I’m pleased to announce I’ve a piece in Booklore, an anthology about the passion for books, forthcoming from Zagava Press.
The anthology is edited by Jonas Ploeger and Alcebiades Diniz Miguel, and features illustrations by Erika Seguín Colás. The other contributors are: Carl Abrahamsson, Avalon Brantley, Brian Catling, Andrew Condous, Brendan Connell, Quentin S. Crisp, Richard Gavin, Martin Hayes, Colin Insole, Andrew Liles, Chris Mikul, Daniel Mills, Damian Murphy, Reggie Oliver, Thomas Phillips, Ray B. Russell, Michael Siefener, Charles Schneider, Thomas Stromsholt, Supervert, Mark Valentine, Paul Wallfisch, D.P. Watt, Ron Weighell and Jonathan Wood.
My contribution is a kind of fictocritical essay about my encounter with Walter Owen’s novel, ‘More Things in Heaven…’. Owen was an early twentieth-century writer and mystic, a correspondent of M.P. Shiel’s, and one of the Counts of the Island of Redonda, Shiel’s strange fiefdom. Though Scottish by birth, he lived most of his life in Buenos Aires and is better remembered for his translations of Argentinian Gaucho epics than for his original fiction and essays. But ‘More Things in Heaven…’ is unjustly forgotten: a very strange, often brilliantly written, theosophical novel. But it is said to be cursed, and readers are maybe chary of this. And uncanny things certainly happened to me after I read it…
‘I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us. If the book we’re reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow on the head, what are we reading it for? So that it will make us happy, as you write? Good Lord, we would be happy precisely if we had no books, and the kind of books that make us happy are the kind we could write ourselves if we had to. But we need the books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us. That is my belief.’ (Franz Kafka in a letter to his friend Oskar Pollak, 27. January 1905)
The anthology can be ordered directly from Zagava.