Wonderland – Zoje Stage

You can read my full review of Zoje Stage’s brilliant new book, Wonderland, on Goodreads or NetGalley, but I just want to re-emphasize my love for these weird novels that seem to be infiltrating the mainstream at the moment. I love well-written folk horror, and cosmic horror, and it seems there’s a market for it!

Wonderland is quite different from Stage’s debut, Baby Teeth. While there is still some domestic terror, the central family also have to battle the elements, and mysterious unseen forces. If you like Camilla Bruce’s fantastic You Let Me In, or John Langan’s The Fisherman, this one is for you.

Current Reading

I was introduced to the mad world of Leonora Carrington this year; her short stories are incredible. Her novel, The Hearing Trumpet, is similarly crazy, although unfortunately, I’m not immediately captivated. I might have to move on to something else for bit.

The wonderful folks at Scriber have just given me access to Tender is the Flesh, by Agustina Bazterrica which I mentioned was on my read-ar last week.

Working at the local processing plant, Marcos is in the business of slaughtering humans—though no one calls them that anymore.

Yay! More weird horror, please!

Talking Heads

The new version of Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads is currently showing in the UK, so I am having my semi-regular re-listen to the originals. I shared the below story on Instagram, and Twitter, but here’s an example of how important Bennett has been throughout the majority of my life.

Like most interesting people, I didn’t have an easy adolescence. The details aren’t important; I had a group of friends, I wasn’t stupid, and I had a talent for singing (still do). I was just different, and people don’t like that, do they?

I have a very vivid memory of being 17, and reading Talking Heads 2 at a bus stop about half a mile from school, because I didn’t want to get on a bus full of idiots. Bennett’s incredible work was a great companion at that weird time.

Yesterday, I found myself lying on my porch couch, under the California sun, gazing at the sky, listening to Talking Heads, and I realized how far I’d come from that bittersweet moment almost twenty years ago. Lots of things have changed in the last couple of decades, myself included, but it’s comforting to have the constant of Bennett’s work.

Also, the new Talking Heads monologues, The Shrine, and An Ordinary Woman, are both amazing. An Ordinary Woman, especially, is one of the most disturbing things I’ve ever seen. Superb performance by Sarah Lancashire.

Short Stories

Yes, I’m still reading a short story every day, but I’m trying to switch things up a bit. I’ve added all my short story collections and anthologies to my spreadsheet, and if I don’t have anything I desperately want to read, I’m going to let a random number generator choose for me.

I’ve been working my way through Sit, a collection by Deborah Ellis, with a fantastic concept. Every story opens with a child sitting in a chair, and the action unravels from that point. So far there has been underage labor, school trips, tantrums, and family trauma.

I adored English Heritage’s collection, Eight Ghosts, from a few years ago. So I was delighted to find they had a new collection out, These Our Monsters. So far, I’ve only read Sarah Hall’s story, The Hand Under the Stone, but it was fantastic.

Here’s the spreadsheet, if you fancy following along. Almost 800 stories. Bonkers.

Random Bits

Nightjar Press are now on Instagram, sharing pictures of all the beautiful, limited edition chapbooks they’ve published. Reminds me how many are missing from my collection.

Nightjar author, Tom Fletcher, is back with a new book this year! Fletcher’s short stories always had a fantastic air of menace, so I can’t wait for Witch Bottle.

Four audio plays are available worldwide on the BBC website, as part of the Lockdown Theatre Festival. These are plays that were either closed early, or not staged at all, because of COVID-19. I listened to Shoe Lady by E.V. Crowe, and it was absolutely devastating. Highly recommended.

Not book related, but I finally got around to watching The Mandalorian. My word, it’s amazing, isn’t it?

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