the m john harrison blog

Tag: ghosts

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.

anti surrealism

The naive, the unconstructed, the accidental ghost. The ghost from the faded polaroid found in a shoebox of letters from someone else’s life. Things that might not be there; things that have no existence other than possibly not being there; things that can only have your attention drawn to them. Reading should be as close as possible to discovering those letters and seeing something in them that might not be there. The writer should offer the shoebox, or better still the stall at the flea market on which the shoebox might be found. I’m not interested in any other way of writing anyway.

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