Bizarre Book Club 8: A handbook for weird writers, Sherlock v Lovecraft and Jane Austen plus sea monsters

Today’s book picture was taken in Calli-Orphic in Chelmsford, Essex.

Merry May to you all, if you’re a policeman remember not to go investigating missing girls on remote Scottish islands.Righty-ho, let’s have a look at what we’ve got.

This is exactly how I read the entire book
This is exactly how I read the entire book

1. Architectures of Possibility: After Innovative Writing by Lance Olsen. This book has been very helpful to me already and I haven’t even done any of the exercises. As well as these it has interviews with authors, analysis of ‘innovative’ novels and reading suggestions. The part of my brain which finished English Literature was very soothed by those. I won’t pretend I understood everything it told me but I’m sure you will.

2. The End of Mr Y by Scarlett Thomas. A jolly jape through time travel, thought experiments and Victorian sideshows (briefly) all with a heroine I could relate to. The blurb on the back reads: “When Ariel Manto uncovers a copy of The End of Mr. Y in a second-hand bookshop, she can’t believe her eyes. She knows enough about its author, the outlandish Victorian scientist Thomas Lumas, to know that copies are exceedingly rare. And, some say, cursed.”

The characters spend a lot of time discussing physics and philosophy and, again, I can’t pretend I understood it all, but it taught me quite a bit and by the time things got weird I was hooked. It fed my imagination and my brain at the same time, like mind fish and chips. Or probably something fancier than that, like in a restaurant in London, or something.

3. Shadows Over Baker Street edited by Michael Reaves and John Pelan. This anthology of Sherlock Holmes and Lovecraftian myth contains Neil Gaiman’s award winning A Study in Emerald which is, of course, very good. There are a couple of other good ones but I noticed Sherlock Holmes seemed a bit…tired or distracted in some of them, and the endings of a fair few seemed to trail off into a puff of seagulls. However this is only my opinion and I’m still glad I have this, which is why I included it in the list.

4. Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Jane Austen and Ben H Winters. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this one. OK, so it’s a completely daft retelling of a regency love story mixed with giant crustaceans and tentacled monsters but it’s entertaining and quite funny.

I reckon you’ll have to find the original style of writing enjoyable enough as it’s far from a simple read, but I found the addition of man-eating fish improved things. I hope I’m not struck down by some literary God before getting the chance to see the BBC adaptation. For those interested here’s a blog post on how it was written.

So long, fare well, please avoid any wicker men. Bye!