Mike’s Prattle


Books Received; The Avram Davidson Treasury; Tim Lebbon – As The Sun Goes Down

Posted by Mike on November 13, 2006

  • Tim Lebbon – Berserk
  • Tim Lebbon – Desolation
  • J. G. Ballard – Collected Stories Vol. 1
  • J. G. Ballard – Collected Stories Vol. 2
  • Felipe Alfau – Chromos

Subterranean Books is having a sale. I almost got out unscathed except that there’s a new T. E. D. Klein collection out called Reassuring Tales, a collection that has no crossover with Klein’s Dark Gods four novella collection from a decade or two ago. Klein’s The Ceremonies still strikes me as one of the great horror novels, so it’s nice to be able to get a bunch more goodies from a writer who never really wrote all that much in the first place. In fact the new collection has the original novella that inspired The Ceremonies, a novella I think I probably had in some HPL inspired anthology. Anyway there’s lots of goodies at this sale and Subterranean books have a habit of going through the roof once they’re out of print, so it’s a nice way to invest. Also on sale there, is the upcoming Jack Vance Treasury, a collection of his best short stories, highly recommended if you haven’t checked him out yet.

After probably at least two years, I finally finished The Avram Davidson Treasury over the weekend. Not only is the book fairly big, but it has very small font, and Davidson’s work is already rather dense as it is, so it took me a long time to get through it. It’s probably a perfect entry into the man’s work, covering stories from throughout his career, including a story each from the Eszterhazy, Vergil Magus and Limekiller series. Davidson is probably one of the 20th century’s best short story writers. He had a way with prose and style that is almost instantly identifiable, new spellings, invented words, and plays on the language abound, bolstering what was an intense and original imagination. Like many of the great literary speculative fiction writers, Davdison’s work often wasn’t obviously so, often their weirdness had less to do with a plot device and more to do with the milieu of the story. A story does not go by without some obvious display of cleverness and the style and charming situations make just about every piece in here a winner. And it only helps to read the reminiscences of a number of, and in many cases unfairly so, writers more famous, who add insights into the man’s character and personality. To say the least, anyone into quality reading needs to check this out.

The Lebbon was quite a bit easier to finish given that the biggest story in the book was the novella “The Unfortunate,” which I read in Fears Unnamed a few weeks back. The rest of the material sticks to short shorts, maybe a novelette or two. I think I read they were going to jokingly call the collection “Bleak Shit” or something, which is probably more apt a title, as story after story of failing relationships goes by with rarely a bright spot. While I think I prefer Lebbon’s longer stories over many of these, there are some gems, like the Bram Stoker award winner “Reconstructing Amy,” possibly because this is one of the few pieces that ends on something of a positive note. It’s truly a moving piece of work about a man trying to live after the death of his wife and it reminds me in a subtle way of Lucius Shepard’s “The Glassblower’s Dragon” both in that they’re uplifting (cosmically so) and that such a thing is generally rare from either writer. There are a couple other gems, but without the book in front of me, I’m not quite sure of the titles.


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