Tag Archives: deal me in

Reading Notes, 2/15/21

Finished Reading

The Hole by Hiroko Oyamada
(translated by David Boyd)

When it comes to reading materials, I generally don’t care about “best of” or nomination lists, but I make an exception for horror fiction. I’m usually curious about what the industry considers good in the horror genre. I’d been seeing The Hole mentioned here and there and took the opportunity to check it out from the library where not nearly enough Japanese horror is available.

It’s a curious story. According to the summary on Goodreads, Asa and her husband move to the countryside (“next door” to his parents) when he gets a new job—the commute being not bad since they’re in a less populated place. I suppose if you’re used to a city such as Tokyo, the area that Asa and her husband move to might be considered countryside, but to me it had a more suburban feel. It reminds me of the edge of Omaha where the 7-11 or the wilderness along a creek are both as easily encountered. Houses aren’t too close together and have a good deal of yard. My notion of countryside left me expecting something different

For the secong time in a row (the other being House of the Borderland), I read a story in which many strange things happen, but there is very little pursuit of the the mystery. Asa isn’t terribly interested in getting to the bottom of the weird things that are happening. She’s pretty acquiescent about all the things that happened to her, even in her city life before moving. And it occurred to me that I’m overly used to the mystery of a story being solved, or at least actively investigated. That left me dissatisfied, but not overly so. There is a sort of Gothic vibe to the story that reminds me a little of Jane Eyre or Rebecca: a young woman is led into a situation, her married family is involved, there’s maybe something nefarious going on, and in the end she’s changed by it.

I guess maybe this is just part of that magical realism genre that I’m not very conversant with/in.

Deal Me In

K♥️: “Whatever Comes After Calcutta” by David Erik Nelson
from The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Nov-Dec 2017

Calcutta, Ohio, that is. Though published in 2017, I was kind of surprised that one of the story’s background characters wore a MAGA hat. I suppose that’s a shorthand that we will see often for certain types of characters in this era, but it still felt weird to me. Anyway. An okay story of a modern-day witchery.

Currently Reading

Starting Dune Messiah this week. I have a leisurely reading pace scheduled. I’ve been listening to William Hope Hodgson’s The Ghost Pirates while playing Minecraft. I’ve been wanting to read it for a while, but got the notion that I should read The Boats of the “Glen Caring” and The House on the Borderland first. Thus far, I find no story connection between the three, but there are definitely some thematic connections.

Reading Notes, 2/8/21

Finished Reading

Dune cover

Dune by Frank Herbert

One book down in my Dune read-through. A reread for me.

David Lynch’s Dune (1984) is not very faithful to the book, at least not after the first few chapters, but the style of it is very hard to shake. The weirdness of the gom jabber scene and creepy, uncanny Alia are a couple of the Lynchian things that are always going to be part of my internal Dune vision. Those images somewhat override themes in the book that are more important, that I forget about until I read again—like the Bene Gesserit seeding religious prophecies throughout the universe, know you, just in case…

I also noticed in this reading how Herbert plays with epic fantasy; not just tropes, but details. We begin in a castle on Caladan. The Reverend Mother is referred to as witch. One of the Atreides’ most trusted advisors/warriors is a bard; there are songs, poetic digressions! These are fantasy things. Chocolate in my peanut butter.

The House on the Borderlands cover

The House on the Borderland by William Hope Hodgson

I’ve come to a realization: it’s not weird fiction that I dislike, or even cosmic horror that leaves me rolling my eyes. It’s H. P. Lovecraft. Lovecraft relies on “It couldn’t be described! It was so horrible everyone who looked upon it went insane!” That leaves me pretty disconnected from his fiction, and I had thought that this was representative of all weird fiction/cosmic horror. I had been reluctant to read Lovecraft’s progenitors, though I felt like I should. I’m glad I’ve stuck with it and put William Hope Hodgson on my Classics Club list. (This is Classics Club book #2 for the year.)

The House on the Borderland isn’t quite what I expected. I had figured on maybe more of ghost story or more metaphorical borders. No, Hodgson goes for dimensional rift/Hellmouth and isn’t afraid to give some details. I will say, Borderland is pretty light on plot. It’s a recitation of strange things happening without cause or solution. It’s mostly just a very weird, not unenjoyable, ride.

Deal Me In

7♥️: “Carbo” by Nick Wolven
From The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Nov–Dec 2017

What if you mashed up browser history, predictive text, deep learning AI, and self-driving vehicles? And what if the owner of such a vehicle was a somewhat pervy teenager? Would you end up with a virus-laden car that believed you only wanted to go to the next place where you could see scantily clad women? This story was a little too pessimistic for me and I feel like it floated over any depth that it could have plumbed.

Currently Reading

The Hole cover
The Call of Stories cover

I had intended to start Dune Messiah after The House on the Borderland, but I think I need a little more break. As timing would have it, I put The Hole by Hiroko Oyamada on hold last week and it became available yesterday. Still have Coles’ The Call of Stories as my morning reading.

Reading Notes, 1/25/21

Finished Reading

“The Abbot’s Ghost” by Louisa May Alcott ended up being a DNF for me. I wasn’t following along with everyone’s machinations and Alcott wasn’t helping me out by leaving out the majority of dialog tags.

Read “A Descent into the Maelstrom” because I wanted to see how Poe describes the seas.

Willa Cather Short Story Project

January’s story is “Lou, the Prophet,” originally published in 1892 in The Hesperian, the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s student newspaper. Chris Wolak has some good information about Cather’s involvement with the paper in her “reminder” post for this month.

Lou is a young immigrant from Denmark. He came to the US when he was 15, which means he’s old enough to truly remember and compare his old home with the new. At age 22, he’s working his plot of land, but it isn’t going so well. He’s said to be “weak in the head,” but it feels like his misfortunes have been due to fate rather than mismanagement. The winter took his cattle and the dry summer is taking his corn. He has a dream one night that the Devil is holding back the rain clouds, that the sinfulness of man is why it hadn’t rained. He becomes a prophet, but his only proselytes are a group of young boys.

The life of a farmer is full of hardships, but through his dream, Lou conjures up a reason for his misfortune that is more than that. The other adults in this story think Lou has gone mad and that maybe he’s a danger (maybe they don’t want to hear that their sins might be responsible for their troubles), but the boys believe him. They’ll continue to tell his story.

Deal Me In

3♦️: “The Great Carbuncle” by Nathaniel Hawthorne
I added a few Hawthorne tales to my DMI list this year after Dale @ Mirror with Clouds had a few on his 2020 list. Here, a party of “adventurers” seek a legendary stone. This is a story with a firm moral compass, which is pretty obvious: the name of one characters is Ichabod Pigsnort… Only the best of this party will have any chance at the stone. Will it be the scientist? Will it be the Seeker? Will it be the Poet? Or will it be the ridiculously sweet newlyweds? (It won’t be Mr. Pigsnort. That’s not a spoiler.)

Currently Reading

Dune. Dune by Frank Herbert is the only thing on my plate this week. I’m about half way through. I want to have it finished by Sunday. I think I’ll read William Hope Hodgson’s The House on the Borderland next.

Reading Notes, 1/18/21

Finished Reading

Strange Cures by Rob Zabrecky

I am most familiar with Rob Zabrecky as a slightly off-kilter magician. He was in fact also the front man for the band Possum Dixon*. Strange Cures is about Zabrecky’s early life, childhood through early thirties, which is mostly his music career and his slip into (and eventually out of) drug addiction. It’s also a sort of love letter to Los Angeles. I love narratives with a strong sense of place, so that was appealing to me. The writing is sometimes choppy. There are shifts in tense that I assume are purposeful. It’s kind of like in a film where, while the character is narrating in voice-over, a flashback happens. What was twenty years ago is suddenly last Thursday.

*I was vaguely aware of Possum Dixon and had probably heard their music since they were no doubt played on the River, Iowa Western’s radio station, which, while I didn’t like everything they played, was a welcome change from the Top 40 station that was played incessantly at my workplace…until I became a manager and took control of the radio.

Here’s a little bit of the Rob Zabrecky I’m more familiar with.

This is my first book for the Shelf Love challenge (#1 of 21+). I purchased this book in September of last year and own it in paperback.

Deal Me In

Week 2: 7♠️
“Eveline’s Visitant” by Mary Elizabeth Braddon – Two weeks, two great Mary Elizabeth Braddon stories.

It was at a masked ball at the Palais Royal that my fatal quarrel with my first cousin André de Brissac began.

Isn’t that just juiciest beginning to a story?

Currently Reading

I started my read-through of the Dune series. My intent is to finish Frank Herbert’s six Dune books by October (when the movie comes out). I also intend to see the movie in the theater, so if you all could get vaccinated when possible and mask-up until then, that would be great! 😬

I’m apparently in the mood for a sensation novel. The Abbot’s Ghost by Louisa May Alcott is my current “bedside” reading.

Reading Notes, 1/11/21 : BoB Wrap-Up

Bout of Books 30 Wrap-Up

I read about 430 pages during Bout of Books 30 and finished three books that were in various stages of progress. That was pretty much what I had on my slate for last week. I also made it to both Twitter chats!

Finished Reading

Edgar Huntly or, Memoirs of a Sleep-Walker by Charles Brockden Brown

I found this to be a perplexing “classic.” I chose it because was supposedly an American Gothic, written during the 18th century (but barely). It does begin with some of the trappings that I associate with Gothic literature: a mystery seemingly based on the familial history. Edgar, while trying to find out who murdered his friend, stumbles into the history of an Irish immigrant. But, at about the 50% mark, Brown sort of tosses that story thread (until the very end) for an adventure narrative. Edgar wakes up in a cave and fights Indians all the way back home. What was additionally befuddling was Brown’s style of writing. The Wikipedia entry for Edgar Huntly talks about coincidence being a “theme” in this novel, but it really seems like Brown was calling up details as he needed them. Edgar is facing off against a panther in a darkened cave? Luckily, Edgar is great with a tomahawk and, luckily, there’s a random tomahawk nearby…

Anyway, this was from my Classics Club list and I read it for the Dec/Jan Classics Club spin.

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Gaiman’s Norse Mythology has been on my TBR pretty much since it came out. I read the Elder Edda and Younger Edda back in 2013, but they’re not the clearest of narratives. They twist back on themselves in ways that are sometimes confounding. Gaiman takes both as well as Snorri Sturluson’s history of Swedish kings to construct a series of fine mythological tales of Odin, Thor, Loki, and all the rest. I was kind of surprised that the prose lacked some of Gaiman’s flourishes.

(Btw, I had utterly forgotten that many white supremacist dumb-asses have appropriated Norse myth. If they really would like to claim these stories as theirs alone, I encourage them to go tie their privates to an ornery goat’s beard for the amusement of us all…)

Creativity: A Short and Cheerful Guide by John Cleese

This is exactly what it says on the tin: a short book on creativity. It’s very similar to a TED talk Cleese has given, but expands on the ideas of encouraging play and finding a balance between focusing and giving the unconscious mind time to work on problems. I also found comfort in knowing that panic is something that happens during the creative process. I panic often.

Deal Me In

Week 1:
5♠️ – “The Shadow in the Corner” by Mary Elizabeth Braddon
Starting the year off right with a 19th century ghost story. I’m fairly sure I’ve read a few of Braddon’s stories in the past, though they aren’t coming to mind. This story has made me look forward to reading Lady Audley’s Secret (from my Classics Club list) in the nearer future.

Other short stories I read this week:

Currently Reading

On my TBR this week:

  • Strange Cures by Rob Zabrecky
  • A Deal Me In story
  • A couple chapters of David A. Cook’s A History of Narrative Film for the MIT film course I’m following along with.
  • Whatever else might pop up.

Deal Me In, Week 9 ~ “Paladin of the Lost Hour”


Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis
What’s Deal Me In?

“Paladin of the Lost Hour” by Harlan Ellison

Card picked: A
Found in: Angry Candy, but also online at Ellison Webderland

And then the pillager’s fist came loose, and he was clutching for an instant a gorgeous pocket watch.

What used to be called a turnip watch.

The dial face was cloisonné, exquisite beyond the telling.

The case was of silver, so bright it seemed blue.

The hands, cast as arrows of time, were gold. They formed a shallow V at precisely eleven o’clock. This was happening at 3:45 in the afternoon, with rain and wind.

The timepiece made no sound, no sound at all.

The Story
This is my favorite short story.

When I decided on Angry Candy for Deal Me In, I debated whether to include “Paladin of the Lost Hour” because I’ve read it so many times in the past, but I couldn’t leave it out either. I read it (or rather listened to it) the day after Leap Day.

The story is about Gaspar, an old man who is the keeper of a watch that mystically holds the last hour of existence. It is also the story of a young veteran, Billie, who is not living, but simply marking time after returning from war. Their lives intersect and each are given friendship and grace. “Paladin of the Lost Hour” never fails to make me cry, though always enough time passes between my readings that I don’t quite remember what touches me and I’m therefore always taken by surprise too.

Some of Harlan Ellison’s stories are…oblique. Maybe they are satire anchored in a certain place and time (a problem I generally have with satire and allegory), or maybe they require a certain state of Ellison-ness to make as much sense as they should. “Paladin of the Lost Hour” isn’t one of those stories. Ellison won a Hugo for the novelette and a Writer’s Guild Award for the script adaptation that was an episode of 1985 Twilight Zone revival.

Pick a Card, Any Card

Endless Time playing cards are an apt fit for “Paladin of the Lost Hour,” clean and  cleverly designed. You can find out more about them at Kardify.

Deal Me In, Week 7 ~ “The Daunt Diana”


Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis
What’s Deal Me In?

“The Daunt Diana” by Edith Wharton

Card picked: 3
Found at: Tales of Men and Ghosts

“WHAT’S become of the Daunt Diana? You mean to say you never heard the sequel?”

Ringham Finney threw himself back into his chair with the smile of the collector who has a good thing to show. He knew he had a good listener, at any rate.

I decided at the beginning of the year to add one of my Classics Club books to my Deal Me In list. Two birds with one stone! So, I’ll be reading through Edith Wharton’s Tales of Men and Ghosts throughout the year.

The Story
I wondered somewhat about the title of the story: “The Daunt Diana.” What is meant by daunt? It turns out that Daunt is a collector of art, and the Daunt Diana is a statue of the goddess Diana owned by Daunt. Strangely, the actual artist who carved the Diana is never named.

Finney tells our listener about Humphrey Neave, a man with tastes more expensive than his means. Neave is deeply envious of the kind of art collection that Daunt owns, one effortlessly obtained by a very rich man. As fate would have it, both Daunt’s and Neave’s fortunes change and Neave, haunted by the Diana, buys the entire collection. One would presume that Neave would now be a very happy man. Not so! There had been no hunting for his art, no wooing, and Neave is left unfulfilled. So, Neave sells off the collection piece-meal. And then goes about buying each piece back. But can he regain the sculpture which again haunts him, the crown jewel of the collection? Can he woo Diana back?

Finney has a very particular voice which makes this story quite enjoyable, even as I rolled my eyes and muttered, “Rich people…”

The Author
Edith Wharton was the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Literature. Which means of course I want to read some of her ghost stories.

Pick a Card, Any Card

This week, cards inspired by Italian art: the Sistine deck created by Julio Ribera. Found at Kardify and on Kickstarter.