- No other life forms know they are alive, and neither do they know they will die. This is our curse alone. Without this hex upon our heads, we would never have withdrawn as far as we have from the natural—so far and for such a time that it is a relief to say what we have been trying with our all not to say: We have long since been denizens of the natural world. Everywhere around us are natural habitats, but within us is the shiver of startling and dreadful things. Simply put: We are not from here. If we vanished tomorrow, no organism on this planet would miss us. Nothing in nature needs us. – Thomas Ligotti, The Conspiracy Against the Human Race
- The days hardened with cold and boredom like last year’s loaves of bread. One began to cut them with blunt knives without appetite, with a lazy indifference. – Bruno Schulz, The Street of Crocodiles and Other Stories (Penguin Classics)
4. Storytelling is a way of turning the world inside out, which I believe it desperately needs. – Mike Russell
5. I always felt sorry for the sidekick as a kid. They never got their due and it left a very bad taste in the mouth – they are defined by a subordinate relationship to someone else. I always felt like a bit of sidekick when I was a kid and it didn’t feel fair. – China Mieville
7. In one picture, the pool was half hidden by a fringe of mace- weeds, and the dead willow was leaning across it at a prone, despondent angle, as if mysteriously arrested in its fall towards the stagnant waters. Beyond, the alders seemed to strain away from the pool, exposing their knotted roots as if in eternal effort. In the other drawing, the pool formed the main portion of the foreground, with the skeleton tree looming drearily at one side. At the water’s farther end, the cat-tails seemed to wave and whisper among themselves in a dying wind; and the steeply barring slope of pine at the meadow’s terminus was indicated as a wall of gloomy green that closed in the picture, leaving only a pale of autumnal sky at the top. – Clark Ashton Smith, American Fantastic Tales: Terror and the Uncanny from Poe to the Pulps
9. The right to take a chance, the right to suffer. The right to be unwise, the right to die. These aims are hateful to the government, which values ever frightened mouse and falling sparrow as equal to a tiger burning bright. – Fritz Leiber, The Wanderer
10. But then, as she knew too well, the more fondly we imagine something will last forever, the more ephemeral it often proves to be. – Iain Banks
What’s your favourite Weird Fiction quote? Please share 🙂
The Woman of My Dreams by Glenn Fain.
Blurring the line between dream and reality can be fatal.
Sleepwalking through a decade of soulless jobs, Arnold Brinckman is still reeling from his girlfriend’s suicide. When he is convinced all hope is lost, the beautiful and exotic Anastasia appears in his dreams, teaching him to live and love again.
If you need a book that covers multiple genres and moods, The Woman of My Dreams is for you. It’s somewhere in the realms of paranormal, suspense and romance, the latter two genres not being something I usually go for. The Woman of My Dreams starts off funny and light, grows into intelligent fun, and then dives into sensitive, well-crafted depression for the end.
I’ve said this about books before, but the title and cover wouldn’t attract me to giving this book a go. It looks and sounds maybe a bit too girly for my tastes. This is one of the greatest perks to having a blog – I get approached about books that I wouldn’t usually try, I give them a go and I love them!
I really like Arnold, the main character of the book – he’s the kind of character that I think a lot of people can relate to. He made me laugh and I understood the choices he made throughout the story, even when he was being an idiot.
Above: Drop Dead Fred gif from BuzzFeed
The story reminded me of one of my favourite films, Drop Dead Fred, with the writing style of Stephen Fry (when he’s writing novels) and George R. R. Martin (think The Armageddon Rag, not Game of Thrones). For those of you that don’t know Drop Dead Fred, the story is about a woman whose childhood imaginary friend returns to her when her life takes a turn for the worse… but the imaginary friend is real, existing in their own right. The Woman of My Dreams is very similar, but with the protagonist seeing a dead woman in his dreams instead. I refer to Stephen Fry as he manages to write excellent, relatable young male characters which are funny (laugh out loud funny at times) and honest.
Above: Cover of The Woman of My Dreams. Owned by Glenn Fain. Image sent with review request.
This is a quick book to read at just 220 pages and a good pace, with chapters ending in such a way that you really need to read just one more… I find that a lot of self-published genre books at the moment have too much padding and waffle, but I can definitely say that this isn’t the case for The Woman of My Dreams.
The only issue that I had with this book is that I think it needs a final proof-read from an outside professional – but please don’t let that put you off as it really is an excellent read. I’m definitely interested in reading Glenn Fain’s other books in the future. This is his third, the first two being The Angel Experiment and Tease. They both have great reviews, as does The Woman of My Dreams.
Above: Portrait of author Glenn Fain. Owned by Glenn Fain. Image sent with review request.
The Woman of My Dreams is available on Kindles and in paperback through Amazon. The kindle copy is pretty cheap, so you should definitely grab it.
Disclosure: The author sent me a free ebook in return for an honest review. This did not in any way influence my review. I am regularly sent books and artwork that I would not be comfortable endorsing through Examining the Odd. Please be assured that if I have featured a book and spoken positively about it, this is truly how I personally feel about that book.
Let’s have five days of short stories. We’ll begin today with Leonora Carrington’s The Debutante, a story of a girl and a hyena.
by Leonora Carrington
WHEN I was a debutante I often went to the zoological garden. I went so often that I was better acquainted with animals than with the young girls of my age. It was to escape from the world that I found myself each day at the zoo. The beast I knew best was a young hyena. She knew me too. She was extremely intelligent; I taught her French and in return she taught me her language. We spent many pleasant hours in this way.
For the first of May my mother had arranged a ball in my honor. For entire nights I suffered: I had always detested balls, above all those given in my own honor.
On the morning of May first, 1934, very early, I went to visit the hyena. “What a mess of shit,” I told her. “I must go to my ball this evening.”
“You’re lucky,” she said. “I would go happily. I do not know how to dance, but after all, I could engage in conversation.”
“There will be many things to eat,” said I. “I have seen wagons loaded entirely with food coming up to the house.”
“And you complain!” replied the hyena with disgust. “As for me, I eat only once a day, and what rubbish they stick me with!”
I had a bold idea; I almost laughed. “You have only to go in my place.”
“We do not look enough alike, otherwise I would gladly go,” said the hyena, a little sad. “Listen,” said I, “in the evening light one does not see very well. If you were disguised a little, no one would notice in the crowd. Besides, we are almost the same size. You are my only friend; I implore you.”
She reflected upon this sentiment. I knew that she wanted to accept. “It is done,” she said suddenly.
It was very early; not many keepers were about. Quickly I opened the cage and in a moment we were in the street. I took a taxi; at the house, everyone was in bed. In my room, I brought out the gown I was supposed to wear that evening. It was a little long, and the hyena walked with difficulty in my high-heeled shoes. I found some gloves to disguise her hands which were too hairy to resemble mine. When the sunlight entered, she strolled around the room several times—walking more or less correctly. We were so very occupied that my mother, who came to tell me good morning, almost opened the door before the hyena could hide herself under my bed. “There is a bad odor in the room,” said my mother, opening the window. “Before this evening you must take a perfumed bath with my new salts.”
“Agreed,” said I. She did not stay long; I believe the odor was too strong for her. “Do not be late for breakfast,” she said, as she left the room.
The greatest difficulty was to find a disguise for the hyena’s face. For hours and hours we sought an answer: she rejected all of my proposals. At last she said, “I think I know a solution. You have a maid?”
“Yes,” I said, perplexed.
“Well, that’s it. You will ring for the maid and when she enters we will throw ourselves upon her and remove her face. I will wear her face this evening in place of my own.”
“That’s not practical,” I said to her.
“She will probably die when she has no more face; someone will surely find the corpse and we will go to prison.”
“I am hungry enough to eat her,” replied the hyena.
“And the bones?”
“Those too,” she said.
“Then it’s settled?”
“Only if you agree to kill her before removing her face. It would be too uncomfortable otherwise.”
“Good; it’s all right with me.” I rang for Marie, the maid, with a certain nervousness. I would not have done it if I did not detest dances so much. When Marie entered I turned to the wall so as not to see. I admit that it was done quickly. A brief cry and it was over. While the hyena ate, I looked out the window. A few minutes later, she said: “I cannot eat anymore; the two feet are left, but if you have a little bag I will eat them later in the day.”
“You will find in the wardrobe a bag embroidered with fleurs de lys. Remove the handkerchiefs inside it and take it.” She did as I indicated.
At last she said: “Turn around now and look, because I am beautiful!” Before the mirror, the hyena admired herself in Marie’s face. She had eaten very carefully all around the face so that what was left was just what was needed. “Surely, it’s properly done,” said I.
Toward evening, when the hyena was all dressed, she declared: “I am in a very good mood. I have the impression that I will be a great success this evening.” When the music below had been heard for some time, I said to her: “Go now, and remember not to place yourself at my mother’s side: she will surely know that it is not I. Otherwise I know no one. Good luck.” I embraced her as we parted but she smelled very strong.
Night had fallen. Exhausted by the emotions of the day, I took a book and sat down by the open window. I remember that I was reading Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift. It was perhaps an hour later that the first sign of misfortune announced itself. A bat entered through the window, emitting little cries. I am terribly afraid of bats, I hid behind a chair, my teeth chattering. Scarcely was I on my knees when the beating of the wings was drowned out by a great commotion at my door. My mother entered, pale with rage. “We were coming to seat ourselves at the table,” she said, “when the thing who was in your place rose and cried: ‘I smell a little strong, eh? Well, as for me, I do not eat cake.’ With these words she removed her face and ate it. A great leap and she disappeared out the window.”
If you’re not familiar with Leonora Carrington, she was a visual artist as well as a writer and you can see some of her work in the video below.