An Extract from the Notebook of an As Yet Unpublished Novel

November 30, 2008

And then we departed into the cold air, him in the lead and me behind on mule-back holding the rope of the other mule too. I had never been one fond of the country or mountains or any other ugly humps of dirt bristling with trees, and now here we were in the wilderness in almost the dead of winter and it seemed perilous beyond all measure to be venturing up to those heights. But I knew very well that my master would have it no other way, just as I knew his generosity was by no means of the stingy sort.

Special 2 for 1 offer

November 28, 2008

A special offer to those living in the USA.

Buy a copy of Dr. Black in the Guerrillia from me and I will throw in a free signed copy of The Translation of Father Torturo. The Dr. Black book is 20 bucks, plus 3 bucks for media mail shipping. Anyone interested can paypal me at or e-mail me at huysmans67 at hot mail dot com.

As an addendum, here is a reviewish sort of post I lifted from Jeff Vandermeer’s old blog:

I’ve enjoyed Brendan Connell’s tales of Dr. Black, expert extraordinaire, for quite some time. Forrest Aguirre and I took one for Leviathan 3 and I took another for Album Zutique. Each new story seems to be better than the last, and the newest of all, Dr. Black and the Guerrillia (83 pages, hardcover, Grafitisk), is available in handsome 300-copy limited edition book form direct from the author.

In the novella, Dr. Black visits San Corrados, looking for the Yaroa tribe so he can finish off his latest book. As is the usual case in Dr. Black stories, Dr. Black strides through the landscape having odd adventures and barely escaping with his life. Not only does he encounter the Yaroa, but also the guerillas who are fighting to take back the country from the corrupt general who leads it. Of course, Dr. Black becomes embroiled in their efforts.

I’d be hard-pressed to pick my favorite parts of the narrative. I mean,
the encounter while “under the influence,” of some local druggery, with the God of Metanatural History ranks right up there. As does the slime molds playlet. As does the interior monologue leading up to Dr. Black’s possible shooting at the hands of a firing squad. It’s insanely wonderful stuff–daft, droll, and experimental in a fun way. (The book is also nicely illustrated by John Connell.) I’d also be hard-pressed to pluck an appropriate quote to entice you simply because Connell’s work contains so many pleasures, so instead here are a couple of snippets…

The deity had the head of a large, tropical American edentate (Myrmecophaga jubata) attached to the pale body of a man of affairs. He spoke, not in English, but rather in a variety of Pennsylvania-German-Pali-Middle-Mexican-Persian which the doctor, an able linguist, could perfectly understand.

Black inquired as to the significance of the objects in the glass case.

“Those are your sentiments Doctor,” the deity replied.

“My sentiments?”

“Your sentiments.”

“And what are my sentiments doing here, might I ask?”

“This is the Heaven of Metanatural History, and it is where all the non-material parts of Earth’s imminent scientists are kept for both study and display.” The deity scratched its snout and then rolled out a long protrusile tongue.


“Would you like a blindfold?”

“No. I would prefer, at the moment of dissolution, to have my visual awareness entirely unimpaired.” [Dr. Black replied]

The other bowed stiffly. “As you wish.” He turned to the gunmen. “Ready!” he cried, opening an enormous mouthful of yellow teeth.

The doctor considering how a bullet can contain a supper of roast game…freedom…a river of sadness…the end of a noble career…travelling at two-thousand feet per second..with rifles positioned about thirty feet away…upon being fired…the projectiles would arrive in about twelve thousandths of a second…but taking into account air-resistance…partial differential equation…”


seeing: childhood = Alabama (to the sounds of Sweet Nadine: huge, crowned with red hair, her beautiful voice + his own father: a thick and elongated torso; great great great grandson of noted physician and chemist Joseph Black = discoverer of carbon dioxide…If he were killed he would sorely miss the chicken heart back at his laboratory on Long Island which he had kept alive for twenty-seven years pulsating in a solution of sea salt.

“This is unpleasant,” he thought.

Another Fast Ships Review

November 27, 2008

A review of Fast Ships, Black Sails over at Joe Sherry’s Adventures in Reading blog, with a positive reference to my story.

Some Notebook Notes for Dr. Black

November 26, 2008

half our knowledge we must snatch not take

we have already begun. When the

The art of the blowgun

Manioch beer


Flying ants

Rust coloured bank

The streets were all dirt

A wrong move will result in a lethal shower of darts by the world most expert dart-blowers

Quote of the Day

November 21, 2008

I am a dog and you are my master. So I bark and ask for my dog food.


Super rapino a Milano (1964)

November 20, 2008

Not a bad film, not a good film. The basic story is about a group of guys who rob a huge amount of money from a bank in Milan and hide out at a monastery disguised as monks. As it is both directed and starring Adriano Celentano, the music is cool, which is something. An added bonus is the presence of Don Backy, who is actually a very good actor.

Stryker (1983)

November 19, 2008

I just saw this Philippine Road Warrior rip off by the great Cirio H. Santiago. I have to say, that this was way better than the Italian Road Warrior rip offs. For one thing, it appears that they are using live ammo in this one. A dwarf clearly seems to get some gun powder in his eye. So if that is your thing . . .

Recently Films Seen

November 17, 2008

Zatoichi’s Cane Sword: Brilliant. One of the better Zatoichi films.

Step Brothers: Very funny.

A Taxing Woman 2: A bit slower than the first Taxing Woman movie, but still well worth checking out.

Casanova 70: Great stuff. The script and production of this film are far beyond anything that has been done in Hollywood in ages if not ever. Of course Hollywood never had Marcello.

Toto’ Diabolicus: This is a Toto’ film that I tried to get into but just couldn’t. It has a few very funny scenes. But for every funny part, there are ten that fall flat.   

Fast Ships, Black Sails review

November 15, 2008

A nice review of the book here, at The Fix.

Gives a friendly mention of my story, We Sleep on a Thousand Waves Beneath the Stars . . .


Padua Article

November 13, 2008
The following is an article I wrote back in 2001 for a travel zine. Visiting Padua gave me the idea for my novel The Translation of Father Torturo. . . . I was there again last week and was reminded of this article.

Paduan Perfection

By Brendan Connell

Of all the cities in Northern Italy, Padua is one of the most charming. Part of the reason is the relative lack of tourism compared to other northern destinations such as Milan and Venice. Considering its richness of culture and serene atmosphere, this is surprising but obviously advantageous to anyone who cares to experience the magic of Italy without being turned off by the crowds that flock there every summer.

The town itself is situated along the Bachiglione River, between Verona and Venice, and is an ideal place to stop if these two cities are part of your itinerary. Its recorded history dates back as far as 300 BC, when an invasion was attempted by the Spartans. Since then it has had a rocky history, undergoing numerous wars with, amongst others, the Gauls, Hungarians and Venetians. During a period of Roman rule it was a place of great culture and was home to a number of fine Latin writers, including Livy. Later, during the Italian renaissance, it flourished. Great scholars, such as Galileo, taught at its university, which is Europe’s oldest, and numerous brilliant artists, such as Donatello and Michelangelo, lived in or visited the city.

Strolling through the often empty side streets one senses that Padua probably has not changed a great deal over the past centuries. There are no little shops selling gaudy tourist goods. Instead one enjoys seeing artisans at work and browsing around the small delicatessens, where for remarkably reasonable prices one can purchase fine wines and cheeses or panbiscotto, a hard croissant-like biscuit which can only be found in the Padua vicinity. There is also the open air market, rich with the smell of roasting chestnuts, where, year round, farmers come to sell there produce, bakers their breads and sweets, and merchants clothing and household items.

The restaurants and trattorias, though not overly abundant, offer a great variety of local specialties served with a hospitality not to be found in large cities or tourist Meccas. One can expect generous portions coupled with often remarkably low prices. For lunch you can enjoy a delicious hot prosciutto sandwich with a quarter litre of wine for just a few thousand liras. For dinner baccala alla Padua (salt cod with tomatoes, potatoes and spices) is highly recommended.

The hotels are generally of a good quality, the Padua Board of Tourism setting much higher standard than in most other cities. A two star hotel in Padua is better than a three star hotel in Verona or Venice and cheaper.

For art, Padua certainly rivals any city in Italy but Rome or Florence. The frescoes in the Scrovegni chapel are the master work of Giotto, considered the founding father of Italian painting. They rank only slightly below Leonardo’s Last Supper and Michelangelo’s Sisteen Chapel in degree of historical importance and beauty. The nearby Civic Museum has two delightful miniatures by the artist Georgione as well as a masterpiece by Guariento depicting a troop of angels moving through the night sky. Other chapels in the neighbourhood display a wide assortment of frescoes from the Giotto school, though many prime pieces were destroyed during the bombing raids of World War II.

The Basilica del Santo, a church built to house the remains of Saint Anthony, contains Donatello’s Alter. This work is one of the three greatest ensembles of sculpture the western world has ever known, matched only by Michelangelo’s Tomb of the Medici and Rodin’s The Burghers of Callais. Another sculpture of Donatello, Gattamelata, considered by many to be the finest equestrian statue in existence, stands in front of the Basilica.

Padua hosts a number of other famous buildings and sights, including the Palazzo della Ragione, built in 1166, and the convent of Santa Giustina, which was destroyed by an earthquake in 1172 and later rebuilt by Michelangelo. The city’s botanical garden, which is about five minutes walk from the Basilica del Santo, is the oldest in the world, dating from 1545, and certainly worth a visit. Rich in rare blooms and beautiful old trees, it is a wonderful place to spend an hour or two, strolling along the statue lined paths and perusing the greenhouses. It is interesting to note that the oldest plant in the garden, a palm dating from 1584, is what inspired Göethe to write his famous essay on the metamorphosis of plants.

Certainly it can be said that Padua, though not the largest or grandest, is one of the richest cities in the world. It is both peaceful and enchanting. It is full of history and tradition. The art which Italy is so famous for, can be found here in rare abundance and seen without fighting one’s way through crowds or standing in long queues. The food and accommodations are both of high quality and relatively inexpensive. After enduring the chaos of Milan and mulling through the tourist ridden lanes of Venice, Padua is an oasis, embodying all that is best about Italy.