Posts Tagged: M John Harrison


My evenings are short now that I am working elsewhere. The chores and tasks of existing do not vanish because you arrive home an hour and a half later in the evening, etc. There is the precious reading time to consider though. The first month of my commute has taken me through Kim Stanley Robinson’s 2312, a Martin Beck novel, and I’m currently nearing the final quarter of The Breaks of the Game. Anyway, this post is a placeholder for something I want to write about later and do not want to forget about.

Jonathan McCalmont, of Ruthless Culture and Interzone, has been reviewing the films of Andrei Tarkovsky as part of the current reissuing of his films, so that mortals can actually see them. I managed to see three of them at the cinema: Stalker, The Sacrafice, and Solaris. It is Stalker which I wish to write about, since Jonathan has added a fine piece of the genre of criticism about and around the film Stalker in the form of his review for FilmJuice. It’s a good piece with plenty to think about. It’s shorter than Geoff Dyer’s Zona too. His post around it can be found here.

The placeholder of an idea is a question. Why do certain films (Stalker being a prime example) invite rewatching, reinterpreting, and replaying to a degree of intensity more fervent than written fiction, especially the shorter forms?

I have unverifiable theories. And I will probably end up citing my own reading and rereading of the stories found near the back of M. John Harrison’s Things that Never Happen.

Time to clean up cat litter and apply flea treatment to the mangy moggies.

The Refreshment of Leonardo Sciascia & M. John Harrison

On a Friday afternoon some weeks ago the Guardian published an interview with the Italian writer Andrea Camilleri, an author best known in the UK for the series of detective novels about Salvo Montalbano. In this interview Andrea Camilleri discusses his friendship with fellow Sicilian writer Leonardo Sciascia and how his prose recharges him within a couple of pages. “I call him the electrician Sciascia. What I mean is that, when I feel like my batteries are low, I take up a book by Leonardo, I open it, I read two pages and my batteries are recharged,” says Andrea Camilleri.

The following Saturday I escaped Leicester for a day of rooting around Nottingham with Jenny. There was a trip to a fine vegetarian & vegan cafe, where me and Jenny enjoyed smoked tofu sandwiches, and, later that afternoon, Jenny delighted in vegan cake & ice cream. On the final trip into Waterstones I remembered about Leonardo Sciascia and bought two collections of his novellas. So far the only novella I’ve found time to read is his last published work of fiction, A Simple Story. The translation of Sciascia’s prose is deceptively transparent leaving the complexity to the political and moral interpretation of the stories plot

Last Saturday in the same feature series the Guardian published an interview with M. John Harrison. A writer whose work I admire for the same reason Andrea Camilleri describes his admiration of Sciascia. It is an excellent profile and one that gently complements the two video interviews with M. John Harrison produced recently by Arc.

The interview with Harrison appeared in The Guardian due to the publication of the long awaited novel Empty Space. My copy arrived last Thursday and I have been reading it slowly. In part this is due to a poverty of time, but also so I can prolong my enjoyment the novel. So while I do not wish to comment on the quality of the book yet, having not finished the book, I’m willing to say that it is a recharging experience that’s putting time spent reading Katherine Mansfield & Paul Bowles short stories to a less mercenary use.

It’s also a novel bringing Narborough Road — the road infamous for drink, violence & sex that all cities have — to Space Opera, and that’s something I get behind because I’m not a fucking puritan who hates the excesses of life.

“I call him the electrician Sciascia. What I mean is that, when I feel like my batteries are low, I take up a book by Leonardo, I open it, I read two pages and my batteries are recharged.”

— Andrea Camilleri.