Saturday, August 30, 2008

A Good Deed In A Naughty World

I've just discovered that the online magazine Fanzine has published a short story by Scott Bradfield. I've been a big fan every since I read some of his early short stories in Interzone, back in the Paleolithic: smartly-written absurdist parables, goofy and sweet, but always with a sting in the tale. Kind of like the films of Preston Sturges. He hasn't published much recently, but there's a collection of good stuff still in print - Hot Animal Love. And it's well worth trying to track down a copy of his novel Animal Planet, too.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Seen From A 274 Bus

Like an intruder from a world designed by Tim Burton, a black carriage with glass sides and giant plumes of black feathers rising from the corners, coal-black horses, coachmen all in black, and inside, a Goth bride. A sight to gladden any heart, seen at the edge of Camden, naturally.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

There Are Doors (9)

Here’s the place where she met her nemesis on a snowy night in February 1939, after the debacle at the Bank of England.

The two men bursting in while she and Kurt were loading the barge. Brave, beautiful, blond Kurt running at them with a boathook and Detective Sergeant Flowers shooting Kurt with his service revolver and Kurt’s brains and blood jumping from his shattered head. And Mr Carlyle, that sly old fraud, whipping Edna’s servants from her and scattering them into nothing at all in the cold black air.

Edna had the presence of mind to jump into the water and release her hold on the fire imp, and the barge had gone up in clap of white flame. She remembers seeing it burning through blowing snow when she’d surfaced a hundred yards away. Remembers that she flagged down a taxi outside the London Hospital later that night. Remembers the look of surprise and regret on the face of the cabbie in the moment of his death.

An hour later she was at the safe house in Tooting. The next day she was in France.

Standing on the canal towpath in plain daylight, Edna Sharrow can feel her old enemy to the east. Like a splinter of black light in the corner of her eye. Still in that house in Spitalfields no doubt. He was a creature of habit then, and she’s certain that he won’t have changed very much. Goody.
Part 1

The Power Of Names

Monday, August 25, 2008

Blood Kisses

To town yesterday, to a screening at Frightfest of Let The Right One In, the film version of the bestselling Swedish vampire novel, adapted for the screen by its author, John Ajivide Lindqvist. Set in a bleak, wintery working class suburb of Stockholm in the early 1980s, it features a very creep pedophile turned ineffectual serial killer in the Renfield role, and some excellent twists to cannonical vampire lore (including the best cats v. vampire bit I've ever seen, vampiric addiction to puzzles, and as far as I know the first demonstration of what happens when a vampire steps over a threshold uninvited), but at its heart is the affecting portrait of the developing relationship between a bullied twelve-year-old boy, and a vampire girl who has been twelve for a very long time. Kare Hedebrant and Lina Leandersson turn in astonishing performances as the friends sharing a very dark secret, and director Tomas Alfredsson provides some lovely atmospheric moments, and by framing the more gruesome moments through windows, half-open doors, or in the distance, never tips the delicate romance into outright horror. Watch out for it in spring next year.

Recently read: Andre Dubus III's The Garden of Last Days, in which a perfect novella of lost innocence strains to escape an overblown blockbuster; Kate Atkinson's When Will There Be Good News, third in her series of 'literary' crime novels, with a slightly fumbled crux but a very finely sustained tone of dark humour, a plot that effortlessly glides on a slick of coincidences, and in the character of sixteen-year-old Reggie a wonderful example of the gritty girl detective; and Rick Perlstein's Nixonland, a terrific portrait of 1960s America, and a rigorous explication of how Nixon poisoned American politics for two generations (not for nothing is our strand of history, in Cowboy Angels, called the Nixon sheaf).
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