“34” Tanith Lee ( writing as Esther Garber): Darkly erotic queer fantastika

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Immanion Press has reprinted 34 in an extremely handsome edition that even has illustrations and pictures. 34 was written Lee, who claimed to channel the work of the enigmatic Esther Garber. The novel is a darkly surreal lesbian quest, part Colette, part Angela Carter.

I wrote about 34 when it first came out in 2004.

If you are expecting a straightforward dive into lesbian erotica by Tanith Lee (or Esther Garber), you will be pleasantly disappointed. This brief, dense and somewhat experimental book explores the erotic imagination, the nature of memory and mediates on aging. Sexual obsession is the focal point through which many discursive images and ideas flow.
The plot finds 17-year old Esther fleeing London after her mother’s dramatic death. She absconds on a boat across the Channel, and ends up in drab hotel in rainy Paris slum. The amoral and jaundiced Esther is mistaken for a prostitute by the front desk clerk and her services are bought by a virago named Julie, who poses as a man. The sexual chemistry between them awakes passions in Esther, who leaves after the tryst. Thus begins Esther’s quest, almost mythic in scope, to find Julie.
If “34” is not a fantasy, it does not happen in the real world. Rather than a traditional `other world’, the action takes place in the clouded, magical world of memory and perception, as the first person narrator encounters patently incorrect or wrong things (such as a dog that is part wild boar) or too surreal (such as a Gothic mansion).
The main narrative is interrupted by glimpses into a distant childhood past in Egypt and visions of a future Esther, who is going through menopause in London, and may or may not have a sister (or alter-ego, Anna). Both the future and the past Esthers live in a reality closer to `normality.’ The child faces loss and dislocation; the old woman is trapped by her illnesses and indolence. Both are prone to extensive fantasizing.
All of these disparate threads are held together by hypnotic, feverish prose and a dark, sardonic wit. Mythology intersects reality-Demeter, Persephone and Isis all have cameos here. Female ciphers, villains and strange children cavort on the stage. Eroticism and desire infuse everything, obliterating logic and reason.
This novel isn’t for everyone, though. The vaporous, meandering storyline and the disturbing, politically incorrect sexuality on display here will stop many a reader. But those who like sophisticated erotica and experimental fiction will find this Angela Carter meets George Bataille work entrancing.

BOOK BIRTHDAY: Telling the Map by Christopher Rowe

I met Christopher Rowe over 20 years ago at Clarion West, where I read his uniquely Southern take on speculative fiction. His work combines SFnal tropes with the rich culture of the American South, creating something inexplicably weird and eerily familiar. If Eudora Welty wrote SF, it might look like this….

Anyway, check out his debut collection, TELLING THE MAP.

Rowe Book

 

Happy Book Birthday: The Art of Starving by Sam J. Miller

Today is the release day for The Art of Starving by Sam J. Miller. I haven’t read it yet, but I met Sam last summer at a workshop and read the first draft of his 2018 novel BLACKFISH CITY and can vouch for his mad fictioneerin’ skillz.

The Art of Starving sounds intriguing: magic, queer identity, and eating disorders. It’s available at the usual suspects.

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BOOK RECOMMENDATION:Legenda Maris by Tanith Lee

Today is Tanith Lee‘s funeral.

Per the request of her husband John Kaiine, her collection ‘Legenda Maris’ (Immanion Press) is released this day.

‘Legenda Maris’ collects Lee’s sea-themed fantasy short fiction, and is an excellent introduction to her darkly lyrical work. It includes some of the first fiction I read by her: the excellent ‘Because Our Skins Are Finer‘ and ‘Magritte’s Secret Agent.’ An added bonus is the artwork–the cover and the frontispiece are by Tanith herself.

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Liturgy of Ice (A Variation) now available! A dark homoerotic fairytale

Liturgy of Ice was inspired by one of my favorite fairytales, The Snow Queen. I use the fairytale imagery as a mediation isolation and loneliness.

Other inspirations: “The Sweetest Chill,” by Siouxsie & the Banshees; Philip Ridley’s novel In the Eyes of Mr. Fury.

It’s on Kindle here.

And the Kobo here.

It’s also on the Scribd platform as well: here.

 

Death’s Master (Flat Earth Book 2) by Tanith Lee is now an ebook. Wildean fantasia meets Arabian Nights

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Death’s Master is finally an ebook, released by Immanion Press. It’s an epic fantasy told in the high style full of eroticism and horror, as well as beauty. Part runaway Wildean fantasia, part Arabian Nights, here’s what I said about the Flat Earth series as a whole:

The eroticism in the text [is] exploratory but tempered by a peculiar kind of innocence, helped in no small part by the jewel-like precision of the prose.  There [are] horrors in the stories, but there [is] also tenderness.  It is [Tanith] Lee’s special talent to mix both tenderness and terror.