The SFFaudio Podcast #404 – READALONG: The Call Of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft

January 16, 2017 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast
H.P. Lovecraft's The Call Of Cthulhu
The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #404 – Jesse, Paul, Marissa, Mr Jim Moon, Bryan Alexander and Wayne June, talk about The Call Of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft

Talked about on today’s show:
Weird Tales, February 1928, the best or the most famous of H.P. Lovecraft’s stories, Michel Houellebecq, it has everything in spades, dreams, madness, you must have insanity, a lot of action but all is indirect, adaptations, the Call Of Cthulhu game, a large shelf of Call Of Cthulhu game books, library skills is a high value skill, a story about research, Spotlight (2015), an anthology of stories, nested stories, the nautical adventure, the great uncles’ investigations, the 1908 Cthulhu cult in Louisiana, the origin of murder maps, Borgesian, Indiana Jones, the silent film, weirdly deferred, a Lovecraftian call to action: please don’t repeat this story, The Mountains Of Madness, the Algernon Blackwood opening quote, the late Francis Waylon Thurston,

“Of such great powers or beings there may be conceivably a survival… a survival of a hugely remote period when… consciousness was manifested, perhaps, in shapes in forms long since withdrawn before the tide of advancing humanity… forms of which poetry and legend alone have caught a flying memory and called them gods, monsters, mythical beings of all sorts and kinds…”

dinosaurs, dinosaur men, or Silurians, Jordan B. Peterson, caught in the middle of a whole deal, getting a sense of the deeper meaning of the Garden Of Eden story, man made conscious by woman, very Lovecraftian, really really old texts, looking at texts in the wrong way, they are so wise, in creating a new pantheon, why it is so powerful, was it a deliberate choice or an accretion around a grain of sound, plush animals, Dagon: The War Of The Worlds, this is Dagon revisited, great artists, an atheist version of religion, from a hugely remote period, consciousness manifested in shapes and forms long since withdrawn, creating our gods and monsters, explaining away the existence of religion, myths that developed based on something long before humanity (that isn’t your great Buddy in the sky), very frightening, knitting together all of human folklore, Robert Graves, Spengler, Toynbee, Joseph Campbell, a universal monomyth, The Centaur by Algernon Blackwood, a Gaia myth, in Esquimaux legend, the South Pacific, dreams changing people, the scary potential of such a myth, infecting the world, Toulon Orbus Teratis by Jorge Luis Borges, staving off the unstoppable, Cthulhu’s edges have been sanded off, in facing our fears we become less afraid (or go mad), degenerate or go mad, degeneration aint so bad, Castro’s story, the benefits under Cthulhu, enjoyments of savage chaos, a wonderful time of depravity, a Robert E. Howard moment, go insane, die, or run away, one Norwegian sailor, The Call Of Cthulhu (2005), lip reading, German expressionism, the best silent film Jesse’s seen, being faithful to Lovecraft’s work, the microscopic budget, the isle of Paradise, Tibet and China, Castro is The Shadow (or Batman), Iram of the Pillars, The Nameless City, The Fire Of Ashurbanipal by Robert E. Howard, Scott was playing a Cthulhu rpg with his family at Christmas, the books infecting the world, The Communist Manifesto, Charles Darwin, Isaac Newton, Principia Mathematica, for most people reality is social reality, becoming an investigator, the meta context, the model for the game is the story, Norway, the template for how to run a scenario, go gibbering, the sanity stat, Darkest Dungeon, the more intelligent you are the more at risk you are of losing your sanity, these are not eucldian angles, “taking sanity point”, table 4b Insanity Table, Wayne June’s narration of Darkest Dungeon, written in Lovecraft’s style, as hard as hell, it’s all about the sanity, buy lots of torches, scotophobia (fear of darkness), barophobia (the fear of loss of gravity), falling into the sky, temporary insanity, Wayne June vs. Jim Moon, the assonance is strong, the stars are aligning, the floor is lava, you can only walk on the couch or a pillow (or a sibling), there’s something about the play of children that continues into RPG, LARPing vs. RPGing, the first narrator is very skeptical, drawing you in bit by bit, falling into madness slowly, so wide in scope, The Tomb or Dagon, how to think about it, Wayne June reads the opening of The Call Of Cthulhu:

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.

brutal cynicism, totally resonates with Wayne (double meaning), so negative and so accepting of the negativity, not having cognitive dissonance is merciful, the train of Cthulhu coming down the tracks at you, DEATH, Jordan Peterson again, consciousness and the fear of death, it’s on all our minds, don’t think about it, I’m getting grey hair… how did that happen?, that dark inevitable gun-barrel, looking great!, still vertical, The Cask Of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe, hard science fiction, a terrible way to hook a reader, damn this sounds good!, all of 18th century poetry, Alexander Pope,

Is not to act or think beyond mankind;
No pow’rs of body or of soul to share,
But what his nature and his state can bear.
Why has not man a microscopic eye?
For this plain reason, man is not a fly.
Say what the use, were finer optics giv’n,
T’ inspect a mite, not comprehend the heav’n?
Or touch, if tremblingly alive all o’er,
To smart and agonize at ev’ry pore?
Or quick effluvia darting through the brain,
Die of a rose in aromatic pain?

“Dear reader, you’re a moron be happy”, Thomas Ligotti, The Conspiracy Against The Human Race, Bryan is a serious Ligotti cultist, consciousnesses as a curse, there are no other animals in the kingdom that can contemplate their deaths, teaching Koko to sign is the most unmerciful thing in the world, the curse is passed on, the curse of sentience, Galatea 2.2 by Richard Powers, weeping openly, back to the first paragraph, happiness vs. chaos and darkness (making you feel more alive and happy), he who increases his understanding increases his sum of suffering (Ecclesiastes 1:18), the second sentence,

We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far.

Einstein was right, isn’t that what this is saying?, to try would be a bad thing, what the Alien movies tell us, Charles Stross’ Laundry Files novels, Case Nightmare Green, the SETI worry, The Three-Body Problem, so dark, a dark vision (that sounds great), a rich book, beating the 18th century drum, recalling Voltaire and Samuel Johnson, stay home and cultivate your garden, the third sentence, how I see myself in relationship with science, science is AWESOME!, a negative spin on it,

The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.

hey, guess what?!, we’re all going to die as a species, stick your head in the sand, burn baby burn, drill baby drill, brilliant and calm, I don’t know what it means, the Theosophists, Madame Blavatsky, a hoax religion, your child is going to be the next world messiah, that’s kind of bananas, hugely influential, The Golden Dawn of Aleister Crowley, very Hard SF, the different branches of science, one giant puddle of natural philosophy, the sciences and the humanities, back into fantasy, “But it is not from them that there came the single glimpse of forbidden aeons which chills me when I think of it and maddens me when I dream of it.” please expound upon this Mr Jim Moon dead and dreaming, a little wink, double meaning in the Necronomicon,

It was not allied to the European witch-cult, and was virtually unknown beyond its members. No book had ever really hinted of it, though the deathless Chinamen said that there were double meanings in the Necronomicon of the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred which the initiated might read as they chose, especially the much-discussed couplet:That is not dead which can eternal lie, And with strange aeons even death may die.

the much discussed couplet, the most famous quote of Lovecraft ever, how the Necronomicon is treated in this story, the Observers Book of Eldritch Beings, medieval grimoires, stenography and ciphers, Doctor John Dee, signed 007, alchemical texts, allegorical, The Tibetan Book Of The Dead, where we get Cthulhu wrong, a marine King Kong vs. the high priest of the Old Ones, they died after their fashion, other dimensions, untold countless dimensions, Dreams In The Witch House, The Whisperer In Darkness, physically dead currently, our physical universe isn’t the only game in town, dead doesn’t apply to these fellows, these are creatures of the cosmos and are eternal, tweeting the dreams, Recapture by H.P. Lovecraft (is a dream recaptured in a sonnet), the translation of dream into text IS Lovecraft’s genre, using the mind to rationalize the irrationable, great artists and poets are best attuned to the transmissions of Cthulhu, evil muses inspired by the reality of science, we are biological creature with no souls fucking and eating and who are gonna die, dreams show up in newspapers in Lovecraft’s world, violence suicide madness, earthquakes, the earth itself is dreaming, the cosmic infinity of the quantum world, a keen astronomer, what if that continuum is inhabited, it’s a good as god, Clarke’s Law, might as well be a god, Castro’s unreliable narration, modern horror fiction, evil mustache twirlers, “It’s all about FREEDOM, guys!”,

Then, whispered Castro, those first men formed the cult around small idols which the Great Ones showed them; idols brought in dim eras from dark stars. That cult would never die till the stars came right again, and the secret priests would take great Cthulhu from His tomb to revive His subjects and resume His rule of earth. The time would be easy to know, for then mankind would have become as the Great Old Ones; free and wild and beyond good and evil, with laws and morals thrown aside and all men shouting and killing and revelling in joy. Then the liberated Old Ones would teach them new ways to shout and kill and revel and enjoy themselves, and all the earth would flame with a holocaust of ecstasy and freedom. Meanwhile the cult, by appropriate rites, must keep alive the memory of those ancient ways and shadow forth the prophecy of their return.

the most METAL thing Bryan’s ever read, Nietzsche’s Beyond Good And Evil, you can become like gods!, more stories from the point of view of cultists, the Oathbreaker will reward you because…, entombed but still thinking and dreaming, a generation of stories about hidden kingdoms, The First Men In the Moon, The Coming Race by Edward Bulwer-Lytton here hold my staff, puns, Greenland, New Zealand, talking to back-woods people, we don’t hold with cops normally, an accurate picture of Louisiana, jury tampering, ethics in government, Henry Kissinger speaking to the Nobel Peace Prize trust, irony is dead, a non-idealist non-fantasy approach, cultists making gods of the old ones, they couldn’t give a damn about humanity, a materialist slant snuck in the back door, a murder mystery, jostled by a “nautical negro”, we do really see Cthulhu coming out of this door, Paul and Marissa,

Johansen, thank God, did not know quite all, even though he saw the city and the Thing, but I shall never sleep calmly again when I think of the horrors that lurk ceaselessly behind life in time and in space, and of those unhallowed blasphemies from elder stars which dream beneath the sea, known and favoured by a nightmare cult ready and eager to loose them upon the world whenever another earthquake shall heave their monstrous stone city again to the sun and air.

the Thing, I have a thing for Things,

weedy Cyclopean masonry which can be nothing less than the tangible substance of earth’s supreme terror—the nightmare corpse-city of R’lyeh, that was built in measureless aeons behind history by the vast, loathsome shapes

Philip K. Dick’s “tomb world” becoming Lovecraft, Galactic Pot-Healer, a sunken cathedral, a god without form or shape which can transmit its communications through books, radio and toilet bowls, seeing his own corpse, Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, these to guys are receiving the same transmissions, they were on the same wavelength, the transmissions about reality, guys who get science and then go dark, a dark interest in reality, what is lying underneath, Glimmung is not Cthulhu and yet he is, almost as a cult, the cult of the Glimmung, Glimmung is fighting his negative self as well, I have a little box I put myself in so the fish don’t eat me, in struggle of raising this sunken cathedral their is some sort of remuneration or solace, existential dread is lessened in some way, how this connects to plush Cthulhu, you need something to snuggle up with, more senile and benign, experincing this kind of dread in the safety of your own home, you can have a cup of coffee, The Ghost-Table by Elliott O’Donnell, reading Weird Tales on the bus on the way home from work, flapper hats, Margaret Brundage reading a copy of Weird Tales, Arkham House and the Pentagon, WWII, Armed Forces Edition of Lovecraft, dread and horror and attractive, Germany’s equivalent of Weird Tales, Der Orchidgarten (1919), reflecting on death, a comforting skull on your shelf, memento mori, Wayne brings a whole new level of dread, overdose on Cthulhu (it’s homeopathic), cyclopean blocks, the Dark Adventure Radio Theater adaptation, an ongoing adaptation, the stop motion animation Cthulhu, the Nosferatu like look, playing up the heroism, gibbering on the floor, The Man Who Laughs (1928), a perpetual grin, Conrad Veidt, Bob Kane, Gothic horror, Wednesday Adams, Cthulhu is unmentionable, like Voldemort, names have power, naming the animals, Adam and Eve are good Lovecraft characters, Joe Rogan’s podcast, League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen of today, Elon Musk, Alan Moore, Joe Rogan, Dan Carlin, Sam Harris, Jordan Peterson, normally he’s a talker, what am I hearing, mind-blowing perspectives, Peterson is nailing things in ways we haven’t been able to figure out myself before, amazing work, he’s kind of conservative, the left-right thing is a mistake, in the very first thing Adam does after gaining consciousness is hide in a bush, hiding from the all seeing eye, Samuel Delany, a feminist lesbian separatist mercenary company, man is a truncated woman, the final paragraph, things are going to get worse,

his ministers on earth still bellow and prance and slay around idol-capped monoliths in lonely places. He must have been trapped by the sinking whilst within his black abyss, or else the world would by now be screaming with fright and frenzy. Who knows the end? What has risen may sink, and what has sunk may rise. Loathsomeness waits and dreams in the deep, and decay spreads over the tottering cities of men. A time will come—but I must not and cannot think! Let me pray that, if I do not survive this manuscript, my executors may put caution before audacity and see that it meets no other eye.

what is he talking about?, modernity?, immigration?, the Philip K. Dick return to chaos, life is the only antidote to entropy and yet life must die,

Slowly, amidst the distorted horrors of that indescribable scene, she began to churn the lethal waters; whilst on the masonry of that charnel shore that was not of earth the titan Thing from the stars slavered and gibbered like Polypheme cursing the fleeing ship of Odysseus. Then, bolder than the storied Cyclops, great Cthulhu slid greasily into the water and began to pursue with vast wave-raising strokes of cosmic potency. Briden looked back and went mad, laughing shrilly as he kept on laughing at intervals till death found him one night in the cabin whilst Johansen was wandering deliriously.

a cosmicly potent swimmer, Greek myth, Odysseus wins, Johansen goes back to his wife, I am nobody, it was I Odysseus sacker of cities, I’m gonna tell my dad!, slid greasily, another connection to the sirens,

I cannot attempt to transcribe it verbatim in all its cloudiness and redundance, but I will tell its gist enough to show why the sound of the water against the vessel’s sides became so unendurable to me that I stopped my ears with cotton.

an anti-progress narrative, its better not to know, right back to Wayne’s pessimism, no street view for the R’Lyeh, carpool to R’Lyeh

Armed Services Edition - H.P. LOVECRAFT
Cthulhu illustration from Deities and Demigods
The Call Of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft - illustrated by Jesse
The Maltese Falcon meets The Call Of Cthulhu - illustration by DOUGLAS KLAUBA
Cthulhu - illustration by Antonio De Luca

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Arguably: Essays by Christopher Hitchens

September 23, 2012 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Reviews, SFFaudio essential 

SFFaudio Review

Hachette Audio - Arguably: Essays by Christopher HitchensArguably: Essays
By Christopher Hitchens; Read by Simon Prebble
24 CDs – Approx. 28.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Published: September 1, 2011
ISBN: 9781611139068
Themes: / Non-fiction / History / War / Biography / Science Fiction / Fantasy / Iran / Afghanistan / Germany / North Korea / France / Dystopia / Utopia / Religion / Tunisia / Piracy / Terrorism / Feminism / Pakistan /

The first new collection of essays by Christopher Hitchens since 2004, Arguably offers an indispensable key to understanding the passionate and skeptical spirit of one of our most dazzling writers, widely admired for the clarity of his style, a result of his disciplined and candid thinking. Topics range from ruminations on why Charles Dickens was among the best of writers and the worst of men to the haunting science fiction of J.G. Ballard; from the enduring legacies of Thomas Jefferson and George Orwell to the persistent agonies of anti-Semitism and jihad. Hitchens even looks at the recent financial crisis and argues for arthe enduring relevance of Karl Marx. The audio book forms a bridge between the two parallel enterprises of culture and politics. It reveals how politics justifies itself by culture, and how the latter prompts the former. In this fashion, Arguably burnishes Christopher Hitchens’ credentials as-to quote Christopher Buckley-our “greatest living essayist in the English language.”

Here’s a question I was thinking about while listening to Arguably.

What is fiction for?

One answer, the bad one, is that it’s for entertainment. That’s certainly where many readers are willing go, and the fiction writers who write it too. Maybe that’s precisely why so much fiction is just so very shitty.

To me, if you aren’t exploring ideas in your fiction, then you really aren’t serving a greater purpose. Idea fiction, fiction with ideas rather than just action and plot, is to my mind a kind of supplement to the wisdom found in writings on history, biography and science.

Of the many lessons learned I in listening to the 107 essays in Arguably I was particularly struck by the wisdom Christopher Hitchens gleaned from his reading of fiction. Hitchens reviews many books in this collection, nearly half of the essays are book reviews. Books like 1984, Animal Farm, Flashman, The Complete Stories Of J.G. Ballard, Our Man In Havana, and even, surprisingly, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows all get fascinating, critical, and reverent reviews.

Yet Hitchens also takes the lessons with him into his writing about his travels. Hitchens writes about visits to such places as North Korea, Cyprus, Afghanistan, and Kurdish Iraq. When talking about his visit to Beirut we see what comes when Hitchens, a man of ideas, acts upon them. The essay, The Swastika and the Cedar sees the convictions of the commited anti-fascist Hitchens beaten and nearly kidnapped for an act of vandalism on a prominently displayed swastika. Writes Hitchens:

“Well, call me old-fashioned if you will, but I have always taken the view that swastika symbols exist for one purpose only—to be defaced.”

In a review of two books, Lolita and The Annotated Lolita, Hitchens applies the controversial subject in a real life look at the modern, and very non-fictional oppression and objectification of women. Indeed, the ideas he appreciated in fiction helped Hitchens to come to grips with the real world.

I think the worst essay in this collection is the one on the serving of wine and restaurants, Wine Drinkers Of The World, Unite. It was simply a waste of the talent, too light, too easy a target. And yet, even that essay, the worst essay in all 107 has a memorable anecdote: “Why,” asks Hitchens’ five year old son, “are they called waiters? It’s we who are doing all the waiting.”

As to the narration of the audiobook. I’m ashamed to admit that I was initially dismayed when I saw that Christopher Hitchens had not narrated this audiobook himself. I was wrong to worry. Incredibly, Simon Prebble seems to have have become Hitchens for this narration. Prebble perfectly captures the erudite words, so eloquently performs them, and with an accent so like that of Hitchens’ own so as to make me think that it was Hitchens who had actually read it.

I think the worst essay in this collection is the one on the serving of wine and restaurants, Wine Drinkers Of The World, Unite. It was simply a waste of the talent, too light, too easy a target. And yet, even that essay, the worst essay in all 107 has a memorable anecdote: “Why,” asks Hitchens’ five year old son, “are they called waiters? It’s we who are doing all the waiting.”

Here’s a list of the book’s contents, with links to the original etexts when available, along with my own notes on each:

ALL AMERICAN
Gods Of Our Fathers: The United States Of Enlightenment – a review of Moral Minority: Our Skeptical Founding Fathers by Brooke Allen

The Private Jefferson – a review of Jefferson’s Secrets: Death And Desire At Monticello by Andrew Burstein

Jefferson Vs. The Muslim Pirates – a review of Power, Faith, And Fantasy: America In The Middle East: 1776 To The Present by Michael B. Oren

Benjamin Franklin: Free And Easy – a review of Benjamin Franklin Unmasked: On the Unity of His Moral, Religious, And Political Thought by Jerry Weinberger

John Brown: The Man Who Ended Slavery – a review of John Brown, Abolitionist: The Man Who Killed Slavery, Sparked The Civil War, And Seeded Civil Rights by David S. Reynolds

Abraham Lincoln: Misery’s Child (aka Lincoln’s Emancipation) – a review of Abraham Lincoln: A Life by Michael Burlingame

Mark Twain: American Radical – a scathing review of The Singular Mark Twain: A Biography by Fred Kaplan

Upton Sinclair: A Capitalist Primer – a review of The Jungle by Upton Sinclair

JFK: In Sickness And By Stealth – a review of An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917–1963 by Robert Dallek

Saul Bellow: The Great Assimilator – review of six novels by Saul Bellow (The Dangling Man, The Victim, The Adventures Of Augie March, Seize The Day, Henderson The Rain King, and Herzog)

Vladimir Nabokov: Hurricane Lolita – reviews of Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov and The Annotated Lolita edited and annotated by Alfred Appel, Jr.

John Updike: No Way – a review of The Terrorist by John Updike (with reference to The Coup too)

John Updike: Mr. Geniality
– a critical review of the affable Due Considerations: Essays And Considerations by John Updike

Vidal Loco – Gore Vidal went crazier, more elitist and perhaps more racist as he got older (with attention and quips for Quentin Crisp and Oscar Wilde and Joyce Carol Oates)

America The Banana Republic – Hitchens on the “socialistic” bank bailout of 2008 (“socialism for the rich and free enterprise for the rest”)

An Anglosphere Future – a review of The History Of The English Speaking Peoples by Andrew Roberts (with reference to both Sherlock Holmes and The White Company by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as well as to Cecil Rhodes and Rudyard Kipling)

Political Animals – a review of Dominion: The Power Of Man, The Suffering Of Animals, And The Call To Mercy by Matthew Scully

Old Enough To Die – on capital punishment as applied to children

In Defense Of Foxhole Atheists
– a visit to the United States Air Force Academy and the tax funded proselytizing

In Search Of The Washington Novel – a search for some good fiction about Washington, D.C.

ECLECTIC AFFINITIES
Isaac Newton: Flaws Of Gravity – a stroll through the medieval streets of Cambridge with the scientists, mathematicians, and philosophers who worked there

The Men Who Made England: Hilary Mantel’s “Wolf Hall” – a review of Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

Edmund Burke: Reactionary Prophet – a review of Reflections On The Revolution In France by Edmund Burke

Samuel Johnson: Demons And Dictionaries
– a review of Samuel Johnson: A Biography by Peter Martin

Gustave Flaubert: I’m With Stupide – a review of Bouvard et Pécuchet by Gustave Flaubert translated by Mark Polizzotti

The Dark Side Of Dickens
– a review of Charles Dickens by Michael Slater a biography (Hitchens was a not uncritical admirer of the subject)

Marx’s Journalism: The Grub Street Years – a glowing review of Dispatches for the New York Tribune: Selected Journalism Of Karl Marx edited by James Ledbetter, foreword by Francis Wheen (Marx admired the United States, and other fascinating facts about the father of communism)

Rebecca West: Things Worth Fighting For – an introduction to Black Lamb and Grey Falcon: A Journey Through Yugoslavia by Rebecca West

Ezra Pound: A Revolutionary Simpleton – a review of Ezra Pound, Poet: A Portrait Of The Man And His Work: Volume I: The Young Genius, 1885-1920 by A. David Moody (a biography of the fascist poet)

On “Animal Farm” – an introduction to Animal Farm

Jessica Mitford’s Poison Pen – a review of Decca: The Letters Of Jessica Mitford edited by Peter Y. Sussman

W. Somerset Maugham: Poor Old Willie – a review of W. Somerset Maugham: A Life by Jeffery Meyers

Evelyn Waugh: The Permanent Adolescent – a look at the enigmatic life, writing, religion, and sexuality of Evelyn Waugh

P.G. Wodehouse: The Honorable Schoolboy – a review of Wodehouse: A Life by Robert McCrum

Anthony Powell: An Omnivorous Curiosity – a review of To Keep The Ball Rolling: The Memoirs Of Anthony Powell

John Buchan: Spy Thriller’s Father – a review of John Buchan The Presbyterian Cavalier by David R. Godine (with discussion of The 39 Steps and a fantasy novelette The Grove Of Ashtaroth)

Graham Greene: I’ll Be Damned – a review of The Life Of Graham Green: Volume II: 1939-1955 by Norman Sherry

Death From A Salesman: Graham Greene’s Bottle Ontology – an introduction to Our Man In Havana by Graham Greene

Loving Philip Larkin (aka Philip Larkin, the Impossible Man) – a review of Philip Larkin: Letters To Monica edited by Anthony Thwaite

Stephen Spender: A Nice Bloody Fool – a review of Stephen Spender: The Authorized Biography by John Sutherland

Edward Upward: The Captive Mind – a look at the British novelist and short story Edward Upward

C.L.R. James: Mid Off, Not Right On – a review of Cricket, The Caribbean, And World Revolution by Farrukh Dhondy

J.G. Ballard: The Catastrophist – a review of The Complete Stories Of J.G. Ballard

Fraser’s Flashman: Scoundrel Time – a look at the George MacDonald Fraser series of Flashman books and the connection with The Adventure Of The Empty House

Fleet Street’s Finest: From Waugh To Frayn – an essay on the dubious romance of journalism

Saki: Where The Wild Things Are – a review of The Unbearable Saki: The Work of H.H. Munro by Sandie Byrne

Harry Potter: The Boy Who Lived – a review of Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

AMUSEMENTS, ANNOYANCES, AND DISAPPOINTMENTS
Why Women Aren’t Funny – a controversial essay on why more comedians are male and why women laugh at them the way they do

Stieg Larsson: The Author Who Played With Fire – a look at the phenomenon of the bestselling author of The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo

As American As Apple Pie – a literary and chronological history of the blowjob, with reference to Valdamir Nobokov’s Lolita

So Many Men’s Rooms, So Little Time – a fascinatingly insightful argument on what’s was going on with the Larry Craig bathroom airport scandal and related phenomena

The New Commandments – deconstructing the Ten Commandments

In Your Face – are bans on burqas and veils actually bans, or are they liberation?

Wine Drinkers Of The World, Unite – ill mannered waiters are ruining the business of wine drinking

Charles, Prince Of Piffle – a damning look at the prince who shouldn’t be king

OFFSHORE ACCOUNTS
Afghanistan’s Dangerous Bet – a visit to Afghanistan, it’s all about the women

First, Silence The Whistle-Blower – is there any hope for democracy in Afghanistan?

Believe Me, It’s Torture – a report on what it’s like to be water-boarded

Iran’s Waiting Game – a visit to Iran and a meeting with Hussein Khomeini the grandson of Ayatollah Khomeini

Long Live Democratic Seismology – on democracy, Chile, Iran, and earthquakes

Benazir Bhutto: Daughter Of Destiny – a personal remembrance of the brave liar, Benazir Bhutto

From Abbottabad To Worse – an explanation for the existence of Pakistan as the U.S.A.’s worst best friend

The Perils Of Partition – on what dividing a country does to it (it’s like a man with a broken leg – he can think of nothing else)

Algeria: A French Quarrel – a review of A Savage War of Peace: Algeria 1954-1962 by Alistair Horne

The Case Of Orientalism (aka East Is East) – a review of Dangerous Knowledge: Orientalism and Its Discontents by Robert Irwin

Edward Said: Where The Twain Should Have Met – a review of Orientalism by Edward Said

The Swastika And The Cedar – a visit to “the Arab street”

Holiday In Iraq – Hitchens on holiday in Kurdish Iraq: it’s lovely

Tunisia: At The desert’s Edge – a lavish and lengthy visit to Africa’s gentlest country

What Happened To The Suicide Bombers Of Jerusalem? – why is no one writing about the dog that didn’t bark?

Childhood’s End: An African Nightmare – on Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army

The Vietnam Syndrome – on the horrific effects of Agent Orange and the legacies of dioxin

Once Upon A Time In Germany – a review of the movie The Baader Meinhof Complex, it explores the origins of The Red Army Faction

Worse Than “Nineteen Eighty-Four” – North Korea is a slave state seemingly modeled on 1984

North Korea: A Nation of Racist Dwarfs – a visit to North Korea

The Eighteenth Brumaire Of The Castro Dynasty – a look at the Castro regime’s familial coup

Hugo Boss – a visit to Venezuela with Sean Penn and a meeting with Hugo Chávez – he’s nuts

Is The Euro Doomed? – what will be the fate of Europe’s common currency?

Overstating Jewish Power – In the Israeli American relationship who’s pulling who’s strings?

The Case For Humanitarian Intervention – a review of Freedom’s Battle: The Origins Of Humanitarian Intervention by Gary J. Bass

LEGACIES OF TOTALITARIANISM
Victor Serge: Pictures From An Inquisition – reviews of The Case Of Comrade Tulayev and Memoirs Of A Revolutionary by Victor Serge

André Malraux: One Man’s Fate – a review of Malraux: A Life by Olivier Todd, translated by Joseph West

Arthur Koestler: The Zealot – a review of Koestler: The Literary And Political Odyssey Of A Twentieth-Century Skeptic by Michael Scammell

Isabel Allende: Chile Redux – an introduction to The House Of The Spirits by Isabel Allende

The Persian Version – a review of Strange Times, My Dear: The PEN Anthology Of Contemporary Iranian Literature edited by Nahid Mozaffari

Martin Amis: Lightness At Midnight – a review of Koba The Dread: Laughter And The Twenty Million by Martin Amis

Imagining Hitler – the problem of evil, and Hitler, with reference to Explaining Hitler by Ron Rosenbaum and Hitler 1889-1936: Hubris by Ian Kershaw

Victor Klemperer: Survivor

A War Worth Fighting – a persuasively systematic review of Churchill, Hitler And The Unnecessary War: How Britain Lost Its Empire And The West Lost The World by Pat Buchanan

Just Give Peace A Chance? – a critical review of Human Smoke by Nicholson Baker

W.G. Sebald: Requiem For Germany – a review of On The Natural History Of Destruction by W.G. Sebald

WORDS’ WORTH
When The King Saved God – for the love of the King James version

Let Them Eat Pork Rinds – Berthold Brecht, Charles Dickens and various other sources inform Hitch’s view of the Hurricane Katrina relief disaster

Stand Up For Denmark! – a still timely plea for preferring free speech to religious tolerance

Eschew The Taboo – on the banning of words, particularly the word “nigger”

She’s No Fundamentalist – a spirited defense of Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Burned Out – the verb “fuel” is fueled by journalistic sloppiness

Easter Charade – on life and death and Terri Schiavo

Don’t Mince Words – the disenfranchisement of south Asians in Britain isn’t the cause of bombings, hatred of women is.

History And Mystery – al-Qaeda in Iraq, jihadists, or “insurgents”? Do words matter? Of course they bloody well do.

Words Matter – political slogans make of “every adult in the country” an “illiterate jerk who would rather feel than think”

This Was Not Looting – how can a government “loot” it’s own weapons manufacturing facility? The government of Iraq managed it according to The New York Times.

The “Other” L-Word – a lighthearted piece on the prominence of the word “like” and it’s use

The You Decade – what’s wrong with you (marketing to the selfish)

Suck It Up – the Virginia Tech shootings prompted the wrong response from the world (namely that it prompted one)

A Very, Very Dirty Word – the English empire, in centuries to come, may only be remembered for soccer and the phrase “fuck off”

Prisoner Of Shelves – on the indispensability of books

Posted by Jesse Willis