The fiddle chased him and pounced, and then the two instruments rolled around like a pair of kittens playing with a catnip mouse. A flute joined in, and the ball of fur turned into rambunctious reel, one Brian had never heard before. And then the deep booming of the drum nipped one of them on the tail, and it leaped up and turned a backflip before diving back into the music. -- James Hetley's The Summer Country

A note of rememberance before we get started this edition.. Unlike characters in fiction, mortals do die. And often die well before they should. One well-known mortal apssed over to the Summerlands recently so it is with deep sadness that Green Man notes that Robert Holdstock, aged but sixty-one years, author of the Ryhope Wood series and many other fine works, passed away in the early morning hours of the 29th day of this past month. As his website notes 'Rob was one of the best fantasy writers of his generation, and a man with a huge appetite for life. There was nothing he liked better than the company of good friends, a cracking meal, drink and laughter. His departure at only 61 years old is a tremendous loss.' He will be much missed by all who knew him, either as just readers or as friends of his and his family as well.

Now I'd like to mention the superb Winter Holiday cards of Caitlin Young, a talented artist we see around Green Man from time to time having some hot mulled cider while working with her sketch book. Her website is thisaway with a look at one of her cards which she describes as 'a combination of parts from two verses of one of my favorite traditional carols. Not a very popular one. In Praise of Christmas -- also called Drive the Cold Winter Away.' She also gets our praise for a well-crafted website!

So you want to know what's up this edition? I've not sure as I've been down in the Pub sampling the recently tapped cider so let's check the editorial tote board.

Almost all of our Featured Reviews are about Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are. Need I say more? I think not.

Which book reviews did I like this edition? Hmmm . . . I'm into mysteries right now as I often am as the winter cold sets in so I'd single out the looks at Vikas Swarup's Six Suspects (a mystery set in Mumbai), Jo Walton's Half a Crown (the completing novel of a trilogy set in an England where fascism won out), and Andy Diggle's The Laughing Magician arc of the Hellblazer graphic novel series.

For music reviews also befitting the much colder weather, I'd recommend looking at the reviews of a new release from the Latvian band Ilgi celebrating the Winter Solstice, a nifty collection of Steeleye Span material as taken from some of their early albums, and a review of three chamber pieces by Janaček and Martinů performed by the Emerson Quartet.

Want something to warm you up on these cold winter evenings? We wholeheartedly suggest Turkish coffee which is why this loving story by Zina Lee, who you've seen playing in the Neverending Session, is well-worth reading. It's from the archives of Le Hérisson de Sommeil (The Sleeping Hedgehog), our in-house newsletter.

'For me, the inky little cups of Turkish coffee are exactly that -- it's not so much the coffee itself that's so wonderful, but what tends to happen over the cups of it, even if I'm drinking it alone. I was in a tiny, tiny village in the pastoral English countryside visiting friends a bit ago, and after dinner we had Turkish coffee, some tunes, and a great deal of talking and laughing, in the lovely, warm, hospitable dining room of that unbelievably old house.

'And I've just come back from a lovely little Turkish restaurant in the East End of London, having had a wonderful dinner with two handsome English gentlemen of my acquaintance. One is quiet, slender and dark, with a sardonic twitch to his mouth; the other is bluff, solidly-built and fair, with his sardonic twitch in the lift of his left eyebrow; but both of them are devastatingly intelligent, both can be dismayingly erudite, and also the both of them are vastly quick and entertaining. Over snifters of Turkish brandy and those tiny white cups of sweet hot coffee, the two had me giggling non-stop with their sharp, witty, and exquisitely detailed descriptions of the worst English towns one might have the misfortune to visit, in a rather loopy reversal on the more normal litany of sights one really must see.

Turkish coffee doesn't cause these experiences, exactly, but they form an ineffable, intrinsic part of the conversations I've had while drinking the stuff.'

I've been sipping cups of Turkish coffee with Béla at a very small food stall that appears to have existed for quite some years near the Library at the Green Man building ..a small square of achingly sweet baklava, some Turkish coffee, and a friend's company have been a luxury for a late afternoon break for no little time, thanks to the proprietor, a small, neat, clean-shaven gentleman of a certain age with a spotless white apron highlighting his closely-cropped jet-black hair and eyes.

He's very skilled with his mortar and spoon, our host, grinding the beans to a very fine fluff, or gently stirring in the foam of the coffee as it boils in the gleaming ibrik over his little burner; part of the pleasure of the experience is watching him prepare the coffee after you've ordered it.

Something I never noticed until after the conversations with Zina about her digestif of choice is that, as soon as the Turkish coffee makes an appearance on the table, there's an almost imperceptible relaxing of body tension, of the conversation turning towards something just that much more enjoyable, just a gentle click towards 'civilized' on the dial of the day.

The Turks have another old saying about coffee -- 'To drink one cup of coffee together guarantees forty years of friendship.' At this point, Béla and I may have to live a few extra centuries to celebrate a friendship blessed with many cups of foamy Turkish coffee. May there be many more.

For our featured book reviews (yes, book reviews) and film review, we have a work beloved by generations of children and more than a few adults as well that was written and illustrated by Maurice Sendak whose amazing illustrated work many of us greatly admire and i t would eventually become a film which would in turn begat a full-kength novel with not an illustration to be seen... So how did it fare as it moved through its evolution from one medium to others? Let's find out . . .

Robert M. Tilendis leads off with a look at the source material -- 'It happens every so often that I find myself asked to write a 'review' of something that is so deeply embedded in our culture and such an integral part of our collective experience that my first impulse is to run off and find a place to hide. In the case of Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are (another of those children's classics that somehow I escaped reading when I was a child), it was daunting, at least a little, but it was also a lot of fun.' Read his insightful look-see at Where the Wild Things Are thisaway.

Richard Dansky said in a conversation with our Editors that his review of the Wild Things film 'may not entirely jibe with the mainstream perception'. In his Excellence in Writing Award winning review he says ' it was easy enough to look at the pedigree of the folks doing the adaptation and be afeared that it was going to come out as some sort of post-ironic hipster valentine to the notion of putting your furry suit on and just being your own wild thing. Thankfully, the film isn't that at all.'

As regards The Wild Things novel that came out of the film, Robert Tilendis says it 'is Dave Eggers' foray into the universe of Maurice Sendak, a novelization based on Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are and Eggers' own collaboration with Spike Jonze on the screenplay for the film of the same title.' Now go see why he calls it 'a mixed bag.'

For our featured music recording review, we again turn to Robert as he says 'Payback Time, a release from Tummel, a Swedish group that's not at all what you might expect. Think about the band playing on while the Titanic goes down. Think of some of Joel Gray's bitchier numbers in Cabaret. Think of Josephine Baker at her most outrageous taking Paris by storm. Think of a bunch of crazy Swedes with no inhibitions whatsoever getting together and letting everyone have it, right between the eyes. That might give an inkling of the tone of Tummel's Payback Time.'

Donna Bird gives us an incredibly thorough Excellence in Writing Award winning review of Six Suspects, by Vikas Swarup. She says that though 'Six Suspects is billed as the eagerly awaited second novel from the author of Slumdog Millionaire,' she has 'neither read Slumdog Millionaire (apparently also known as Q & A) nor 'seen the very popular film based on the novel.' So what did she think?

Richard Dansky takes a nice long Excellence in Writing Award winning look at Dark Horse Books' Lovecraft Unbound, edited by Ellen Datlow. His review explains what, 'in no small part, explains the appeal of Ellen Datlow's new anthology.'

Cat Eldridge, in a lovely in depth look at Threshold -- Volume 1 -- The Collected Stories of Roger Zelazny, says, 'I think I've read most everything that he wrote...but I was delighted to see all of it gathered up in one collection at last!' See what there is to see by going here.

April Gutierrez is thorough as always in her analysis of three Andy Diggle collections from Vertigo. She explains, 'These three collections bring together 15 issues of the long-running Vertigo title Hellblazer penned by Andy Diggle...They encompass a single plot arc, that of 'The Laughing Magician.' ' Very cool for Hellblazer fans.

April also had some interesting stuff to say about Brian Lumley's recent addition to the Necroscope series, Necroscope -- Harry and the Pirates. The review says that Lumley may yet still have more to offer up about Harry's 'Lost Years'.

New reviewer Joseph Thompson opens his review of Gregory Maguire's Making Mischief -- a Maurice Sendak Appreciation by stating, 'One of the best conversations I ever had as a child was with a a large birch at the edge of a peat bog.' Find out if the tree talked back by reading the rest of his review.

Another scholarly analysis from Robert M. Tilendis goes deep under the skin of DC Comics' Green Lantern/Green Arrow, Volumes 1 & 2 by Dennis O'Neil and Neal Adams. He tells us that for this particular incarnation of these particular characters, 'O'Neil took as his central question, 'What would happen if we put a super-hero in a real-life setting dealing with real-life problems?' ' Read the whole review for more.

Robert describes Mike Carey's The Furies, illustrated by John Bolton, as 'another spin off from Neil Gaiman's series The Sandman,' and claims it 'captures that same blend of myth and everyday life that was such a striking feature of Gaiman's work.' Tell us more!

Robert had a pretty strong reaction to the graphic novel, Vlad the Impaler, by Sid Jacobson with art by Ernie Colón. He tells us it 'is an attempt to relate the story of Vlad's amazingly short career as ruler of Wallachia.' Does it earn any points with Robert? Find out in the review.

Robert also read The Return of the Black Company, which he describes as 'the latest installment of The Annals of the Black Company, Glen Cook's epic fantasy series. At this stage, the Black Company is at war with the Shadowlords, some of whom, it seems, we have met before.' Does this one have the appeal it had the first time 'round? Robert tells us in his Excellence in Writing Award winning review.

Lory Widmer Hess picks up Jo Walton's Half a Crown, of which she says, 'In the conclusion to her Small Change trilogy, which began with Farthing and continued with Ha'Penny, Jo Walton returns to a postwar Britain that has negotiated peace with Hitler in exchange for a supposed autonomy. In reality, fascism has infiltrated British life to such an extent that a young girl can consider it 'terrific fun.' ' Full review here...

Elizabeth Vail tells us that 'Sarah Micklem’s worldbuilding abilities are simply superb. Through her gorgeously vivid writing style, we discover the cultures and politics of both Incus and Lambanein, their superstitions and festivals, their power struggles and infighting. The downside of this is...' Whoops! Now go read her Excellence in Writing Award winning review of Firethorn and Wildfire for the rest!

Hello, everyone -- this is Pix. Mr. Robert was going to do this section this time, but his nose is plugged up and he said his brain stopped working and I should do it. But don't worry -- he's sitting right here if I need help. (Don't worry -- he was kidding about his brain not working -- I can tell when he's joking like that.)

Master Reviewer Donna Bird was really excited about a new release from the Latvian band Ilgi. She says, 'I have come up with a term to describe music like this-its muscular, meaning that the people playing it have to use their muscles and I have to use my muscles when I listen to it. If nothing else, it makes me tap my foot or my fingers. Usually I find myself itching to stand up and dance to it. That's probably just what the band intended!' (That's what Mr. Robert calls 'developing the vocabulary.') Miss Donna's review has a lot of other information, too, so you should read it.

The Chief (that's what Mr. Robert calls him, but he's really the Editor and Publisher, Cat Eldridge) wrote about a group called The Men They Couldn't Hang. 'If there was any justice in this universe, The Men They Couldn't Hang would be as well known as The Pogues; in some senses they are their English counterpart. Indeed, Demos & Rarities, Volume 1 shows that this group, even on recorded material that didn't make the final cut, is damn good.'

David Kidney, who's a Master Reviewer, and an Editor, too, wrote about a band with a funny name. 'LEE HaRVeY OSMOND is all about Tom Wilson. And yet, on the CD A Quiet Evil , he is surrounded by a brigade of Canadian musicians. . . . This is haunting, haunted stuff, moody but catchy. You'll find yourself caught by it, and singing along before you know it.'

Mr. David got a chance to write about a new CD by an old friend. 'I put this album onto my iPod after buying the CD at the park. I have listened to it almost every day now for the past two weeks. I can't say that about many other albums. I continue to be impressed by Marg's facility on the guitar, and I continue to be mesmerized by this beautiful album. Don't miss it!' This is about Margaret Stowe and her album, Mellow Jello, and it's really interesting.

Iain Nicholas Mackenzie, our Librarian who sometimes writes reviews, got a collection of songs by Steeleye Span, taken from some of their early albums. 'So the bottom line is that this is a near perfect introduction to one of the finest folk rock groups ever to grace Albion. Hell, you even get to hear the original recording of the song which they end nearly every concert with -- 'All Around My Hat' off (obviously) of the album of the same name.' He has a lot more to say, so you should read it.

Peter Massey, Senior Writer, listened to an album called Hunting with the Hounds by Bill Malkin and John Sylvester. (Don't worry -- its not really about hunting.) 'This is a surprising album, but not in the way you would think. I have had the pleasure of reviewing several of singer-songwriter Malkin's previous albums, so I thought I had an idea of what to expect.... Bill Malkin is a very profound songwriter. His songs have found their niche in contemporary folk music. They have the feel of almost soft rock to them, which makes them easy to identify, and they are easy on the ear.'

Mr. Pete (Mr. Robert said I could call him 'Pete,' since everyone does) really liked two albums by Tim O'Riordan and Natural Gas. He says, 'I have to confess I had never heard of this band before my old mate Paddy Nagle brought these albums to my attention, but I am glad he did, as both are very entertaining albums. . . . The choice of material is excellent and demonstrates the wide diversity the band is capable of.' He tells more in his review.

Senior Writer Jack Merry reviewed a whole group of albums by the Goodacre Brothers and Julian Goodacre, which he really liked. 'So how is this music? Sublime. Perfect. Truly great.' That's what Mr. Jack says, and I believe him -- this is a really interesting review that earned an Excellence in Writing Award.

Mr. Jack also really liked a pair of new albums from Nettles. 'Like most North American Celtic bands, their music is brazenly unrestrained -- this is pumped-up dance music. . . . [T]hese recordings truly shine as Celtic albums. You'll think you've wandered into some small, crowded bar where the beer is cheap and the music ever so sweet. Just make sure you put your soft-soled dancing shoes on!' He tells all about them in his review.

Mr. Robert listened to three chamber pieces by Janaček and Martinů performed by the Emerson Quartet. 'The Emerson Quartet... bring not only decades of experience but an almost palpable sympathy to this music. It's a very comfortable fit, revealing an organic understanding of the way these compositions are put together. These are three intricate works, performed with well-founded confidence.' It was a really nice recording, so you should read what he said. (Oops! He said I should give his full name -- it's Robert M. Tilendis, Master Reviewer. Sorry about that.)

Then we got to listen to a new recording of some works by Brahms. Mr. Robert really likes Brahms, so this was special. '[M]y first experience with Brahms was a scratchy, hand-me-down 78 rpm of the great Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in D Minor, when I was about eight or nine -- I fell in love. I've heard more Brahms than I can sometimes remember until a phrase drifts past and I think, 'I know that one.' And sometimes, no matter how well I think I know the artist or a particular piece, I run across a new interpretation that opens new doors for me. Case in point: the recent recording by Vadim Repin of both the Violin Concerto and the Double Concerto.'

Gary Whitehouse (he's also a Master Reviewer, you know) wrote a review of We Used to Think The Freeway Sounded Like A River by Richmond Fontaine. Mr. Gary says: 'Richmond Fontaine is a highly intuitive band, as you'd expect after 15 years. They're a joy to see perform.... The default sound seems to be languid, but when they rock they do so with authority, and always with lots of space in the sound.... Another excellent release from Richmond Fontaine.'

Mr. Gary's next review is a reissue from Frank Turner -- Love, Ire & Song. 'Frank Turner is a rabble-rousing folk-rocker who blends old-school ideals with 21st century sensibilities. This quick-witted, silver-tongued Brit combines the social conscience and wit of Woody Guthrie, the wry populism of Billy Bragg and the anthemic melodies and fist-pumping choruses of the Waterboys. It's a potent combination and a lot of fun.' I think he liked it.

There. All done. Oh, shoot! Almost forgot. Thank you all for stopping by, and I hope you'll come again next time to see what we've got!

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. Needless to say, we're very proud of the great edition on Charles de Lint we did.

We did 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; not to mention ones on Kage Baker, Neil Gaiman, Catherynne M. Valente, Patricia McKillip, Christopher Golden, and Elizabeth Bear

Oh, our Editor just reminded me that we did (as if I could 'ave forgotten!) an edition devoted to the now departed and much missed Year's Best Fantasy & Horror anthology.

We pulled together a look at the Bordertown series that Terri Windling created -- Go here for that article.

Lastly, we have put together a Recommended Series Reading List covering many genres from fantasy to mystery and (of course) fantasy for your reading pleasure. You can find that list thisaway.

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 Green Man Review, 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 some kick ass metheglin while listening to Blodeuwedd tell her tale, he'll try to answer your question!

Green Man Review News is an e-mail list for readers of Green Man Review. 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. Green Man Review also posts its updates on Livejournal.

Entire Contents Copyright 1993 - 2009, Green Man Review, a publication of Tír inna n-Óc Publishing.

A metafictional postscript -- all actual living beings referred to in the Green Man grand narrative 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 Green Man Review or that of Tír inna n-Óc Publishing. 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.

 

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Archived 12 Nollaig /St. Lucy's Eve 2009 LLS