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The Sensational Guy Boothby - The Barnes & Noble Review
But what is Nikola after? Boothby offers a hint when Hatteras and his friend the marquis of Beckenham are kidnapped in Port Said. After the pair finally manage to escape from their underground cell, they stumble upon a secret laboratory. As Hatteras says:

Round the walls were arranged, at regular intervals, more than a dozen enormous bottles, each of which contained what looked, to me, only too much like human specimens pickled in some light-colored fluid. . . . On pedestals and stands, bolt upright and reclining, were skeletons of men, monkeys, and quite a hundred sorts of animals. . . . Mixed up with them were implements for every sort of wizardry known to the superstitious, from old-fashioned English love charms to African Obi sticks, from spiritualistic planchettes to the most horrible of Fijian death potions.

There is worse to come: Flanking a huge fireplace are two humanoid figures, one with a head “at least three times too big for his body” and the other a blubbering creature “half-ape and half-man” that is chained to the wall. At the moment Hatteras and Beckenham creep into this chamber of horrors, they glimpse Nikola dissecting an animal “strangely resembling a monkey.” Is he performing biological experiments similar to those of his exact contemporary, H. G. Wells’s Dr. Moreau? Is he trying to transform animals into humans or vice versa? Whatever his aim, to accomplish it Nikola requires a seemingly innocuous curio in his dear friend Wetherell’s possession.
detective  fiction  sensation  GuyBoothby  BarnesAndNoble  novel  MichaelDirda  vivisection  FengZhiChun 
yesterday by jdmartinsen
Anna Vaninskaya, “Russian Nihilists and the Prehistory of Spy Fiction” | BRANCH
Cache of

Although the rise of modern British spy fiction is usually dated to the Edwardian period, with the names of Kipling, Conrad and Buchan among the first to be mentioned, the genre owes its existence to a little-noted precursor in late Victorian popular literature: the Russian Nihilist romance. Many of the ideological and formal aspects of the genre can be traced back to the tales of police espionage, terrorist revolutionaries, and double agents that titillated audiences in the last decades of the nineteenth century. In the 1880s and 90s, the age-old literary figure of the spy underwent a number of transformations that would establish its new meanings for the new century.
spyfiction  detective  novel  fiction  BranchCollective  AnnaVaninskaya  nihilism  russian 
yesterday by jdmartinsen
Wait, Why do novels have to say "A Novel" on the cover? » MobyLives
Wait, Why *do* novels have to say "A Novel" on the cover? » MobyLives
history  novel 
3 days ago by waynewilliamberninger
Gerald Murnane, Border Districts (FSG)
“The mind is a place best viewed from borderlands . . .”

Border Districts, purportedly the Australian master Gerald Murnane’s final work of fiction, is a hypnotic, precise, and self-lacerating “report” on a life led as an avid reader, fumbling lover, “student of mental imagery,” and devout believer—but a believer not in the commonplaces of religion, but rather in the luminescence of memory and its handmaiden, literature.

In Border Districts, a man moves from a capital city to a remote town in the border country, where he intends to spend the last years of his life. It is time, he thinks, to review the spoils of a lifetime of seeing, a lifetime of reading. Which sights, which people, which books, fictional characters, turns of phrase, and lines of verse will survive into the twilight? A dark-haired woman with a wistful expression? An ancestral house in the grasslands? The colors in translucent panes of glass, in marbles and goldfish and racing silks? Feeling an increasing urgency to put his mental landscape in order, the man sets to work cataloging this treasure, little knowing where his “report” will lead and what secrets will be brought to light.

Border Districts is a jewel of a farewell from one of the greatest living writers of English prose.
GeraldMurnane  BorderDistricts  novel  FSGBooks  LateLife  memory  2018Faves 
11 days ago by briansholis
Andrew Martin, Early Work (FSG)
For young writers of a certain temperament—if they haven’t had such notions beaten out of them by MFA programs and the Internet—the delusion persists that great writing must be sought in what W. B. Yeats once called the “foul rag and bone shop of the heart.” That’s where Peter Cunningham has been looking for inspiration for his novel—that is, when he isn’t teaching at the local women’s prison, walking his dog, getting high, and wondering whether it’s time to tie the knot with his college girlfriend, a medical student whose night shifts have become a standing rebuke to his own lack of direction. When Peter meets Leslie, a sexual adventurer taking a break from her fiancé, he gets a glimpse of what he wishes and imagines himself to be: a writer of talent and nerve. Her rag-and-bone shop may be as squalid as his own, but at least she knows her way around the shelves. Over the course of a Virginia summer, their charged, increasingly intimate friendship opens the door to difficult questions about love and literary ambition.

With a keen irony reminiscent of Sam Lipsyte or Lorrie Moore, and a romantic streak as wide as Roberto Bolaño’s, Andrew Martin’s Early Work marks the debut of a writer as funny and attentive as any novelist of his generation
2018Faves  AndrewMartin  EarlyWork  novel  FSGBooks  writing  ArtisticLife 
11 days ago by briansholis
The Most Redundant Words to Delete From Your Writing
Advice on extraneous words from the Random House copy chief
writing  english  book  novel 
20 days ago by leehopkins

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