For a New Novel: Reading Robbe-Grillet by Fred Skolnik

Robbe-Grillet The Erasers    Robbe-Grillet For a New Novel

Via Sein und Werden, here’s a good article by Fred Skolnik called Reading Robbe-Grillet. It begins:

Alain Robbe-Grillet came to the attention of fiction readers in the 1950s with a series of extraordinary novels whose declared aim was to take the modern break with the traditional narrative a step further and help create a “new realism.” The line of development with which he associated himself included Flaubert, Dostoevsky, Proust, Kafka, Joyce, Faulkner, Beckett. Other representatives of the New French Novel included Marguerite Duras and Nathalie Sarraute (Tropismes, Portrait d’un inconnu).
Robbe-Grillet’s own novels appeared in regular succession during the Fifties: Les Gommes (The Erasers) in 1953,
Le Voyeur in 1955, La Jalousie in 1957 and Dans le labyrinthe in 1959; then the screenplay for L’année dernière à Marienbad in 1961 and the theoretical essays of Pour une nouveau roman in 1963.
The novels made a very strong impression on me – they were unique and certainly intriguing . . . A novel, he wrote, should no longer be a contrivance setting out “to illustrate a truth known in advance” but something that invents itself and in the process finds its own meaning.

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Galapagos Regained Reviewed

Galapagos Regained by James Morrow

Review by Bill Ectric

Galapagos Regained Book Cover  James Morrow, Author                                                                                            James Morrow

James Morrow writes with a great sense of fun and wonder. In Galapagos Regained, he regales us with a surreal 1850s adventure that is equal parts historical fiction, metaphysical treatise, and Pirates of the Caribbean spree. Fictional characters interact with actual historical figures, including Charles Darwin, Thomas Huxley, Gregor Mendel, Rosalind Franklin, Arthur Schopenhauer, and Samuel Wilberforce. The fact that some of these notable individuals were not contemporaries is resolved by a time/space anomaly, localized in a Turkish hookah den, which apparently acts as a hub for historical figures to weave in and out through swirling clouds of cannabis smoke.

The novels’ conflict revolves around a debate between Biblical Creationists and Scientific Evolutionists. The Percy Bysshe Shelley Society pledges a £10,000 award to anyone who can either prove or disprove the existence of God. Two competing groups embark on expeditions – one to Mount Ararat in search of Noah’s Ark to confirm the Genesis flood; the other to Galapagos, hoping to discredit the Genesis creation story with evidence of evolution. Morrow is a scientific humanist and a critic of the Church, but his satire is not unkind. He seems to understand the mindset of people on either side of the argument. Almost everyone in this novel, atheist or Christian, mystic or scientist, fictional or historical, is vividly human. For the most part, they are capable of civilized debates and peaceful coexistence. I say “for the most part” because anytime money and power are at stake, blood will be shed, and this exploit is no exception.

Morrow chose to write this book in a style reminiscent of 19th century authors, without sacrificing ease of readability, which helps to set the mood and is often quite entertaining. Chapters have titles like “The Pigeon Priest Moves From His Parsonage to a Madhouse, Even as Our Heroine Arranges to Circumnavigate a Continent,” and “Recruited into an Unlikely Army, Our Heroine Ponders the Doctrine of Just War and Savors the Virtues of Hallucinogenic Snuff.” The combination of style and subject matter triggered my memory of an M. R. James short story, “Two Doctors,” written in 1919, in which a doctor asks a minister if he believes in the existence of satyrs, given that those mythical creatures are mentioned in some versions of the Bible. The minister replies, “I am not seldom called abroad pretty late; but I have no mind of meeting a satyr in our Islington lanes in all the years I have been here; and if you have had the better luck, I am sure the Royal Society would be glad to know of it.”

At least one character in Galapagos Regained observes that neither the existence of an ark nor evidence of evolution can ultimately prove or disprove God’s existence. It is the twists and turns of the quest that make the book such a pleasure to read. There are strange encounters, a hot air balloon, high chicanery, romantic interludes, philosophical enigmas, and even a couple of mind-flips that reminded me of Philip K. Dick’s VALIS. Galapagos Regained is the best book I’ve read so far in 2015.

Read More at Amazon.com

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The Lantern Cage (Kelly Grovier)

Bill Ectric:

I enjoy reading about mystics, astrologers, physicians, and astronomers from history past. This sounds good.

Originally posted on Phil Clement:

This review originally appeared on the website of the New Welsh Magazine and I’m extremely grateful to them for posting it. 

Kelly Grovier 'The Lantern Cage'

The Lantern Cage, Kelly Grovier’s third collection with Carcanet Press, is a playful exploration of the mysteries lurking at the margins of our perception; a collection ‘whose object / is larger than it appears’. Frequent references to 16th Century astrologers and astronomers conjure an atmosphere of mysticism in which poems appear on the page as if ‘in the language of the dream’, while visual and syntactic puns tease at the internal logic of the poems, often adding to the unsolvable nature of their subjects.

Grovier’s poetry is precise and well-crafted. Throughout the collection a combination of enjambment dropped lines are employed to great effect and lend the poems an aural quality that demands they be read aloud. In ‘Slip’ this feature evokes within the reader a sense of…

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7 Films About Neuroses & Psychoses That Don’t Get Enough Attention

Peter Dinklage Natalie Wood as Daisy Clover Stig Jarrel

Jonathan Eng writes on CURNBLOG, “Film history is jam-packed with neuroses, psychoses, and character disorders writ large and small. As Vivian Leigh and Dustin Hoffman and Javier Bardem and Natalie Portman can attest, having a DSM-5 condition can lead to an Oscar. Russell Crowe, in A Beautiful Mind, had to settle for a BAFTA.

“When handled properly, onscreen breakdowns can tear at your emotions and stay with you long after the final credits role. Here are seven such on-screen breakdowns from movies that may be a little bit off the beaten path. Some feature outwardly normal characters getting pushed a little bit past their breaking points. Others show characters who walked onto the screen in a psychologically fragile condition. Whatever the diagnosis, chances are good you’ll remember the breakdown.”

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Her Body Electric

       Thelma_Moss_The_Body_Electric         Thelma_Moss_Myself_and_I

Thelma_Schnee_The_Colossus_of_New_York (500x387)

First up, here is Gary Westfahl to give us some background on actress, writer, and psychic researcher with a PhD from the University of California, Thelma Moss, also known as Thelma Schnee:

She wrote screenplays for two episodes of Science Fiction Theatre: “The Negative Man” (story by Ivan TORS) (1955), “The Throwback” (1956); and for the movie The Colossus of New York (story by Willis Goldbeck) (1958).

She acted in “The Devil in Glencairn” (1951), episode of Lights Out and co-produced, with Paul Finder Moss, Ant City (documentary short) (1950).

Schnee ingested LSD as a participant in experimental therapy and wrote a book about her experiences, My Self and I (1962), using the pseudonym Constance A. Newland. Then, she may have recalled the conclusion of “The Negative Man”: having lost his improved senses, the hero resolved to go back to college so he could further research the mysteries of the human mind. And Schnee, now calling herself Thelma Moss, did exactly the same thing, eventually earning a Ph.D. from the Psychology Department of the University of California, Los Angeles, where she also was given a position as a full-time professor. Further, while heading a facility dedicated to parapsychology, she chose to specialize in studying the very stuff of science fiction—psychic powers, ghosts, and astral projections recorded by Kirlian photography. Perhaps these investigations into occult matters represented her effort to reconnect with her late husband, though unlike the heroes of science fiction, she never achieved definitive proof of these phenomena, and while she was a well-respected researcher in the 1970s, her area of expertise is now relegated to the status of pseudoscience. Yet she still commands attention because she effectively gave up writing science fiction in order to prove that science fiction was true.

Read Mr. Westfahl’s complete article on Thelma Schnee here

Next, Wikipedia tells us:

Born Thelma Schnee, a native of Connecticut, she graduated from Carnegie Tech, and originally pursued a career in acting and in writing scripts for film and television. She was one of the earliest members of The Actors Studio; as a scriptwriter, her biggest success was the screenplay for the 1954 Alec Guinness film Father Brown.[2]

And finally, a link to her rare, hard-to-find book, Myself and I (1962) at Biblio.com.

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Time Adjusters on Sein und Werden: The Joy of Encountering a Great Editor

time_adjusters_cover_image_sein_und_werden

Having been in the self-publishing business for a number of years, it’s been a joy to work with a professional editor,  in the person of Rachel Kendall of Sein und Werden, who actually showed a personal interest in my work. I’m happy to announce that my novella, Time Adjusters, has been selected by Sein und Werden to be featured as a free download. Before submitting the story to Sein und Werden, I had rewritten parts of it and added additional material, including the introduction that includes references to William S. Burroughs. With the keen editing advice of Ms. Kendall, I believe Time Adjusters is better than ever.

Check it out here

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Locked Room Mysteries

Locked_Room_MysteriesMBOLRMandIC

One of my goals is to write a good “locked room” mystery with an original solution. You know, a murder that takes place under seemingly impossible conditions. I refuse to believe all the ideas have been used up. In the meantime, here is a mammoth 7 part review of a locked room anthology that appears on a blog called Beneath the Stairs of Time

The Black Lizard Big Book of Locked-Room Mysteries was compiled by an award-winning editor, Otto Penzler, who, judging by the content page, took great care in avoiding the pitfalls of such previous anthologies as The Locked Room Reader (1968) and Tantalizing Locked Room Mysteries (1982) – covering too many over anthologized stories. There are some of those familiar stories collected here, but they’re, by and large, contained in the first portion of the book.

Familiar As the Rose In Spring deals with “the most popular and frequently reprinted impossible-stories of all-time” and serves as a 1920s-era drawing room to gather all of the usual suspects in: Edgar Allan Poe‘s “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle‘s “The Adventure of the Speckled Band,” Jacques Futrelle‘s “The Problem of Cell 13,” Wilkie Collins‘ “A Terribly Strange Bed,” Melville Davisson Post‘s “The Doomdorf Mystery” and G.K. Chesterton‘s “The Invisible Man.” I have skipped these stories, but there was one I hadn’t read before.

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