Month: May 2009

A Breath of Fresh Air

The wonderful poet Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore has released his latest collection of poetry, Where Death Goes. Rather than go on and on about how much I enjoy my good friend’s work, I’ll just let his poetry speak for itself:

For more information on Moore, his poetry, and ordering Where Death Goes, visit danielmoorepoetry.com.

The Extraordinary Works of Alan Moore Indispensible Edition

mooreindispensable_lrgSpecial thanks to my good friend Tom Powers for this week’s post!

In the light of this spring’s “Watchmen-mania,” when chain bookstores marketed the perennial DC trade graphic novel Watchmen as top-selling, real “literature” and Hot Topic peddled stickers, tees, and posters that heralded the filmic adaptation’s March release, the name of writer Alan Moore was once more illuminated with the oft-used noun “brilliant.”  Moore, despite the mediocre box office performance of the visionary yet flawed film’s version of Watchmen, from which he long distanced himself, remains unscathed as one of those rare specimens in the entertainment industry – an author with high standards, both personally and professionally.

But who is this long-bearded man, who, by the way, truly epitomizes creative brilliance, in his own words?

For a satisfying answer to this question, one must seek out The Extraordinary Works of Alan Moore Indispensible Edition (TwoMorrows 2008), in which George Khoury conducts an extensive, career-spanning interview with Mr. Moore.

The book starts with Khoury asking Moore about his early childhood and educational experiences until the age of seventeen. One may wonder if these questions are significant in relation to Moore’s later life as a writer, but the reality is that these early chapters are perhaps the most fascinating in the book as Moore relays his opinion on the influence of class and social environment upon his development as a person.  The location for his struggle is Northampton, England, but the experiences that shape Moore will be easily recognizable for any reader who did not have the easiest time growing up.

Khoury then prompts Moore about his early career as an underground cartoonist and his later professional strips for Sounds magazine, offering a glimpse into Moore’s creative oeuvre that is rarely covered.  From this point, the two men discuss Moore writing stories for 2000 AD and simultaneously co-creating V for Vendetta with David Lloyd and radically revamping Marvelman for the ill-fated Warrior magazine.

The fertile period of Moore’ time as a DC writer on his psychedelically reimagined Swamp Thing, along with his several classic Superman tales and the groundbreaking Batman-Joker story The Killing Joke, is then given strong coverage.  Watchman fans will be especially pleased with Moore’s comments regarding the twelve-issue series and the idea of it being adapted as a film.  Moore also talks about his 90s experiences with independent publishers and self-publishing and his eventual return to mainstream comics in the 2000s as the mastermind of the ABC comics line.

In addition to the intelligent conversation that Khoury and Moore present, the book is filled with tributes to Moore from such creators as Neil Gaiman and Watchman artist Dave Gibbons. There are also several full comic strips and unpublished scripts, including the wonderful “Lust,” in which Moore writes about how a prostitute angel is affected by her mortal “customers.”  The strip likewise works as a guidepost to any budding writer, for comics or otherwise, in that it offers a glimpse into Moore’s famous storytelling process as an auteur of many intelligent words that build character and setting.

If one takes into further consideration Moore’s intriguing remarks on his other roles as a novelist, musician and magician in The Extraordinary Works of Alan Moore Indispensible Edition, then one has a book that delineates Moore as an inspirational renaissance person indeed!

Review by Tom Powers

Voice in the Horse

Voice in the Horse coverWhile wandering in the desert, Saw Kennedy, the protagonist of WM Dimes’ novel Voice in the Horse, stumbles upon a dimension-shifting house that rescues him from certain death yet exacts a price for this rescue: Saw’s freedom. Inside the house, Saw meets a host of bizarre characters, including Widget, Tim with a Bullet, and Poolhall Sammy, who describes himself as “more centaur than machine.” As the story unfolds and the house’s dimensions start to shift, Saw’s sense of reality rapidly deteriorates. Meanwhile, his paranoia increases–perhaps justifiably so. For the house, it turns out, is a living, thinking organism of sorts, possessed by a spirit that may be, in the protagonist’s addled estimation, “god, or the devil, or whoever spread their sweat upon human clay before there were stories to tell.”

Did I mention that it’s a bizarre and mind-bending piece of experimental fiction?

As maddening as Voice in the Horse may be for the casual reader, it’s not without precedents. Dimes’ writing immediately reminded me of Bob Dylan’s Tarantula, a book of poetry as warped with circular logic and wordplay as any of his songs from the Highway 61 Revisited or Blonde on Blonde era. Then there’s Nathanael West’s The Dream Life of Balso Snell, which presents the tale of a hapless young man’s journey through the entrails of the Trojan Horse. And The Third Policeman by Flann O’Brien. Not to mention the Doctor Who: Voyager comic strip series, which originally appeared in Doctor Who Magazine in 1984. What all of these pieces have in common with Voice in the Horse is that they play with the concept of reality. Moreover, they all, Voice in the Horse included, are densely layered both in terms of language and existential inquiry, and thus beg for multiple readings.

Given, however, that experimental literature is not everyone’s cup of tea, the good folks who publish Voice in the Hose are more than willing to let you sample the goods for free. CanaD.I.Y., an imprint (as their name suggests) from Canada, is, in their own words, “a small sort of thing with a focus on keeping costs low for you, a beautiful person, and engaging you beautiful persons in as many ways as possible.” To this end, they’ve made Dimes’ novel, like all of their titles, available for free as a PDF download. What this means in practical terms is that you have nothing to lose beyond a little bit of space on your hard drive. If you’re even a little bit curious about Voice in the Horse, you can click here, download the PDF, and give the novel a try. Not a bad deal at all.