R.B. Russell: The Book I Would Like To Be Buried With…

hill of dreamsThe fourteenth entry in the Bury Me With… series features a relative newcomer to the writing scene, R.B. Russell. However, those not yet familiar with his quiet unease might well recognise him due to his sterling work co-running the Tartarus Press.

“I’d like to take my old battered Corgi paperback The Hill of Dreams by Arthur Machen. (I would probably have taken the Collected Aickman if Simon hadn’t beaten me to it!)

Machen’s The Hill of Dreams was given to me to read at a time when I was immersed in Camus, Hesse and Sartre, and I read it as an existentialist novel; the story of an artistic outsider who has problems coming to grips with the world around him. What astounded me, though, and set it apart from the other authors I’d been reading, was the great beauty of the language. I found the novel hard-going that first time, but each re-reading has been a joy.

From The Hill of Dreams I went on to Machen’s Tales of Horror and the Supernatural, which baffled me completely. Why would an existentialist write horror stories? Machen, though, doesn’t really fit into any categories. His work suggests that there is more to the world around us than we may ordinarily perceive, and sometimes this revelation offers us great beauty, at other times great horror. An apparently banal marriage may conceal a wonderful, mystical love (A Fragment of Life), or the depths of evil (The Inmost Light). The Hill of Dreams, though, is Machen’s masterpiece, from the resonant opening through to the profound, echoing last line.”

RB RussellAbout R.B. Russell:

R.B. Russell is the author of the short story collection Putting the Pieces in Place and the novella, Bloody Baudelaire (both Ex Occidente, 2009). His second collection, Literary Remains (PS Publishing, 2010) is recently published. Russell‘s stories have appeared in The Best Horror of the Year, Supernatural Tales, Postscripts and The Black Book of Horror. He runs the Tartarus Press with his partner, Rosalie Parker.

Simon Strantzas: The Book I Would Like To Be Buried With…

March 22, 2010 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Bury Me With This Book, Interviews 

In the first of what hopefully become a regular series, I’ve asked genre authors about the book that has influenced them more than any, the book they’d like to take with them to their grave… first up is Canadian author and tundra-spook Simon Strantzas:

collectedstrangestories“The book I would like to be buried with is such an obvious selection for me that it hardly seems worth the effort to explain. Anyone familiar with my writing might guess the answer, but for those in the dark I suspect I’d most like to be buried with The Collected Strange Stories of Robert Aickman. Aickman didn’t write a lot of fiction over his lifetime, but what he did write continues to fascinate and befuddle those of us who enjoy his work. He dealt with dreamscapes, with symbols and metaphors, and while many of his tales lack a clear explanation for what exactly has occurred in them, they are often like the best of our dreams – at times illogical, yet always adhering to their own internal logic.

collectedstrangestories2Reading Aickman one can’t help but feel that it’s the reader, not the author, who is at fault if things aren’t clear – the tales make sense, one can feel that they do, even if how remains frustratingly elusive. To study these ciphers, to tease out their true meanings, would take eternity, and I suspect, trapped in that coffin beneath the ground, I’d have nothing more to do than put my mind to it once and for all. Imagine: to be the only corpse in the yard who understood Aickman… I wager I’d be the belle of the undead ball that year.”

The first two volume edition of The Collected Strange Stories of Robert Aickman was published by Tartarus Press and Durtro Press in 1999 and is now out of print, but available through several specialist dealers.

More informaton about Robert Aickman can be found at Wikipedia.


Photo © A. Capozzi 2009About Simon Strantzas:

Simon Strantzas is the author of the critically-acclaimed Cold To The Touch (Tartarus Press, 2009), a collection of thirteen tales of the strange and supernatural. His first collection, Beneath The Surface (Humdrumming, 2008) was called “possibly the most important debut short story collection in the genre [in years]. . .” by multiple award-winning editor Stephen Jones. Strantzas’s stories have appeared or are due soon in The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror, Cemetery Dance, Postscripts, and elsewhere. In 2009, his work was nominated for the British Fantasy Award for Best Short Fiction. Current projects include a third collection of short fiction, a novella, and a short novel. He also hopes to one day catch up on a voluminous amount of reading.

He has lived in Toronto, Canada, for his entire life and has no plans on leaving for sunnier climes.

  • Visit Simon’s website
  • Read a recent interview with Simon at Savvy Reader’s Bookshelf