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Some random links: a creepy good writer, Gabo and the songbird

November 10, 2007 | 11:09 am

Creepy good: Novelist Kate Mosse’s ("Labyrinth") recent appreciation in the Guardian of horror writer Algernon Blackwood reminds us that we’d all be better off with a little more phantasmagoria in our lives.

Few, I think, read Blackwood today, though his influence (born in 1869 in southeast London) is undeniable on the works of H.P. Lovecraft and later members of the "weird" school such as August Derleth and T.E.D. Klein. Mosse’s piece describes the austerity and theosophical influences of Blackwood’s upbringing and how these must have contributed something to his vision of terrors invading our world from cosmic, other-dimensional places. She also styles him as a nature artist, Blackwood though not exactly in the Wordsworth school of the great outdoors:

"For me, it is Blackwood’s idea of nature as sentient that dazzles--even more than his weird tales of psychic detectives and retributive ghosts and ancient demons summoned by old words and spells. His was not a sentimental affectation: he felt that to be within nature was the only way in which to be free and alive."

Too bad her piece doesn’t quite hit on the weirdness, even though she acknowledges the breakthrough success of his John Silence stories. Silence is a psychic detective, a clairvoyant problem-solver whose adventures can be had on the cheap in a Dover edition edited by the indefatigable S.T. Joshi (who also edited a Penguin volume of Blackwood’s stories called "Ancient Sorceries" as well as the recent "American Supernatural Tales"--what, does Joshi never sleep?).

Mosse’s piece, like many appreciative essays, serves as a reminder that even though the shelves in your neighborhood bookstore may seem full, they don’t contain nearly everything that’s worth reading. In this vein, there’s also something slightly disturbing (in a decidedly un-Blackwoodesque way) about Mosse’s essay: She ranks Blackwood as worthy to share the company of Lovecraft, Sheridan Le Fanu, M.R. James and Edith Nesbit--wonderful writers who, with the exception of Lovecraft perhaps, may need an appreciative essay one day.

Gabo and Shakira: If you didn’t know, Gabriel García Márquez is good friends with pop star Shakira, a relationship dating back to a profile of the singer that the novelist wrote in 2002. So don’t be surprised, as Hello! magazine reminds, to hear her music in the forthcoming film adaptation of his "Love in the Time of Cholera," which opens in theaters November Nov. 16.

Nick Owchar

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