Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Keeler etc (and even more Belfast)

Seeing that the season of gift-giving will soon be upon us, I thought I should draw your attention to the McSweeney's Collins Library edition of The Riddle of the Traveling Skull by Harry Stephen Keeler. It's the kind of book which contains, on page 3, a couple of paragraphs like this: 

  What the devil, I wondered, did he mean by his presumptuous actions? Was he the house-servant of someone who had moved into this neighborhood during my seven weeks' absence on pure business in the Far East? Was he really minus any matches? Yet, why had he stared at me so queerly on the Broadway car? He irritated me, strangely. And in the hope of getting a line on the source of his abnormal interest in me, I began to review the events -- such as they were -- which followed my exit from the big new Union Passenger Station at Randolph Street and Michigan Avenue. For it must be remembered that at the time I knew quite nothing, naturally, concerning Milo Payne, the mysterious Cockney-talking Englishman with the checkered long-beaked Sherlockholmsian cap; nor of the latter's "Barr-Bag" which was as like my own bag as one Milwaukee wiener-wurst is like another; nor of Legga, the Human Spider, with her four legs and her six arms; nor of Ichabod Chang, ex-convict, and son of Dong Chang; nor of the elusive poetess, Abigail Sprigge; nor of the Great Simon, with his 2163 pearl buttons; nor of-- in short, I then knew quite nothing about anything or anybody involved in the affair of which I had now become a part, unless perchance it were my Nemesis, Sophie Kratzenschneiderwumpel -- or Suing Sophie! (Borrowed from, where the whole of the first chapter is up on line.) 

 My copy arrived from McSweeney's yesterday, and is undoubtedly the best-looking edition of anything by Keeler ever published (during or after his lifetime). Mr Collins is to be commended for bringing this book back into print. It may start a major Harry Stephen Keeler revival, but probably it won't. (Mostly, I think, because you need to have a certain mindset to find Keeler anything other than unreadable. I think he's worth it, but I know that most people won't -- it's not like a bad film, where you watch it to laugh at it; in Keeler's case it's not so bad it's good -- it's actually good, it just shouldn't be.) 

 This just in: London Below: The Theme Park! For sale: Britain's underground city,,2087-1849406,00.html Wow. Several people have recently sent me links to the gnod literature map. I'm still trying to figure out why the result for Gaiman is completely different for Neil Gaiman. (And why Neil Gaiman is out on the edge of what people who like Gaiman read.) Not entirely impressed with it to be honest -- I don't see how the linkages are built, although the Neil Gaiman cluster seems much more logical than the Gaiman cluster (where, as I type this, my closest neighbours are de Sade and Vacchs).

 ... Just learned that the Belfast signing has moved due to demand, to (edited to say - not sure at present where it'll be. For now, check with No Alibis. I'll put up something when it's finally confirmed.) 6.30 pm Wednesday 16th November 2005 Tickets from No Alibis, Botanic Avenue, Belfast TEL: 02890 319 617 or email: