the m john harrison blog

Tag: ghosts

anima

I sat at the bottom of too many stairs in the 1960s. As a result, like many of us I no longer have any idea where I am. Instead I experience all the young Bob Dylan’s abiding sorrow at finding himself trapped in the body of a 69 year old Midlands bloke. The ghost of eccentricity howls in the bones of his fate. I did not exactly mean for that to happen. It’s not the end I would have wished, because back then he seemed so cruel & clever & vulnerable & I loved every complicated mouthful. Still, here we are. The two of us. Always waiting for her. Perhaps, in the end, Louise would have been the sound-money bet?

make u think

Jackdaws bickering in the air in the tall back corner of the house made me think briefly of Ravensdale, a crag with which I was so obsessed in 1977/8 that I gave it a bit-part in A Storm of Wings, that well-known novel of documentary realism. Watching the “Entertaining Angels Unawares” video on YouTube made me feel old, but also made me think briefly of this, from 1991. Meanwhile, I just stumbled across this, from Neel Mukherjee; & “Cave & Julia” has earned some more money on Kindle, making it one of the more economically productive short stories I’ve published (maybe a lesson there). And, describing the people he claims to speak for as convenor of some mythical Tory “trades union”, David Cameron has accidentally used the word “resent” instead of “represent”.

Generally, it’s been a weirdly mixed day. & only half over.

opening paragraph

Bear with me. I’m exploring some territory here. I’m looking for a password. I thought when I left this town that I was finished being apologetic. But I came back in a different mood, set up an office, waited for business–the things you’ll do when you have to. All anxieties contain their own mirrors. You’re always looking for some space to inhabit between the two. I am, anyway.

poor soul’s light

Further developments at the Curious Tales site. Good to see another tribute to Robert Aickman in this anniversary year. Part of “Animals”, my contribution to the project, was originally told to Lara Pawson, Julian Richards, Dan Jones & Cath Phillips in a spooky house overlooking Treyarnon Bay in Cornwall in, I think, 2005. Or perhaps it was 2006. Lara & Dan told stories too, as a result of which I had difficulty sleeping for the rest of the week. There’s another story–involving kites, Fulham-on-Sea & something called “balsamic cream” –to be made from the same holiday; but at nine years & counting it’s a bit slow in coming together even for me.

photo: s sarre, 2003

photo: s sarre, 2003

they were like animals

I’ll be reading again–from “Animals”, a proper ghost story–at a launch event for the Curious Tales collection The Lantern Dead at the John Rylands Library in Manchester, December 18th. Details here as soon they’re available, or keep an eye on the Curious Tales site.

I stood a long time watching the raindrops strike the brickwork in absolute silence then fade in the warmth and the wind.

i seen things in wales

The hair of the Dead Boys of Bangor beneath the surface of Lynn Ogwen, as they stream east towards the Siabod Cafe for a late breakfast of sausage & eggs.

DSCF7948

just in time

I like the idea of putting periods of your life in storage for such a long time you forget them. It’s a productive repression. When you experience the return of the repressed, you experience it as the act of writing and the content of the fiction. Memories come back not as memories but in inexplicable actions or feelings, mysterious nostalgias, psychosomatic jolts and shocks of disguised language. I resent the “healing” to be gained from retrospective understanding and acknowledgement. I wouldn’t want a healthy relationship with the past.

(Tarted up from a BTL exchange with Nick Royle, here.)

Analyses

For fun I put some random blog entries through I Write Like, which told me I write like: Jack London, JRR Tolkien, Chuck Palahniuk (twice), Arthur Clarke (for the “Earth Advengers” post), Cory Doctorow, Gertrude Stein, Dan Brown (for the first paragraph of a review of a Peter Ackroyd novel), Ray Bradbury, David Foster Wallace (twice, once for “Keep Smiling With Great Minutes”), and HG Wells. After that, deciding that my samples must have been generally too short to give a consistent result, I tried the whole of “Imaginary Reviews” and got Isaac Asimov; a 4000 word English ghost story, set mainly at the seaside and featuring an ageing middle class woman called Elizabeth, and got Isaac Asimov again; and then “Cave & Julia” & got HG Wells again. For the whole of Empty Space I got Arthur Clarke; but for its final chapter, which ends with that memorable sentence of crawling Cosmic horror, “First she would separate Dominic the pharma from his friends, take him upstairs, and fuck him carefully to a tearful overnight understanding of the life they all led now,” I got HP Lovecraft.

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