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The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin

It's alright dad, Caleb said, you're safe now.
Then the lights went out.
I guess at some point I should give all this* up and resign myself to the facts of my life - that there will never be enough time for everything and everything that is not everything will get in everything's way, without a shadow of a doubt. Some six months has passed since I first picked up book three of The Passage trilogy and once more I can't remember any of the characters' names, except Amy, the girl / vampire / heroine / old lady as it turns out of the story. There are some people in it from before, some names I can sort-of scratch at from under the silver foil of my hazy memory, but without ever winning the jackpot of full recall. Peter? Michael? And the former army-type person and now, unsurprisingly, a vampire-type, whose name escapes me.

And there's a new bad guy (of course there is), the original bad guy who has been hiding the whole time in an unwritten back story. 

Well, now it's written. And I can remember nearly nothing of any of it.

Anyway, from what I do remember, Manhattan is the titular city, the soaring skyscrapers still reflecting the rays of the sun like so many mirrors. This bad guy seems to be living in Central Station Terminal in midtown, somewhere he waited for a woman who didn't come. Because she was dead. Now for some reason he's a naughty vampire, pulling the strings behind yet another vampire uprising, this time years after the last one was ostensibly defeated. Humans are losing their fear, defences are dropped, and then it's bitey-bitey time once more. And there's a big boat, some sort of ark metaphor no doubt.

Of course, I could go back and flip idly through the pages to refresh my memory, but I can't be arsed.

I recall being fairly excited to put this trilogy to bed, but for some reason it took me quite a while to follow up - from August 2013 to May 2018 to be exact - and that sends me all the wrong signals. Did I enjoy it? Yes, on reflection I probably did. I do love a good horror novel. Did it go on a bit much, like a Mozart opera or Kubrick's film AI? Too right. Is it worth reading? Well, every book is worth reading, to some degree, and those who prefer their vampire stories more 30 Days Of Night than The Vampire Diaries would probably get a kick from this. I never ever want to discourage anyone from reading a book and forming their own opinion (unless it's Sebastian Faulks) as that would be illiberal. Also, it would be unfair to the author who (probably) survives on generosity of spirit and readerly patronage. So have at it horror fans. It's likely much better than I make out, but then there has been far too much beer and wine since and I fear my drowned synapses have locked me out of my memory palace.

*All this being the pursuit of intertextual connections, the delight in reading, and the smugness that comes from being able to report to YouGov surveys that I read more than 21 books a year.


How's about that then?

The Headmaster's Wife by T. C. Greene

I bought this on the recommendation of someone whose opinion I respect if not always agree with, and also as it was an Amazon daily deal I felt that 99p or whatever it cost was not too much to risk. I have become a little narrow in the field of what I choose to read and welcomed the digression offered. Subsequently, I feel a little hoodwinked. 
T.C. Greene’s previous book, Mirror Lake is one of those books that, as a former bookseller, I knew was there, would expect it to be propping up the centre of a table of multi-buy contemporary fiction, but had absolutely no desire to read whatsoever. They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but I disagree, given the time and effort spent by designers and publishers to ensure that any given book looks as similar as possible to the best-seller in any given genre. Mirror Lake enjoyed my ignorant prejudice for a good many months for this very reason. Of course, until I’d bought The Headmaster’s Wife I had no idea that the two Greenes were o…

Metaliterature - what meaning to have is this for meaning?

Not a review this time, more of a curiosity. It seems I'm receiving lots of hits from Russia (Здравствуйте России!) from people searching for the definition of "metaliterature". As such, it is something of a bespoke word, created to fit a need and probably not yet recognized outside literary theory / criticism circles (Merriam-Webster Online certainly don't like it). I was wondering what they typed in to end up here, so, for fun (it's not fun, sorry) I thought I'd bung it in Google Translate and see what came out. As it turns out, one needs a little hyphen for the rather ponderous machine to understand it, and even then only does half the job (meta seems to be meta in any language). 
Incidentally, below is, ironically, a Google Chrome Thesaurus definition* of "meta":

met·a Adjective/ˈmetə/
(of a creative work) Referring to itself or to the conventions of its genre; self-referentialInterestingly (not interesting, sorry) it says this for the full term, t…

And The Ass Saw the Angel by Nick Cave

Someone told me this novel, now nearly thirty years old (holy crap), Nick Cave's first and, possibly, his best, began life as a screenplay when he was still touring with The Birthday Present. That seems equally plausible and implausible. It is a wildly cinematic novel, narrated in flashback by the hermetic mute boy Euchrid Eucrow, who slithered into the world as one of a pair of damaged twins, the only one who survives the neglect of their first day on earth, and is vividly, viscerally visual. But it's also complicated, wildly imaginative, and at heart, finds a safer and more permanent berth in the gently revered world of literature than in the ever-changing and perfidious zeitgeist of cinema.

The story goes that Euchrid, after throwing himself into a bog into which he slowly sinks as he narrates his tale (to whom? and how?), was born, mute and unloved, into a truly Southern Gothic existence, mother a moonshine drunk, father a mean, bitter animal trapper, his community a severe…

A Rage in Harlem by Chester Himes

Often, intertextual inertia must give way to old promises and the making good thereof. In the case of Chester Himes, who I’d rescued from the clearance bin in Waterstone’s Cardiff before the summer, the paying of deserved respect was long overdue. I have a very soft spot for genre fiction, particularly when the content is framed quite so elegantly as that of Chester Himes’ Harlem cycle. Apologists justifiably present him as the Black American literary complement to white contemporaries and genre luminaries Chandler and Hammett, and from a personal perspective, his marriage of svelte prose and acute observation is as pleasing on the eye as anything from either author or other renowned pulp novelists like John D MacDonald. To my mind, Himes is particularly tasty bubble-gum for the brain. Of the verisimilitude of his characters I cannot comment. Harlem in the forties and fifties is as far removed from Cardiff in the ‘teens as I can possibly imagine (I sell myself short of course, but you g…