Monday, 31 August 2020

Recommendations: Lockdown Reads

To paraphrase Dylan: time is weird now, here in the mountains. Trapped up here in lockdown, awaiting the descent to a normal life, time seems to be passing both at a crawl and at a rush. 

Hopefully a future blog post will being some news about the writing I've done (in fits and starts) during this time... but this post isn't about that. This post is about some of the best books I've read over the last one two three months. The highlights, with a few brief & inadequate words about each:
This collection of poems is based upon a wonderful idea: each takes as its inspiration a different 'final girl' from a horror film. Holland uses this conceit to talk about death, about struggle, about (male) violence physical and psychic, about how sometimes the best way to rebel is simply to survive. Although based on imagery from the films, Holland's precise, sometimes haunting, sometimes brutal language creates something original and personal. This is really very special.

This is the website of a Romanian author I know the sum total of nothing about, other than on this evidence they're a very good (and dark) writer. The micro pieces you'll find if you follow this link are well worth reading: you'll find folk horror, the dead rising, blood rituals - all kind of fun stuff. The kind of thing you hope to find on the internet, but so rarely do: something brilliantly written, obviously personal, but anonymous, and all the more intriguing because of it.
Mosby's books are marketed as crime, and look, they are: I'm sure he'd hate it if I said anything wanky like they "transcend the genre". I Know Who Did It is rooted in the genre, a police procedural full of twists and turns and whatnot, but... well, it sure as hell scratched my horror itch as well. There's a real sense of dread, of foreboding as this one progresses, a feeling that the characters are caught up in something bleak and devastating with no escape, no backtracking... they can only move forward toward their fate. Like everything I've read of Mosby's, it's a page-turner that makes you feel by turning the pages you're pressing forward into that darkness too. Absolutely brilliant.
The debut collection from Laura Mauro was always going to be something special. Most readers of this blog have probably already read & admired some of the stories she's had published over the last few years (disclaimer, she wrote a wonderful tale for Imposter Syndrome, which is included here). Every story in Sing Your Sadness Deep is great, but if I had to chose some specific highlights, the stories 'When Charlie Sleeps', 'The Grey Men', 'Letters From Elodie' and especially the heartbreaking 'Ptichka' are as good as weird fiction gets.

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