Wednesday, August 16, 2017

164. Hodgson at } Necronomicon.

Yesterday I picked up a birch branch from the grassy border between the curb and the brick sidewalk on Brown Street. From the house behind me, eerie music deflated. Copper-green lichen grew on the branch. Amid the matted grass where the branch had lain, a grub writhed. Ants.

From the house behind me, a voice: "Professor. So good to see you." A former student of mine stepped down from the porch. Not unusual to encounter former students here, but this student—from a different place, so long ago. She said, as if resuming a conversation recently interrupted, "I still don't understand what happened to..." she said the name of her classmate who died. I winced. Years since I've heard it.

She asked, "What are you up to?" I told her, and added, "And on Sunday, I'm speaking on a panel at Necronomicon. About William Hope Hodgson." My student asked if I was an expert on Hodgson. I assured her,I was not. "Then what," she asked, "are you doing with that birch branch?"

Necronomicon, the Providence conference dedicated to H. P. Lovecraft, begins Aug. 17. Most events take place at the Providence Biltmore and the Omni Hotel. The panel I'm on is "William Hope Hodgson: An Appreciation" (at the Omni, Sunday, 1:30 - 3pm).

As for my former student’s question, about the birch branch, “What’s the connection?” I asked. “I’d say so,” she replied. Sometimes, when a conversation doesn’t quite mesh, I’ll just pretend it does. “Are you living here?” I asked. “Oh no,” she said. “I’m visiting. Come walk with me.” She took my arm—a familiar gesture I didn’t quite expect. Let’s see, I thought, when she was student, she was twenty, seven years since then…. “That’s me,” she said, as if we’d arrived at her car. But there was no car. Just a grassy slope down to a shaded garden. It was self-evident I should not follow.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

163. Cover drafts } New Genre no. 1.

[Fig. 1]

(Who cares about this? I use Leuchtturm 1917 plain notebooks; but, for a stretch in the late 1990s, my preferred notebook was sold at The Gap. The clothing store. A ribbed, paperback cover, with glossy, lined pages. In black, khaki, pale blue, yellow, and red. The pens I used, Bic rollerballs (I think), inexplicably didn’t smudge. I found the notebooks on remainder—I remember the price being about $5. When I couldn’t find them anymore, I called The Gap headquarters to see if maybe they had a box of them somewhere. When they told me they didn’t, they also told me they couldn’t tell me who manufactured them—I don’t know why. The Leuchtturm is demonstrably better, but I do miss The Gap notebooks.


In a Gap notebook dated 11.8.97 / 2.26.98, is a series of design ideas I drew for the cover of New Genre no. 1. Ultimately, Mark Osmon designed the cover, but my design ideas show an interest in the spare aesthetic direction that first cover took (with the exception of “Nude Genre” (fig. 2)—a much discussed sister publication that, alas, never came to fruition). (On the same page as “Nude Genre” is a note I don’t understand: “milk custom, drink shots.” Maybe I was playing with the phrase “drink custom milk shots”?)

[Fig. 2]

[Fig. 3]

[Fig. 4]

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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

162. from Plutonian } "The Wind, The Dust."

Initially, when Scott Dwyer requested a story for his as-of-yet named anthology of “the best writers working in the weird horror genre,” I declined. We agreed, instead, on an interview for The Plutonian.

And then I changed my mind.

I sent “The Wind, The Dust,” from a sequence of stories I’m writing for a collection tentatively called Autobiography. (Another of those stories, “Woods (Marion),” can be read online at Essays & Fictions.)

A few weeks ago, a proof of Scott’s anthology now called Phantasm/Chimera arrived. It’ll be officially released at Necronomicon next week.

Reading it, I realize I have lost track of current horror fiction. I haven’t read a "best of" in many years, or bought a new collection. I knew just one name in the anthology: Brian Evenson. (Evenson’s story, “The Hole,” reminds me of the best scenes from his Aliens novel.) Christopher Slatsky, Jon Padgett, Livia Llewellyn, etc.—are all new to me, though apparently bright lights in the current horror scene. Clint Smith, too, whose “Fiending Apophemia” is the best story in the book—a candidate for those best ofs I haven’t been reading.

If, like me, you’re not attending Necronomicon, you can get your copy at Create Space.

Nervous about committing 16 bucks? Our friend Des Lewis is real-time reviewing the anthology. Of mine he wrote, “The plot did not seem to care whether I was frightened or not, but I was.”

[ The image above: a spread from the anthology—two pages from “The Wind, The Dust,” with my most recent edits. ]