Batman: Cape and Cowl Exhibition

If you are lucky enough to be in London today and need to escape from the rain, I would strongly suggest the Batman Cape and Cowl Exhibition. It runs until 5pm today so will need to get going.

image3What has prompted this exhibition which only lasts for a weekend? In the first instance it is nothing more than an advertising ploy for the new Batman game Arkham Knight, but don’t hold that against it. The exhibition happens to be a really interesting collection of Batman capes used as canvases to allow a whole range of contemporary artists (and a few celebs) to create re-imagined or re-evaluations of Batman.

Find out more here, but hurry, the clock is ticking.

And just for the hell of it, here is the trailer for the new Batman game:

Can a good short story survive in an anthology?

A good short story stands on its own as a complete and satisfying narrative that can be devoured in, according to the legendary short story writer Edgar Allan Poe, one sitting (Poe has some interesting ideas about short fiction in his critical writings).

There are some excellent theme driven anthologies out there. A quick browse around Amazon will provide everything from the mundane, to the absurd and erotic. However, collecting together stories previous published in a variety of other locations, rather than written for the anthology shows the importance of reading short stories independently.

How a single short story survives in a anthology
How a single short story survives in a anthology

Where is all this coming from? I just read J.Robert Lennon’s anthology See You in Paradise. It is a collection of stories that were more promising than successful. I was enticed by the fact that the stories were initially published in a variety of monthly publications from Weird Tales to the New Yorker, Harpers, Granta and Playboy.

Collected together, I ended up questioning why they would have been published in the first place. ‘No Life’ a weak little story about a couple wanting to adopt and meeting another couple who want to adopt the same child. After finishing it seemed an unlikely story for the New Yorker.

The best of the collection was the first story ‘Portal’ a science fiction/fantasy re imagining that sets a fantastic phenomenon in the context of an ordinary family (at least they are ordinary to begin). From there the Playboy published ‘See You in Paradise’ was an enjoyable jaunt full of unlikable characters illustrating the negative consequences of greed and self-delusional desire. ‘The Wraith’ was an effectively creepy story. However, apart from ‘Portal’ my only other required reading was ‘Weber’s Head.’

I wonder if independently these stories may have had more impact. Collected together there was either a lack of a sense a continuing narrative or from, my perspective as reader, an expectation that when disappointment led me into the next story, I wanted a different perspective. Take, for example, my favourite story ‘Portal.’ Unfortunately, this was the first story and science fiction in nature. Having read and enjoyed ‘Portal’ when I went onto ‘No Life’ the story seemed lacking in an engaging premise and generally without the same impact.

What is interesting about the anthology is you begin to see some potentially unintentionally links between the stories. There are 14 stories in the collection and I assume Lennon has picked his best, but given that these were all published in major publications, he would not have had a limitless selection to draw from. Most of the stories feature an under achieving male character who is suffering emotional problems and feels content in his lack of success. While the anthology does not make me want to read any more Lennon for the sake of his stories, I would be interested to see whether the trend of the male character is a calculated focus for the anthology or an accidental insight into Lennon.

True Detective: You alright bud?

So how did we do?

The new season of True Detective has started. A little while ago I had a True Detective wishlist. Time to see how we got on.

Swinger style Vince Vaughan. A little calm, apart from some justified  anger directed towards a whiskey glass. Not exactly aggressive, confrontational, unstable or scary. We might not have Swinger style Vince Vaughan, but it is definitely not emotional Vince Vaughn or romcom Vince Vaughan or emotional turmoil Vince Vaughn.

Some success.

 

Unsettling spooky events. Not really “a disturbing sense of unknown forces.” Something is happening. The city manager’s house is unusual and his mutilated dead body is driven around by a guy with a bird head in his passenger seat. “Disturbing” is probably better used to describe the police.

A little success.

 

A quicker start. Not really quick. The whole episode moves towards the drawing together of our three detectives. There is some violence, but no flashbacks and interviews. Unfortunately, I don’t see episode 2 moving immediately forward with dramatic action.

No success here.

 

A decent character out of Rachel McAdams. She is messed up, certainly, but no more than the other two detectives. I like the new age preacher dad and webcam star sister. The late night drinking, getting thrown out of a casino, freaky bedroom activities element is promising. She is certainly a strong character and not the emotional centrepoint of the show.

Hurray. Success.

 

Rust Cohle craziness.  I don’t think crazy is the best way to describe Colin Farrell’s character. He is certainly not Rust crazy.

Slightly successful, if you look at it from an odd angle.

 

Amazing camera work. The urban slow shots over highways and night time factories were good. You could really feel them moving towards that final shot with the three of them looking at each other. It was the best shot. The drawing away was good, I just don’t understanding why it couldn’t have started tighter on them, with better positioning of the individuals standing around the corpse.

More success.

 

Observation and deduction. The best piece of deduction? Colin Farrell’s character finding out who was bullying his son. Rachel MacAdams’ character had no idea she busting a webcam house or that her sister was there, not great police work.

Are you detectives or what?

 

What else?

Well, the police do not get a great rep out of this. At least in season 1 there were some positive depictions of the police. None of that. We are in the neo-noir world of hard drinking, pill popping, emotional messed up individuals, which is not without promise.

 

The first episode brought the three detectives together, but beyond a dead guy who has some debauched interests, I am not yet seeing anything particularly interesting. I mean, industrial expansion down the rail corridor of California….zzzz, sorry did I doze off for a minute?

 

What I want to see is how the hell they are going to get on? A Rachel McAdams and Taylor Kitsch hook up? Probably not. A Rachel McAdams and Colin Farrell drinking sessions? Err no. Taylor Kitsch on his bike racing Colin Farrell. Third strike.

 

So what are their names? If this is going to work, I’ve got to start using character names. We don’t talk about Matthew McConaughey, its always Rusty. So let’s give them a chance. Your True Detective character cheat sheet:

  • Colin Farrell: Detective Ray Velcoro
  • Vince Vaughn: Frank Semyon
  • Rachel McAdams: Ani (full name Antigone) Bezzerides (named after the daughter of Oedipus? Watch out daddy)
  • Taylor Kitsch: Paul Woodrugh (least inspiring or interesting name of the group)

Writing my Blog

I had my doubts about writing a blog. I had read blogs before. Some were good, some were very very bad. I wasn’t sure that my blog would be another more than a drop of mundane personal pontification in an ocean of drivel. Now, I am not saying that my blog is a startling revelation in the modern world, but I am saying that I am surprised how much I enjoy writing my blog.

To begin with I really wasn’t sure what to write and felt like it was difficult getting a clear focus. I mean no one wants to read a 5,000 word blog that rambles into abstraction (I promising that this one won’t exceed 500 words). Now, as I move about my daily life, blog topics pop up faster than I have time to write them (you should see my draft folder–full of unfinished ideas, some won’t make it, others will).

I think it is a shame when you come across a blog that stops sometime in mid-2013 or early 2014 or late 2012. There is a ghostly mystery about what happened. There is an unfinished story that will remain a haunting symbol of a person’s time and energy that ended for an unknown reason. I enjoy writing my blog and will continue to do so for how long I don’t know, but when I am finished, I will give you a goodbye blog. It’s the least I can do.

Growing Pains in Here

The Growing Pains anthology is published today. The anthology is a collection of the kind of teenage pain and suffering no one wants to have.

My story is called ‘Transforming Alice.’ The story inhabits the Victorian Steampunk world of Violet Reincastle, monster hunter. While Violet does not make an appearance, she isn’t exactly a teen, there is more than enough in terms of monsters and unusual events in the fictional Victorian England she inhabits. The main character is called Alice, a young girl struggling in the poverty of Victorian London and it’s not exactly your everyday Dickensian tale of the destitute rise out of the shackles of poverty. No there is something far more sinister happening to Alice.

growing-painsThe anthology is available in paperback format from June 18th with FREE global delivery and 10% off via the Horrified Press website: www.horrifiedpress.com

 

True Detective Season 2 Wishlist

Season 2 of True Detectives is less than a week away. While we could start compiling a list of things we can expect, I would rather a list of things I would like to see in the new season. In no particular order:

Swinger style Vince Vaughan. I don’t want emotional Vince Vaughn or romcom Vince Vaughan or emotional turmoil Vince Vaughn. I want aggressive, confrontational, unstable and little but scary Vince Vaughan.

Unsettling spooky events. Nic Pizzolatto has said there won’t be any occult. Fine. I still want a disturbing sense of unknown forces, even if they turn out to be the people next-door with their music up too loud.

A quicker start. Retrospectively looking at Season 1, the over dependence on the Rusty and Marty’s interviews was a bit boring and ultimately meant everything was happening in the last episode. Let’s have some dramatic tension action from the beginning.

A decent character out of Rachel McAdams. We don’t want some weak female character who is the emotional centrepoint of the show while all the male characters are more interesting (see here for what we don’t want). No wrestling with emotional turmoil from you McAdams.

Rust Cohle craziness. It is unlikely to come from Rachel McAdams, it might come from Colin Farrell, but I want the essence of Rust crazy.

Amazing camera work. Who can forget the six minute tracking shot? No cut. No edits, just great visuals. More please.

Observation and deduction. We don’t want to find out that the True Detective is nothing more than macabre noir. There needs to be some observation and deduction. It’s called True Detective after all.

Arriving Thursday: Growing Pains

growing-painsThursday marks the arrival of a new anthology from the Horrified Press imprint Sinister Saints Press. Get ready for a whole selection of messed up kids having problems and causing trouble. Oh, and remember, this is an anthology from publishers who have given you Malice, an anthology that “explores the evil behind the branded “Bad Seeds” of society.” I think we can expect some terrifying stories. Enjoy.

Available in paperback format from June 18th with FREE global delivery and 10% off via the Horrified Press website: http://www.horrifiedpress.com