Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home. ―
No, it is not Winter yet but I like that quote a lot and the forecast is for a harsh Winter here so we’ll all be looking for the small pleasures ones takes when that happens.
That is a muffin filled with a hard boiled egg at its centre and with smoked crumbled bacon and dried onion in the batter. Quite ymmmy. Oh and cheddar cheese as well. It and a thermos of tea with cream make for a rather nice and filling breakfast for me to toss in my mackinaw pocket before I go for a ramble towards The Wild Wood just after dawn breaks on this unusually pleasantly warm very late Autumn day which I’ll be doing as soon as I finish off this edition for your reading pleasure.
It’s not surprising food and drink on this remote Scottish Estate play a crucial role in the life of the small year-round community that swells significantly with visitors for music festivals and conferences in the warmer months but folds in on itself by late Autumn for the most part.
Now let’s turn to this Edition…
Of Brian Attebery’s The Fantasy Tradition in American Literature: From Irving to Le Guin Grey says that while ‘it’s clear that this book is written for a primarily academic readership, the writing style is smooth and not ponderous. It’s a little dry, but dry like a pleasant white wine, not like a mouthful of saltine crackers. Attebery gives plenty of examples to illustrate his points, but not too many examples. Occasional readers of fantasy could give it a miss, but those who read fantasy devotedly or have an interest in the genre as a whole will want it for their reference shelf.’
Kelly gives us a look at a book by someone who we might not have expected to be an accomplished writer: ‘Evenings with the Orchestra gives not just a fine example of critical writing in nineteenth century Paris, nor even just a good illustration of the cultural life in that time and place. It does all that, to be sure, but most importantly it gives us a personal look at the inner world of one of Romanticism’s greatest composers. It’s a book that is full of humor, fire, and love of music. So it should be, having been written by Hector Berlioz.’
Some books we’ve reviewed more than once, as they had multiple editions. So it is with the classic book Marian has for us this time: ‘This is a strongly recommended edition of Peter Pan. It is faithful to the original text and is complemented very well by the imaginative illustrations of Greg Becker, which bring to life the story by J.M. Barrie.’
Richard says that ‘Elizabeth Hand’s Winterlong is not an easy book. It challenges the reader from the first page – really, the first sentence. It sprawls across genre boundaries as if they weren’t there, effortlessly mixing mythopoeic fantasy with horror with post-apocalyptic science fiction with Shakespeare. It is rich, filled to bursting with ideas that are so integral to the world and yet so thoroughly understood by the characters that there’s never a moment of slam-on-the-brakes exposition. ’
As a break from bleak winter skies, Robert brings us a collection from a Greek poet in exotic Alexandria, The Complete Poems of Cavafy: ‘Modern Greece has produced an amazing body of literature including works by such luminaries as Nikos Kazantzakis, George Seferis, and others. One of the most significant members of this select community is the poet Constantine Cavafy. The Complete Poems of Cavafy as translated by Rae Dalven presents the body of his work for the non-Greek speaking reader, and has the added grace of including an Introduction by W. H. Auden.’
Denise checked out Swamp Thing: The Series, and while she loves the title character, she felt there was more that could have been done for ol’ Swampy. ‘It’s a completist’s treasure, but a well thought out “Best Of” set with the lesser episodes removed would have been a better crafted, more enjoyable collection.’ Read her review to find out more!
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Complete Second Season, says Will, is very satisfying and ‘The general reason this season is great is because it’s about love in many forms. A specific reason it’s great is the Spike and Drusilla romance. They’re the first ongoing villains who touch Buffy’s personal life. In their case, it’s initially through Angel: Angel sired Dru, Dru sired Spike, and when Angel turns bad, he’d like some fun with Dru again, though his obsession with Buffy doesn’t abate.’
Denise starts prepping for her yearly ‘Feast of the Seven Fishes’ with a review of Bay Harbor All Natural Smoked Wild Kippers. She’s pleased with what she’s found. ‘These kips are strong with the smoke, but slight on the salt. It’s fantastic.’ She promises a full seven fishy reviews by the time Christmas rolls around. So read this one and keep coming back for more!
It’s definitely that time when that if you’re like me, that you’re craving extra carbs and Cheesy hash brown casserole is a recipe on which Jen has an open riff that’s delightful and makes the dish sound warm: ‘Here is a tump recipe I got off the back of a bag of hash browns and then messed with. There are no rules with tump recipes. Change the ingredients, the proportions, the oven temperature—this is your recipe now.’
Given that the DC Universe streaming service is launching a live Doom Patrol series next year (and the teaser on the Titans series there was fucking awesome!), it’s an excellent time to read Richard’s review of Doom Patrol: Crawling from the Wreckage graphic novel: ‘The Doom Patrol had always teetered on the lunatic fringe of super-groups, due in large part to the fact that many of the characters were gimmicky, unlikable, or just plain strange. Wheelchair-bound genius Niles Caulder was Charles Xavier with Doctor Doom’s people skills, manipulative and megalomaniacal. Of his team, the most human and sympathetic was the orange-plated Robotman, and things went rapidly downhill from there. And did I mention the fact that the entire team had been killed off at least once?’
Chris says ‘Forty years after the groundbreaking progressive rock classic Thick as a Brick, Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull brings us Thick as A Brick 2: Whatever Happened to Gerald Bostock? Is he Too Old to Rock n’ Roll? Hardly. This album is all the proof you need.’
Gary takes a look at a new version of an old favorite: ‘Well here we are again, celebrating another 50th anniversary of a ground-breaking Beatles LP with a deluxe, remastered reissue. This time it is the double LP The Beatles, otherwise known as The White Album…’
Kathryn Tickell & Ensemble Mystical’s Ensemble Mystical gets reviewed by Naomi: ‘For those of you not familiar with Kathryn Tickell, she is an ultimate listening delight. Kathryn is an accomplished piper and fiddler. She comes from Northumberland, which is one of England’s largest counties, and has put out a number of CDs. Kathryn actually picked up the Northumberland pipes at the age of nine for the first time, and I’m happy to say she didn’t put them back down but kept at it.’ Oh and there’s a carynx involved as well!’
Robert rediscovers Depeche Mode — again: ‘Somewhere along the line, I rediscovered Depeche Mode. I pretty much had everything available up through Depeche Mode 101 (which I didn’t think much of — it’s one of the worst live albums I’ve heard), but on a whim I picked up a copy of Songs of Faith and Devotion and finally got around to listening to it. The die was cast. I then got a copy of Playing the Angel.’
Our What Not this week is yet another highlight from Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History: The Labs (Well, says Robert, it’s a big place — there’s lots to see): ‘As you wander around the upper level gallery at the Field Museum, you will run across several large glass-fronted rooms in which people are doing mysterious things. These are several of the laboratories where technicians are working, and you can watch.’ Prepared to be amazed.
Something lively, something trad I think should be our parting music this Sunday, so let me have a few minutes to see what I like… ‘Black Crows and Ravens’ from Iron Horse, a sort of trad Scottish band I think is no more, recorded this at Gosport Easter Festival in April of 1996, is my choice this time. I say I think as many of those groups, provided all of their members are alive unlike say Nightnoise have a tendency to show up for one-offs pretty much without notice.