Thursday, December 12, 2013

Mercy, Mercy Brown

Just finshed reading Kathleen Tierney's Blood Oranges, the first book in a proposed trilogy by one of my go-to-authors (recognized more readily as Caitlin R. Kiernan). This is a witty parody, filled with tropes and commentary on many of the current poular fantasy novels and films featuring vampires (definitely doesn't sparkle) and werewolves in a contemporary urban setting. While I enjoyed/cringed/gulped the adventure, I was particularly taken by the many references to Rhode Island's historical famous "vampire," Mercy Brown.

I spend a little time with Mercy and legend tripping behaviour in What Happens Next? Contemporary Legends and Popular Culture (page 48). Two of Kiernan's earlier works are annotated: the novel The Red Tree (2009) and the short story "As Red as Red" published in Haunted Legends (2010).

Kiernan, writing as Tierney, has her narrator Quinn say this about the gravesite:

The tombstone's nothing fancy, a slab of marble with dates of birth and death, just the usual. Visitors had left a random assortment of tokens lined up along the top of the storn: pennies, small stones, a pewter pin from the Newport Folk Festival. In front of the stone there was no grass at all, just a dirt patch worn smooth by long years of the feet of those who came to see. The letters engraved in the marble had become ever more indistinct as a hundred and sixteen years of rain had eaten at the stone. Another hundred, it'll likely only be an anonymous slab. But maybe I'll still be around, and I'll remember.

The stone was securely bolted down with iron bands and concrete to ensure some damned frat boy, goth kid, or eBay huckster wouldn't try to make off with it (241).

Doesn’t Come with a How-To Manual: Blood Oranges by Kathleen Tierney

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Contemporary Legend Spotting: The Mistletoe Bough

Looking forward to reading how Mosse has adapted this tale.
(the following is from the review blurb linked above)

“The Mistletoe Bride” chronicles the wedding day of a young woman five hundred or so years ago. The party is held in Bramshill House in the middle of the winter, thus “there is mistletoe and holly, white berries and red,” and—in a tradition as old as time—a fine feast, made finer with wine. When all the sweetmeats are eaten, the new wife of Lord Lovell suggests “a game of hide-and-seek, for all those who yet have strength in their legs.”
The play is a way, attentive readers will realise, of delaying the daunting prospect of the wedding bed, an inevitability which leaves our narrator feeling conflicted. “I can see Lovell’s eyes on me and know he means to be the one who discovers my hiding place. There is part of me that shrinks at the thought of it, but he is a gentle man.”
Nevertheless, when the game begins, the mistletoe bride—Mosse gives her no other name—decides on one hell of a hiding place: in a “wooden coffer [that] is deep and long, the length of a man, and bound fast by four wide metal bands.” She settles into it as if it were a bed, and though she does not mean to sleep, sleep she does... with haunting consequences:"

"As the author asserts in her short survey of the various versions of this tale, which has been told almost as long as there were tales to tell, “The Mistletoe Bride” is “grisly, oddly compelling [...] the sort of story that sticks in the imagination,” and indeed it does. Some say it is founded on fact. Others suggest it springs from a song. In any event, it’s been an inspiration to many authors through the ages:
Charles Somerset produced a play of the same name in 1835, Henry James wrote ‘The Romance of Certain Old Clothes’ in 1868, transposed to eighteenth-century Massachusetts but clearly inspired by the story, and Susan E. Wallace published a short story—‘Ginevra or The Old Oak Chest: A Christmas Story’—in 1887. The tragic tale, a favourite of the protagonist, Brandon Shaw, is recounted in Hitchcock’s 1948 film, Rope. Jeanette Winterson wrote a haunting Christmas version of the story in 2002.
Whatever its legacy, “The Mistletoe Bride” is a fitting fiction with which to kick off this collection—and in a sense to bring it to an end as well, because the final short is another take on the same tale, if anything more impressive than the first: a strangely straightforward story for all its suggestiveness."

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Spotting contemporary legends in popular culture: Wisp of a Thing

"I can by to bring Doyle his lunch one day, and he was up under a car working on it," Berklee explained. "I was felling kinda silly, so since his legs were sticking out, I bent down and unzipped his pants on my way into his office."
"Where she found me sitting at my desk," Doyle added.
"Seems he'd hired this Barnes boy without mentioning it to me," Berklee said, " And now the poor kid cam staggering in, bleeding from where he'd smacked his head when he jumped 'cause somebody opened his fly." (105-106)

Published 2013.
Subject headings:
1. Musicians- Fiction
2. Magic- Fiction
3. Great Smoky Mountains (NC and Tenn.) - Fiction

Also found numerous allusions to ballads such as "Omie Wise" and others I will add when I uncover them with further reading. This is a sequel to The Hum and the Shiver (highly recommended as well).

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Spotting contemporary legends in pop culture

"Not much scared me, but someone scratching under my bed as I lay on it was way too urban legend for me. Next I would hear a drip only to discover it was the blood of my boyfriends hanging dead from a tree. Luckily, I had no trees in my apartment. Then I thought, Hey, a tree would add a nice touch." (page 68)
A bit of a mismash from "The Boyfriend's Death" and "Dogs Can Lick Too." Fun all around.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

"The Devil's Widow" aka "The Ballad of Tam Lin" Released On Blu-ray

"Despite being one of those obscure films only Tam Lin fanatics (yes, I'm one of them) and fairy tale folk well versed in film (and possibly die-hard Ava Gardner fans) know about, The Devil's Widow has had enough studio backing to make it to Blu-ray. It's a film that ended up with a couple of titles (not always a good sign) and it's interesting to see that this time around Tam Lin made it on top. When it was released on VHS you had to ask for it by it's more provocative title, The Devil's Widow."

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Review of The Bones of Paris

I read the galleys for several reasons -- to recommend them to my library for purchase as part of my duties as board member and selection consultant (which I did for this title) and for reader's advisory for young adults reading adult titles (which I also did for this title).

I am personally a big fan of Laurie King's writing but it is often difficult to enter a series mid-step, so to speak; it was a pleasure to be able to recommend a stand-alone title that was filled with acute characterization of people and of Paris.