Sunday, December 20, 2015

Books of the Year - R J E Riley

R J E Riley, Wormwood 25 contributor and Cambridge academic, writes:

"This year I've found myself catching up on books I should have read a long time ago. An invitation to speak on Gothic literature allowed me to finally tick off Susan Hill's The Woman in Black (1983). I'd seen the film like everyone else, but found the novella to be extremely effective. Haunting in every sense of the word. Hill clearly knows her M.R. James and makes witty use of her framing devices. Plus, the book is a great addition to the field (no pun intended) of landscape-based horror.

Another long-intended was Greg Bear's Blood Music (1985), a startling piece of posthuman science fiction. Great ideas, brilliant execution. I very much enjoyed John Higgs's biography of Timothy Leary, I Have America Surrounded and I was also pleased to see Andrew Collins's "cult classic", The Black Alchemist back in print. Unrelated as regards subject matter, but connected in terms of paranoia, is Robert Guffey's Chameleo. A terrifying and vertiginous descent into the covert strategy of "gang-stalking", Guffey's study-cum-memoir rightly deserves the many plaudits its received thus far."


  1. These all sound right up my alley.

  2. If I may -- my book of the year is Eugene Vodolazkin's LAURUS (English translation 2015). Set in medieval Russia and Europe, it tells how the boy Arseny, learning from his herbalist grandfather and reading the marvels of the Alexander Romance, become, as an adult, an illicit father, a healer, a holy fool, a pilgrim. The author deliberately uses anachronisms and specific reference to future events to suggest something about the nature of time. A Magic Realism blog claims LAURUS for the genre, suggesting Vodolazkin may have outdone the more famous Latin American practitioners. It's an extraordinary book and I'm hoping it can cop an award or two -- Mythopoeic Society, World Fantasy....