Where to buy: Tartarus Press and other fine book retailers.
Stephan Zechowski: A Pilgrim of the Infinite by Brian Banks & Marta Mazur
Wilfred Rowland Mary Childe by Jonathan Wood
Gerard de Nerval: Exotic Voyager, Hashish Dreamer, Accursed Suicidalist by Adam Daly
Arthur Johnson: Another Sense of the Past by Robert Eldridge
Threshold in the First Half of the Tenth Chapter of Lucius Shepard’s Viator by Adam Golaski
Under Review by Reggie Oliver
Late Reviews by Douglas A. Anderson
Greetings to ill and sun-dried,
The subject of this review is the fifteenth issue of the periodical Wormwood: Literature of the Fantastic, Supernatural and Decadent, ably edited by Mark Valentine. Without any further ado, I will give you my thoughts on this fascinating magazine!
As our readers know, we here at She Never Slept are great fans of Tartarus Press. Early last year, I myself gave a fairly glowing review of one of their releases, Tim Lees’ excellent novel Frankenstein’s Prescription. Therefore, I was looking forward to reading and reviewing this issue of their magazine Wormwood. I am pleased to say that I enjoyed it thoroughly, and may compile a reading list in the near future based on some of the works covered therein.
Brian Banks and Marta Mazur get the issue off to a strong start with “Stephan ?echowski: A Pilgrim of the Infinite,” examining the life and career of a Polish artist whose work reproduced here I find beautiful and fascinating. Sadly, there does not appear to be much information on him online which is available in English, but Wikipedia’s Polish version has a decent page on him, though many of you may need Google Chrome or something similar to translate it. Jonathan Wood follows with “Wilfred Rowland Mary Childe,” examining a poet (and, in two cases, prose writer) who flourished in the first half of the 20th Century. I enjoyed the excerpts from his poetry and prose reproduced, though I’m more a fan of the latter literary form than the former. I also can’t help but wonder, though the article does not say such, if his parents were fans of another English poet, Robert Browning. Adam Daly contributes “Gerard de Nerval: Exotic Voyager, Hashish Dreamer, Accursed Suicidalist.” In terms of biography and output, de Nerval is the author covered in this issue who most interests me, and the excerpts from his poetry and prose are very good indeed. Robert Eldridge’s “Arthur Johnson: Another Sense of the Past” looks at a virtually forgotten author whose readers included the Reverend Montague Summers. While the article itself is very well-written and interesting, Eldridge himself admits that Johnson has his faults as a writer, and the excerpts from the latter’s work failed to grab me. Adam Golaski’s article, “Threshold in the First Half of the Tenth Chapter of Lucius Shepard’s Viator” is one of the few articles dealing with an author whom I have heard of prior to reading this issue, though I have not read any of Shepard’s work myself. This is one of the more eclectic articles in the issue, and quite possibly my favorite. I will certainly try to acquire a copy of Shepard’s novel. Two excellent review columns follow, “Under Review” by Reggie Oliver and “Late Reviews” by Douglas A. Anderson. Both are written from the standpoints of people who are well-versed in the kind of literature alluded into the periodical’s subtitle, and each of the books covered in both sound quite interesting. Finally, editor Mark Valentine provides “Camera Obscura,” which draws the reader’s attention to interesting new books he or she may have missed. All three books are intriguing, particularly so (for myself, at any rate) Peter Pan’s First XI, which discusses J.M. Barrie’s cricket team, composed of such literary giants as Arthur Conan Doyle and P.G. Wodehouse.
Wormwood is a literate, well-written magazine by a talented group of experts on fantastic literature, very thoroughly researched and delving into writers who the general public may not have been aware of. It has certainly suggested to me some authors whose work I should seek out. I will be covering further issues of this magazine in the near-future, which I am confident will be up to the same high standard as this one. As I have once before, I doff my hat to the fine folks at Tartarus Press for a high-quality production. I gladly give this issue 5 out of 5 tentacles.
Sean Levin – Assistant Editor/Reviewer/Reporter