R&R review roundup

After that first wonderful review from Des Lewis in May, there was a vast silence of several months on the Resonance & Revolt review front. To be honest, it had me worried.

But eventually the reviews began to appear, starting with a couple on Amazon and GoodReads.  Clare Bonetree wrote: “Rabinowitz has an incredible imagination, but a really down to earth style… Totally recommending this to speculative fiction fans, and anyone who wants to live in a different, more creative world.”

A certain Steve describes “radical and mysterious journeys” and “stories from London, in the recent past and near future, from medieval and contemporary Europe and from a century or so of America. Music, pictures, sounds, and acts of rebellion resonate across time”.

And just before I packed my bags for Fantasycon I came across this post on Peter Coleborn‘s blog.  Peter brought up the same dipping vs devouring question that I mentioned in relation to Uncertainties III. And so it seems that R&R is one for dipping. Perhaps that’s why it took a  while for the reviews to appear, what with all the dipping and sipping going on! 🙂

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“Rabinowitz is a wonderful stylist who writes compassionately about characters you want to care about. She writes from the heart… I suggest that you dip in and out of Resonance and Revolt and savour the tales along with a glass of wine (or coffee or tea or G&T; your choice, I’m not being prescriptive).”

I personally would recommend whisky myself to accompany an R&R reading session, but I wouldn’t want to be prescriptive either.

panNext up is the Pan Review. Like Deborah Walker in her Goodreads (and Amazon.co.uk) review, editor Mark Andresen singles out “Bells of the Harelle” as a favourite story:

“This collection’s finest, most satisfying tale, deserving of future anthologising. Served mainly by its narrative’s sense of urgency, the opening line alone pulls you in…”

Mark also mentions certain stories as ‘lesser tales’ that didn’t quite do it for him. I found this most interesting in light of my deliberations as I put the collection together. When I was reading through the stories I was thinking that a bunch of back-to-back novelette-length historical tales might be kind of… too much at once. So I concluded it’s best to have something short and snappy and lighter between them. I received some advice suggesting this as as well – and I wrote about the process in a guest post I contributed to the Milford SF blog.

Of course, I discovered again that everyone has their own preferences. Later, comments from Steven Andrew at the Morning Star reflected both on the larger themes and the smaller stories:

DrZ0P7BWkAEJRet“Rabinowitz eschews clumsy agitprop-style didactics and doesn’t offer easy answers. Given to open-ended responses, her interest is largely driven by wonder at people’s continued ability to love, think and rebel against capital, often in the most difficult and unlikely circumstances… Another strength is that Rabinowitz brings to her writing a deeply rooted sense of place and many of the passages are informed and affectionate celebrations of her now-native London.”

Along with ‘insurrectionary insights’ this reviewer also enjoyed the quieter and more personal elements of the stories:

“Lots of the radicals dip in and out of struggle, get drunk, fall into relationships and are often wracked with self-doubt, jaded librarian Richard in Pieces of Ourselves being a prime illustration… Often a quiet, gentle and comedic perspective ensures that not all the contributions are full of frenzied street fighting. The magical realism of Tasting the Clouds is kick-started by a chance tasting of Zapatista coffee and an all too familiar conversation about the merits or otherwise of ethical shopping.”

So I found it very enlightening to read through different reactions. All these stories received multiple critiques before they were first submitted and published but there’s nothing like an overview of a collection from a fresh eye. This is all part of a learning curve and offers food for thought as I plan my second collection.

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Later, Phil Smith wrote about my use of realism in writing the fantastical in his Mythogeography blog. That gave me a glow because I’ve always responded most to works that mingle the concrete and gritty with the strange and numinous. This applies to what I enjoy reading and the effects I try to achieve in my own work.

“There is nothing predictable in Rosanne Rabinowitz’s short story collection Resonance & Revolt. Rabinowitz’s writing is very precisely detailed, drawing realist worlds and then infiltrating them; there are only a few monsters here, but mostly everything is monstrous. The most effective of Rabinowitz’s stories are those in which the realist details are radically possessed by shifting energy: tiny patches of skin that become a double in ‘Pieces of Ourselves’, a naff landscape painting that won’t stay fixed in ‘Keep Them Rollin’, a scruffy cap that passes for a mask in ‘The Peak’, an old bloodsucker in ‘Survivor’s Guilt’ and the spirit of ‘The Pleasure Garden’.”

And in the most recent review, Jaine Fenn makes this observation about how the stories fit together and complement each other.

jaine_green_bkgnd“Overall these tales are vibrant and relevant, displaying exquisite writing, passionate characters and strong sense of place. Although each story stands alone, I took great pleasure in spotting the links – or should I say resonances – between them. They cover themes including quiet but persistent rebellion, love without borders and the malleable nature of time and space as revealed by physics or ritual.”

There are also a few words of thoughtful criticism in Jaine’s review that are appreciated just as much as the praise.

Peter Coleborn’s comments have made me think more about the dipping vs devouring approach to anthologies and collections. Is one better than the other? I imagine that a novelist’s first thought would be: ‘I want to keep the reader reading FFS’. On the other hand, one friend has said that a powerful collection for her usually lends itself to dipping – the best stories are so intense that she needs space between them to think and truly appreciate them.

I’d be interested to hear what other writers and readers think on this score. And I’d also like to thank all the reviewers for taking the time to read and write about Resonance & Revolt. If anyone else reading this post would like to review R&R then get in touch with Eibonvale Press, or you can contact me if that’s easier. Or feel free to scribble a line or stick up a rating at Goodreads or Amazon or any review site of your choice.

Last, I’ll mention that not all the reviews were strictly literary. Jason Whittle speaks well of the rugelach that accompanied my reading of “The Matter of Meroz” at Fantasycon; he described my first attempt at concocting the Jewish pastries (with almond, sour cherry and apricot fillings) as “delicious”. So thank you too, Jason.

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Certain about Uncertainties III, plus R&R review

grande_uncertainties3I’m excited to announce the publication of Uncertainties III, edited by Lynda E Rucker and published by Swan River Press. It will be out in September and it is now available for preorder. This anthology contains my story “The Golden Hour”, alongside stories by eleven wonderful writers. Here’s the table of contents:

“Monica in the Hall of Moths” Matthew M. Bartlett
“Warner’s Errand” SP Miskowski
“Wyrd” Adam Nevill
“Wanting” Joyce Carol Oates
“Bobbo” Robert Shearman
“Before I Walked Away” RS Knightley (Rachel Knightley)
“Voices in the Night” Lisa Tuttle
“It Could Be Cancer” Ralph Robert Moore
“The Woman in the Moon” Tracy Fahey
“TallDarkAnd” Julia Rust and David Surface
“Ashes to Ashes” Scott West
“The Golden Hour” Rosanne Rabinowitz

This looks like a wonderful line-up and I thank Lynda for bringing us all together. I am certain that Uncertainties III will be a very special book. When I had The Book of American Martyrs signed by Joyce Carol Oates at the Dublin Ghost Story Festival I had no idea that we’d be rubbing shoulders on the same TOC.

And in case you’re wondering, the ‘golden hour’ refers to the hour just after sunrise and the hour before sunset when the light is indeed golden and transfiguring…

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A bell of the Harelle!

Meanwhile, Resonance & Revolt has received a new review from Deborah Walker on GoodReads and Amazon.

“As well as the fine stories, I was struck by the coherence of the book, which danced with the theme of Resonance of emotion, of music and of Revolt expressing what it is to take action and move beyond the constraints of what is expected of us.”

She mentions a favourite: “The story which wormed into my brain was Bells of the Harelle, a story blending 14th century rioting, heresy, and eroticism with humour and scientific mystery.”

So if you want rioting (be it 14th century, 21st century or somewhere in between), head-banging heresy, eroticism, humour and scientific mystery you just might enjoy R&R.

 

 

 

Resonance & Revolt & real-time reviews – and some rugelach too

R&R&R1So Resonance & Revolt has been out for a good few weeks! I was so absorbed in preparations for the launch a couple of weeks ago I forgot to mention that, as well as post about the launch in this blog. However, details were tweeted and also put on Facebook so I hope everyone who wanted to come knew about it.

I’ll write some more about the event itself but I’ll now highlight R&R’s first review from Des Lewis. If the name rings a bell, several stories in R&R such as “Survivor’s Guilt”, “Pieces of Ourselves”, “In the Pines”, “The Pleasure Garden” and “The Turning Track” have received Des’ treatment on first appearance, which I’ve featured in previous posts. “Lambeth North” had actually appeared in one of his own anthologies, Horror Without Victims.

Des Lewis’ ‘real-time’ reviews are unique, thought-provoking and always a treat to read. They’re packed with word play and poetry as they unearth associations and currents in the work that I might miss myself when I’ve been so close to it. Other writers describe similar experiences of discovery and regard a Des Lewis review as a work of literature in its own right. I second that. Perhaps you can call this a review of a review. I always feel very honoured by the attention and thought Des puts into his reviews.

They are usually beautifully illustrated as well. I’ve included his cut-out of the tiles from “Lambeth North” that appears on the cover of R&R below, which he connects with the avatar he uses on website. After his exploration of each story, Des sums up:

cropped-2c2a069b-415e-45b1-96c7-9b4c857f22d21“Resonance & Revolt. From Didcott to Didactic, a grail or Rosannation for socialist outreach but made even more palatable as percolated by truth and inspirationally infused by the book’s creative tapping of histories, myths and alternate visions, transfigured from rustblind through to silverbright. Some very important stories in this book transcending any didacticism. And a gestalt of them all that will be enduring. And a book cover that sings out with all these things.”

On 19 May we launched R&R, along with more books published by Eibonvale, Snuggly Books and other imprints. A major thanks goes out to anyone who came and helped make it such an enjoyable afternoon. Books were read (and sold), chats were had, drinks  were drunk and snacks were noshed. The sun was shining in the beer garden… Readings came from myself, Rhys Hughes, Quentin S Crisp, Terry Grimwood, Tom Johnstone and Allen Ashley.

Tiles from DesThe event was MC’ed by Allen Ashley, who did a stellar job at the 2013 event that launched Helen’s Story, Rustblind and Silverbright, Stardust and other books. I read extracts from “The Pleasure Garden” from Something Remains – since we were very near to its location amid the cranes and building sites of Nine Elms – and closed the readings with an extract from “The Matter of Meroz”, which first appeared in Jews vs Aliens. The passage involved the enjoyment of certain Jewish delicacies as a sensory means of creating wormholes – or as known respectively in the Talmud and the Book of Deborah – the ‘leaping of the roads’ and the ‘crumpling of the sky’.

RugelachRugelach plays a key role in this process. They’re small pastries made from a dough with cream cheese or sour cream, plus whatever you fancy putting in them. We distributed some cinnamon-spiced samples after the reading. And you know what? Maybe the road did leap just a little, or else it could’ve been the free beer having its effect!

After the launch about 25 of us went to Mamuska, a Polish canteen style eaterie at Elephant & Castle. All in all, it was a lovely way to mark the passage of R&R into the world.

You can buy Resonance & Revolt in paperback and hardback formats from most online booksellers – Amazon, Foyles and others – and from Eibonvale Press. Meanwhile, an ebook edition is also in the works.

I’ll finally add that if you have a blog or publication and want to review R&R, get in touch with Eibonvale.

 

 

Dorian’s doing well!

grande_scarlet1Here’s a very nice review of The Scarlet Soul in Lovecraft Ezine, which praises the quality of all ten stories and the physical production of the book. Acep Hale also describes my contribution to this anthology:

“Rosanne Rabinowitz’s “All That Is Solid” is another story from The Scarlet Soul that has stuck with me. It is the story of two friends, Gosia and Ilona, living in London after the passage of Brexit. As both of them have Polish backgrounds uncertainties start to creep into Gosia’s psyche as more and more overt examples of British nationalism start happening around her. Ilona passes on the number of a counselor who suggests that since Gosia is a freelance designer art therapy may help? I feel that Rabinowitz displays an acute sensibility with “All That Is Solid” that is as respectful as it is chilling.”

Last thing I heard, Dublin-based Swan River Press said that they were down to their last five copies of The Scarlet Soul. So to quote Janis Joplin, get it while you can!

Swan River does put out some very fine books, concentrating on strange and supernatural fiction with an Irish connection. I look forward to meeting editor Brian J Showers and others in person this summer at the Dublin Ghost Story Festival. And if any readers of this blog happen to be attending, I look forward to meeting you.

Meanwhile, I’ve set up a new page for R&R. It includes a table of contents that links most of the stories with a related post or review giving background or thoughts about the story. I’ve also linked to the blogs of Lynda E. Rucker and Mat Joiner, friends and fellow writers who’ve contributed to this book.

The paperback edition of Resonance & Revolt will be released on the very appropriate date of 1 May. You can pre-order it from Eibonvale or from Amazon. Keep an eye out for news about a launch event and an ebook edition.

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Off to the printers…

Final tweaks and twiddles done. The book has been sent!

Back in my ‘zine mongering days, ‘going to the printers’ meant stumbling onto a train after pulling an all-nighter, lugging the artwork in some unwieldy and tattered portfolio. I was always terrified that something could happen along the way that would scupper publication. A train wreck, perhaps. Or I’d be mugged for the very coveted contents of my portfolio.

Now it’s so much easier. Just a click of the button, according to Eibonvale editor David Rix.

And glasses are now raised in Kennington and Hackney…

Cheers!

Resonance & Revolt on its way…

unnamedThe final touches to my collection Resonance & Revolt are in progress and it should be ready to go to the printer very soon. Ebook editions will also be produced. There may be a further tweak or two on the cover but the picture above should give you a good idea of what it will look like. Meanwhile, the book is available for preorder at Eibonvale Press.

Eibonvale describes the book as an “intense and erudite collection of slipstream stories steeped in European history and the world of modern Britain”. This extract from the introduction provided by Lynda E Rucker – friend, fellow writer and cohort in several anthologies – expands on this:

At the heart of Resonance & Revolt is a radical reimagining of what the world could be, both politically and metaphysically. Revolutionaries spill out of its pages, whether they hail from 15th-century Central Europe, the present-day era of austerity in the UK or one of its likely near-futures…
Reading Rosanne’s stories feels like standing in the ruins of a thousand-year-old fortress where you can almost hear the past breathing around you, or in some other liminal place: a magical wood, perhaps, but sometimes the most ordinary of city streets, where you might slip into somewhere else before you realise what’s happened.
You will find all of those places in here, ruins and enchanted woods and city streets that unexpectedly contain magic, and more besides. This sense, of the permeable nature of time and place, is one of the things I love best in these stories, but there are others as well: the striking characters, artists and misfits and activists, many of them existing on the fringes but all of them tough survivors still engaged with the world around them.
The stories here make you want to look at the world more intently, for it is heaving with possibility if only we know how to look. This is an idea that comes up again and again, the sense that we need to pay attention. That there really is a deep mystery at the heart of it all, and it’s worth seeking it out.

When I’m so close to my own work, rubbing my nose in it on a daily basis, it’s easy to lose sight of its essence. It often takes another eye to put it all in perspective, and I thank Lynda for her inspiring comments. I hope those of you reading this will join me in seeking out the deep mystery and discovering that vision of the world as it could be.

Over at Aqueduct – the pleasures of reading, watching and listening

MV5BMTUzNjQ2MTY5NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTAzNTQxNDM@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_Here’s a happy New Year and a heads-up for my contribution to the Aqueduct Press blog about favourites of the year. This is an annual Aqueduct tradition, so I’m pleased to be on board with a publisher that encourages an online community among its far-flung writers.

51r1Mdpv4FL._SX318_BO1,204,203,200_The invitation to contribute took me by (pleasant) surprise, so my spiel is  weighted towards my most recent outings – these include Netflix’s ten-episode Teutonic time travelling epic Dark, books by Zadie Smith, Nina Allan and Colson Whitehead, and a film about the Slits.

61SY37C4a0L._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_Naturally, as soon as I posted my copy I started to remember great stuff from earlier in the year. A couple of weeks ago a friend on Facebook had just got around to seeing Trainspotting 2 and that reminded me how much I enjoyed that film  – among other things, I loved the way that Irvine Welsh’s viewpoint character turned out to be Spud rather than Renton. So that was one highlight that I left out.

Another remarkable book I read over the year was Exit West by Mohsin Hamid. It fact it inspired one of the the panel discussions I participated in at the Helsinki World Con last summer –  Fantasies of Free MovementMV5BMGU4YzdhY2UtMDMxMS00YjNhLTlhYzItZGU5NWY2MzhiNzJjXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNDAwMTQ1Ng@@._V1_UY268_CR9,0,182,268_AL_, where we talked about borders and the dissolution of borders in fantastic fiction.

Many writers also have a sum-up of their own work over the year. So here it goes for me… I’ve had two stories published – “In Scarlet Town” in Murder Ballads and “All That is Solid” in The Scarlet Soul: Stories for Dorian Gray. The good folks at Aqueduct Press released a US edition of Helen’s Story in the summer and I’ve been putting together my first collection Resonance & Revolt.  This will be released downloadat the beginning of 2018 and it’s available for pre-order from Eibonvale Press.

As for resolutions… In the coming year I hope to get back to my novel Heretics. “Bells of Harelle”, which originally appeared in Tales from the Vatican Vaults, was a kind of prequel to Heretics. This story will also be reprinted in Resonance & Revolt. 

32622470And to get back to the past year’s pleasurable reading, listening and viewing – I didn’t even begin to explore the listening part. At a recent gig I saw a band called Gutfull, which I’ll  definitely want to see again. Kind of riot grrrlish – the singer even looked a little like Bikini Kill’s Kathleen Hanna – but they have their own style and they’re totally of this century. I’ve posted a catchy little number called “Arsehole” below.

I also listened to some older music that I missed the first time around, so I’ll post a song from the Screaming Blue Messiahs (1990s vintage) that I discovered at the beginning of 2017. Dedicate it to Donald Trump and wall-of-shame builders around the world.