In the Duke’s Sights: Danielewski, Carroll, Butcher, and Helgadóttir

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In the Duke’s Sights is a regular column where I talk about the various books and movies that grabbed my interest in the last week.

Destroying the Novel So Your TV Will Make Sense!

I won’t pretend to fully understand all of Danielewski’s work, but I own all of it and find his refusal to participate in normal novel writing fascinating.  His latest novel, The Familiar Vol. 1, is apparently a deconstruction of the television series.  io9 has some great shots of the weird formats in the book, which are, as Danielewski is known for, just plain weird.

The book doesn’t come out until next month, so you’ll have plenty of time to pre-order.

Bigfoot is Probably Real (or in a Book)

Subterranean Press recently sent me an ARC of an upcoming collection of three Harry Dresden novellas.  Since I’ve never actually read any of Butcher’s books, for which I will probably be summarily hung, I figure it’s about time I give his work a shot.  This seems like a nice entry point:  short and to the point!  Granted, I actually really liked the Dresden Files TV series, so I’m sure I’ll enjoy the written work, too.

This particularly set of stories has Harry working for, well, Bigfoot.  That’s sufficiently goofy for me to want to read it.

Really Weird Covers Creep Me Out!

The cover for Jonathan Carroll’s upcoming novella from Subterranean Press reminds me of Aphex Twin’s music video for “Come to Daddy.”  Go on.  Watch it.  You know I’m right:

In any case, Teaching the Dog to Read looks like more of Carroll’s brilliant weirdness wrapped in a single 96-page book.  The description says it all:

Since the appearance of his first novel, The Land of Laughs, in 1980, Jonathan Carroll has been one of the most compelling, consistently versatile storytellers in modern imaginative literature. His extraordinary new novella, Teaching the Dog to Read, is quintessential Carroll: surprising, funny, and filled with unexpected moments and astonishing revelations. 

The story opens when mid-level office drone Tony Areal receives an extravagant gift: the Lichtenberg wristwatch he has always coveted. Shortly afterward, he receives an even grander gift: the luxurious—and expensive—Porsche Cayman that has always been the car of his dreams. Accompanying the car is the mysterious Alice, who knows more about Tony’s dreams and desires than Tony himself. This encounter opens the door to a rich and unexpected universe: the world behind the world. 

Teaching the Dog to Read is set at the intersection of the mundane and the miraculous, a place where reality itself shifts and shimmers with disconcerting suddenness. It begins in the realm of recognizable things and ends in a room where a bizarre—and invisible—reunion takes place. Along the way, it offers both grand entertainment and a visionary meditation on the complex connections between our dreaming and waking selves. The result is a master class in the art of narrative and a permanent addition to Jonathan Carroll’s remarkable body of work.

The Stars, the Moon, the Inner Journey, the Outer Journey…

Fox Spirit Books recently sent me several books from the far off mystical land of England.  Among them was Margrét Helgadóttir’s The Stars Seem So Far Away, a tale about the Earth in its last days.  Though the premise sounds familiar, the blurbs on the back of the book certainly enticed me, as they included high praise from Damien Walter of The Guardian and Adam Roberts, the celebrated academic and author.  Both praised Helgadóttir’s prose, so it’s likely I’ll find something to love in this particular book.  Thus, it goes to the big fat To Be Read pile!


And there you have it.  Those are the things that grabbed my attention this week.  What about you?

About the Author:

Shaun Duke is an aspiring writer, a reviewer, and an academic. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Digital Rhetoric and Writing at Bemidji State University. He received his PhD in English from the University of Florida and studies science fiction, postcolonialism, digital fan cultures, and digital rhetoric.

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