What’s New for the 19th of May: Pickled Eggs, Brideshead Revisited, Maxx and Bad Apple, A Scree on Author Politics and Other Matters

I’m a leftist. I don’t argue with anyone unless they agree with me.— Steven Brust, author of Vallistathe fifteenth and latest novel in the Taltos Cycle whose lead-off novel, Jheregis reviewed in our book review section. 

We do have conferences held here from time to time at this Scottish Estate, mostly during the warmer months when the clusters of yurts, built first in the Fifties and added later on, are more comfortable — there’s room for some sixty folk to be accommodated here at one time. It’s a steady and rather lucrative source of revenue for the Estate. And yes, we do get the odd political gathering such as Women in Black, but they must keep with our decidedly left of centre political leanings or go elsewhere.

The same applies to our Library here. You’ll find the complete collections of the works of Ursula Le Guin, Elizabeth Hand and Catherynne Valente, but if you’re looking someone like Larry Correia, the leader of the Sad Puppies movement, who’s definitely not someone we’d host here, you won’t find his books here. Don’t like our politics, well we aren’t going to buy your books. Our Library, our rules.  And given how badly those authors publicly treat authors we like, is it any wonder that they we don’t give them space here?

So you’ll find me reading Seanan MacGuire’s The Girl in the Green Silk Gown which is a superb ghost story, or listening while I work in the Library late in the evening wrestling with the Indexes when there’s few patrons here, as they’re  most likely to be found in our Pub, to Elizabeth Bear’s Ancestral Night which is fantastically narrated by Nneka Okoye.

Now let’s see what we’ve got for you this time.

Running back and forth on errands isn’t conducive to reading a book, so Denise gave a listen to Anansi Boys on the Playaway. And she was smitten. ‘The icing on the cake was their selection of Lenny Henry as narrator. I’ve been a huge fan of his ever since I stumbled on an episode of Chef many years back. … The ten hours of audio sailed by, thanks to Gaiman’s and Henry’s storytelling skills.’

Kathleen has a few choice words to says about an unusual collaboration, to wit Good Omens: ‘Neil Gaiman (Caroline) and Terry Pratchett (Thud, Where’s My Cow?) are world class fantasists and giants of popular literature. But back in 1990, when they were, in their own description, “not yet Neil Gaiman and just barely Terry Pratchett” (Locus, February 2006), they wrote a book together. They did it for fun, thinking it would be amusing. And it is. However, since they were themselves (even if they didn’t quite know it at the time), it is much more than that. Over the years it has grown in audience and import, and now — mirabile dictu! — it has been reissued.’

Robert has a review of Brokedown Palace by Stephen Brust: ‘This is a novel, with all the elements that make a novel what it is. I’ve said before that I think Brust is one of the master stylists working in fantasy today, and this one only confirms that opinion. Even though Brust is describing fantastic things, his mode is realist narrative, and a very clean and spare narrative it is, although more poetic than most of his work. While his characteristically sardonic humor and his flair for irony are readily apparent, there is a magical feel to it, in the sense of things that cannot be, and perhaps should not be, explained.’

He also takes us back to the beginning of Brust’s Taltos Cycle: ‘Jhereg is the first book in Steven Brust’s Taltos Cycle, the story of Vlad Taltos, human, as opposed to Dragaeran (also “Easterner”, the East being inhabited by humans), crime boss, assassin. Note: That’s first in order publication, not first chronologically — but more on that later.’


Liz looks at Brideshead Revisited, 25th Anniversary Collector’s Edition: ‘The very rich are different from you and me,” wrote F. Scott Fitzgerald. A great part of your reaction to this DVD will depend on whether you find the doings of the very rich fascinating or a big yawn. When I saw Brideshead 20 years ago, I wrote it off as an incredibly slow moving, soggily nostalgic depiction of upper-class twits and their endangered way of life. Well, I was wrong. From the vantage point of 20 years later, I realize that it was actually about upper-class twits approaching spiritual enlightenment at the deliberate speed at which paint dries.’


Jen has a savoury-gasm over her first pickled egg and attempts a recipe, so that you may replicate her experience in the privacy of your own home.

Robert has some thoughts on Joe R. Lansdale’s Pigeons from Hell: ‘Pigeons from Hell is an adaptation by Joe R. Lansdale of a story by Robert E. Howard, with art by Nathan Fox and color by Dave Stewart. Lansdale is at pains to point out, in his “Notes from the Writer,” that it is really an “adaptation” — updated, exploring some new facets of Howard’s story, and not to be confused with the original, all of which leads me to treat it as its own creature.’ Just click on the link to see how this creature fared in Robert’s opinion.

Dave has a look at a box set,  The Time Has Come: 1967-1973, by another band that evokes Autumn for me: ‘By my recollection it was The Pentangle when they started. And then they lost the definitive article and were just Pentangle. Whatever they called themselves, they were like fish out of water at the time. My friends didn’t listen to them at all. We were all more into The Who, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix. The loud stuff. The flashy stuff. But now, years later, I find myself listening to this mix of jazz, folk, blues, and traditional music far more than I listen to those other bands.’

Deborah offers up the best look ever at Fairport Convention’s Liege and Lief: ‘1969 saw the release of two albums that gave me a case of musical whiplash: Pentangle’s Basket of Light and Fairport Convention’s Liege & Lief. (If memory serves, the third leg in that triad of bands, Steeleye Span, was still a year away from formation.)’ Go ahead and savour every word of this fascinating remembrance of things long past.

Michael say a few words about the next recording: ‘It would be easy to say that a collaboration between Steeleye Span and Terry Pratchett was always inevitable, given their respective histories and their proclaimed admiration of each other’s work. It may be an example of retrospective inevitability now that it has actually happened in the form of the Wintersmith CD, however. In any case, the end result is one that is overwhelmingly a credit to all concerned; worthy of the names involved and their reputations.’

Richard has high praise indeed for a Maddy Prior album; ‘Flesh & Blood is one of the finest CDs I’ve heard in years. Prior’s voice, always angelic, has never sounded better; and, with the able help of Nick Holland and Troy Donockley, she has picked material that does her vocal talents justice. Indeed, the collection is so captivating that I’ve had to take it out of my work rotation; after all, I don’t get paid to stand around and gawk dreamily to music.’

Our usual What Not can be a puppet or a tarot deck, but this time Reynard has a review of two action figures that inhabit his office space behind the Green Man Pub: ‘Well back in 2003, Stronghold Group released two characters based on the sort of people that inhabited the CBGB club, one being Maxx, a singer, and the the other being, Bad Apple, who is less clearly defined though he too could be a musician, a fan, and even perhaps  bouncer. One site claimed these are ‘extreme look-alikes of Sid Vicious and Johnny Rotten’ but the manufacturer doesn’t say who they based on.’ Read his full review for a look at two fascinating characters!

So let’s see what if I can find on the Infinite Jukebox for some Celtic music to see is out on this pleasant May Day. Hmmm..  ‘Newmarket Polkas’ by  Patrick Street is a splendid piece of music indeed to see us off on I’d say. It was recorded at the Watergate Theatre, Kilkenny on the 30th of April, fourteen years ago.

About Iain Nicholas Mackenzie

I’m the Librarian for the Kinrowan Estate. I do love fresh brewed teas, curling, English mysteries and will often be playing Scandinavian or Celtic  music here in the Library.

I’m a violinist too, so you’ll me playing in various contradance band such as Chasing Fireflies and Mouse in the Cupboard as well as backing my wife Catherine up on yearly Christmas season tours in the Nordic countries.

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