Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination by the British Library


The British Library is doing what hundreds of other libraries around the world should be doing this time of year. It is hosting "Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination" that focus on the literary Gothic.

The exhibit contains rare manuscripts of fragments of the literary Goth over the past 250 years. It is running now until January 20, 2015. If you are near London, you have to pay it a visit!


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Morrissey Uses Title of a Cure Song in Quote



On The Cure's 4:13 Dream album there is a peppy song titled "Sleep When I'm Dead". Morrissey, perhaps unknowingly, used the phrase (or pretty darn close to it) this week in an interview about the state of his cancer:

"I'll rest when I'm dead," he said.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Score 15% Off Books Today Only at Barnes & Noble


Score 15% off books at Barnes & Noble--today only! A best best is Edgar Allan Poe's Complete Stories and Poems Annotated. Online, use 4XUZ4X3V8S46L at checkout.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Tea Bag Error in "Coffee with Poe"



This week it was astutely pointed out to me that I made a mistake in Coffee with Poe. In the novel about Poe's life, there is a scene where Poe meets Charles Dickens in Philadelphia. It was a lot of fun to write, but I got one of the details wrong. In the scene I mentioned that Dickens was using a tea bag. A gentlemen named David, who is reading CWP, pointed out to me that the tea bag was not invention until the early 1900s where it was introduced to a skeptical British public.

It is tough to get all of the details right in historical fiction, but that is no excuse. Thank you, David, for pointing out my tea bag boondoggle (and excuse me, Boz).

Sunday, September 7, 2014

New Annotated Book of Tolstoy's Best Novellas Published



I am happy to announce that Leo Tolstoy's 5 Greatest Novellas Annotated is now published in both ebook and print formats. The cover is not too shabby, either.

After reading "War & Peace," Fyodor Dostoevsky put the book down and said, "The fool hath said in heart there is no God." Yet, Tolstoy's shorter novels (i.e., novellas) are filled with all the war, adventure, comedy, religion, tragedy, and Russian tradition that inhabit the longer novels of the Russian bear of literature. But there is much more to this anthology. I have included a short biography on Tolstoy and a chronology of his life and publications.

1) The Invaders - A Russian team moves against Shamyl and his Islamic army in the Caucasus, which is based on Tolstoy's military experiences in the 1850s.
2) The Death of Ivan Ilyich - When a man who has done good his entire life is stricken with an illness, it makes him question everything.
3) Two Hussars - When a hell-raiser takes lodging in a small Russian city, debauchery is inevitable but will it be matched years later by his son?
4) Father Sergius - The taboo subject of a priest being subjected to physical temptation is explored in one of Tolstoy's most scandalous stories.
5) Master & Man - By the end of this snowstorm adventure, you will be asking yourself, Who is the master and who is the servant?

What do some of the world's greatest literary minds have to say about the works of Tolstoy:
"A second Shakespeare." Gustave Flaubert
"No English novelist is as great as Tolstoy." E.M. Forster
"The greatest Russian writer of prose fiction." Vladimir Nabokov
"The greatest of all novelists." Virginia Woolf

Read the shorter novels of Leo Tolstoy today.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Did Edgar Allan Poe Write a Ghost Story?


Edgar Allan Poe is America's forefather of Gothic literature and responsible for its most popular poem, "The Raven." I have argued in a past post that Poe did not (unfortunately) write a vampire story. But what about a ghost story? Poe had a mostly pitiful life where he suffered through poverty (much of it self-inflicted for his art) and the deaths of his mother, father, foster mother, foster father (John Allen), wife (Virginia Poe), former fiancee (Sarah Helen Whitman) and close friends. Who better to write a ghost story than the forefather of Goth who had lost so many relatives?

In my view he wrote at least four ghost stories:

1835 Morella;
1838 Ligeia;
1842 The Mask of the Red Death (Included in The Best Ghost Stories 1800-1849); and
1842 The Oval Portrait.

Arguments have been made (spoiler alert) that the revived sister in The Fall of the House of Usher is a ghost, and I get that. She is either someone who was laid to rest by her brother when she was near death (ala The Premature Burial) or locked away, which explains Roderick Usher's nervous condition. Anyway, yes Poe did write a ghost story or two or four. All are fantastic and worth a slow read.







Sunday, July 13, 2014

A Night with Morrissey


Morrissey. The former lead singer of The Smiths. I have to make a quick comment about the guy who called Robert Smith a whinebag and who has garnered many pointed jabs in return over the years. The most recent of which was Robert saying he would never published a book about himself ala Morrissey's recent autobiography.

On May 27, 2014, on a rainy night in Memphis, Tennessee at the historic Orpheum Theatre, I got to see Morrissey perform with an excellent band assembled from across the country. He sang a few of his older tunes ("Every day is like Sunday") and launched into a few new ones before assaulting the senses of everyone in the audience with "Meat is Murder." Many horrible pics of animal torture were flashed on the screen in an attempt to make everyone in the pork barbecue capital of world a raging vegetarian. I guy in my section kept yelling out "I wanna eat some ribs!" during the theatrics.

I admit it was fun to watch Morrissey prance across the stage, angular chin raised, as he sang with his remarkable voice. He is, after all, the new wave crooner of the 80's generation. Most of time he had the annoying habit of snapping the microphone wire off to the side as though a matador in training. But that was only a minor annoyance to a mostly enjoyable concert.

When Morrissey strutted off the stage, he tore off his shirt to many perplexed looks from the crowd at the mid-fifties guy leaving the stage half-clothed.