attempted to poison the planet.... ...It is an action-packed, unique and slightly disturbing story (I refer to the obligatory plastic surgery, of course), but amazing and delightful all the same.'
I confess that we haven't paid as much attention to Angela Carter as we should have. Kestrell Rath takes a small step towards rectifying that situation by reviewing Re-visiting Angela Carter: Texts, Contexts, Intertexts: 'The challenge has been to find a mode for interpreting Carter's large body of work which is capable of representing it as a multi-faceted whole, rather than flattening the kaleidoscope of color and detail through a one-sided perspective. Re-visiting Angela Carter is a collection of literary criticism which directly addresses this lack of an integrated approach to Carter's work by examining Carter's literary and film allusions and contextualizing such allusions within radical cultural movements such as feminism and surrealism. Each of the eight articles focus on one of Carter's literary or filmic influences, Jean-Luc Godard, Marcel Proust, William Shakespeare, Jonathan Swift, Charles Dickens and Edgar Allan Poe, using these influences as a basis for analyzing Carter's references and appropriations as a radical aspect of Carter's writing strategy.' Read her Excellence in Writing Award winning review 'ere!
Some of what Angela Carter wrote could be considered horror so it's appropriate that Kestrell also looked at this tome: ''If one were to think of the three main genres of fantastic fiction, that is, science fiction, fantasy, and horror, as three sisters, horror would be the wild one, the dark sister with the bad rep... ...In Misfit Sisters: Screen Horror as Female Rites, feminist scholar Sue Short examines these horror television shows and movies of the past ten years, arguing that these narratives, like fairy tales, feature strong female protagonists undergoing rites of passage, and that such rites of passage narratives appeal not only to teenage girls but also to older women, particularly through such movies as The Ring and What Lies Beneath, which frame older women as maternal heroes who avenge crimes committed against younger women.'
Now listen up for a moment as an author has a confession as noted by the reviewer: 'In the acknowledgements to this, Caitlin R. Kiernan's fifth novel, the author indicates that novels 'never come easily' to her, and that the two years of writing Daughter of Hounds were two of the most difficult years she has ever experienced. I must admit to conflicted feelings on that score: while I wouldn't wish hardship on anyone, if the hardship resulted in a novel that is as sure-handed and seemingly confident as this, maybe then the hardship is just what the doctor (or the Muse) ordered.' Not 'tall surprisingly, Kelly Sedinger says good things of this novel 'ere.
Cathy Fenner, Arnie Fenner, and Irene Gallohave put together an exhibition catalog, r/evolution -- The Art of Jon Foster, which was a pleasant surprise for Robert M. Tilendis: 'One thing that I've found a delight while reviewing for GMR is the chance to move into fields I've never been able to focus on much before, one of which is illustration, specifically the art of the fantastic. Given my love of science fiction and fantasy and their allied genres and my background in fine art, it's a wonder to me that I've never concentrated on this, and so have missed artists such as Jon Foster -- until now.' Read his review to see why he was so impressed!