Bury Me With‘s sixteenth entry features the choice of UK writer and editor James Cooper…
“If ever there was a more fitting book to be buried with than Clive Barker’s Books Of Blood, I can’t for the life of me imagine what it might be. I’m one of the lucky few to own a copy of the definitive Stealth Press hardback editions containing all six volumes in one glorious package. I cherish it beyond measure. It’s protected by a Mylar plastic cover and weighs 4½ pounds – the equivalent of about five pints of beer (and, yes, merely in the interests of research, I have checked). Suffice to say, it is not a book to be read in bed. Again, I’ve tested this so you don’t have to and can report that my feeble triceps, accustomed to lifting only one beer at a time, were unable to support the book for more than a few minutes. Pathetic, I know, but true…
Still, it is a book that elevates the spirit each time I hold it in my hands. It reminds me of something hot and primal, beyond the simple act of reading, as though merely to own such a thing has the capacity to quicken the blood. These stories, all thirty-one of them, possess the unique quality of every great story: when you read them for the first time, they feel fresh. Unlike anything you’ve ever read before. It doesn’t matter if you first read them back in 1984, or if you’re reading them for the first time now, these tales retain a pulse of such startling originality, such raw, elemental power, they become the yardstick against which one instinctively measures everything else, from Bradbury to King, and all the pretenders that nestle in between.
Why are the Books of Blood so good? Because they complement each other so beautifully. Because they enrich the soul of the reader. Because every brutal stroke of Barker’s pen reveals something new. Because at the heart of every story lies the truth.
Don’t take my word for it; go and read them for yourself. Or re-read them. I defy you not to be mesmerised by the sheer variety of the tales, the humanity (and inhumanity) of the characters, the dark poetry embedded in Barker’s prose.
Ah! To be buried with the Books of Blood. How sweet eternity…”
James Cooper’s latest collection of stories, The Beautiful Red, is available from Amazon or direct from the publisher, Atomic Fez. He is the author of the novel The Midway (Crowsing Books) and is the editor of the anthology Dark Doorways (The Prufrock Press). A collection of interviews with some of the leading lights in dark fiction, In Conversation: A Writer’s Perspective, was published by the British Fantasy Society in September 2009.
- Visit James’ website at http://www.james.cooper.org.uk
The fifteenth entry in the Bury Me With… series features a genre author who has utilised the power of the internet with his free series fiction, garnering word-of-mouth recommendations like no other: David Wellington came to prominence with his Monster Island zombie series. He’s thought long and hard about his choice…
Assuming that I am cremated, as I would prefer, I wouldn’t like to take any books with me at all. I’m not in favor of burning books under any circumstances. Not even Twilight.
If I were to be buried in a traditional pine coffin, a circumstance which presumably would only happen if I died anonymously in some foreign land, perhaps a tropical country where bodies are required by law to be buried as quickly as possible, well. It’s unlikely that the kindly folks who bury unknown bodies would waste any more money on buying books for the anonymous deceased. If they did, I hope that some cosmic twist of fate would make sure it was one of my own books that I was buried with. Hopefully – and here we’re getting into the realm of extremely unlikely events – they would also seal the book in some kind of plastic that would last a very long time. The whole point of these improbabilities is that when my bones are eventually uncovered by some future society, the highly advanced energy beings who dig me up will either a) realize that these are the bones of a long forgotten but underrated author from another era, or b) be so confused that I will become one of those unsolved mysteries of history that bother people so much.
In the far more likely, if less sanguine prospect that I was somehow buried alive – that is, if I was to fall victim to some sort of deep, coma-like sleep but a (highly incompetent) doctor mistakenly diagnosed me as, in fact, dead, and the coroner, all the morgue assistants, funeral home director (too cheap to embalm my “corpse”), and family all failed to correct the mistake – then I would like to be buried with a blank book for use when I wake up inside my coffin. Given the conditions that I never obtained in life, i.e., peace and quiet, plenty of free time, and no high speed internet access, I believe I could finally write my masterpiece. Hopefully I would finish it before I asphyxiated.
Alternatively, if all of the above happened but – cruel fate – I was accidentally buried, alive, with a blank book but no pen or pencil to write with, I would at least be able to appreciate the terrible morbid irony of the situation.”
David Wellington is the author of seven novels. His zombie novels Monster Island, Monster Nation and Monster Planet (Thunder’s Mouth Press) form a complete trilogy. He has also written a series of vampire novels including (so far) Thirteen Bullets, Ninety-Nine Coffins, Vampire Zero and Twenty-Three Hours, and in October of 2009 began his new Werewolf series, starting with Frostbite (all with Three Rivers Press).
In 2004 he began serializing his horror fiction online, posting short chapters of a novel three times a week on a friend’s blog. Response to the project was so great that in 2004 Thunder’s Mouth Press approached Mr. Wellington about publishing Monster Island as a print book. His novels have been featured in Rue Morgue, Fangoria, and the New York Times.
- Visit David’s website at http://www.davidwellington.net
The fourteenth entry in the Bury Me With… series features a relative newcomer to the writing scene, R.B. Russell. However, those not yet familiar with his quiet unease might well recognise him due to his sterling work co-running the Tartarus Press.
“I’d like to take my old battered Corgi paperback The Hill of Dreams by Arthur Machen. (I would probably have taken the Collected Aickman if Simon hadn’t beaten me to it!)
Machen’s The Hill of Dreams was given to me to read at a time when I was immersed in Camus, Hesse and Sartre, and I read it as an existentialist novel; the story of an artistic outsider who has problems coming to grips with the world around him. What astounded me, though, and set it apart from the other authors I’d been reading, was the great beauty of the language. I found the novel hard-going that first time, but each re-reading has been a joy.
From The Hill of Dreams I went on to Machen’s Tales of Horror and the Supernatural, which baffled me completely. Why would an existentialist write horror stories? Machen, though, doesn’t really fit into any categories. His work suggests that there is more to the world around us than we may ordinarily perceive, and sometimes this revelation offers us great beauty, at other times great horror. An apparently banal marriage may conceal a wonderful, mystical love (A Fragment of Life), or the depths of evil (The Inmost Light). The Hill of Dreams, though, is Machen’s masterpiece, from the resonant opening through to the profound, echoing last line.”
R.B. Russell is the author of the short story collection Putting the Pieces in Place and the novella, Bloody Baudelaire (both Ex Occidente, 2009). His second collection, Literary Remains (PS Publishing, 2010) is recently published. Russell‘s stories have appeared in The Best Horror of the Year, Supernatural Tales, Postscripts and The Black Book of Horror. He runs the Tartarus Press with his partner, Rosalie Parker.
- Visit his website at: http://www.tartaruspress.com/russell1.htm
- Visit Ex Occidente Press
- Read a review of Literary Remains at Bookgeeks
- Visit PS Publishing
“The book I would like to be buried with is the unabridged facsimile edition of the late British philosopher Douglas Harding‘s frighteningly outsized and terrifyingly brilliant über-tome The Hierarchy of Heaven and Earth – which I haven’t read in its entirety and almost certainly never will.
Let me explain.
The idea of a book that you’d like to be buried with differs significantly from the familiar challenge of choosing your “desert island book,” the single book that you’d like to have with you if ever you find yourself stranded on a desert island. The proper choice for that challenge is a book that you wouldn’t mind reading over and over again, one that you’d be perfectly happy to have as your sole and perpetual literary companion, so dearly do you love it and so inexhaustible do you finds its contents. Read more