A Life Of fiction XXXI

For those of you new to this WordPress site, this site is about me and my writing – and a little about my role-playing, as well. It gives readers a chance to sample my work before purchasing it on the Kindle store; and gives me the chance to say a little about the genesis of each novel, or about the process of writing in general.

Suggested reading: In the absence of any newly completed books of my own to talk about on this post, and other ideas being few on the ground, I have decided to suggest a few books which I hope that people might enjoy reading. I am not a critic, and I don’t like those newspaper critics who tear books apart in their reviews, so don’t expect me to say too much along those lines.

Robert Rankin – The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse. Robert Rankin is, I admit, an acquired taste, like absinthe or marmite. I could have suggested many different novels of his to read, as they are all weirdly brilliant. But this novel has the virtue that it is stand alone, not being set in and around Brentford in England, like so many other novels by Robert Rankin.

This book is set in the place formerly known as Toy Town, and features a serial killer preying on nursery rhyme characters. The crimes are investigated by Eddie Bear and Jack, and that is as much as I am going to reveal.

Scarlet Thomas – The End of Mr Y. This was bought for me by a friend. I had heard of neither the author nor the novel beforehand. The novel starts out with the heroine of the book, Ariel Manto, discovering the exceedingly rare book The End of Mr Y in a second-hand bookshop. This is the start of a strange journey for her, which takes in weird science, homeopathy and mouse gods, before arriving at a revelation which I am not going to reveal here.

I have always wondered, since reading this novel, whether the title is a play on words: is it the end of Mr Y or is it the end of mystery?

John Blackburn – A Scent of New Mown Hay. I have not read this in years, but the book is still fresh in my mind.

In the novel mankind is facing destruction, with a pestilence spreading around the world. It spreads through the female of the species. But is this apocalyptic threat natural, or has mankind brought it on itself?

The book was written in 1958 when, with both the USSR and the USA eager to arm themselves with atomic bombs, it looked possible that our species might be the agents of our own destruction.

Guy Endore – The Werewolf of Paris. This is, perhaps, the classic werewolf novel, or as classic as they are going to get. I can’t think of any werewolf novels better than this, anyway. Not that it really has a lot of competition. This novel is set in the second half of the 19th century in Paris, and should be of interest to anybody who is into gas-lamp fantasy fiction.

For this novel I think that I will limit myself to the blurb on the back of the book: Half human… half wolf he stalked the streets of Paris in search of prey. Born of an unholy union he was cursed, doomed to live in the netherworld of the werewolf, a man by day… a wolf by night, his victims the eager women of the Parisian streets.

I found this book years ago in a second-hand bookshop. But I have got most of my books from such shops. I just wish that I could still find books of such quality. But all of the second-hand bookshops have been replaced with charity shops where I live, and most of the books in those places are crap.

Robert Lee Hall – Exit Sherlock Holmes. I have read a lot of non-canonical Sherlock Holmes stories, and this, without doubt, is one of the stranger ones. But it is very well written, and worth reading because of that, even though it plays fast and loose with the Holmes canon. I won’t say what happens, apart from having a summary of the blurb on the back of the book, as I really don’t want to give the game away.

The novel begins in October 1903 with the return of Moriarty. Holmes disappears, to leave Watson alone. The good doctor must not only face Moriarty, but discover the truth of just who Sherlock Holmes really was.

Shirley Jackson – The Haunting of Hill House. Most people into horror will have seen the various different films based on this novel, but it is worthwhile going back to the source material.

This is a classic haunted house novel. Perhaps it might be called the classic haunted house novel. Those who enjoy schlock horror are probably best off avoiding this book, as the novel is all about building tension up slowly. There is no gore on show. But the book has a wonderful atmosphere.

Philip K Dick – Radio Free Albemuth. I could not do a list of recommendations, and not have at least one Philip K Dick novel, even though he is a well know science fiction author. In fact, I have already recommended this novel in my autobiography, but not on this website. So I will borrow some of the words from my autobiography: this is my favourite novel of his. I prefer it even to The Man in the High Castle.

I’m not sure why I prefer his novel to his others. I have still only read a fraction of his work. Perhaps, one day, I will discover something which I like even more.

Maybe it is because Philip K Dick actually appears as a character in this work. Or maybe because unlike some other dystopian novels, such as 1984, this novel actually offers some hope.

Other stories to check out by him are those many tales adapted into good and bad movies: We Can Remember It For You Wholesale, Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep and others.

I think that is enough recommendations for this post. If people are interested in these sort of recommendations let me know, and I may recommend more books, in some future post.


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