On Escargot

July 31, 2007

This is an extract from a short book I wrote some time ago. I have had various parts of it published in various places, but never the entire thing:

On Escargot

Arthur Day went through a phase of snail addiction – Raising them himself, like a true Roman decadent, on bay, wine, and a spicy chiffonnade. He naturally preferred the Burgundy snail, or Helix pomatia over its slightly more coarse cousin, the Petit-Gris, or Helix aspersa, but at first did not so much as consider the challenge of cultivating it. And, as far as he was concerned, the Gros-Gris, or Helix aspersa maxima, was absolutely out of the question, with its dark mantle and generally uncouth persona. This snail might do for the commercial growing houses and those counterfeit gourmets whose faces appear like peruked balls of suet on the TV screen, but for him it held no more charm than a Van Gough painting reproduced on a coffee mug.

As he applied his little trident to a plate of well-prepared escargots à la bourguignonne, he would dream of his service to the world: A new breed of snail, one with all the nicety of the Burgundy, but as easy to cultivate as the Gros-Gris. He set himself to heliciculture with an admirable vigour. One March, he personally went to France, to the forests around Brive, and captured two hundred prime specimens of the Burgundy. He flew them home in a series of specially prepared, climate-controlled boxes. He was up to the challenge. The snails were put in cages containing a beautiful, black soil he had trucked in from his brother’s ranch. He watched the creatures with great interest as they slithered over the moist dirt, feeling a strange kinship to their hermaphroditic state. By May he had two thousand five hundred delightful little Burgundies, each one as delicate as a dew drop and as precious as a jewel. These he put in a ten square meter greenhouse, within which grew rows of young lettuce, chicory and basil interspersed with finger bowls of a very raw Slovenian wine called Terrain. Read the rest of this entry »

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Books Bought etc.

July 30, 2007

It seems like every time I come to the US the book stores get more expensive. I am truly amazed at the prices people ask for used books. Anyhow, in Berkeley I saw a few things that were interesting, but most of them were out of my price range. And even though interesting, there was nothing particularly rare.

I bought the following:

  1. Aristotle: The Art of Rhetoric
  2. Boethius: The Consolation of Philosophy
  3. Eugène Fromentin: Dominique
  4. Philostratus and Eunapius: Lives of the Sophists and Lives of The Philosophers

The last title is really the only one of these that truly interests me. The introduction and footnotes are truly amusing, as they constantly pan the very people Philostratus most admires, i.e. the Asianists. It reminds me a bit of a book I was reading some time ago called The Decadent Reader. I had already read most of the stuff in it, but as there were a few things that I hadn’t and so I picked it up. One of the best pieces in it was a short story by Jean Moréas. The person who wrote the introductory essay however seemed to think that his style was terrible, and even condemned his companion Paul Adam to “unreadability”. Never mind that these two could almost be called the fathers of Symbolism.


Stories with Trees no. 9

July 29, 2007

The blue jay, nesting in an oak, sat on her eggs with great care. Far too much care it would seem, judging by the look of her bones.


Torturo Podcast etc.

July 28, 2007

I set up this blog principally as a source of information about my writing. I put up other stuff, but mainly it is meant to be a centralized location for reviews etc. about my books and stories.

I have received lots of good feedback. Occasionally however I have come across remarks that are not altogether good. The question then arises: Should I provide that info also? I think I should, since I am neither a tobacco company nor an auto manufacturer.

So, I ran across this podcast about my book The Translation of Father Torturo. It is, quite frankly, far from being altogether negative. On the contrary, it is mostly positive. The fellows doing it however do point out a number of flaws, primarily regarding the actual production values, and I mostly agree with their assessment.

One of them mentions some missing letters, and quite correctly stated that this was due to the printer, who seems incapable of producing words with Slovenian accents. In fact, the proofs of the book did not have these errors.

If any one is interested, I only have 3 of the signed copies left from this offer, so anyone who wants one should get one.

On another note, here is a comment I found about my story The Life of Captain Gareth Caernarvon which appeared in McSweeney’s 19 and was put on the Best American Fantasy recommended reading list.


Stories with Trees no. 8

July 27, 2007

Emerico Martín, age 23, fell in love with Dorothy Gabriel, age 22. In the trunk of a tree he carved their initials, haloed by a heart. Many years later his body was found in the woods, the putrid wound on his chest hard to decipher.


The Skin Collector

July 26, 2007

This story was originally published in a tattoo magazine called Taboo, and subsequently reprinted on Fantastic Metropolis:

The Skin Collector

“Yes; come in,” Professor Black said. “I had forgotten that today was the day.”

Lum followed his host down into the sunken living room, which was decorated sumptuously and with refined taste. It was apparent that the man who dwelt in this house was, if not out and out rich, certainly well to do. The art that hung from the walls was a blend of the romantic and contemporary; the furniture comfortably European; the rugs stylishly Asiatic. The plants, lined up against the large windows, were lush and tropical. The whole place had an air of uninviting comfort, as a stage set might.

“So, you are interested in tattoos?” the Professor asked, after the two men had sat down.

“Yes,” Lum replied, self consciously, as he looked into the small, hard eyes directed at him. “I explained it all over the phone… I wanted to interview you; for the book I am writing. I have wanted to meet you ever since I first heard about your collection. I brought a camera so I could take photos.”

Professor Black let his eyes descend to the body of the apparatus that hung from Lum’s neck, but his features showed no inclination towards approval. They were a grim blank that did little to sooth or welcome. Read the rest of this entry »


Stories with Trees no. 7

July 26, 2007

Dr. Montclair was a genius. He grafted the head of a dog onto a pear tree. The neighbours complained they could not sleep at night.