In Viriconium was short at 60 pages, but every page gives poetry and deep heart, and also seems to directly channel Baudelaire's Fleurs du Mal, besides. I am thinking M. John Harrison HAD to be an influence for another short book that was also so rich: Old Souls and the Grammar of Their Wanderings by Berrien C. Henderson. I might have to ask the author. With the reality of ebola on our shores this week for the first time in history, In Viriconium was a haunting read about not only citizens, but the city itself, being eaten by a capricious plague as the portraitist Ashlyme flounders at saving a doomed artist while gods dressed as slobbering fools cavort through the crumbling city to amuse the disillusioned and deluded both.
I wasn't clever enough this month to read the first book, but I do want to read of all of these. In time.
Here are some especially handsome passages:
"There is a certain time of the afternoon," said Audsley King, "when everything seems repellent to me."
"A wet silvery light fell delicately on the white bridges, limning the afternoon curve of the canal and perfectly disguising its shabbiness. Everyone enjoyed themselves thoroughtly; while down below , among the ragwort on the towpath, writhed the thousand-and-one black and yellow caterpillars of the cinnabar moth, some fat and industrious, rearing up their blunt, ugly heads, others thin and scruffy and torpid. The Barley Brothers at them and were sick."
Lessons on writing? Poetry is a dancing lesson for a writer, I think.
Visit M. John Harrison's very curious website. Do.