the m john harrison blog

Month: November, 2011

unused note for The Course of the Heart, 1990

Coulsdon haemorrhages its Jaguars into the surrounding tissues of Redhill, Reigate and Dorking, which flush and bruise suddenly under the strain. Oh, Reigate and Banstead in the sunshine! Woods and flint-faced garden walls! Further south, new shapes move in the woods as you drive past–earth caked in the roots of fallen trees to make the silhouettes of aurochs and wild boar in the medieval light. Later the seafront floats between the grey water and a sky deep stratospheric blue, between each side of the century, real gold, buildings biscuit and cream, suspended there in the horizontal sunlight–which also falls on the seaward side of the waves before they break on the beach, discovering in the low muddy swell by the stanchions of the pier two frozen-looking surfers in wetsuits. Later still: a designer moon, a meticulous sliver in a sky hardly darker than this afternoon’s.

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weird stories (3)

weird stories (2)

An old couple who have been abroad recently. Their daughter and her husband, who have with them a clinging, rather silent toddler. Barbour jackets. Why would people like this arrange to meet one another and exchange gifts, in the middle of a winter afternoon, in a Little Chef in the middle of Gloucestershire ?

“Is that for me ?”

“Yes dear. It’s so difficult to know what to bring. Frightfully expensive.”

“It looks just like one of those Swedish ones.”

“Are we ready to order now ?”

The child moves its wide, sickly eyes over the Little Chef menu and can’t make up its mind.

“I think he’s panicking because he thinks he won’t be able to eat it all.”

The younger woman talks constantly about someone called Jonathan–“There’s something about Jonathan,” she says. “He’s like a sort of brother figure or something.” And then. “It would be nice to see Jonathan again.” And finally, “Jonathan said, ‘I hope she feels guilty about it!’ Ah ha ha ha!”

Neither her husband nor her mother are very happy with this. The husband keeps quiet, but Mummy finally puts an end to it by asking–

“Which Jonathan?”

weird stories

Sparks in Electrical Jelly notices the first issue of Ann & Jeff Vandermeer’s Weird Fiction Review. If I edited a review of weird fiction, I would probably call it SWINELANDS, in honour of The House on the Borderland & of the funniest two pages of 2666, pp642/643, Picador paper edition. Bolano’s rants are always good, but that one is very good. I would ask China Mieville to write a piece on the ordinary, because that is often as or more interesting than the weird & I would like to get his point of view on that.

jarrow march 2011, last mile










what will he do next ?

November already. I forget who I am at this time of year. A lot of research goes into working it out again. Then I write something & look at it & think: You’re not him, come on. Whoever I am, he doesn’t want to be found. It’s laborious. It gets worse into December. Meanwhile work laps up around your feet, lots of already sodden paper with nothing written on it. That tells the whole story. Or would do, if he had a printer, whoever he is. At the moment he seems to be writing an introduction to The Day of the Triffids, reading Will Eaves’ first volume of poetry, Sound Houses, listening to Bert Jansch’s late-life reinvention of Blues Run the Game.