We live in uncertain times. We have always lived in uncertain times. I think what makes the weird inherently attractive is that it speaks to a part of us that knows, consciously or not, that the rules we play by, the realities we choose to agree to and normalize, have cracks in them. Increasingly, I think that putting realist modes and non‐realistic modes at opposite ends of the spectrum does a disservice to both. Realism is conservative in that it tells us what we believe is real is in fact real. But it isn’t. It’s also consensual, questionable, open to interpretation, and often ignorant of other, competing narratives. We are in a moment when the consensus is beginning to shift. Non‐realist modes seem to help us get a handle on this faster because they teach us the consensus was never absolute to begin with. People were excluded, people dissented. This breakdown is enjoyable at some level even as it’s also frightening. It means elements of our lives which we lacked the ability or will to question suddenly seem disputable, something we can fight back against. Breakdown gives us an opportunity to see what lies beneath, for better or worse. Increasingly what strikes me as strange about Lovecraft’s fiction is the sense that once the monstrous is encountered, the only options are madness, forgetting or death. And that in its own way is a conservative way of thinking: there are many more options. Resistance, recuperation, remembering, rebirth. This is the energy that comes from the collapse of the consensus — the possibility of change.

Helen Marshall
Interview with David Davis,
Weird Review 15th November 2017

Picking up threads of skin

November 5, 2017


5th November

A grim September Monster gobbled me up and shat me out in this cold, inhospitable November. That’s how it feels at any rate.

Brexit apparently will lead this ‘green and pleasant land’ into the black chaos of Lovecraftian doom; but before that dire fate overtakes us we must witness many MPs laid low because of their rampant misogyny. So much knee touching in the corridors of power. It’s almost as bad as the newspaper industry – and that’s saying something!

But, of course, our Parliament is a fantasy. The bizarreness of the events there, while mirroring the society surrounding it, should not surprise – pederasty, incest, all the convolutions of lust, all the varieties of betrayal are there in those dark corridors of power. The poor innocent suffering ravishment in her office after drinky-poos with the boss will, we are assured, become a thing of the past. And the heart-numbing, brain-toppling solution to this serial fiddling will be provided by the people who couldn’t be trusted to sort their own expenses! Yes, that’s right. Our jolly old MPs.

I would respectfully suggest now, that any male Member of Parliament prone to an inflation of lust when in the presence of a female / male person, simply doesn’t go there. Instead they should adopt the masturbatory obsession of Alex Portnoy. It’s safer for all concerned:

“Through a world of matted handkerchiefs and crumpled Kleenex and stained pajamas, I moved my raw and swollen penis, perpetually in dread that my loathsomeness would be discovered by someone stealing upon me just as I was in the frenzy of dropping my load. Nevertheless, I was wholly incapable of keeping my paws from my dong once it started to climb up my belly. In the middle of class I would raise a hand to be excused, rush down the corridor to the lavatory, and with ten or fifteen savage strokes, beat off standing up into a urinal. At the Saturday afternoon movie I would leave my friends to go off to the candy machine – and wind up in a distant balcony seat, squirting my seed into the empty wrapper from a Mounds bar.”

(Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth)

You get the picture? We as a nation can put up with MPs who frenziedly whack off in a bathroom. But we cannot endure their perverse, self-absorbed obsession for unwanted knee feeling, groping and whatever else goes on after a couple of vodka martinis – abuse of position or power by these lechers and political vagabonds verges on the criminal, and should be stopped immediately.

Firing squad at the ready…

And today is Guy Fawkes day. We can set fire to our raggedy-arse, petrol-soaked Guy which bears an uncanny resemblance to Jeremy Corbin – but not by design. Originally it was modeled on that hero of democratic principle, Jean-Claude Junker. Somehow our Guy’s features morphed into those of JC – probably after his criticism of Nigella’s Turkish Eggs recipe on his ‘special’ Gogglebox show…?

“When I was younger I made it a rule never to take strong drink before lunch. It is now my rule never to do so before breakfast – ”

Winston Churchill allegedly said this to king George VI. However, he probably never did – despite all the quotes on the internet and the posters produced by a hundred and one different companies attributing this statement to Churchill. Which makes it an example of Fake History, I guess…


Ideas abound. A wrecked, ravaged bed this morning. I see the shoulderblades of women, enjoy breakfast after lovemaking, Pepsi and Coke in the refrigerator, fresh brewed coffee on the table, freezing rain in the window. There exists a large lyrical love of the surface of this world within me –

But enough. I have work to do. A bed to make with clean sheets…

I should think so, yes…

August 23, 2015



August 17, 2014


“It rained all afternoon and I listened to The Doors, mostly “The End,” “Riders on the Storm,” and “Touch Me” – I often wind up with a song on repeat, not realizing that I’ve been letting just that one song play over and over and over again for an hour. That would drive a sane person mad, right? But, anyhow, rain and four hours’ worth of The Doors and in the end I had the prologue of Low Red Moon, which, at least for now, is called “Providence…”
Caitlín R Kiernan.
( Low Red Moon Journal 18th Dec 2001)

Yes, here there is a prologue – and it reads like a solemn hymn to violent death – an incantation to old, dark Gods: those powerful, supernatural forces beyond our ken, who delight in pain, suffering and blood, because, boys & girls, Madam Terpsichore desires “the busy, secret whispers passed between them…” (her dark, chuckling, Ghoul-like creatures) “…like scraps of flesh and gristle”. Here, yes, we listen to the poetry of rendered flesh and viscera…

“It was a surprisingly unsavoury beginning, even for my stuff, taking me a little off guard, and I was left feeling disoriented and jumpy and in need of a long, hot shower. That doesn’t happen very often, fortunately. That I write something which actually upsets me while I’m writing it (or afterwards, for that matter).”
(Low Red Moon Journal 18th Dec 2001)

Thus commented Caitlín Rebekah Kiernan, authoress and chronicler of urban decay, creator of disturbing visions and dark fantasies, whose subterranean creatures and changelings originate in “those eons of time that proceed the short span of human history…” Low Red Moon, like its predecessor, feels part narcotic hallucination, part an explication of the unreliability of perception, of understanding and the very nature of reality. It is, ultimately, a novel of “existential shock”.

But this prologue is like a suspended tick of time between a cycle just past and one about to begin. It is in effect a sort of overture of blood…And narrative movement begins again in chapter one with the cop’s voice…

“You feeling any better, Mr. Silvery?”

So, sometime after the events depicted in “Threshold”, we find Chance and Deacon have married…

Deacon Silvey, you’ll recall, is a psychic who helped the Atlanta police with some of their cases. He is an unemployed drunk who is currently on the wagon…but only just. He uses his gift, his psychometric skills to help the Birmingham police and “sees” an inhuman killer…

Meanwhile Chance, a paleontologist of some renown, is expecting a baby, and begins observing (hallucinating) stigmata on herself, first in a public restroom; then later witnesses flowing blood from the replica of a Megalopseudosuchus at an exhibition, the blood dripping from its mouth and the “lungfish trapped between its plastic jaws”…

Chance doesn’t believe in husband Deke’s abilities. As far as she’s concerned he experiences good old fashioned hallucinations, maybe DTs, the bloody phantasmagoria of his visions a simple chemical imbalance of his ill-used mind. Either that or he’s lying…To himself and to others. Chance isn’t sure which of these is the case. She’s torn between her own bloody nightmares and the fear that Deke is gradually succumbing to his own demons…And somehow we know, as readers, there’s going to be no living happily ever after with this tale.

And why the hell should there be? Let’s hear from Ms Kiernan.

“Do I continue to struggle to write literate, meaningful dark fiction, because that’s what I do, and because all writers should strive at all times to do their best and only their best, and because there’s so little of quality dark fiction in the world? Or do I accept that very few people want literate, meaningful dark fiction, and cave in to the whims of the no-brows who have made this Age of Irony what it is, in the faint hope that I’ll sell more books if I only write stories that are easier to read. Stories with pretty, simple, flawless, easily loveable people who face the Big Bad Thing, making the world once again safe for soccer moms and leafblowers, all wrapped up with the gaudy pink bow of the cherished Happy Ending?”
Caitlín R Kiernan.
(Low Red Moon Journal 30th Nov 2003)

Yeah, way to go. Psychotic Narcissa Snow is after Chance and her baby. She’s an escapee from one of H P Lovecraft’s worse nightmare’s, a killer who listens to her victims voices locked up inside her head, and who wishes to ascend to the ranks of…Of what exactly? Because poor bloody Narcissa could be as delusional as…Well, as delusional as Deke or his young wife. And face it, boys & girls, if they aren’t delusional then there’s something pretty nasty creeping round the corner!

So Narcissa craves acceptance. She’s a hybrid. Not quite one thing or another. She feeds copses to ghouls who chuckle ‘their ugly dog-bark laughter…’Yeah, and as if that weren’t enough this wonky hybrid, crazy as an shitehouse rat, is being hunted by Scarborough and Mary Jane, a pair of nothing kids looking ‘like rejects from a Tarantino film’, the boy ‘tall and thin as a pole, his leather biker jacket hanging loose on bony shoulders’; while ‘the girl is pale and pretty…’

Described the way I’ve described the plot here, it all seems perhaps a tad juvenile? But trust me it isn’t. Ms. Kiernan’s prose is pure electric fire:

“The sun comes up slow and cold, heartless blue-white light to worm its way through the trees crowded close about the old house on Cullom Street and find Narcissa still squatting naked on the floor in front of the remains of the dead rat. A deep gouge in the wood from the bullet, and she’s picked the rat apart with her nails, has spread its innards and bones, its fur and teeth, like a deck of tarot cards. A meaning to every drop of blood, unspoken significance in each speck of flesh or tiny vertebra, and she has squatted there for hours teasing understanding from the gore. And finally, their intentions revealed to her in the torn membrane of a kidney, the acute angle of a femur to a rib, their intentions and their names, and, what’s more, that they had gone to the seer. Narcissa grinds her teeth and stares at the morning light, then licks a bit of rat off her thumb and looks back down at the mess on the floor.”

Visceral, powerful prose, its immediacy almost intimidating. Ms. Kiernan is a writer of spectacular talent. Here’s what she has to say about writing:

“It’s almost painful sometimes. I can see it in my head. Perfect. And then I have to tear it all apart, these perfect, intricate, fluid images, and put it back together in clumsy, faltering words. The worst part, though, is the end of a day like this, knowing that I have to get up at eight o’clock and do it all over again, start where I finally gave up and quit today, after reworking much of today’s prose until I’m halfway happy with it, and then slog on ahead, hoping that it’ll get easier.”
(Low Red Moon Journal 17th Feb 2002)

Boys and girls what on the surface appears simple is in fact complex. Great thought, “blood, sweat and tears” went into the creation of this novel. Ms. Kiernan’s genius here brings together references to William Blake, whose eidetic memory surviving the transition from childhood to adulthood, providing him with visions of other realms more real than…well, than reality! C G Jung, Lewis Carroll, Charles Fort, Lovecraft and others. Ms. Kiernan lays open the soft underbelly of society, allows us to witness obsessive-compulsive thoughts and actions, individual addiction and frailty, madness, violence and urban squalor and decay. Hers is undoubtedly the poetry of Apocalypse…

“Anyway, what they never told me, because they couldn’t have known, was that if I ever got my wish, I’d discover that writing books was not fun or exciting or romantic or any of the other things I imagined it to be. It’s simply hard. Mindnumbingly hard. That people who write books spend most of their lives alone in small rooms staring at blank pages or, as it would turn out, computer screens, for hour upon hour upon hour, occasionally getting lucky and finding a sentence to fill some of that damned white space with. They couldn’t have told me about the stress or carpal tunnel syndrome or writer’s block. How you start to forget that there’s a difference between day and night because you rarely go outside. How you ultimately reach a point where that one thing that drove you to ruin your life and your eyes and your nerves, the simple joy of reading, would itself become annoying because, after all, it’s really work.”
Caitlín R Kiernan.
(Low Red Moon Journal 24th Nov 2001)

If you haven’t already encountered Ms. Kiernan’s novel Low Red Moon, I would urge you all, boys & girls, to run out and get a copy NOW! It’s an experience you’ll not regret…Nor forget!