Tag Archives: MR James

Motherless Child – Glen Hirshberg

This is the fourth of my post-real-time reviews – following the recent heart-breaking, but unburdening completion of four years of my real-time reviewing that included reviewing the wonderful books of Glen Hirshberg.

earthling publications – halloween 2012

I have read this book in two sittings: it held me fast. I knew it would be significant, having reviewed — I think — most of the previous published fiction of this author and deemed his work a major find in my long reading life. This book has indeed been significant for me, with many brilliant prose passages.

It is a vampire novel. I am not a vampire fiction fan. I am torn between this as a twilight world to which I can’t belong and this author’s two previous novels. It is the ambivalent take on race and horror and role-playing and simply life itself: philosophy as well as fiction, in many ways. The feisty, bloody life we live in whatever half-world we all live. Here the Mother has her own race. The race to defeat the onset of evil, including herself.

James McNeill Whistler. M.R. James. Beyoncé. The Archies.

The road movie audit-trail as a theme and variations on the author’s own story: Like Lick Em Sticks, Like Tina Fey – the abandonment of offspring love to fulfil not only one’s own destiny but also one’s autonomous body itself when shifted off-gear by SUCKING not FUCKING. Sucking up the reader as the horror upends even one’s own sense of admitted unsubtle dread. That over-big life bursting from the page. We’re our own where.  A “rote nostalgia“.

I think the author got in front of his empty page and wrote this phrase from the book first off: “…put the car in Drive and drove.”

This, for me, is not a Hirshbergian classic. That is ‘The Book of Bunk’ or ‘The Snowman’s Children’ or a few of any number of stories. This is an amid-life crisis. It is where you are made to meet the horror head-on. It will overdose you constructively or destructively, depending who you are. You will float up to it like a neutered alligator, I suspect.


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My reading-lifetime’s Hall of Fame

Image by Tony Lovell (2011)

My reading-lifetime’s Hall of Fame in no particular order:

Charles Dickens, Christopher Priest, AS Byatt, Enid Blyton, May Sinclair, HP Lovecraft, Barbara Vine, Reggie Oliver, Anita Brookner, WG Sebald, Jeremy Reed, Ian McEwan, Elizabeth Bowen, Stephen King, Oliver Onions, Marcel Proust, Salman Rushdie, Glen Hirshberg, Paul Auster, Mark Valentine, John Fowles, Edgar Allan Poe, John Cowper Powys, Lord Dunsany, Algernon Blackwood, Jack Vance, Philip K Dick, Jeff VanderMeer, Samuel R Delany, Anthony Burgess, Susanna Clarke, Rhys Hughes, Lawrence Durrell, MR James, Robert Aickman, Sarban, Ramsey Campbell, Thomas Ligotti, Tommaso Landolfi, Kazuo Ishiguro, Quentin S. Crisp.

This is a list including writers I once considered in my Hall of Fame but now rarely read, and new writers whose works I read quite a lot and have included in my Hall of Fame fairly recently and variations upon that, but all have been major reading experiences some time in my life.  Apologies to those I’ve inadvertently omitted because of my semi-Proustian memory.


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