Book Notes: Cold Hand in Mine by Robert Aickman

Review/Notes of Cold Hand in Mine by Robert Aickman. (Link)

Date finished: 3/10/2019

I heard of Aickman from John Darnielle, of the Mountain Goats, who described him as a literary influence during his tenure on the Podcast I Only Listen to the Mountain Goats. Darnielle spoke of Aickman as being a very subtle, suggestive writer of horror and strangeness, which sounded right up my alley.

The stories collected in "Cold Hand in Mine" are variable in their adherence to that mission, with some (The Hospice, The Clock Watcher) being almost inexplicable and others (Pages from a Young Girls Journal, The Same Dog) bringing more of a light touch to already familiar tales and themes.

Still, several of the stories in here are absolute masterpieces--the Hospice, in particular is stunningly weird, to the point that it's almost funny. "Meeting Mr. Millar" also has a great deal of humor mixed with the bizarre, as the narrator is an editor of pornographic fiction.

The hardest part for me was that Aickman's prose is very specific and very stylized, and the subtlety of his creepy imagery is easy to miss if you read quickly. Unfortunately, as a father to a new baby (as well as an already dynamic and engaged five year old) it's hard to find time to read something slowly, and this collection took me far longer to read than I think it might otherwise have.

Really fantastic stuff.


Quentin's Weeknotes 3/2/19-3/8/19

This Week

  • I hiked up to the top of Table Rock with my son. It was a good reminder of how lucky I am to live in central New York.

looking down over West Oneonta, and the hills beyond


Quentin's Weeknotes 2/23/19-3/1/19

This Week:

My first job is who's going to get hurt, and how painful would that hurt be?

Abrams clearly ran one of the most progressive, organized, and ethically righteous campaign of the 2018 cycle, and her incredibly narrow "loss" (with quotes used advisedly given the context) has clearly only galvanized her to aim even higher. Plus, she writes suspense romance novels and loves Super Friends. Stacey Abrams for Anything!


Quentin's Weeknotes 2/16/19-2/22/19

This week:

  • I read Lady Killer Vol. 1 by Jamie S. Rich and Joelle Jones. The story is fun--a 1950's-era suburban housewife who moonlights as an assassin. It's a great combination of blood and sterile cleanliness. But the real draw is the breath-taking art by Joelle Jones, which draws on mid-century design, but also shows off her peerless drafting and pencilling skills.
  • I read this brief note from M. John Harrison's blog, worth reproducing in full for its advice on writing good characters, as well as for a good description of what many of us are living through these days:

People who lost their ontological security so long ago they don’t even remember it happened to them. They muddle along trying to construct and maintain a self out of what’s left, continually remaking the world out of unstable bits and pieces, suffering a condition they don’t even recognise as loneliness. They stumble upon a life of habit and that will have to do. It gives them a certain gallantry. We recognise that about them even when it’s irritating. People who have lost ontological security to that extent are rarely aware of it, so when writing them it is best not to present direct explanations or origins. That would rationalise their behaviour the way single-event trauma is used in the Hollywood blueprint, to add motivation and simple causality to plot-driving characterisations and characterisation-driven plots.


Quentin's Weeknotes 2/9/19-2/15/19

This Week: