You ask who's the writer madly scribbling away in the pub snug sipping the lovely named English-Style Bitter Honker's Ale by Goose Island Brewery? Why that's Jennifer Stevenson and she's working on the companion piece to her brilliant Winter Solstice piece which you can read here, and better yet, hear her reading thisaway. We have net rights on this forthcoming piece so the Summer Solstice edition next year will feature both text and audio versions of this story! We will do a fresh interview with her, take a look at her fiction, and I'm sure that other goodies will be there as well!
So you also ask why we have these articles from the archives of The Sleeping Hedgehog, our in-house newsletter? It's because there are Neverending Session musicians everywhere in this week after Summer Solstice as they all had well-paying paying gigs for the past few weeksas everyone in this city celebrates that most sacred of holidays.
Yes, they are almost literally everywhere. The Robert Graves Memorial Reading Room in The Library. The Kitchen when Mrs. Ware isn't around. The Consevatory amidst the banana plants. Even on the slate roof. (Don't ask. Just think of crows gone mad.) In duos and smeall groups. All playing music randing from strictly trad Irish to some very odd interpretaions of Philip Glass and Terry Riley. Most with groups of really joyous dancers accompanying them. Worse than a murder of crows with their music and merrymaking! Now read on . . .
First Zina Lee looks at the Neverending Sssion in general
Fiddles. They're everywhere.
The fairies may very well have brought the harp and pipes to Ireland and gifted the population with them, but sometimes it seems that, if they brought the fiddle to anyone, it was to get rid of the pesky things -- they seem to proliferate with nary a thought. Or perhaps it was the elves, living up to their reputations as nasty dudes with rather cruel senses of humor.
I can say these things, seeing as how I'm a fiddler myself; it's me, Zina Lee, popping in from nowhere to say hello to the lads at the Neverending Session at the Pub at The Edge, soon to pop back out again, but hopefully not absenting myself so long this time. I've missed the session and the craic of it all.
The Pub at The Edge -- more usually known as The Green Man Pub, but that's how I first was told of the thing, so that's the way I refer to it -- is home to our motley crew of players in a session that never ends--one tune begins, ends, turns around into another, and the players change as you look up and out and in and around. But one thing remains constant almost always -- fiddlers.
When I open my eyes to find myself in the Pub's shadows, watching the session and listening to the tunes go round, sometimes playing myself, the music plan gently the same yet always different and alive, there's always fiddlers. Possibly it's because no other instrument quite embodies all the different moods of the music as does the fiddle.
Wait -- they're playing 'The Baltimore Salute', a reel I've just been learning to play from my friend Jason, a lovely, rambly, flowing tune from Josie McDermott of County Sligo. You can tell Josie is a flutist, the thing doesn't sit easily on the fiddle, but it's worth the struggle for the tune.
And this tale tells of their varicious appetite when it comes to food, particularly for a really good breakfast . . .
Oatmeal drizzled with cream, fat pork sausages sizzling with fat, eggs both simple and fancy, bread thick with butter and strawberry jam, scones with clotted cream, calves liver, bacon, lobscouse, crispbreads, tea, coffee, Turkish coffee . . . .
At some point you stop playing and decide to get a breath of fresh air; there're no windows in the Pub, you see, and, after Reynard goes to bed, the only light comes from the fireplace in winter after the candles burn down, guttering in brief spouts to smoke and dark, though he often leaves the gas lamps burning in other seasons -- he used to try letting the musos sit and play in the dark, legend has it, but supposedly a few clumsy feet tripped somehow into the bar and several bottles were broken or at least emptied, so he started leaving lights.
Orange and grapefruit and cranberry and pomegranate juices, sausage patties steaming up fragrantly like a wish to the gods, sliced melons and fruit gleaming like jewels, mushrooms and onions sizzling in butter, buns and breads studded with berries and dusted with sugar . . .
You open the door, and, hey presto, there's light. Damn. You've done it again, or perhaps rather the Neverending Session has done it for you again, you've gone and played through the night 'til the daylight, and now that you've seen the light of the sun creeping up into the sky, your body can't make up its mind if it's more tired or more hungry.
Crisp and golden potatoes, fried with onions and lots of pepper, omelettes stuffed with sour cream and spinach or asparagus or studded with bright squares of peppers, perfectly crisp toast ready to cut into soldiers to be dipped into that egg, and did I mention coffee?
Luckily, this is the Neverending Session, so this is the Green Man Building, and that means that any musician still able to stand and heigh themselves to the kitchen hall will find Mrs. Ware's staff, crisply aproned and bright-eyed at an ungodly hour, serving a body all the breakfast it can eat before that body, now happily full, decides it's had enough, and sleep becomes less of an option and more of a consequence . . .
Oatmeal drizzled with cream, fat pork sausages sizzling with fat, eggs both simple and fancy, bread thick with butter and strawberry jam, scones with clotted cream, calves liver, bacon, lobscouse, crispbreads, tea, coffee, Turkish coffee. . . .
First up is a fresh look by Gereg Jones Muller at an author second only to Neil Gaiman in terms of total GMR coverage -- Famed author Charles de Lint assembled the stories in his collection The Very Best of Charles de Lint by asking his readers on various social networking sites to name their favorite stories. In his review Gereg Jones Muller says, 'Rarely has the democratic process been applied so successfully to the field of art.' Find out why, in Gereg's Excellence in Writing Award-winning review.
Gaiman's Neverwhere is a favourite novel around the Green Man offices and it was a BBC series before it was a novel, and a grpahic novel a few years back with the definitive version released last year. Now it's a theatre pieve which Kestrell Rath saw and worried before going that it wouldn't be as good as the novel -- 'I need not have worried. There are so many good things about Neverwhere that my first thought when it was over was, 'I want to see that again.' Lifeline Theatre's motto is 'Big Stories, Up Close,' and they definitely fulfill that promise, delivering a production which not only retains all the wit and imagination of Gaiman's story, but which also vividly demonstrates the immediacy and creativity of live theatre. My only regret in seeing this show is that I don't live close enough to attend more of Lifeline's future productions.' Read her review here.
On a somewhat different note, another English institution (and yes, indeed Gaiman counts as such at this point in his career for very obvious reasons) gets reviewed as well. Chris Tuthill saw Jethro Tull at Jones Beach, and the show did not disappoint. He says that 'seeing Martin Barre and Ian Anderson together is always a treat, and that Barre's playing seems to get better as the years go by.' The full review is here.
Camille Alexa found Changes 'flippant', 'humorous', and 'action-packed', though she wasn't sure her constitution could stand up to all of the 'exploding guts'. Perhaps, unlike Camille, you have the stamina of Jim Butcher's 'hard-talking, fuego-packing wizard-gumshoe-mercenary-hero', Harry Dresden. If so, start here with her succinct review.
Donna Bird liked the Berlin Noir series so much she decided to review it 'partly to give myself reason to reflect on the whole experience of reading them, and partly to share my unabashed delight and enthusiasm.' With such passion her words, found here, are sure to delight! Donna earns herself an Excellence in Writing Award for this series review.
Donna also finds the combination of love and war 'very appealing.' Read her review of Paul Griner's The German Woman to see if it won her over this time.
Another review of a novel about Nazi Germany from Donna Bird brings us The Sleepwalkers by Paul Grossman, a murder mystery about a German Jew in the Berlin Police Department in the 1930's. She says, 'Even by the standards of this subgenre (Third Reich murder mysteries), The Sleepwalkers is a very dark tale.' Find her review here.
Because most of the stories in Cthulhu's Reign occur after what Richard Dansky calls 'the 'Discovery phase' of the great cosmic cycle of Cthulhu's return', he doesn't recommend it for those unfamiliar with Lovecraft. 'For more jaded readers...the relatively novel premise, as well as the quality of many of the stories, makes the book a worthwhile read.' To find out more about these stories, edited by long-time Lovecraftphile Darrell Schweitzer, read here.
Richard Dansky says, 'if you're looking for anything hard-bitten or mean' don't read Shirley Tallman's Scandal on Rincon Hill. 'If you're interested in the travails and triumphs of Sarah Woolson, then the book will be a fast and enjoyable read.' His review is here.
Danger Girl -- The Ultimate Collection by J. Scott Campbell and Andy Hartnell caused Denise Dutton's inner five-year-old to think 'the best marketing for this series would be a 'Got Boobies?' campaign.' Her adult self answers, 'As a woman I'm sure I should be offended / flabbergasted / spouting off some sort of Subjugation Of Women claptrap, but this series is just too beautifully drawn to be anything less than breathtaking.' Check out her Excellence in Writing Award-winning review and see if 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' with spandex' might be a good fit for you.
In her review of Dark Delicacies III -- Haunted Denise Dutton says 'straight-up horror fans could use a new anthology series.' She thinks editors Del Howison and Jeff Gelb may have hit the jackpot. Find out why here.
April Gutierrez is not thrilled with Mink's storyline in Shinjuku, however, if you are a fan of artist Yoshitaka Amano, she says, 'The oversized format gives Amano plenty of room to play, and he runs with it.' Find out all the how's and whys in her review.
David Kidney notes '. . .if I knew then what I know now . . . I wouldn't've become famous.' said Van Morrison recently in a radio interview. In his two-for-one review of Greil Marcus's When That Rough God Goes Riding and Peter Mills' Hymns to the Silence, David replies 'It's too late Mr. Morrison, the barbarians are at the gates!'
Gereg Jones Muller liked many of the essays in The Mythological Dimensions of Doctor Who edited by Anthony Burdge, Jessica Burke, Kristine Larsen, but he felt 'problems come up whenever anyone tries to justify the title of the anthology.' Find out why here.
He had trouble putting down Ken MacLeod's The Restoration Game, calling it 'A fast-moving cross between The Matrix, E.R. Eddison's classic fantasy A Fish Dinner In Memison, and a John le Carré thriller, The Restoration Game is a lovely puzzle-box of wheels within wheels.' His review is here.
Catching Hell put Kestrell Rath off hamburgers for the Memorial Day weekend. She says it delivers 'a solid dose of adrenaline and a couple of intense gross-out moments.' If you're looking for a summer chiller and aren't partial to burgers, Greg F. Gifune's book may be for you. Find her review here.
'The mash-up is a mélange which acquires its flavor from the motley ingredients of seemingly contrasting plots and mythos', says Kestrell Rath. Find out why she thinks Lori Handeland's Shakespeare Undead 'is more mish-mash than mash-up' here.
Joseph Thompson says Eddie Campell's Alec -- The Years Have Pants 'is simultaneously timeless in the type of voyeuristic and exhibitionistic entertainment it offers, and dated in its current medium.' The words 'voyeur' and 'exhibitionist' make us want a peek at his review -- what about you?
As evidenced by the fact that he keeps a CIA clandestine services application stashed in his files, secret agent wannabe Joseph Thompson may be a bit biased about the topic covered in Super Spy. Still, we think you can trust him when he says writer and artist Matt Kindt 'balances the mundane and the spectacular so beautifully that hanging the laundry becomes an act of defiance and a tryst with an exotic dancer in Cairo is just part of the job.' His coded review can be found here.
Joseph says Greg and Lucy Malouf's Turquoise -- A Chef's Travels in Turkey is 'not for the cowardly or timid...Their work is a cookbook for chefs by chefs as much as it is an excellent example of culinary reportage.' Whew! We hope we're tough enough for this one! Are you?
After reading Ursula K. Le Guin's Journey to Post-Feminism by Amy M. Clarke, Joseph Thompson gives himself homework -- 'Now that I've finished this review, I have a letter to write to Le Guin. A thank you note.' That must be some book! Read his review here.
In his review of The Incredible Hulk by Greg Pak, et. al, Robert M. Tilendis appreciates the complexities of the Hulk's position while 'conceding that the Hulk is an unvarnished projection fantasy for every spindly, geeky teenage loner who ever picked up a comic book.' Read about it here.
Of Oracle -- The Cure by Gail Simone, he says, 'The writers have come up with a telling and subtle characterization, something rare in superhero comics, even these days.' Find out more in his review.
Robert claims that 'Anyone who really wants to understand what's happened to science fiction (and fantasy -- there's a large measure of spillover) since about 1968 would do well to study this book'. He's talking about On Joanna Russ edited by award-winning author Farah Mendlesohn. His thorough review can be found here.
Citing the struggle the YA genre has with 'Preconceived Notions', reviewer Elizabeth Vail says Incarceron is 'Pretty heavy stuff for a 'teenager's book'. Author Catherine Fisher 'raises a lot of questions, particularly regarding the idea of a changeless utopia and the inevitable suffering that comes from repressing natural progress.' That's good stuff for anyone to chew over! Find this Excellence in Writing Award-winning review here.
Gary Whitehouse says 'Stories that go on through too many follow-ups tend to get overheated or fizzle out or just get boring.' Has this happened to Larry Niven and Edward M. Lerner in their Destroyer of Worlds? See what he thinks here.
Leona Wisoker, a self confessed Roger Zelazny fan, found the audiobook version of A Night In The Lonesome October -- a 'yummy treat' and a 'wonderfully quirky story' not just because 'the plot frequently twists in unexpected directions', but also because she 'would venture a guess that any of his other self-read audio books would be as great a treat'. Read more here, in Leona's Excellence in Writing Award-winning review.