Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Lewis Carroll - Through The Looking Glass


Twilight by William Gay is the first Southern Gothic novel I’ve ever read, and to tell the truth I didn’t even know such a genre existed in American literature but now that I do I am keen to read more, so any and all recommendations for authors/titles would be gratefully received.

Set in Tennessee, Twilight tells the story of Corrie and Kenneth Tyler, whose dead father had been the local bootlegger.

Corrie thinks that the local undertaker Fenton Breece has cheated them over the lead lining they’d ordered for their father’s coffin, and she gets Kenneth to help her dig up the grave and open the coffin so she can check.

What they discover shocks them both, and they start digging up other recent graves and find that not only are many others being cheated by Fenton Breece, but also that many of the bodies have been desecrated with obscene mutilations.

Corrie is determined to get compensation for their father’s burial, and when Kenneth finds a cache of incriminating photographs in Breece’s car they decide to blackmail him into paying them a large sum of money.

Breece is not so easily squeezed however, and he enlists the services of a local villain to get the photos back and silence the siblings. Sutter is a vile creature, completely amoral and psychopathic, he has murdered, tortured and terrorised men women children and animals indiscriminately in the past.

He starts hunting them down and eventually the story evolves into a chase, with Sutter relentlessly pursuing Kenneth through a dangerous area of wilderness called the Harrikin

Although primarily the story of a man-hunt, this is also a bildungsroman, as Kenneth grows from teenager to man in the course of the chase, each incident changing him in emotional maturity.

There are moments of horribly black humour, and moments of terror in the book. William Gay captures the Tennessee landscape and makes it vivid with extraordinary, unforgettable characters – including a dog with pierced ears.

Necrophilia, death and revenge, what more could you want in a gothic novel?

Rated 4.5*


I am frigging fed up with fornicating foxes.*

In the past week our sleep has been broken in the early hours of the morning no less than three nights running, by the screaming and whimpering of a pair of foxes who have chosen the little green in front of our house for their own personal sex pad. Two minutes away is the vast space around Alexandra Palace where they could hump to their hearts content and not bother anyone.

I don't know whether you've ever heard a fox scream, but it is a horrible noise and sounds exactly like a woman being attacked by Jack the Ripper. Every time they start up I wake up with a start, my two terriers go absolutely ballistic and I lie in bed fuming, and wishing I had a shotgun. I am not good when I have not had enough sleep, I can turn very, very nasty.

*This could be a new tongue twister don't you think?


Some like it hot, as the saying goes, and my DS is one of them. He has always been partial to chilli sauces and so when I found this recipe I decided to use him as my guinea pig. I've now made two batches, and the jars vanished from my store cupboard as various friends sampled it. It is dead easy to make and has many many uses besides the obvious one of serving as a condiment with grilled meats and fish. Mixed half and half with decent quality mayonnaise, it makes the most fabulous dressing for cold chicken - a more interesting and spicier variation on the famous Coronation Chicken. Fantastic spread on toast, covered with sliced cheese and browned under the grill. You can spread it on white fish fillets and then bake them in the oven for 10-15 minutes for a quick supper....the list is almost endless.

Oh yes, in case you're wondering, my guinea pig pronounced it fantastic!


Makes approx 1.5 litres (5 jars)

176 kJ (41 calories) per tablespoon

2kg large ripe tomatoes, cored
160ml olive oil
10 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
10 small fresh red Thai chillies (remove stems)
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
2 tablespoons black mustard seeds
180ml red wine vinegar
60ml fish sauce (Nam Pla)
335g soft light brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground turmeric
1 cup chopped coriander, leaves, stems and roots

Rub the tomatoes with olive oil and place in a roasting pan. Bake in the oven for approx 30 minutes until soft but NOT coloured.

Blend the garlic, ginger, chillies and seeds together in a food processor until well combined into a coarse paste.

Transfer the mixture into a large heavy-bottomed pan, add the vinegar, tomatoes, fish sauce, sugar and turmeric and simmer, uncovered for about 2 hours until thick.

Blend in batches until combined but still textured.

Return to the heat for five minutes and when really hot, stir in the coriander.

Spoon into hot, sterilised jars and seal whilst still hot.

Keep in a cool dry place for up to 6 months.
Refrigerate after opening.


MaryContrary said...


I drop in every now and then to see what you are reading and ranting about. I can give you a few titles and artists to look at with respect to graphic novels. Anything by Neil Gaiman, especially his Sandman series which is available in collections like 'Preludes and Nocturnes.' For titles, consider, 'V for Vendetta,' 'Ronin,' 'Sin City,' and 'Watchmen.' I have read all of the above and thoroughly enjoyed them. I hear that the movies '300' and 'I Am Legend' were adapted from graphic novels. I have seen the movies but haven't read the novels. Of course, anyone my age remembers that 'I Am Legend' is a remake of the Charleston Heston 'Omega Man' and the Vincent Price 'Last Man On Earth which was originally a short story (I can't remember the author, sorry). Hopes this helps. Enjoy.

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Pour of Tor said...

If you feel in the mood for a class of truly bizarre southern gothic, try Flannery O'Connor's "Wise Blood." And then there is always Faulkner, whom I love, but never seem to find the time to read any more.

They had an interesting discussion about the sub-genre over at LibraryThing last year:

John Self said...

Yes, Flannery O'Connor is the apotheosis of Southern Gothic. Does Carson McCullers count? Also someone like James Wilcox, whose debut Modern Baptists has something of O'Connor's style to it.

Jeanne said...

The first time I heard a fox scream in the night I realyl did think somebody was being murdered!! Luckily we've only heard them from our house once, so the novelty hasn't worn off yet. It is a slightly surreal feeling to be lying in bed in London and listening to the screams of a wild animal though!

Buffy said...

Twilight sounds like just my sort.

Fox cries frighten the daylights out of me.

Anonymous said...

it is common fox screaming in the night.it is not only slightly surreal. and i think it is more amazing when u be alone at home and hear fox screaming
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