The attention to detail in these stories and the deeply-knit tensions make you think you are heading for a full length novel, something that is going to take you to fantastic, dark places and give you all kinds of revelations. And you get some of that, but Aickman uses the short story to cut you off in mid-flow, to leave early, to depart in a manner that leaves you wanting more. There hangs the doom of foreclosure across all his tales, which I think is exactly what he wants. His glimpses, of the afterlife, of archetypes, of the dark and strange potential behind reality, are perfectly suited to the form. I haven’t read a book as compulsive, as strange, as brilliant as this in a long time. Read it!
This short poem was written a long time ago. It’s the only prose poem I’ve ever written, and it’s the only poem I’ve written about being saved. That’s why I like it – because all of us want to save and be saved, don’t we?
The man who was saved
by a fire-fighter at the Marriott Hotel on 9/11 was OK before; before he’d never shown anyone any affection and expected none himself but when an unknown man, a stranger, did that to him – saved him, without him asking – he found that something shut away for a long time, so long it might as well have been forever, came out and that’s what has made him into someone who cries each time he watches the news, what has made him alive and weak. He loves being weak.
“I can’t wait to read the next adventure of Lizzie and Pandu, and I would definitely recommend this book to my friends…”
I’ve just been looking back over some reviews of The City of Light. This one, which appeared in The Guardian, has to be my favourite:
Just to let you know, I’m running a giveaway for a signed copy of The Lady in the Moon Moth Mask on Goodreads.
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Click below to enter – and good luck!
Diaspora of Light
Stretching up she twists the slats
and, having combed
all that empty space
failed to catch
or come to nothing
on nameless, burnt out rocks
at last the barriers down
finds perfect resting place
on her bare skin
glories with silent fanfare
and begins its transmission
of the precious stuff, metals
gold, silver, platinum and bronze
from the places
where her stomach twists
her arm curves against the air;
from the coppery shift of her hair,
the coral blue-grey blink
of her perfect eyes.
“The outback was like a vast, beaten plate of copper stretching out around them, shimmering in the distance where the heat warped the fierce light…”
Uluru, the sacred Aboriginal rock in the heart of Australia, gets its first mention in The City of Light, when Lizzie discovers her great-uncle’s journal and reads about the inma, or initiation ceremony, of David Maturwarra’s son. But it’s not until the most recent book, The Lady in the Moon Moth Mask, that any action takes place there, when Ashlyn activates a garden portal and finds David and his friends. There she discovers the harrowing events that have taken place following the arrival of the terrifying Liru Snake Woman.
In 2001 I visited my Dad who was living in Sydney and subsequently travelled around Australia. I was stunned by the beauty of the country, from the vibrant cities of Sydney and Perth, to the grand walking country of the Grampian mountains, and the fabulous coasts of Cairns and New South Wales.
But above all, I was in awe of Uluru and the outback. I loved the way the legendary rock changed its colour gradually throughout the day. How its smooth and chiselled escarpment tugged images out of your head. And the contrast of the austere outback with the intimate, scrubby paths that encircled the rock.
It was stunning. All the pictures in this post I took then (on print film). The descriptions are from The Lady in the Moon Moth Mask.
“Uluru’s massive terracotta flank loomed up beside them, seeming to throb with a life of its own…”
“The rock was mostly smooth like the brow of a giant’s head, but in places it was punctured with scars and pits. One section looked like a giant spoon had gouged through it, exposing a honey-combed, chocolate-orange mousse below…”
“‘This is where Kuniya Python Woman fought the Liru Snake Woman,’ said David. ‘That crack is the Liru’s head wound, made by the Python Woman’s digging stick. If only she had killed her for good…’
From a distance, the place where the Python Woman and the Snake Woman fought looked to Ashlyn like a giant barracuda’s head, with a long gash almost three-quarters of the height of the rock for its slanted eye, and a large broken cavern at its base for its gaping maw. That was one mean fish.”
“Even the trees were desiccated, standing like straps of parched, twisted bone in the pulsating landscape…”
Out today! The Lady in the Moon Moth Mask, Book 4 of The Secret of the Tirthas, is available to buy now on Kindle.
The paperback & other editions (iBooks, Nook etc) will be out in the next 2-3 days.
The perfect summer read!
You can order your copy here:
Great fun – despite the perishing heat! – talking to the children of St Paul’s book club today about The City of Light and all the places, people, animals and objects that inspired it. Lots of interesting questions!
The excitement is building… Just completing the final proof reading of the fourth book in The Secret of the Tirthas, The Lady in the Moon Moth Mask. Publication next week hopefully!
The Lady in the Moon Moth Mask, Book 4 of The Secret of the Tirthas, is out later this month! Here’s the final cover – what do you think?