Eldritch Angel Investors From Hell: N.K. Jemisin’s The City We Became (Part 8)

Iris @ 2: We've got 7 chapters and a coda left, and my kindle puts me at a bit over 50%, so I think we've got plenty of room left for wrap-up! The pace is interesting, though - there's a common modern shape for ensemble stories where the ensemble comes together fairly quickly, making most of the plot about what they do as a team. But here, creating and integrating the ensemble is the central plot, and the thing that the Big Bad is desperately trying to prevent happening! So I wouldn't expect the Avengers to actually Assemble until the climactic confrontation.

As for Manny, my best interpretation is that he's the only one who came to New York to start over. Which is a traditional part of what makes New York itself, but far from universal. Bronca gets more memory, for example, because for her the fact that she's lived her whole life in the Bronx, helping it remember how it sees itself, is central to her experience of the city.

There’s Always a Catch: Tananarive Due’s “The Wishing Pool”

mp1952 @ 2: I'm so sorry you went through this, and that you're going through this again. 

My mother died of brain cancer last November, and her birthday is one of many awful anniversaries we're recognizing this season. It's fundamentally dementia on fast forward, and I often got caught up in counterfactuals about whether slower would be better, about whether there were any butterfly-flap changes I could have wished for. All while knowing that every version of this sucks, that there is no good way to die or to lose yourself, and perhaps the only thing that could be worse is to have the chance to have some imperfect say in the whole situation.

There’s Always a Catch: Tananarive Due’s “The Wishing Pool”

Iris @ 1: That's honestly an extremely Jewish approach to Torah! I'm often drawn to not just the words of Talmud (which comes from rabbis who were limited and often bigoted in their own right) but to the urgency of their desire to reinterpret words they found holy and necessary in more moral and generous ways. For example, there's some serious midrash dedicated to defining the circumstances under which one would be required to stone people out of existence. Argument and deconstruction and fix-it fic are a very traditional approach to beloved texts, religious and otherwise.

And I do, in fact, think about this as one of the reasons I'm drawn to engaging with problematic texts as a fan, too. It doesn't hurt that Talmud sometimes crosses the line into straight-up superhero/supervillain stories. Ben Rosenbaum introduced me to this fave: https://benjaminrosenbaum.github.io/blog/archives/000971.html

Interdimensional Rap Battle: N.K. Jemisin’s The City We Became (Part 7)

Cassandraic @ 1: I actually do have a specific introverted Harvard librarian in mind, and may have erred too far in avoiding identifying details. Introverted librarians are real, common, and extremely variable in everything else about them--also likely very good at doing the required research for fighting elder gods!

Don’t Trust Things in Holes: Gemma Files’ “The Harrow”

Eugene R @ 4: Indeed you do! It's normally an event for a specific U Chicago class, but they were running a special compressed version for a pre-con event! (And now we must all deal with the predictable consequences of two incredibly intense multi-day events in the span of a week.)

Feed Me, Seymour: H.G. Wells’ “The Flowering of the Strange Orchid”

Ananda @ 7: Thank you, I had somehow missed that deeply unpleasant side of his views. I'd been thinking of his pacifist and socialist work, and The Rights of Man. Some people use entirely too narrow a definition of humanity...

Lions Drinking With Jackals: Molly Tanzer’s “Grave-Worms”

So right after I posted this, and right before the site went down, I suddenly put two and two together and got holy shit. Atlas Shrugged... is a book that reshapes readers' understanding of reality, such that they work in tandem to create a very specific dystopian future. Much like a certain play.

Now if only I had a clue what to do about that!

The Hazards of Bad Poetry: Kelly Link’s “The Specialist’s Hat”

Iris @ 4: I've felt this way in the past as well. This time, I found that the broad reading I've done for this column gives me more context for slipstream, and for better appreciating the lack of resolution!

Strangers in Red: Crystal Sidell’s “The Truth About Doppelgangers”

Pastthestarryvoids @ 5: Oof. That would kind of explain these Silicon Valley apocalypse cults, wouldn't it? Things I wish were fictional for a thousand, Alex!

Giants in the Sky: Clive Barker’s “In the Hills, the Cities”

AU Ruthanna and Anne not only covered this story in late 2020, but reminisced about our pre-pandemic research trip to the ruins of Popolac, noting that the Popolac Memorial Fountain is both a masterpiece of modern monument-building and subtly disturbing in its interpretation of the original disaster. Since then, the attached museum has followed in the footsteps of Dracula's Castle to open a vaccination clinic, afterwards providing novelty bandaids in the shape of a small humanoid figure clinging to one's upper arm. People do admit to a marked reluctance to remove the bandaid later, but that probably doesn't reflect anything important. 

The V-Word At Last: J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla (Part 7)

Ellynne @ 2: Awesome - so this is more of a "how will the reveal go" situation than a reveal-to-the-reader! As is frequently the case, shocking twists remain overrated.

Why aren't there fewer Austin and Bronte zombie pastiches, and more vampiric pastiches? Admittedly, I speak here as an old-school World of Darkness nerd, who can basically never get too much subtle politics or razor-blade etiquette in my vampire stories.

Space Lampreys and Singing Earthworms: Amelia Gorman’s Field Guide to Invasive Species of Minnesota

Matt Sanders @ 4: Oh, thank you for bringing up Can You Sign My Tentacle?! I had meant to mention it as another amazing weird poetry collection that I read recently, and then got distracted kvelling about the Gorman. It's so good, and so sharp!

Drunk Texts From a Vampire: J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla (Part 3)

Ed @ 3: Don't worry - our usual practice is to alternate weeks between short pieces and the latest section of a longread. We're planning to follow Carmilla all the way to the gruesome end!

Just Like Regular People: Yan Ge’s “Sorrowful Beasts”

Iris @ 2: I'm so glad! One of the pleasures of this column is introducing people to the good stuff (and getting introduced to it ourselves).

Drunk Texts From a Vampire: J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla (Part 3)

I wonder if the languor/languidity is intended to evoke cat-like body language? Though I rather like the non-languorous image of Carmilla perched at the end of the bed, wiggling her butt in preparation to pounce.

But I’m So Cute: J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla (Part 2)

Iris @ 9: OMG You must have double-dreamed that part.

Carmilla is that guy who you discover in your DMs just, like, having a whole relationship with you that you didn't know about, and didn't want to know about.

But I’m So Cute: J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla (Part 2)

Ellynne @ 2: Oh, this is interesting! I think in some way I glossed over Laura's father as being in the essential role of a parent in a YA novel, whose bad choices or bad luck are necessary for there to be any plot at all. But yes, much of Laura's acceptance of Carmilla's behavior would be nastily explained by his own subtler mistreatment.

Ananda @ 7: All very true. It was a lazy shortcut at the time, and unfortunately not only in Le Fanu's time or only in his culture. And there have always been those who managed to avoid it as well.

The Price of Research: P. Djèlí Clark’s “Night Doctors”

pastthestarryvoids @ 3: You know you're dealing with really mad science when good experimental design would make the results worse. No thank you, we don't need a control group today!

Gothic Social Distancing: J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla (Part 1)

Matt @ 1: Ooh, that sounds intriguing. I actually love this sort of thing - it feels much more respectful than the "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" style insertion, treating the original as a worthy document in its own right, akin to translating Beowulf with "Bro!" to help a modern audience experience it as the original audience might have. 

CliftonR @ 11 and PeterDavy @ 12: And still more tempting recommendations, all in different ways!

The Perils of Lockdown: Cassandra Khaw’s “Quiet Dead Things”

@Moderator Can you please link this post up with the main Reading the Weird page?

Free Meat: P. Djèlí Clark’s Ring Shout (Part 2)

...having now read the Glasgow, the setting is not really even a little bit like Clark's. 

The Perils of Art Criticism: Nelly Geraldine García-Rosas’ “Still Life With Vial of Blood”

FYI all, no post this week due to family obligations on my end. We'll be back with more of Ring Shout next week!

The Universe as Unreliable Narrator: John Connolly’s “The Fractured Atlas” (Part 5)

It depends on your relative interest in worldbending books vs. distaste for trails of bodies. Or vice versa, I suppose!

Else-internet, our readers may enjoy the latest episode of the Fire the Canon podcast, where I just put in a guest appearance to talk about Lovecraft's "The Whisperer in Darkness" for their Halloween episode: https://firethecanonpod.com/#current-episode

With the Lobsters Out to Sea: Caitlin R. Kiernan’s “A Redress for Andromeda”

Aerona @ 9: 

You simply have no notion how delightful it will be

When they smoke the fish and sell a little nosh in NYC


The Man in the Inn With the Book: John Connolly’s “The Fractured Atlas” (Part 1)

Iris @ 4: I try to give a heads-up in the "next time" a couple of posts ahead. FYI, we're planning on covering Clark's Ring Shout after the Connolly!

Coyote Paints a Rock: T. Kingfisher’s The Hollow Places (Part 11)

My interpretation was that he needed to fill in both concrete (seal things on the corridor side) and drywall/spackle (seal things on the Museum side), and that once it was filled in a repair-ish sort of way the natural inertia of reality took over and made the repair more complete. Like dumping sand in a hole in the beach, and then the water rushes over and smooths it out, and you can't tell there was a hole there. But if you dump, say, soda or concrete, the hole will still be there or the difference will remain obvious.

I also read it as an indication that Simon and Kara were very lucky to get a hole that opened in something solid on both sides - open air on either side would have let it fill on its own before they were ready. Much worse than being hard to fill!

Could Be Worse… We Guess: T. Kingfisher’s The Hollow Places (Part 8)

Yeah, I have to admit that ever since I read this book for the first time, I have a whole new suspicion of various objects around my house that regularly fall over, show up in weird places, or are otherwise irritating. But I do have a lot of such objects and would not in the normal course of things think of them as potential architects of my greater troubles. If an author were writing my life, though, she probably would only mention the unstable bag-drying rack if it were plot-relevant. (Or maybe she would mention it as a really boring red herring.)


No Drivel About Mysteries: Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Horror of the Heights”

Karis @ 11: Aha, obviously Shakespeare wrote the Holmes stories! Or maybe it was the Earl of Oxford.

No Drivel About Mysteries: Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Horror of the Heights”

Sovay @ 6: "With the Night Mail" is EXACTLY the story I was thinking of, along with "Easy as ABC"; they would've gotten their own paragraph if I could've reasonably squeezed them in! I love the Aerial Board of Control and the airships that basically run on unobtainium and the fact that he's extrapolated this hyper-privacy-minded culture that's the exact opposite of what we got. 

Sleep Tight: T. Kingfisher’s The Hollow Places (Part 5)

Ooh, I've never read any Conan Doyle other than the Sherlock Holmes stories; I suspect that would be fun.

Change Your Clocks, Change the World: Robert Levy’s “DST (Fall Back)”

MA @ 11: We do have a long list, but consider this my big-eyes emoji at an intriguing Adams recommendation. Mostly when I hear people talking about his stuff, it's coming with the "not as good as Watership" caveat rather than just "different from."

Change Your Clocks, Change the World: Robert Levy’s “DST (Fall Back)”

PamAdams @ 1: I have strong headcanons around this, due partly to the experience of reading the Illuminatus Trilogy in line at Disneyland back when you had to wait in long lines at Disneyland, and partly to having once stayed in Walt Disney World's Aztec-themed hotel. Where there was a volleyball court. Labeled "ball court." (Is an Aztec-themed resort a culturally-dubious decision, especially in Florida? Yes. Did I play volleyball? No.)

BillReynolds @ 3: To clarify, I love crossing the date line, as the end result is being in Melbourne, one of my favorite places on the planet. (I realize the end result can be other places too, but that's where I've gone so far, and most of the relevant places have platypodes in any case.) I find it brain-twisting to think about the date line, and particularly surreal when I'm suffering from that much jet lag. Planets are really big and also round, and transpacific flights tend to highlight the degree to which I do not actually have my head around what it means to live on one. One of these years I'll travel to latitudes that get extremely high or low amounts of sun, and twist my un-planet-minded brain in a different way!

I Don’t Think We’re in Narnia Any More: T. Kingfisher’s The Hollow Places (Part 4)

One of the things I've appreciated most about writing this series is learning, from the comments and from a co-writer who sometimes has very different tastes from me, why people might like stories and authors that I hate (and vice versa). It doesn't always cause me to moderate my opinions but it has made me more respectful of how much people can get out of things that leave me cold. And has occasionally gotten me to revisit, say, Aickman, with new appreciation from learning what I've missed.

King is a border case for me. He was one of the first horror authors I ever loved, when I was a misanthropic teenager and pretty un-picky about powerful girls getting revenge. Now I can still see why he's so popular, but find his standard grumpy-rural-white-guy narrators annoying, his multitudinous magical BIPOCs infuriating, and his treatment of women not as sympathetic as it seemed when I was young and desperate for sympathy. He's also inspired some of my favorite modern authors, many of whom still adore his work. Some of us get a lot out of our problematic faves, and I'm in no position to throw cyclopean stones. So I tend to feel at this point that any author who's contributed to the Great Weird Conversation, and sparked new contributions, has some value regardless of whether I personally like their work.

I do thoroughly deny knowing what I'm talking about. That way lies correlating the contents of one's mind, etc.

More Wondrous on the Inside: T. Kingfisher’s The Hollow Places (Part 2)

As evidenced by the fact that I'm just circling back to comments from weeks ago now, I think it's safe to say that I'm not in any position to track every new Mythos publication that comes out, or even the bulk of them--even less likely if extended to the Weird more broadly! I'd love if someone else did that thing, though. I just trip over things and then write about them, sometimes immediately and sometimes decades later.

Trying to decide whether a riff requires familiarity with the original--or liking the original--is always interesting. I don't know that Gaiman's "A Study in Emerald" would have half its power without familiarity with both sets of source material, but that familiarity gives it a hell of a kick! Both this and The Twisted Ones I think stand on their own very well, and familiarity just provides additional resonance--and I like them both even though I'm quite fond of "The Willows" and despised Machen's "The White People." 

Advertising for Burglars: Lord Dunsany’s “How Nuth Would Have Practised His Art Upon the Gnoles”

There are also gnolls in one of T. Kingfisher's settings (specifically in the Paladin books). A surprisingly nice version, actually, or at least the one we meet is pretty nice - fond of oxen and comfortably bemused by humans.

Biswapriya @ 10: This is pretty similar to my unpleasant suspicions about Nuth. Apprentices who go inside (or try to go inside) without you are expendable apprentices.

David Shallcross @ 15: Trade hostages for poached humans? Much easier than winning musical contests or holding tight/fearing not. (I've spent a good portion of today buried in Child Ballads for reasons.)


Always Be Closing: Margaret St. Clair’s “The Man Who Sold Rope to the Gnoles”

Also an addendum: My fond memories of "An Egg a Month From All Over" turn out to have been based on a very fuzzy recollection that preserved nothing except the existence of a club that would let you hatch alien eggs every month. It's still quite a good story, but I should really be more grateful for the quality control on my international snacks subscription box!

Bigfoot, Therefore Evolution: T. Kingfisher’s The Hollow Places (Part 1)

Shelly @ 20: It's not uncommon in our house to have three people reading three very different Vernon/Kingfishers in parallel. At the moment, along with this one, we're passing around Paladin's Strength, and the kids are reading the second Hamster Princess book. Prolific authors are a great boon in troubled times!

Bigfoot, Therefore Evolution: T. Kingfisher’s The Hollow Places (Part 1)

Ashgrove @ 17: It doesn't help that The Hollow Ones is a book by Guillermo Del Toro, and also an extremely emo group of mages in the old White Wolf World of Darkness role-playing setting.

A Terrible Time for Birdwatching: Daphne Du Maurier’s “The Birds”

Sovay @ 2: I like end of the world stories better than thrillers, though I also have very strong opinions about the ways that they both tend to misrepresent and undermine real crisis responses. (Farnham's Freehold. I have opinions about Farnham's Freehold. Also Lucifer's Hammer. And everything Michael Crichton ever wrote...) Which this story manages to 90% avoid. Possibly in general one of the things I appreciate about cosmic horror is the minimal level of just world fallacy.

Biswapriya @ 4: Not missed, more ran out of word count. Our household includes a parrot who's very happy to remind us that birds are dinosaurs; I am very definitively not reading her this story! Though honestly, cladistics probably raises more questions than it resolves here. Like, do crocodilians get in on this attack on a technicality? Are the birds attacking all primates, or just humans? Are larger and better-armed birds following the same overwhelm-them-with-bodies behavior, or are they being more strategic?

MikeBSG @ 5: One of the things I've learned from writing this column is the traumatic world-breaking events of the 20th century map onto each other surprisingly well on a literary level. Was this ancient horror inspired by World War I? World War II? The omnipresent threat of nuclear war? Environmental collapse? In the absence of specific references, better check the publication date.

Colin @ 7: I absolutely adored Day of the Triffids in my teens, when I found that sort of thing weirdly comforting, and haven't read it since. Might be fun as a longread to see if the suck fairy has been at it, or if deadly plants are still as much fun as ever.

Bigfoot, Therefore Evolution: T. Kingfisher’s The Hollow Places (Part 1)

Gah, I keep getting the titles of The Twisted Ones (Kingfisher's other horror riff, this time on Machen) and The Hollow Places shuffled! Thanks to whoever fixed it.

Go Forth and Face Your Lover: The Haunting of Hill House (Part 9)

And as Biswapriya points out, she's getting worse. Early on, she was fondly accommodating of Theo's desire to be the center of attention. Then she got resentful of it, and then the others started saying that she always wants to be the center of attention, and at this point she not only wants to be, but is shocked and confused when she isn't

Never a Mother: Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House (Part 7)

 Gah, I don't seem to have access to edit the post - @Moderator can you please revise "now-diseased" to "now-deceased"? Thank you Biswapriya for the catch!

Brady Gorman @ 2: Honestly, everyone being weirdly cheerful every morning is one of the things that creeps me out! It reads to me as part of the house's emotional manipulation, and parallels the way abusers will follow up their worst episodes with flowers and grand romantic gestures. The House wants to keep them in range as victims, so every terrifying episode is followed by this bubbling sense of possibility to keep them from actually running off.

Biswapriya @ 4: Given that Montague's invitation didn't actually lay out the job requirements, and that he didn't actually recruit researchers, I can't actually blame Nell, Theo, or Luke for being terrible researchers. I do blame Montague, who's clearly less interested in actual study than in proving something to himself, thrill-seeking, and posturing.

Pinkerton’s Detergent Vs. the Eternal Bloodstain: Oscar Wilde’s “The Canterville Ghost”

I cannot blame everyone for telling me about Patrick Stewart as Sir Simon--that, I'm putting on my watchlist!

The Center of Attention: Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House (Part 6)

Lawrence @ 7: Thank you so much for dropping by, and for your kind words! We are indeed big fans of her work. And I'm excited for the letter collection!

The Center of Attention: Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House (Part 6)

Biswapriya @ 2: Good points! Eleanor is not exactly a reliable POV; given the House's effects, I'm not sure anyone would be. (And I wouldn't put it past the House to shift between things that everyone can confirm and things that are only perceptible to one person, either, just to mess things up).

On Theo, though, we do already know that she's not exactly Good Idea Girl when it comes to relationships, she does in fact have someone outside the house to eventually return to. So she could be flirting with Luke to make Eleanor jealous even if that's not safe, or flirting with Eleanor to make Luke jealous, or flirting with them both as self-sabotage for her relationship with her actual girlfriend. Or even making dangerous Eleanor jealous as a stand-in for her actual girlfriend, to punish herself for that fight! But it's hard to tell the difference between ESP in this environment, and just being good at reading people.

Foolishness and Wickedness Mixed Up: Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House (Part 5)

I have - but thank you for linking, because I could remember reading this story about the actual logic behind the house's various characteristics, and could not for the life of me track it down! It's a great article.

Foolishness and Wickedness Mixed Up: Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House (Part 5)

My hypotheses so far: 

A) The house is haunted by Jealous Sister

B) The house is haunted by Mrs. Dudley (which is why the worst things happen when she's officially not there--she doesn't so much drive away as transform)

C) The house is haunted by the whole original dysfunctional trio plus Crain, and is now trying to get Montague and his three guests to take on those roles

D) The house is haunted by Reality in the form of a pissed-off genius locus in the hills, which shaped the bad architectural design choices, the bad interior design choices, and the series of bad life choices that continue to provide Drama.

E) The real haunting was the friends we made along the way (especially if said friends are psychic).

F) All of the above

Tales to Tell at a Marshmallow Roast: Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House (Part 4)

Molly @ 2: Very likely, any time I have a ship to sail!

Biswapriya @ 3: Good point--I was distracted by Theo's clear identification with the sisterly set-up, but we already know that Eleanor's got a fraught sibling. Jackson is very good at playing Variations on a Theme.

Atrus @ 4: Oh, that does sound like an Ursula Vernon/T. Kingfisher novel! Possibly too close to The Twisted Ones, which doesn't involve a real estate therapist but involves cosmic horror intertwined with cleaning out the results of hoarding... 

Sometimes the Sea, Sometimes Bones: Sonya Taaffe’s “Tea With the Earl of Twilight”

Aerona, you definitely want to keep an eye on Elise's shop, because that's a combination that happens in her pendants on a regular basis. (If you're flinching at the prices, she also has major sales on a regular basis, which is how I come to have a number of pendants combining octopodes and interesting stones.)

On Safari in R’lyeh and Carcosa with Gun and Camera

I am possibly the least surprising person to say so, but this is glorious (and wondrous, of course)! Frog people visibility activists for the win!

“All Houses Have a Place Like This”: Robert Aickman’s “The Stains”

The dismissal of apartheid being Stephen's would be of a piece with the whole theme of denial as well--he spends the whole story very firmly not looking at obvious things, and there's a whole interesting comparison to be made with Lovecraft's overt depiction of Anglo-British folk needing to keep their perspective incredibly narrow in order to preserve what they value... a strategy that turns out very badly here!

Honestly, as we talk about this the thematic pattern--if not any clear explanation of the actual events--is starting to slot into place for me. I think I need to read this again some week when I'm more comfortable with my own confusion about the universe.

Have I mentioned lately my appreciation for our comments section?

“All Houses Have a Place Like This”: Robert Aickman’s “The Stains”

Ashgrove @ 4: I dithered over whether the story's constant, near-absurd marking of everything not Anglo-British was a deliberate part of Stephen's characterization; you make a good case that it is. That gives a possible reading of cryptically-Helenistic Nell as the sort of Paganish spirit-of-the-English-land that shows up all over Kipling, which would explain why even her most startling meals are both delightful and unmarked--being platonically ideal products of the English countryside. Except that their cost turns out to be neither safe nor comfortably homely.

Following the Directions Too Far: The Haunting of Hill House (Part 2)

The plan is one chapter per post from here forward! Which I may regret if the other chapters are as full as Chapter 1 was...

Maybe Just Don’t Rob Graves: Louisa May Alcott’s “Lost in a Pyramid, or the Mummy’s Curse”

Del @ 7: I apologize--although I'm a bit confused as I've not heard any previous objections to it, and an internet search suggests that it isn't considered offensive. I'm open to education, however. What would you suggest as a replacement? I haven't been able find another noun form, equivalent to "Americans," in common use.

Good Ghost-Hunters are Hard to Find: Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House (Part 1)

a-j @ 8: For a moment I misread that as "the 1950s musical," and now I really want the Broadway musical adaptation!

Good Ghost-Hunters are Hard to Find: Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House (Part 1)

Planned schedule: Hill House posts will alternate with short story posts. The next Hill House post will cover the remainder of Chapter 1, and then the rest will cover one chapter each.

Ellynne @ 2: "Putting a sneer of superiority on learned helplessness" - that very much describes my feelings about grimdark work being treated as more serious or realistic! I'm up for stories where things turn out badly, but I think unhappy endings need to be at least as earned as happy ones--and can be at least as unrealistic.

Ten Things You Won’t Find in the Necronomicon: Frank Belknap Long’s “The Space-Eaters”

Per Persson @13/14: Thank you for the links! And goodness, was there really that little non-Derlethian Mythos fiction available in 1984? I suppose it would have been harder to find, at the very least. There's certainly been a resurgence in the years since...

Nature Is Boring: William Browning Spencer’s “The Essayist in the Wilderness”

AeronaGreenjoy @ 11: Diane Ackerman! A Natural History of the Senses was one of my favorite non-fiction works for several years, and I really ought to reread it as an adult--I suspect it had considerable influence on my desire to fill every scene I write with scent and touch details. And I really should explore the rest of her work as well. Before college, the logic of "I liked one book by this author, so I should look for more of their stuff" somehow completely escaped me.

Taking a Baseball Bat to Cthulhu: Watching the First Two Episodes of Lovecraft Country

Adding all the recommendations to the running list! Plus we just got hold of Lisa Morton and Leslie Klinger's new Weird Women anthology, covering classic authors from 1852 to 1923. And I found an anthology of Australian cosmic horror, all new-to-us authors. Truly a cornucopia of weirdness...

Lovecraft Country has continued to intrigue, and the subtitles have continued to be informative, both by sourcing songs and poems in real time, and by IDing languages. No "dagger squishes" yet, though! Was it the dagger itself squishing, or the dagger, um, squishing people?

Nature Is Boring: William Browning Spencer’s “The Essayist in the Wilderness”

Biswapriya @ 5: He does seem like the sort of person whose lectures would make students clam up.

OldFan @ 6: This definitely moved Resume With Monsters up on my list!

Have pinged the editing team about the indexing issue.

Things Man Should Still Avoid Knowing: Leonid N. Andreyev’s “Lazarus”

Ashgrove @ 14: I kind of wondered if that was a translation issue, because he's described as "bloated" elsewhere. I can understand the temptation to use "corpulent" for a guy who is a... corpse... but to me those are two very different images with very different connotations. I don't blame Andreyev; Yarmolinsky should have resisted the temptation.

Things Man Should Still Avoid Knowing: Leonid N. Andreyev’s “Lazarus”

Patrick Morris Miller @ 1 and Mayachabra @ 5: Aaaah, contradictory origin stories! My mind cannot correlate its contents.

DemetriosX @ 3: One of the bios I looked at said he was an atheist--but whether that's accurate, whether it's accurate for 1906, etc., is hard to tell. It can be hard to find accurate information on any major-but-subject-to-political-judgment Russian figure from that time, at least for an English monolingual not well-versed in the area. At the very least, he doesn't seem to have been shy of a bit of blasphemy.

If Jesus was crucified before sunset on Friday and resurrected before sunset on Sunday, that also counts as 3 days by Jewish reckoning. That's still how we count anything that's supposed to be done X days after a major life event, which both death and (I assume, though it doesn't come up often) resurrection count as.

Morgan Hunter @ 7: It could also be taken, I suppose, as a critique of the tsars--if you don't care this much about your people, you don't deserve to be an absolute ruler--much as The West Wing was not intended as praise for the administration of the time.

Biswapriya Purkayastha @ 11: Bach's the seagull guy, isn't he? Dear lord. I loved that book at, like 9, and then swiftly outgrew it. 

The whole thing also reminds me a bit of Buffy's resurrection, though in a very different register of "meant well, bad idea."

The Art of Dematerialization: Nelly Geraldine García-Rosas’s “T’la-yub’s Head”

Iris @ 1: I have to admit that I prefer dualities (both at once, potential for a sacred paradox) to dichotomies (either/or, usually limiting options artificially). "Many at once" is definitely ripe for exploration, though! I'd love to see more of the sacred non-binary.

Not sure T'la-Yub would agree; she's multitasking enough as it is.

Oldfan @ 3: That sounds like an experience. I don't drink alcohol, so as far as modern adaptations of Aztec sacred drinks go, I'm left with hot chocolate--no objections there!

Learning to Be Reptilian: Jamaica Kincaid’s “My Mother”

Surely getting insight into things outside our experiences is something we can get out of stories? Not all mother-daughter relationships are identical (mine is not much like this one, I'm pleased to report, and I sure hope my kids feel the same), and not every tale works for everyone, but if we assume that we're only going to appreciate stories about characters similar to us, we'll miss a lot. (For example, I would have missed most of Lovecraft.) 

Speaking of birthday celebrations, we'll be coming up on our 300th post next month! Suggestions for campy Lovecraftian movies or tv shows welcome.

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