G'Afternoon. Do come in and have some cider and do try some of the cheddar and crisps... Oh, you noticed that we're getting ready for Winter 'ere as indeed we've reached the time of year 'ere at Green Man when nearly everyone discovers just how nice it is to be inside instead of being outside. Oh, there's no doubt that many things will be done outside including all-night dances with bonfires to keep us warm, ice skating and curling matches on the old Mill Pond, cross-county skiing through Oberon's Wood, and other pleasures of the Winter season, but the delights of the Neverending Session playing Swedish tunes late at night, curling up in a chair near the windows in the Robert Graves Memorial Reading Room and reading a Peter S. Beagle novel as a hard snow falls outside, warm gingerbread with whipped cream as baked by Mrs. War and her kitchen staff, and other pleasures lent to being suitable to staying inside are those most common 'ere as it gets bloody colder and colder.
Speaking of Peter the storyteller, may we make a few suggestions for your reading pleasure? Peter has many, many fans 'ere so we asked them which of his wonderful books they recommend...
Elizabeth Vail says that 'I've read a number of his books and his stories, but my favourite is still The Innkeeper's Song -- I believe it expressed the best one of Beagle's common themes - the bittersweet fairy tale.'
Indeed Robert Tilendis agreed with her, 'It's still a tie between Innkeeper's Song and Giant Bones. They've just got everything that makes a Beagle story a Beagle story, and they're unexpected -- and that's Beagle to a 'T.''
Now April Gutierrez picked a story she really likes -- 'The short story 'Professor Gottesman and the Indian Rhinoceros', which is found in The Rhinoceros Who Quoted Nietzsche, because it's very easy-going and sweet ... and, well, what's not to love about a rhino who engages in hot baths and philosophical discourse?'
(Vail wanted to add an additional note 'bout her pick -- 'I love The Innkeeper's Song - picked it up at random in a discount book store, and didn't expect it to be so beautiful, funny, and, well adult (gender-bending four way anyone?). It also happened that I'd read a short story by Beagle beforehand that provided some backstory for one of the characters.')
Camille Alexa has a good pick -- 'My PSB favourite is still A Fine and Private Place. The graveyard backdrop, the talking crow who flies food in for his sociophobic human friend, the middle-aged widow who comes to speak to her dead husband, the guy camping in a mausoleum who is so insightful with ghosts but is afraid to live with the living... I don't know why a ten-year-old would find such a wistful and nostalgic tale so compelling, but I just re-read it last year and found it still charming.'
Our Editor, Cat Eldridge, picked Beagle's Tamsin novel because he says that 'nothing beats reading a ghost story set in England. Though marketed as a Young Adult novel, readers of all ages will find this well-told ghost story to be fascinating!'
Kathleen Bartholomew says it's 'The Last Unicorn, because of its passion, grace and wisdom'.
Zina Lee echoes Kathleen's pick -- 'The Last Unicorn, of course. It was my first Beagle novel (indeed, it was among my first fantasy novels that I read), and remains my favorite Beagle by a long shot -- and it has been one of the benchmarks I still use in a lifetime of critical reading. It had absolutely everything that makes a first class tale, including that the tenor and flavor of the thing have stayed with me for almost 40 years -- bittersweet and soft, but with unexpected hard edges and facets that flash back the light that comes from no-one knows where.
If it were a piece of music, it would be one of those bittersweet waltzes that you can't remember more than snatches of later, and that always recall to you both first and lost loves that have never quite faded away for you, flavored in some ineffable way with the lessons learned and the tears shed while you went through all of it.'
Last word goes to Connor Cochran, Conlan Press publisher, who looks into the leaves at the bottom of his daily cup of Blue Moon herbal, and in the pattern he sees some of the following coming up in 2009 -- 'The long-awaited illustrated collector's hardcover edition of Two Hearts ... two new hardcover collector's items, one containing two new Schmendick stories and an essay, the other containing Japanese and Persian unicorn stories and an essay called 'On the Horn of My Dilemma'... the printed collection of Peter's Green Man podcasts, which will be called Four Years, Five Seasons... his new novels Summerlong and I'm Afraid You've Got Dragons... and more, so much, much more...'
A Late Fall Trivia Contest
Hopefully you haven't put away this year's Hallowe'en costume, 'cause GMR invites you to partake in a bit of belated trick or treating this November. The treat? Five sets of 10 spooky, seasonal books courtesy of Hachette Press! The trick? All you need to do is put on your thinking caps (and, if you want to, your costumes!) and hunt down the answers to GMR's trivia contest. Details and rules can be found here. Happy trick or treating!
We start our featured reviews with one by Camille Alexa. Here's her lead-off -- 'A couple friends asks me to accompany them to Vagabond Opera last night at Portland's historic Wonder Ballroom. 'We'd really love for you to come,' she says over afternoon cocktails; 'as long as you don't mind being seen in public with a couple of clowns.' A tad after nine, two clowns come to my door in full Dia de los Muertos makeup. Bulbous clown shoes, funny clown hats, striped stockings, and full Day of the Dead makeup. You know: your regular old run-of-the mill bohemian circus clowns dressed like, well, dead bohemian circus clowns. We pile into the car (just four of us, so no 'many clowns/one car' jokes please) and toodle off the Wonder Ballroom.' Intrigued? Damn right you are!
Our featured book this week won't even be out until next year, but you can get a sneak peak here! Richard Dansky brings us a compelling introduction to Elizabeth Bear's Seven for a Secret, announcing that 'where New Amsterdam was a series of mysteries, this is a single story of genteel espionage. Where New Amsterdam had a strong action element to it, here the pyrotechnics are emotional. And where New Amsterdam was in many ways about beginnings, Seven For a Secret is about endings, and last acts of defiance against the dying of the light.'
Christopher White found that though it has 'no faster-than-lightning solos, no flights of vocal pyrotechnics,' Pete Seeger's Pete Seeger at 89 is a worthy offering. 'Pete Seeger at 89 isn't about showing off or separating a star performer from his adoring audience; it is Pete Seeger reminding us we're all on this planet together, getting by the best we can, and suggesting we each should do whatever we can to make it a better and more loving place.'
What does Camille Alexa think of this 'space zombie invasion in a floating city tethered to a mysterious sulphuric hurricane planet,' also known as the novel Sly Mongoose by Tobias Buckell? Before racing to the nearest bookstore because that premise sounds too amusingly awesome to pass up, read her review to find out if the trip's worth it!
Donna Bird introduces us to a richly realized set of interwoven tales in The View from Garden City by Carolyn Baugh, giving us a thorough and educated evaluation of how well these tales capture contemporary Egypt.
A review of Istanbul -- A Traveller's Guide by Sue Rollin and Jane Streetly is also up for your perusal this week. See what Donna has to say about this travel book organized mostly around walking tours by reading her review.
In a wholly different vein, Donna also offers us a review of a divination card deck this week! Find out what she thinks about the Sacred Geometry Cards for the Visionary Path, designed and painted by Francene Hart, in her review here .
Richard next tries Daniel Harms' The Cthulhu Mythos Encyclopedia and finds it both applause-inducing and pity-inspiring. Find out why and how this book measures up as your One Stop Shop for all terms and beasts Lovecraftian in his review.
John Langan comes out swinging with tales of suspense and terror in his collection Mister Gaunt and Other Uneasy Encounters. Richard gives us the lowdown on what to expect from this collection of five stories with a succinctly thorough review.
Is Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers of Victory a comic about a superhero team or about individual superheroes? Do the usual assumptions about superhero stories apply to this world or is Morrison creating new assumptions? Is this story a masterfully ingenious work or a crazily-crafted mess? Does our reviewer have the answer? Read Richard's review and answer these questions for yourself.
Cat Eldridge returns to the Hellboy franchise to look at Abe Sapien -- The Drowning, a spin-off focusing on everyone's favorite icthyo sapien from the B.P.R.D. Does it do Abe justice? Read Cat's review to find out!
We also have a glimpse into B.P.R.D. 1946 for you this edition. Cat gives us the goods on a graphic novel purporting to cover Professor Bruttenholm's early years with Hellboy and his founding of the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense. Check it out here.
Cat's last offering for us this week is a look at the amazing 500 Essential Graphic Novels -- The Ultimate Guide, put together by Gene Kannenberg. See his review to discover whether this genre-oriented guide can help you discover new and appealing graphic novels.
Fans of the Dresden Files or those who have wanted to know where to start on the Dresden Files series but never could quite figure it out would both do well to check out April Gutierrez's review of Welcome to the Jungle, Jim Butcher's graphic novel prequel to his series.
April also looks at Hellboy II -- The Art of the Movie this edition and anyone who considers themselves a fan of del Toro's work on the Hellboy films would do well to pick up this book! Read April's review to discover the detailed information packed into this script and art book.
Have you ever wondered what would happen if Dark Horse and MySpace (yes, that MySpace) got together over breakfast and decided to commission an anthology of comics from both established comic creators and new talent plucked from the depths of MySpace? Even if you haven't, regardless of whether the idea makes you blink in bemused horror or curious anticipation, you should check out April's review of the resulting anthology.
April turns her attention to Swamp Thing next, evaluating Len Wein's Swamp Thing -- Dark Genesis and the two origin stories of Swamp Thing collected therein -- 'Dark Genesis is a very significant volume in the DC mythos, vital for understanding what's to follow later for this unique creation.' Read the rest of her review here.
Both fans of Swamp Thing and fans of well-told tales in comics should be able to enjoy Roots, a story from the edge of the Swamp Thing universe. Find out why in April's review.
Robert Tilendis tackles Joseph Campbell's The Hero With a Thousand Faces this edition, which should be well familiar to most readers of myths and legends. Both those who are familiar and those unfamiliar with the cycle of the Hero would do well to read Robert's succinct exploration of the work's core theory, which earns him an Excellence in Writing Award.
'Miss Celeste Temple, a young debutante whose fiance unexpectedly breaks off their engagement, secretly follows him to a mysterious house party where she witnesses women being subjected to strange and horrifying experiments. Cardinal Chang, a weathered assassin, is hired by a beautiful woman to track down a whore who supposedly murdered one of her friends at a crowded social engagement. Dr Svenson, personal physician to a German prince visiting Britain, is always pulling his spoiled, self-indulgent charge out of hot water but discovers that other members of his embassy may be corrupting the prince even further.' So begins Elizabeth Vail's review of Gordon Dahlquist's The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters. Whether you're bemusedly horrified or strangely compelled, check out the rest of her review to find out if this is strangeness worth pursuing.
Elizabeth next looks at the third installment in Liz Williams' Detective Inspector Chen series -- Shadow Pavilion. Find out why Elizabeth continues to find 'splendid enjoyment' in this mythological, futuristic, Eastern-oriented series she describes as an 'intoxicating blend of humour, imagery, and mystery.'
Matthew Scott Winslow brings us a review of Wanted by Mark Millar, the original graphic novel behind the Summer 2008 ultra-violent film of cartoonish propensities. Is the source material just as violent and cartoonish? Does it succeed at noir? Wallow in nihilism? Have fantastic art and awesome characters so you just don't care? Matthew has the answers in his Excellence in Writing Award-winning review.
David Kidney sprinkles his lovely review of Ronnie Hawkins and Mojo Man / Arkansas Rock Pile with a little history -- personal, global . . . whatever; it gets an Excellence in Writing Award this week. 'The Beatles and the Rolling Stones were born during or just after the war (that's WWII) and here's Ronnie Hawkins who pre-dated Hitler's invasion of Poland! And there was I, 18 years old (three years away from the legal drinking age) standing on the street outside the tavern, hoping they'd hold the door open so I could hear more of those dynamite sounds.'
And David wins a second Excellence in Writing Award (!) for his review of Gary Moore's Bad for You Baby. Read it to discover which track 'finds Moore growling with his voice and moaning with his guitar.' I'll take whatever he's having.
If Ry Cooder already has two 'best of' albums out, why does David think Cooder fans would want a third? His review explains why he thinks The UFO Has Landed -- the Ry Cooder Anthology deserves space on your iPod.
David opens this next review thusly; 'Annabelle Chvostek used to be a member of the Wailin' Jennys. Based on the first track here on her new solo release, she was the wailin' one.' Find if he meant that in a bad way by reading his complete review of Resilience.
Says David of Michael Jerome Browne's The Beautiful Mess, 'How do you describe this album? Browne did it for us when he titled it the way he did.' David's review explains how this music and the artwork of Jackson Pollock can both be enjoyed without being tidy.
'In case you're just joining us,' writes Gary Whitehouse, 'The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band is an acoustic trio, with The Reverend on guitars, harmonica and lead vocals; his wife Breezy on washboard and his brother Jayme on drums -- just a snare, kick-drum and cymbal. It doesn't get much more basic than that.' See why Gary found The Whole Fam Damnily a worthy successor to their previous album.
Gary's review of The Unsung Father of Country Music explains how the name and music of a man who 'was briefly as well known as the Carter Family' has 'mostly faded from the public's consciousness.' Try this one if you want to know more about Ernest V. Stoneman and his contribution to the genre.
Read Peter Massey's review of Sron's Electric to find out why he feels 'the band is worthy of a wider audience outside of Ireland,' and why it wasn't just 'the usual Irish album of diddly diddly music.'
'If the sound of an acoustic guitar beautifully played turns you on,' writes Peter of Daithi Sproule's The Crow In The Sun, 'then this is the album for you.' His review gives a clue as to why 'the general listening public might find this recording a little self-indulgent,' but he still feels it a worthwhile recording.
Of backup musicians, Peter says they are 'the unsung heroes who make up the complete sound.' His review of Martin Nolan's Bright Silver Dark Wood explains why he recommends this particular album to hear one of the good ones.
Live albums can be a bit of a slog, especially if the recording quality isn't up to par. In his review of Mustard Retreat's There and Back Again Peter notes the difference between live and studio recordings. 'Remember,' he says, 'when recording a 'live' performance, the band only has the one chance of getting it right!' Find out if Peter thinks they 'got it right' with this one.
We should remind you about our special editions which are our way of looking at specific writers and other subjects worthy of exploring in-depth. Of course, we've done several editions on master storyteller Peter S. Beagle which you can find thisaway and over 'ere; a great edition on Charles de Lint who's now beginning to set his tales in the desert Southwest with his next novel, The Mystery of Grace; one on the ever fascinating trio of Brian, Toby, and Wendy Froud; naturally we did one on master storyteller J.R.R. Tolkien who is much loved by our staff; and one on a fantastic new storyteller, Catherynne Valente who is always worth reading as is Patricia McKillip.
Oh, we should mention that every year that we do both best books and best music in which many of the wonderful folks we review 'ere pick dtheir choices of what they liked for that year. And our Editor just reminded me that we did (as if I could 'ave forgotten!) an edition devoted to the Year's Best Fantasy & Horror anthology.
For our main page, please go here; to search the roots, branches, and leaves of This Tree, use the Google search engine; every past edition of our fortnightly What's New can be found here; for a detailed look at GMR, go thisaway; and lastly, you report errors over here. Still have questions? Email our Editor here. Provided he's not in the Green Man Pub savouring a properly poured pint of Guinness while listening to the Neverending Session, he'll try to answer your question!
Green Man Review News is an e-mail list for readers of GMR. Each edition, we'll send you a brief précis of the week's What's New. This is an announcement-only list. To subscribe, send an e-mail from the address where you want to receive the précis, to this address. Or go here to subscribe. GMR also posts its updates on Livejournal.
Entire Contents Copyright 1993 - 2008, GMR and Midwinter Publishing except where specifically noted. All Rights Reserved.
A metafictional postscript -- all actual living beings referred to in the Green Man metanarrative have agreed to be there. Really. Truly. Confused? Just set back and enjoy our stories within stories. And do keep in mind that opinions expressed in the metanarritve do not necessarily reflect the views of anyone 'ere at GMR or that of Midwinter Publishing which publishes GMR. They might, they might not.
Any resemblance in Continuity to persons, places, or times of anyone or anywhere living or dead, is purely coincidental unless otherwise noted. Those who know differently are unlikely to admit their involvement.
Uploaded 15th November 2008 LLS