Welcome to Revenants & Rigmaroles

Welcome to Revenants & Rigmaroles. This blog has been established as a companion to hyagog.com, my online collection of uneasy tales and first chapters.

This space is intended primarily as a blank wall should anyone be kind enough to leave feedback, offer psychological assistance or demand answers.  But I welcome all comment whether provoked by my fiction, sunspots or troubled sleep.

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46 Comments

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46 responses to “Welcome to Revenants & Rigmaroles

  1. Hello, BaronCharlus (exitbarnadine … really???:) , I said this somewhere else, then realised it belonged here: I’ve started reading your intrguing posts and it will take many more visits before I investigate all the booty – I enjoyed the bittersweet, satirical Corinna fragment, not least for its strange picture of contemporary life in England, and wish I could read the rest of the novel. . . Back to say more as soon as I can . . . You chose a smashing template, and I like the mysterious illustrations.

  2. exitbarnadine

    Hi Wordn,

    You shoudl get a prize for being the first commentator. I’ll think of something…

    The BaronCharlus username always feels an extension of my GU persona. For this brave new world I wanted something less evocative of a particular book/era, etc. However, anyone kind enough to visit must feel free to call me whatever they want. And many thanks for the feedback. Corinna, in a differnt guise, may well be featuring in my current project…

  3. So many dimensions to her — and that’s not easy to do, across the gender divide. Whether or not you ever finish the book, I know I’ll remember her.

    . . . No prize necessary, @eb (only, who _is_ barnadine?) . . . I was thrilled to find that no one else had got here before I did. 🙂 !

  4. exitbarnadine

    Thanks for praising Corrina (I know the spelling’s odd, it’s from the Bob Dylan song – plus a personal connection). Re; Barnadine, let’s just say it’s a stage direction…

  5. mishari

    Sounds like the Rev. Ian Paisley’s pronunciation of ‘Burn ‘er down’ but it’s probably not…

  6. exitbarnadine

    Nice try, Mish. And, of course, my admiration for the man’s fiction is well-known. I should have said that ‘exit: barnadine’ is a stage direction.

  7. mishari

    Is it ‘exit: pursued by a bear’ in some other language?

  8. exitbarnadine

    Warmer…

  9. parallax

    I think I have your Measure Mr Kim:

    “A man that apprehends death no more dreadfully but as a drunken sleep; careless, reckless and fearless of what’s past, present or to come; insensible of mortality and desperately mortal.”
    (Act IV sc.ii)

    btw funky blog – looking forward to reading your work over time

  10. exitbarnadine

    @Parallax

    Have a Viennese whirl and a day-pass to the stews. Thanks for visiting. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

    btw, I don’t know if this ‘make your own album cover’ fad has swept your way yet, but I had a go last week and the randomly-generated title of my imaginary album was Parallax Occlusion Mapping.

  11. parallax

    thanks for the whirl exitb.

    I’ve just randomly generated my band name and album – turns out I’m headlining an evangelical ensemble. So, coming to an stadium near you:
    Eden Township with uplifting songs from their new album Bite of the Harvest Apple

  12. That really is quite spooky. This album generating game; either people are cheating or there seems to be a high level of pertinence in the random generation. Yours, Para, is particularly apt, but many seem to fit. Is this down to our innate instinct to see/create patterns, or is the Internet slowly revealing a common hive mind/collective unconscious?

  13. mishari

    Not sure I like the idea of a ‘common hive mind’. Every time same makes an appearance in SF, it is definitely a ‘Bad Thing’. I mean…The Borg.

    Bruce Sterling wrote a terrific short story about a mission to visit this very ant-like alien culture run by a ‘hive mind’. Creepy, scary and funny….

  14. parallax

    well exitb, I think the randomness has filters. My random wiki band name was: Eden Township, Antelope County, Nebraska, then when random the quotes came up for the band name I had a choice between ‘take pride in it’ (1st option) or ‘bite of the harvest apple’ (2nd on the list). Within the limits I obviously chose to connect Eden with Apple, but I could’ve done a parochial-fly-the-fascist-flag thing and said … band name : Nebraska; Album: Take Pride In It.

    Whole different connotation – choices, projections, connections, alignments … y’know be careful where you park your car etc…

  15. exitbarnadine

    It’s only a bad thing until you’re assimilated, Mishari. A bit like the Moonies (who seem rather quaint these days, don’t you think?).

    If I was feeling cynical I’d suggest that the reduction of so much thought and interaction to buzzwords, twitter and mediaspeak homogenises images and language to the point where we can accept almost any randomly generated stuff as ‘meaningful’. And not in a challenging way. It’s the I-Ching via James Blunt, Deepak Chopra and iPod. The iChing.

    This album cover game also reveals how freaking lazy most album covers, book jackets, photography exhibitions etc actually are.

  16. parallax

    ok – you’ll become familiar with my crap ‘why don’t you read and edit before you post’ technique – but I’m sure you’ll be able to decipher the gist from the confusion

  17. mishari

    I’m listening to Miles’ soundtrack to ‘L’ascenseur pour l’echafaud’.
    I can’t imagine a hive-mind or social networking on a vast scale creating anything like it.

    I make a similiar point over on my blog re: DamienGWalters assertion that access to thousands of Facebook chatterers dispenses with the top-down, novelists-writing for-an-audience model. I’m not persuaded…

  18. exitbarnadine

    Yet jazz is precisely minds working together intuitively, isn’t it?

    There are strengths and weaknesses. On a prosaic level, it takes the US big-studio hardcore writing-team approach to produce something like the Wire or Battlestar, unthinkable in the UK; yet I doubt the same, essentially generic model could throw up a vision as unique as Singing Detective.

    I wonder if the new arts won’t be things we don’t yet have the language to call art. More like tides than objects.

  19. mishari

    I take your point,but surely there’s a world of difference between small groups pf like-minded people working towards an often rather nebulous goal and some vast, amorphous mass of minds doing…what? Working towards an acceptable mean? I suspect we’d get albums of music that would resemble nothing so much as bland, inoffensive music-to-vacuum-your-sitting-room-by…

    The again, making predictions based on insufficient data is just a form of making rods for ones own back…you may well be right and something we don’t yet have a name for or a conceptual model of will develop.

    I shall watch unfolding events with keen interest but I’m not binning my Miles Davis LPs yet…

  20. exitbarnadine

    ‘we’d get albums of music that would resemble nothing so much as bland, inoffensive music-to-vacuum-your-sitting-room-by…’

    Exactly the point I was making with my iChing riff.

    Never bin Miles. Except maybe the eighties stuff? I never got that far but heard Time After Time and You’re Under Arrest and wasn’t hopeful. He seemed to have got *shudder* happy. Can you suggest a way in?

  21. parallax

    rescue the blue-delft-me from spam – thanks

  22. mishari

    All I can say is that there are some pleasures to be had from the 80’s stuff. After all, it is Miles Davis playing the trumpet and there are some lovely passages but over-all…nah, not really. But as I think I mentioned before, it’s the 1948-1967 period that floats my boat…

  23. exitbarnadine

    Sorry you were quarantined, Para. And no interpreter needed.

    Interesting, though, that you could derive so many apparently meaningful connections from such a dearth of material. I got the aforementioned Parralax Occlusion Mapping and the title ‘Things, even the most astonishing’ which sounds like any number of albums in the Underground section of Mojo.
    People increasingly want to be part of what’s created. Currently, that’s limited to lolcats and ‘Dave is: eating a donut,yummm!’ posts on Facebook. But the more real-time and multi-media online interaction becomes, I think we’ll see some very extraordinary things. But as Mish says, don’t bin the Miles.

    @Mishari: Have I linked you to Julian Cope’s writing on 70s Miles? He hates anything before Jack Johnson but if you can look past that he has some interesting, Bangsish things to say:

    http://www.headheritage.co.uk/unsung/albumofthemonth/359

  24. mishari

    Thanks for an interesting read. Not a great deal to disagree with, actually, but I was struck by one passage:

    If this was a guy seeking a young audience, he surely weren’t looking very hard. For the incredible beauty of this opening piece is the manner in which it hangs in mid air, almost motionless yet light as the breeze. Imagine suspending a huge child’s mobile from the ceiling of Wookey Hole caves with a drawing pin nightlight, and then measuring its movement. This is the motion of “He Loved Him Madly” – it’s a tethered and chloroformed flight of butterflies and dragonflies and fireflies, spacily and dazedly encircling the nightlight, never completely leaving their tight orbit.

    But that’s the Miles that I think I love best. That sort of almost ethereal, otherworldly sound…music from a very remote and cool place. Not a lot of that on the LPs Cope’s hymning but lots on the LPs of ‘jazz’ that he professes to have no time for.

    But as I say, in the main, I agree with him. I certainly don’t dismiss any of Davis’ work as ‘crap’ or a ‘sell-out’. Davis would no more sell-out or play crap than he would join Mantovani’s Orchestra. Some stuff is more or less to my taste. Some stuff grows on you or re-grows or suddenly finds a crack in your defensive wall…whatever…but he’s never less than fascinating.

  25. exitbarnadine

    I think we agree on Miles. Cope is on a cthonic mission to find what he considers the most cosmic yet primitive sounds; it’s all about reconnecting with the mother(ship?). I think his problem with jazz – not that I agree – is the focus on musicianship and virtuosity for their own sake, that you can hear the craft in the playing. It’s a grey area and he’s self-confessedly inconsistent – he loves Stockhausen-educated Can, hardly primitive.

  26. Mister Podge

    Powder and The Apple Maker – they’re both superbly written. I don’t read nearly as much prose as I should but I know what I like, and your stuff I like!
    Particularly liked Powder – the atmosphere, the historical detail, the suspense, the crystal clear portrait you paint of the narrator…loved every bit of it.
    The Apple Maker is also beautifully drawn and has a lovely, disturbing quality to it. It’s a great idea too. My one observation would be that I felt there was more to be told. The mother’s doppelganger was destroyed all to quickly for my liking – though perhaps I’m lacking a certain objectivity when it comes to doppelgangers being a twin. It seemed there was more horror to be drawn from the realisation of what a manufactured human might actually be like – particularly one manufactured from an alien intelligence. The very end threw me a little as well, although there was also something horribly ominous about it, which I rather liked and I may have another read to see if I can get a better handle on it.
    Anyhow – brilliant work – I’ll definitely make my way through the rest.

  27. exitbarnadine

    @MisterPodge

    Many, many thanks for your generous feedback. There was indeed more to be told with the Apple Maker; it was a sketch written to develop ideas for a novel (one of the other stories on the site is from the same series). It was envisaged as taking place a generation before the main action – the protagonists would have been the narrator’s children. But, as often happens, I moved on to weirder things. Thanks again.

  28. abramsuzan

    Hi Exit…

    I found this blog from a link to my stats on Kafez. Up to now, I was only intent on your story site. I’m reading the Apple Maker at the moment and have almost finished it. Your site is a treasure trove..a scattered library in a room somewhere on an atmospheric afternoon.
    The thing is I’ve opened a new WordPress site and chosen this design exactly not knowing you had the same. It’s a cleaner creative site for me now. I wondered if you would very much mind removing Kafez and just replacing it with http://www.suzanabrams3.wordpress.com. I feel a little presumptious making this request over here but thanks so much exit..
    regards
    suzan abrams

  29. exitbarnadine

    Hi Suzan,

    Thanks for visiting and for the kind words. Mister Podge (above) seems to have started with the Apple Maker, also, so lok out for *ahem* spoilers.

    Links changed, although I can also keep Kafex up if you’d like. Let me know. Not presumptious at all. Do the two blogs have different purposes? Either way, I will investigate.

    I don’t think the use of similar themes is a problem, do you? I was surprised when I set this site up how few were on offer and how inflexoble they were.

  30. exitbarnadine

    Also, Suzan, love your avatar image. Is it meant to be joyful or sinister? Clowns are notoriously ambiguous on this issue.

  31. abramsuzan

    Hi again Exit,
    Thanks so much for the change. The avatar of this clown – almost apprehensive and bashful in its grin but also slightly brazen speaks as if it may hide a secret or two. Something I’d associate with one of my favourite novelists, Angela Carter and her bizarre stories of toy and curio shops that hide clocks,clowns and dolls that get up to all sorts.
    I think the Apple Maker makes for an alluring title and I was drawn to it from the first. It reminds me of a nostalgic English tale… something out of H.E. Bates or Henry Williamson.
    No Kafez has had its run and will slowly find its way to a retirement home somewhere in cyberspace. All it held was news of books and publishing, things like that.
    This new site is more streamlined, it holds my personality as a writer and speaks of my future in writing.
    P.S. I will watch out for those spoilers.
    regards
    sue

  32. exitbarnadine

    Thanks, Sue

    I read the Magic Toyshop by Carter a couple of years ago and, whislt I found the novel as a whole a little disappointing, it had one of the best opening chapters I’ve read. I understand the Bloody Chamber is very good and may be good research for me regarding the kinds of atmospheres I’m trying to build. What do you think?

    Also, haven’t read Bates or Williamson. So many writers, only two eyes.

    Good luck with the new site. I’ll check in. (ps, your post was amended re your following comment)

  33. abramsuzan

    Thanks for that correction, Exit…
    Now you know how I was like in the classroom.

    Incidentally, I haven’t yet read the Bloody Chamber but I will soon in the next few weeks and let you know my thoughts. I’m also not too sure about the atmospheres you were wanting to conjure up. If I knew something about this, perhaps I could suggest a few other titles.
    I know what you mean about the Magic Toyshop. Carter left the entire plot hanging in the air, depending on how one would see it. But what fanciful detail and strong emotion, so cleverly established.
    Henry Williamson & H.E. Bates. Delicious pre-war village tales but told as serious fiction. Poignant, haunting, brooding especially Bates. Both were gentlemen farmers in England. Bates’s famous war stories – I’ve read these – The Purple Plain & Fair Stood the Wind for France were made into memorable films and I think one starred Gregory Peck.
    Williamson wrote a brilliant drama-documentary on Tarka the Otter. This too,helped make his name.

    Exactly, that’s the thing, isn’t it. One lifetime. Yet, too many good stories still untouched.

  34. exitbarnadine

    Hi Suzan,

    Would love to know your thoughts on the Bloody Chamber. I visited Charing X Rd yesterday and found some Sheridan Le Fanu, James Meeks and John Banville to stay busy with.

    Regarding atmospheres; you know, the usual, wit, menace, intangible beauty, metatextural smart-arsery and film-noir twists. I’ve been trying to find books that are genuinely frightening, that have a kind of sensual menace that is actually rewarded with a revelation that doesn’t disappoint. I’ve always written quite dark prose but, since researching actual horror, I’m beginning to understand why most masters of the genre are short story writers. Once the necessary conventions required to carry a reader’s interest across 250-400 pages are introduced, the hovering menace of, say, MR James, soon evaporates. So the answer is: I don’t know, but I’m looking.

  35. abramsuzan

    Hi Exit,
    I’ve read John Banville’s The Book of Evidence…stating the fictitious life of an unrepentant but later imprisoned philanderer/murderer and Banville’s vocabulary was exquisite. Which was your’s?
    I’ll be along in a few days to Waterstone’s to pick up Angela Carter’s Bloody Chamber as they have the whole range of stories.
    Exit, I’ll also be back tomorrow (Sunday) to share some thoughts on sensual menace. What springs to mind are the milder aspects of cruelty like tauntings and gloatings as helpful tools, to carry your story through. You’re right that the measurement of time in which the revelation of a menace is stretched is very important. Tomorrow, I’ll let you know an example of a story that came to mind when you mentioned this and how boring it finally grew simply because the author kept stretching the warning of a horror..only by the time she revealed her anticipated crime, all my interest had waned. And this wasn’t a thick book.

  36. Hannah

    So far I’ve only read Powder. But what a story! Also, beautifully written. Joseph Conrad ‘Heart of Darkness’ automatically springs to mind. I’d be interested to know if it was a purposeful reference as I felt that the main character experiences the same pointlessness of imperialism – although he’d never admit it!

    I was also struck by the beautiful construction of your sentences, another flashback to reading Heart of Darkness. The tone of voice of the main character was fantastic – I really felt that a 19th Century British Imperialist soldier was talking to me about his troubles in a faraway jungle.

    All in all, keep it up and I can’t wait to start another journey into your twisted imagination!

  37. BTW

    I thought ‘The Perfect Count of Deaths’ was brilliant. The themes of what constitutes evil, and the motivation for committing acts of wrongdoing were brilliant tackled, and the denouement brought a knockout moral punch to the piece.
    The writing was incredibly paced and flowed – I thought the sentences in particular had a clarity and lucidity to them which made it a pleasure to read. Kim, to what extent is the story intended as a comment on today’s excessively, morally-sensitive society and the mental conditions that it gives rise to?

  38. Hi again Exit,
    I think what constitutes as you said for the length of time and this with regards to any plot that befits a sensual menace would be a chilling suspense wouldn’t it.
    I remember 2 stories I read from novelists that didn’t work. One kept warning the reader of thrills to come but she dragged it on so much that when you finally found out a horror in a certain lake, I remember feeling thoroughly bored and that the plot had worn nothing but an inflated ego. Her idea of excitement was to allow other characters to warn of the same impending horror but that just didn’t work. Another who wrote a psychological thriller also stretched just one emotion – that of a character’s depression throughout the book so that when an act of cruelty was performed at the end, I felt the story had fallen rather flat.
    I think what works would be as you said an aspect of a chacacter’s personality – in that way that would be descibed as sensual – more of movement, silence, touch, gestures, a personality’s insecurities and emotions that may talk of little psychological/emotional horrors that build up. And then when you think that it couldn’t get any worse except to find that it does, (fixed, Suzan – ed) if you know what I mean…(Certainly do -ed)(

  39. Hi Suzan, Hannah, BTW (May I call you Bless?),

    Thank you so much for your thoughtful and encouraging posts. It’s been a hectic Sunday but I will respond to you all tomorrow.

  40. @Suzan

    It was Book of Evidence that I picked up; have previously read The Sea and Ghosts. I found both infuriating reads (also exquisitely written). But they have stayed with me in ways that books I enjoyed reading more have not. I haven’t read any lit-fic for a while, having been on an adventure in pulp horror and Japanese Gothic – Dennis Wheatley, James Herbert, Izumi Kyoka, Ueda Akinari. I’m thinking about blogging on some of these.

    I think you’re right about books that flag the horrors to come; nothing is quite as awful as what’s imagined. However, I do feel a novelist owes the reader a resolution and cannot, like a short story writer, slip out the side door leaving only dread and innuendo. What are these books you speak of? Or are you being kind and protecting the innocent?

  41. @Hannah

    Thanks again. Your Heart of Darkness citation is too generous but, yes, it was on my mind when writing Powder. As I mentioned when I saw you, the story was written one weekend to exorcise a particularly black mood. Having subsequently read Poe and Lovecraft, I was alarmed by some of the similarities of tone (although not quality!) to their work. Not sure I want to relate to the Edgar and Howard’s inner lives.

    I think you mentioned some booked that had unnerved you, last time I saw you. Remember what they were?

  42. @BTW

    ‘Kim, to what extent is the story intended as a comment on today’s excessively, morally-sensitive society and the mental conditions that it gives rise to?’

    In attempt to answer; I do think that – whilst being a generic bleeding-heart liberal – the, imo, noble motivations that spawned political correctness have mutated into a politeness minefield (if you will), where terminology becomes more important than intent and, I suspect, safety is the first thought when speaking.

    But I don’t think that’s what motivated my story. It began, if I remember, as an attempt to imagine a way of escaping various mundane anxieties – spilling boiling water, getting mugged, etc. If they could be traded off. It’s all about the angst, I’m afraid. As usual.

  43. abramsuzan

    Hi Exit,
    The Book of Evidence is a pretty straightforward read. I think you’ll like it. I’d term it as serious fiction. I daresay and I’m hoping, it will be your cup of tea. If anything, Banville conducts an excellent pace in this title, to the spilling out of the odd horrifying secret.
    I was actually being kind and protecting the innocent. Indeed, you’re right, Exit. The Google Search Engine has this rude habit of pouncing on the namees so as to cache them, if I wrote the details down. Do you have an official email addy somewhere on the site, Exit that I could write to you on or otherwise, I’ll you the titles anyway.

  44. Suzan,

    Would love to know the offending tomes. May well save me time. Spill the beans here:

    exitbarnadine@live.co.uk

  45. Thanks Exit.
    Will get back to you in the next day or two. 🙂

  46. Hi again Exit,
    So very sorry for not having emailed as yet as I also wanted to share some thoughts about the titles. Was unwell for the last few days and have been lagging behind with many things. Will write you tomorrow on Sunday, that’s a promise and will return also to read this new post which looks very interesting. That clown’s smile has turned sheepish.

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