I'm working my way through what I'll call a novella, titled 'A Fragment of Life', and it was slow and grinding, a bit early on--a bit "domestic", chatty, and homey--but now the magic has started to really creep in, and I like it. Machen has not emerged as a perfect writer for me, but when the beauty comes out in a story, the words light up.
If you've ever sold books, worked in a customer service-type position relating to books at like the library, etc. then this book will probably be quite familiar to you. A sequel tells us more of strange and odd things people say to booksellers ranging from not knowing what book titles are ('Pride and Produce') to strange customer service type questions such as asking if "Kennedy" was in the Scrabble dictionary. And so forth.
That's basically it. If you've read the first book then you'll be familiar with the format and style and type of anecdotes and quotes you'll find here. Even if you've only worked in front-facing retail type positions that has absolutely nothing to do with books, reading, publishing, etc. you'll still probably feel twinges of sympathy in what these poor booksellers had to hear and respond to.
Not much else to say. I prefer the social media accounts but I wanted to support the author for bringing this to us. As a former employee at a bookstore, I recognized myself and my co-workers in these pages. That said, unless you enjoy books, reading, etc. this may not be for you. I bought it from a UK bookseller because it's not available in the US (at the time I bought it and maybe it still isn't) but not everyone will want to go through the trouble and the wait.
I liked it but I'm not sure I'd buy any more of these and might just stick with the social media instead.
I'm not really on page 163. but, when I finished the Jonathan Carroll novel this morning at the coffee shop, that meant I had just read 137 pages. so, when I fished this Machen book out of my goodie bag, I saw that the next "short story" (hah!), called 'A Fragment of Life' was not so short. and I decided to knock off the three very short works left in the Machen collection, totaling about 15 pages: 'The Bowmen', 'The Soldiers' Rest', and 'Out of the Earth'. that leaves me with three rather longish tales left in this book, before I'm done with it. I just marked where I would be, if I had just read the next 15 pages; I think you get the point. meanwhile, the three quickies I read this morning were okay, but I'm hoping this author can really wow me while working with the higher page-counts that constitute 'A Fragment of Life', 'The Great Return', and the one with the best and boldest title, 'The Terror', I'm also thinking that the next time I go to this book, I might be inclined to stick with it until i've read everything. we'll see, later on.
these weird tales...are strange. this is about the most I have enjoyed this type of short fiction--the enigmatic stuff that leaves me slightly confused as to what has happened, why I should find it important, and why more can't happen. I think with Machen, I'm helped by his beautiful way of telling a befuddling story, but also, I look to feel awe, a sense of the sublime, rather than a Horror effect. I've also stopped expecting things to be clearly explained; these are not tales designed to show off Logic--far from it.