Archive for October, 2008

David Cronenberg’s Films

October 27, 2008


David Cronenberg


All of David Cronenberg’s films are confrontational, provocative, disturbing, and yet highly entertaining.


Since the early seventies, David Cronenberg has followed his own path and made films according to his own sensibilities, which has resulted in the term ‘Cronenbergesque’ being invented in order to describe his cinematic vision. His feature film filmography is:


Stereo (1969)

Crimes of the Future (1970)

Shivers (1975)

Rabid (1977)

Fast Company (1979)

The Brood (1979)

Scanners (1981)

Videodrome (1983)

The Dead Zone (1983)

The Fly (1986)

Dead Ringers (1988)

Naked Lunch (1991)

M. Butterfly (1993)

Crash (1996)

eXistenZ (1999)

Spider (2002)

A History of Violence (2005)

Eastern Promises (2007)

A Dangerous Method (2011)

Cosmopolis (2012) 

Maps to the Stars (2014)


Cronenberg began making films in the horror genre in the 1970s. He quickly established a reputation for himself as an original horror master with Shivers (1975), which was the film that launched his career as a writer and director.


He followed this with Rabid (1977) and The Brood (1979). Some critics obviously found his films distasteful, but others considered him an auteur with great artistic vision.


In the 1980s, Cronenberg’s films explored the paranormal, the media, biology, technology, identity and delusion. Films from this era include Scanners (1981) and Videodrome (1983).


With The Dead Zone in 1983, The Fly in 1986 and Dead Ringers in 1988, Cronenberg showed that he was much more than a competent filmmaker. Dead Ringers is the story of twin gynecologists, but it has very little to do with twins or gynecology. Dead Ringers is a meditation on our very existence – on the sadness of what Cronenberg has termed “unrequited life.” With themes like these, it wasn’t long before Cronenberg’s films started winning awards. The Dead Zone won the 1984 Critic’s Award at the Avoriaz Film Festival in France; Dead Ringers won the Grand Prize and 11 Genies including Best Picture, Director and Adapted Screenplay.


Later films include his 1992 film, Naked Lunch (based on the novel by William S. Burroughs); M Butterfly released in 1993; the controversial Crash (based on the novel by J.G. Ballard), released in 1996; and eXistenZ, released in 1999.




His next film was Spider. Cronenberg was named Best Director at the 2003 Genies for Spider. A long-time favourite in France, Cronenberg, who had previously been given a chevalier des arts et lettres, was elevated to the level of officier in a special presentation by the French ambassador to Canada.

His 2005 film A History of Violence was selected for competition at Cannes; writer Josh Olson was nominated for writing in the Adapted Screenplay category at the Oscars; and William Hurt was nominated for Best Supporting Actor.


Cronenberg’s 2007 film was Eastern Promises, which received nominations and/or awards from The Golden Globes, The British Film Awards, the Academy Awards and the Genies, where it won seven of the coveted Canadian film awards.


Croneberg’s latest films are A Dangerous Method (detailing the break in the working relationship of Freud and Jung) and Cosmopolis (based on Don deLillo’s novel). His next film is Maps to the Stars, due for release in 2014.


Looking at David Cronenberg’s films, it is easy to see that while he has chosen to remain within a relatively narrow field, each project was a new direction; a new experiment; a new vision. His fans eagerly await the release of his next film.




David Cronenberg’s Films

© R J Dent (2013)




George G. Gilman’s Edge – A New Kind of Western Hero

October 26, 2008

Jamie Hedges counted six riders and there should have been only one.


That was is the opening sentence of Edge: The Loner, in which George G. Gilman unleashed his psychopathic western anti-hero Edge onto the world.



ggg - loner




Obviously inspired by the violence, the heat, the dust and the bloodshed that were the iconic and instantly recognizable features of Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns – films that attracted millions of viewers to the cinema during the late sixties and early seventies – George G. Gilman (a pen-name for Terry Harknett) eschewed the puritanical and moralistic conventions of the generic and standardized cowboy stories that were the staple of the western genre and relocated them in brand-new violent territory. Before long the name Edge would become synonymous with the essential reading of any dedicated or ‘real’ fan of Western fiction.

Edge was billed ‘a new kind of western hero’. Later on in the series, he was billed ‘a man alone’. Gilman deliberately emphasized Edge’s loner status: the half-breed psychopath, the western outsider, the amoral existentialist. Initially the Edge novels were novels of pursuit, later they became a series of one-off Edge adventures, with each novel containing an extremely violent dénouement.






Here is a list of the ‘complete’ Edge series:

Edge #1: The Loner (1972)

Edge #2: Ten Thousand Dollars, American (1972)

Edge #3: Apache Death (1972)

Edge #4: Killer’s Breed (1972)

Edge #5: Blood On Silver (1973)

Edge #6: The Blue, The Grey And The Red (1973)

Edge #7: California Killing (1973)

Edge #8: Seven Out of Hell (1973)

Edge #9: Bloody Summer (1974)

Edge #10: Vengeance is Black (1974)

Edge #11: Sioux Uprising (1974)

Edge #12: The Biggest Bounty (1974)

Edge #13: A Town Called Hate (1975)

Edge #14: The Big Gold (1975)

Edge #15: Blood Run (1975)

Edge #16: The Final Shot (1975)

Edge #17: Vengeance Valley (1976)

Edge #18: Ten Tombstones to Texas (1976)

Edge #19: Ashes and Dust (1976)

Edge #20: Sullivan’s Law (1976)

Edge #21: Rhapsody in Red (1976)

Edge #22: Slaughter Road (1977)

Edge #23: Echoes of War (1977)

Edge #24: The Day Democracy Died (1978)

Edge #25: Violence Trail (1978)

Edge #26: Savage Dawn (1978)

Edge #27: Death Drive (1978)

Edge #28: Eve of Evil (1978)

Edge #29: The Living, the Dying and the Dead (1979)

Edge #30: Waiting for a Train (1979)

Edge #31: The Guilty Ones (1979)

Edge #32: The Frightened Gun (1979)

Edge #33: The Hated (1980)

Edge #34: A Ride in the Sun (1980)

Edge #35: Death Deal (1980)

Edge #36: Town on Trial (1981)

Edge #37: Vengeance at Ventura (1981)

Edge #38: Massacre Mission (1981)

Edge #39: The Prisoners (1982)

Edge #40: Montana Melodrama (1982)

Edge #41: The Killing Claim (1982)

Edge #42: Bloody Sunrise (1983)

Edge #43: Arapaho Revenge (1983)

Edge #44: The Blind Side (1984)

Edge #45: House on the Range (1984)

Edge #46: The Godforsaken (1984)

Edge #47: The Moving Cage (1984)

Edge #48: School for Slaughter (1985)

Edge #49: Revenge Ride (1985)

Edge #50: Shadow of the Gallows (1985)

Edge #51: A Time for Killing (1986)

Edge #52: Brutal Border (1986)

Edge #53: Hitting Paydirt (1986)

Edge #54: Backshot (1987)

Edge #55: Uneasy Riders (1987)

Edge #56: Doom Town, London (1987)

Edge #57: Dying is Forever (1987)

Edge #58: The Desperadoes (1988)

Edge #59: Terror Town (1988)

Edge #60: The Breed Woman (1989)

Edge #61: The Rifle (1989)

The Edge adventures finally stopped arriving on bookstore shelves in 1989. That was it. To all intents and purposes, the series, although it hadn’t been officially concluded, was over. For many years, there would be no more Edge novels.

What’s left from those heady days of very violent, but very well-written westerns is a  61-book series of NEL paperbacks, 3 Edge/Steele novels, and 6 e-books that continue Edge’s adventures after Edge #61: The Rifle.

ggg etr 1

The series of six new books is titled Edge: The Return. The titles are:

The Quiet Gun (Edge: The Return, #1)

The Deputy (Edge: The Return, #2)

The Outrage (Edge: The Return, #3)

Killing Time in Eternity (Edge: The Return, #4)

Return to Massacre Mesa (Edge: The Return, #5)

Name on the Bullet (Edge: The Return, #6)


George G. Gilman (Terry Harknett)

I enjoyed reading the Edge series of books very much and I was sorry to see the series come to an untimely (and unexplained) end. Each novel was very fast-paced, and all of them were written in a style that mixed violence, sex, black humour and the western landscape in a very compelling way.

It would, of course, be wonderful if George G. Gilman were to write a final Edge adventure, tying up all the loose ends and providing a fitting conclusion to his stories and a fitting end to his charismatic anti-hero.

Note: If you are interested in reading the further adventures of Edge in 6 e-books written by George G. Gilman, click on the link below:

George G. Gilman’s Edge – A New Kind of Western Hero

Copyright © R J Dent (2009 & 2016)



25 Albums That Made a Difference

October 24, 2008




Dark Side of the Moon – Pink Floyd


Led Zeppelin II – Led Zeppelin


Bitches Brew – Miles Davis

Bitches Brew

Metal Box – Public Image Ltd

metal box pil

Horses – Patti Smith



Freak Out – The Mothers of Invention

freak out zappa

Passion – Peter Gabriel

passion peter gabriel

Nevermind – Nirvana

nirvana nevermind

Leftism – Leftfield

leftfield leftism

Ziggy Stardust – David Bowie

Ziggy Stardust


Let It Bleed – The Rolling Stones

let it bleed

Jagged Little Pill – Alanis Morissette


Dummy – Portishead

portishead dummy

The Wall – Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd - the Wall

Station to Station – David Bowie

station to station bowie


Never Mind the Bollocks – The Sex Pistols

sex pistols - never mind the bollocks

The Velvet Underground & Nico – The Velvet Underground

velvet underground and nico

Electric Ladyland – The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Jimi Hendrix Electric Ladyland

OK Computer – Radiohead

Radiohead OK Computer

Mechanical Animals – Marilyn Manson

mechanical animals


Roxy Music – Roxy Music

roxy music roxy music

After the Goldrush – Neil Young

after the gold rush

Van Halen – Van Halen

Marquee Moon – Television

Marquee Moon

Abbey Road – The Beatles


beatles abbey road


25 albums That Made a Difference

© R J Dent (2009)




Russell Brand: self-obsessed introverted extrovert?

October 22, 2008


Russell Brand

He’s a comedian/ actor/ TV and radio presenter-host/ author/ columnist, and he’s one of England’s funniest men. He is, of course, Russell Brand.

Here he is performing a Tamara Beckwith routine on his live DVD:

and an Ian Huntley/Sun newspaper routine at The Secret Policeman’s Ball . He was – and is – hilarious.

Since then I’ve watched his stand-up (live and on DVD); I’ve watched all available episodes of RE-Brand; I’ve also watched (and loved both series of) Ponderland; and I’ve read My Booky Wook and Articles of Faith – and I’ve just finished reading Booky Wook 2: This Time It’s Personal.

I enjoyed St. Trinians (a little). Here’s the trailer:

I enjoyed Forgetting Sarah Marshall (a lot). Here’s the trailer:

and Bedtime Stories (a little). Here’s the trailer:

and I’m looking forward to him playing Arthur in Arthur. Here’s the Arthur trailer:

and to him playing Trinculo in Julie Taymar’s version of The Tempest. (Note for trivialists – in the BBC version of The Tempest, Trinculo was played by Andrew Sachs). Here’s the trailer to The Tempest:

 I’m also looking forward to Hop. Here’s a Hop promo trailer:



And here’s the trailer for Get Him to the Greek (a sequel of sorts to Forgetting Sarah Marshall):

He’s recently been in (with Alec Baldwin) the film version of Rock of Ages:

He also voiced Dr Nefario in Despicable Me:

I’ve watched everything he’s in on Youtube; and I’ve listened to him on TalkSport, and to every podcast of his Radio 2 Russell Brand Show (Saturday 21-23.00), a show I enjoyed very much.

Here are the podcasts:

What I like about Brand is his intelligence, his wit, his use of language to make valid points about us and our world, his (former) use of a camp persona as a strategy to seduce women, and his unflinching use of his own (often painful) experiences for his comedy.

Many don’t care about his seedy past; hopefully he does. He must realize that the moment he stopped the drugs/alcohol, his career sky-rocketed and he became world-famous.

His acting/film career is blossoming; hosting the controversial (2008) and relatively incident-free (2009) MTV VMAs raised his profile; his television career in the US and the UK is going from strength to strength; he’s just signed a very lucrative book deal; the podcasts of his TalkSport radio show attract million of listeners, as do his BBC radio show podcasts; his newspaper football column is popular and widely read; his stand-up shows sell out – not bad for someone who could be described as a self-obsessed introverted extrovert from Essex.

As Russell Brand thrives on controversy, it looks as though he is going to have a long and successful career – and as long as he stays funny, I’ll continue watching him and listening to him.

Here’s a clip from the 2009 DVD Russell Brand in New York. It’s a perfect example of Russell Brand’s intelligence at work, particularly towards the end of the clip (at 6.20) where Brand makes a reference to Michel Foucault’s refutation of the ‘repressive hypothesis’; a theory Brand uses in relation to the media image of the Jonas Brothers.

And here’s Russell Brand being interviewed (in 2010) by Jeremy Paxman:




And here’s Russell Brand offering his thoughts on politics after guest-editing The New Statesman in 2013. Here he talks again to Jeremy Paxman:


It seems that there’s more to Russell Brand than just being a clown.



Russell Brand: self-obsessed introverted extrovert?

Text © R J Dent (2014)


J.G. Ballard: The Shepperton Psychopathologist

October 21, 2008
J.G. Ballard


The best J.G. Ballard book is Vermilion Sands. It’s closely followed by Crash, The Atrocity Exhibition, High-Rise and Concrete Island. All of his other books are very good too.


However, Vermilion Sands is different to the other works by Ballard. At the same time as defying his oeuvre by being warm-toned, gentle and ultimately optimistic, it also defines Ballard’s writing style, presenting characters that live in a near-empty resort town on the edge of a desert, all of whom indulge in psychological games and creative or destructive pursuits.


For the last forty years, J.G. Ballard has been a chronicler of 20th and 21st century psychopathology. His main theme has been the reaction of individuals and groups of people to enforced proximity through restriction, enclosure or imprisonment. Usually the enclosure is merely the actuality of living in a gated community, or in a holiday resort, or in a prison camp, or on an island.


In most Ballard novels, the conflict has happened before the protagonist arrives; in fact it’s the conflict that often brings the protagonist into the story, only to become embroiled in the ongoing conflicts as the story progresses.


Vermilion Sands is and isn’t like that. Each ‘chapter’ focuses on a different group of people who all live in the decaying resort town of Vermilion Sands. As their stories are told, it’s possible to see that Ballard is studying the place through the reactions of the inhabitants, and not necessarily the inhabitants through their reaction to the place. 




In a way, Ballard uses Vermilion Sands to chronicle the psychopathology of a specific geographical location. The book is also a fascinating study of art in all its various forms, dealing with the creation of music, poetry, architecture, sculpture, and other art forms, including some quite bizarre ones.


J.G. Ballard is one of the most important writers of the 20th and early 21st centuries. In terms of cultural influence, he is as important as William S. Burroughs.


Here’s a list of his books:


The Drowned World (1962)
The Wind from Nowhere (1962)
The Voices of Time (1962)

The Terminal Beach (1964)
The Drought (1964)
The Crystal World (1966)
The Disaster Area (1967)
The Day of Forever (1967)
The Venus Hunters (1967)
The Atrocity Exhibition (1969)
Vermilion Sands (1971)

Crash (1973)
Concrete Island (1974)
High-Rise (1975)

Low-Flying Aircraft (1976)
The Unlimited Dream Company (1979)
Hello America (1981)
Myths of the Near Future (1982)
News from the Sun (1982)
The Day of Creation (1987)
Memories of the Space Age (1988)

Running Wild (1988)

War Fever (1990)
Rushing to Paradise (1994)
Cocaine Nights (1996)

A User’s Guide to the Millennium: Essays and Reviews (1996)
Super-Cannes (2000)
Millennium People (2003)

Quotes (2004)
Interviews (2005)
Kingdom Come (2006)
The Complete Short Stories: Volume 1 (2006)

The Complete Short Stories: Volume 2 (2006)

Miracles of Life (2008)

Here’s a short film on the J G Ballard books that R J Dent has in his library:

I strongly recommend Vermilion Sands as the book to start with if you are unfamiliar with Ballard’s work. Also, it’s a good one to read if you know his work reasonably well. Some only know of him as the author of Empire of the Sun, but that’s one of his lesser books.


I read recently that J.G. Ballard, who had terminal cancer, has died. He died on the 19th April 2009. Although his death was not unexpected, this is very sad news. He has been a profound influence on my writing and, although I did not know him, I feel the world will be a far less interesting place without him.


I hope you enjoy the books you choose to read.



Revised April 20th 2009

© R J Dent (2009)



William S. Burroughs – Prophet of the Apocalypse

October 20, 2008

William S. Burroughs


Along with JG Ballard, Angela Carter and Anna Kavan, William S. Burroughs has probably done more to influence my writing, my reading, and my appreciation of literature than any other writer. And of all four of these writers, it’s Burroughs that I have the most admiration for.


When I first read Naked Lunch, it felt as though my head had imploded. I didn’t know what I was reading. I found the ‘novel’ – if that’s really what it is – fascinating, nauseating, insightful, funny, serious, sickening, intelligent and profound. In a way, it was an anti-novel. In it, Burroughs juxtaposed the scatological with the philosophical. It often contradicted itself. It often subverted itself; but those factors were an integral part of its appeal.

After that, I bought everything I could by William S. Burroughs and read the lot. Here’s the list:

Junkie (1953)

Queer (written 1951-3; published 1985)

Naked Lunch (1959)

The Soft Machine (1961)

The Ticket That Exploded (1962)

Dead Fingers Talk (1963)

Nova Express (1964)

The Last Words of Dutch Schultz (1969)

The Wild Boys: A Book Of The Dead (1971)

Port of Saints (1973)

Ah Pook is Here (1979)

Cities of the Red Night (1981)

The Place of Dead Roads (1983)

The Western Lands (1987)

The Job: Interviews with William S. Burroughs (1969)

The Electronic Revolution (1971)

Exterminator! (1973)

Cobble Stone Gardens (1976)

Blade Runner (a movie) (1979)

The Burroughs File (1984)

The Cat Inside (1986)

Interzone (1987)

Paintings and Guns (1992)

My Education: A Book of Dreams (1995)

A William Burroughs Reader (Ed. John Calder)

The Letters of William S Burroughs (Ed. Oliver Harris)

Last Words: The Final Journals of William S. Burroughs (Ed. James Grauerholz)




A very good place to start is Naked Lunch, followed by Interzone, then Cities of the Red Night /The Place of Dead Roads /The Western Lands trilogy. I mention these because if you can’t cope with these five books, then William S. Burroughs is probably not the author for you. He’s not to everyone’s taste. Reading Burroughs is definitely not for everyone. The Cat Inside would be a gentle start, but also a bit misleading. Junkie and Queer are very well-written, very warm in tone and form a pair. My Education: A Book of Dreams is also very good.


Here is a short film (made by R J Dent) about the works of William S. Burroughs:



The thing to remember about Burroughs is that he’ll take you to places you’ve never been before – some of them absolutely disgusting, and then he’ll show you something amazing, and you’ll forgive him making you wade though whatever to see it. That’s how I found reading the works of William S. Burroughs.


Here’s a link to the trailer for the documentary William Burroughs: The Man Within:


If you’re about to start reading the works of William S. Burroughs, you’d better strap yourself in, because you’re in for a very bumpy – but nonetheless pretty amazing – ride. If you let it, his writing will last you a lifetime and you’ll never forget it – or the man that wrote it – the 20th century’s most extreme prophet of the apocalypse: William S. Burroughs.


William S. Burroughs – Prophet of the Apocalypse


© R J Dent (2013)





Pink Floyd – Eclipse: The Perfect Pink Floyd Album

October 19, 2008



It starts with David Gilmour saying: “Christ! Where would rock and roll be without feedback?” which is a sound-bite from the Brain Damage section of Pink Floyd Live at Pompeii.


This segues into Come In Number 51, Your Time Is Up, which is from the Zabriskie Point soundtrack. It is followed by the title track of A Saucerful of Secrets.


Following these is Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun from A Saucerful of Secrets, after which, as a tribute to Rick Wright, is Remember a Day from Relics. After these are Julia Dream from Relics, Cirrus Minor from More and then One of These Days from Meddle.


Grantchester Meadows from Ummagumma follows these and paves the way for Stay from Obscured by Clouds, which serves as a prelude to Atom Heart Mother (Parts 1-6) from Atom Heart Mother.


After that it’s time for Echoes, which is taken from Pink Floyd in Pompeii, rather than the BBC version, or the version on Meddle, or the much shorter version on Echoes – all of which are good, but not as good as the Pompeii version.


Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Part One) and Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Part Two) are followed (yes, followed, not separated) by Wish You Were Here, all from Wish You Were Here.


There’s nothing from Dark Side of the Moon, as that particular album is best listened to in its entirety on its own.


The Back Catalogue by Storm Thorgerson


Wish You Were Here is followed by Dogs from Animals. This is followed by Another Brick in the Wall (Part 1), Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2), and Another Brick in the Wall (Part 3) from The Wall.


The final track is, of course, the glorious Comfortably Numb, also from The Wall.


And that’s it, Eclipse, the perfect, definitive, classic Pink Floyd album. It’s what I have on my computer, what I’m listening to right now as I write this. If you want a copy of Eclipse, you’ll have to make your own.


Note: Apologies to completists for not including any of Syd Barrett’s songs, but that would have changed the mood of Eclipse completely. I like Syd Barrett’s music very much, but there’s so much good stuff it would have to be an entire album, perhaps one called Mad-Recap.





© R J Dent (2015)



Anna Kavan’s Nocturnal Language

October 19, 2008


Anna Kavan


Anna Kavan is a truly unique figure in English Literature. Her fiction  is a combination of the styles of Djuna Barnes, Virginia Woolf, Anaïs Nin and Franz Kafka.

Kavan was admired by her contemporaries: Anais Nin was a great admirer of her work. In his introduction to Kavan’s My Madness: Selected Writings, Brian Aldiss described Kavan as ‘Kafka’s sister’. 

And Kavan’s fiction bears a strong resemblance to the works of Franz Kafka’s and the works of J.G. Ballard in several ways; notably the detached prose style that approaches being a ‘nocturnal language’; her preoccupation with the symbols of dreams and addiction and her obvious willingness to use the medical terminology of mental confusion, psychosis and alienation in her prose.

Anna Kavan’s best books are: A Horse’s Tale; Ice; Guilty; Sleep Has His House; My Soul in China and Who Are You?  Her other books are also wonderful. Her novels are like no other novels in existence; her short stories are surreal and haunting.



Anna Kavan: Self-portrait


Here is a list of Anna Kavan’s books:


Asylum Piece (1940)

Change The Name (1941)

I Am Lazarus (1945)

Sleep Has His House (1948)

The Horse’s Tale (with K. T. Bluth) (1949)

A Scarcity of Love (1956)

Eagle’s Nest (1957)

A Bright Green Field and Other Stories (1958)

Who Are You? (1963)

Ice (1967)

Julia and the Bazooka (1970)

My Soul in China (1975)

My Madness: Selected Writings (1990)

Mercury (1994)

The Parson (1995)

Guilty (2007)


Here is the Wikipedia entry for Anna Kavan:


Here is the Anna Kavan Society website:


Here is Anna Kavan’s page:


Here is R J Dent’s  short video on the books of Anna Kavan:


If you do decide to read Anna Kavan, it might be best to start with Ice or Guilty or Who Are You? and then move on to reading the others. You won’t be disappointed. But you will find yourself alone in a strange landscape with no recognisable landmarks. Enjoy the experience.


Anna Kavan’s Nocturnal Language


© R J Dent (2015)








Angela Carter’s Lycanthropy

October 19, 2008
Angela Carter

  Angela Carter


If only Angela Carter had written a werewolf novel. She intended to – until cancer took her from us on February 16th 1992. Salmon Rushdie, a personal friend of Angela Carter’s wrote: ‘To watch The Company of Wolves, the film Angela Carter made with Neil Jordan, weaving together several of her wolf-narratives, is to long for the full-scale wolf-novel she never wrote.’

Angela Carter worked with director Neil Jordan on the script for the film. The Company of Wolves. Whilst based upon the short story of the same name from The Bloody Chamber, the plot of the film bears a resemblance to Angela Carter’s 1980 adaptation of The Company of Wolves radio play, which introduced such elements as the additional stories being told within the narrative by the characters themselves, such as Granny.

In an L.A. Weekly interview, Neil Jordan said: “In a normal film you have a story with different movements that program, develop, go a little bit off the trunk, come back, and end. In this film, the different movements of the plot are actually separate stories. You start with an introduction and then move into different stories that relate to the main theme, all building to the fairy tale that everybody knows. The opening element of the dreamer gave us the freedom to move from story to story.”

The original screenplay (as presented in The Curious Room) also featured an additional story being told by the huntsman, a very different final tale by Rosaleen (reminiscent of Carter’s Peter and the Wolf from her collection Black Venus) and a scene set in a church with an animal congregation.


Circuses, fairgrounds, freaks, mannequins, wolves, shape-shifters, Erl-kings, murderers, ghost trains, toyshops, castles, fairy tales, myths, legends, enchanted woods and mysterious forests – these are Angela Carter’s literary currency. In many ways she’s an English female version of Ray Bradbury; her writing is infused with a sense of wonder; a bitter-sweet nostalgia for what never was, and an ability to recast the modern as the mythological.

Carter’s book, The Bloody Chamber is packed with twisted, post-modern fairy tales, and contains enough howling wolves, spooky forests, haunted castles, mountain paths, psychopaths, woodcutters and shape-shifters to fill a book of Transylvanian folk tales. And every story has a powerful message that is delivered in an entertaining way. Serious stuff then, but also funny, tragic, comic, insightful, profound, hilarious, unsettling and powerful.





Angela Carter’s other books, particularly Nights at the Circus, Wise Children, Black Venus, Fireworks, and The Magic Toyshop are exceptional works. Her radio plays, collected as Come Unto These Yellow Sands are worth reading too.

Here’s a list of Angela Carter’s books:


Shadow Dance (1965) – a novel

The Magic Toyshop (1967) – a novel

Several Perceptions (1968) – a novel

Heroes and Villains (1969) – a novel

Love (1971) – a novel

The Infernal Desire Machines of Dr. Hoffman (1972) – a novel

Fireworks: Nine Profane Pieces (1974) – short stories

The Passion of New Eve (1977) – a novel

Comic and Curious Cats (1979) – children’s story

The Sadeian Woman: An Exercise in Cultural History (1979)

The Bloody Chamber (1979) – short stories

Nothing Sacred: Selected Writings (1982) – essays

Come Unto These Yellow Sands: Four Radio Plays (1985)

Black Venus (1985) – short stories

Nights at the Circus (1985) – a novel

Wise Children (1991) – a novel

Expletives Deleted (1992) – essays

The Virago Book of Fairy tales (Editor) (1992)

The Second Virago Book of Fairy Tales (Editor) (1992)

Wayward Girls and Wicked Women (Editor) 1993)

American Ghosts and Old World Wonders (1993) – short stories

Burning Your Boats: Collected Short Stories (1995)

Shaking a Leg: Collected Journalism and Writings (1996)

The Curious Room: Collected Dramatic Works (1997)

Sea-Cat and King Dragon (2000) – children’s story

The Fairy Tales of Charles Perrault (Translator) (2008)

Unicorn: The Poetry of Angela Carter (2015)


Here is a short film (by R J Dent) about the works of Angela Carter:


Angela Carter’s writing, like Anna Kavan’s, does not fit into an easy category. Hers is a unique voice, one that should be heard/read by more people. Start with The Company of Wolves and go on from there. Angela Carter’s books are worth reading: she’ll take you on a long, strange, and wonderful trip.


Angela Carter’s books are available at:




Angela Carter’s Lycanthropy

Copyright © R J Dent (2013)





The Birds by Tarjei Vesaas

October 1, 2008

The Birds by Tarjei Vesaas is one of the most beautifully haunting novels you will ever read.

The Birds is set in Norway and tells the story of Mattis and his doomed attempts to make sense of the world. Mattis is a young man with learning difficulties who lives with his older sister, Hege. He tries to become more autonomous, but finds instead that despite (or perhaps because of) his attempts his daily life becomes all the more chaotic and complex.

The best translation of this novel is the one by Torbjørn Støverud and Michael Barnes. They have somehow managed to retain and convey all of the spaciousness, the calm delicacy, and the almost mesmeric qualities of Vesaas’s writing style.

Tarjei Vesaas

Tarjei Vesaas

The back cover blurb of their edition, published by Peter Owen, states that it is: ‘One of Vesaas’s most important novels… The author reveals a deep and compassionate insight into human nature and a lyrical response to the Norwegian landscape.’

The Birds is a delicately told, moving and deeply emotional story. It is most definitely worth reading.

Matthew’s Days (Żywot Mateusza) is a 1968 Polish drama film directed by Witold Leszczyński. The film is based on Tarjei Vesaas’ novel The Birds.




The Birds
by Tarjei Vesaas


Translated by Torbjørn Støverud and Michael Barnes
Published by Peter Owen
ISBN: 0-7206-0952-6


(c) R J Dent (2014)