DVD Savant Glenn Erickson calls me "writing-addicted," a difficult charge to refute given my recent plethora of activities. To keep you all abreast of what I've been writing in an extracurricular vein, here is a rundown of what's presently, or about to be, on newsstands or elsewhere.
On newsstands now are the current issues of Sight and Sound (which contains my "No Zone" column review of the DICK CAVETT SHOW - ROCK ICONS box set) and, of course, Video Watchdog #122, to which I contributed a thing or two.
Due to arrive on newsstands soon is the latest issue of a magazine I thought I'd never write for again, CFQ (Cinefantastique). I was recently approached by CFQ's outgoing editor, Dave Williams, who invited me to participate in their 35th anniversary issue -- his last as editor -- by writing a 500-750 word memoir of my past history with the magazine and its founding publisher/editor, Frederick S. Clarke. I agreed to do this, but warned Dave that it would be impossible to summarize those twelve years in so few words. Dave kindly offered me a slight extension, but as I set to work on the piece -- drawing from 10 years of preserved correspondence with Fred, including his "post mortem" reports on every issue produced during that period -- I found myself writing, with Fred's posthumous help, a veritable pocket history of the magazine's development during its first decade. On the day of my deadline, I turned in two separate drafts of my article -- one was only twice as long as Dave wanted, and the other was close to 10,000 words in length. Both were titled "Citizen Clarke," but each contained exclusive material. As I understand it, the shorter of the two versions is the one featured in CFQ's new 35th Anniversary issue (which I haven't yet seen), but the longer version may turn up on CFQ's website. I haven't received confirmation of this yet from Dave, but whether it does or doesn't, I may well offer the "400 lb. gorilla" version as a free bonus feature on the Video Watchdog website in the near future. I will keep you posted.
Literally as soon as I had turned this article in, I received an e-mail from Douglas Milton, the editor of the Anthony Burgess Foundation newsletter The End of the World News, informing me that his next issue had been caught short by an article that failed to materialize and asking if I could dash off something -- 500 to 750 words, perhaps? -- to help fill the breach. (Why was Mr. Milton making such a bizarre request of the editor of Video Watchdog? Well, back in 1981, just before home video stole away all the time I formerly spent reading, I published an essay about Burgess's novels in Purdue University's literary magazine Modern Fiction Studies, which was subsequently included in a hardcover collection of "best Burgess essays" compiled by the estimable Harold Bloom. This remains my sole foray into literary criticism/analysis, but it was enough to establish me as a Burgess scholar.) Anyway, I agreed to lend a hand and, once again, ended up turning in something much longer than was requested. Online publishing being flexible about such things, I'm told my second Burgess article will appear online here sometime next week. It's an account of my brief correspondence with the author of A CLOCKWORK ORANGE and many other important novels of comic irony (I particularly recommend ENDERBY, MF and EARTHLY POWERS), and touches on some of my own early attempts at novel-writing. Burgess's letters to me are quoted in full and will appear in print there for the first time.
In bookstores, you can find my chapter on FANTOMAS (the classic 1911 novel by Pierre Souvestre and Marcel Allain) in HORROR: ANOTHER 100 BEST BOOKS, edited by Stephen Jones and Kim Newman. I was very pleased and flattered to be asked to contribute to this long-awaited follow-up to Steve and Kim's HORROR: 100 BEST BOOKS (1988), but the greatest pleasure was discovering that it also includes an essay about my own novel THROAT SPROCKETS (1994), written by the award-winning novelist Tananarive Due. It's delirious to see one's own work discussed in the company of Conan Doyle's THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES, Leroux's THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA and Camus' THE STRANGER, and it's my hope that the attention paid to THROAT SPROCKETS will inspire some publisher or other to bring it back into print. Speaking of the talented Tananarive Due, she is scheduled to appear on CNN on Sunday morning, between 9:00 and 10:00 a.m., to promote her latest novel JOPLIN'S GHOST, so set your timers and TiVos. It's very rare these days for a novelist to receive air time, unless they die or kill somebody, so support literary television by tuning in.
In video stores is Subversive Cinema's DVD of Jack Cardiff's THE FREAKMAKER (aka THE MUTATIONS), for which I wrote the liner notes. I saw the film theatrically back in 1974 and can attest it has never looked better than it does on this disc.
Imminently due is Digitmovies' second release in their "Mario Bava Soundtrack Anthology" series, and this one is the disc all Italian horror music fans have been waiting for: Carlo Rustichelli's music for THE WHIP AND THE BODY aka WHAT [La frusta e il corpo, 1963] and BLOOD AND BLACK LACE [Sei donne per l'assassino, 1964]! Neither of these scores has been previously issued, though incredibly rare 45 rpm singles were released for each title at the original time of release. Best news of all, the BLOOD AND BLACK LACE tracks will be heard on this disc for the first time in full stereo! Several of my favorite tracks on this disc also qualify as soundtrack cues from Bava's KILL, BABY... KILL! [Operazione paura, 1966], a film that was entirely scored with library music. I wrote the liner notes for this release and also contributed a never-before-published interview with Maestro Rustichelli, which was conducted on my behalf and translated by my friend, Daniela Catelli (Italy's leading authority on the films of William Friedkin). We will be selling this CD through the Video Watchdog website, and I'll make an announcement here once it's in stock.
And now I must stop blogging and buckle down to write the liner notes for Digitmovies' third "Mario Bava Soundtrack Anthology" release, which will collect Stelvio Cipriani's music for TWITCH OF THE DEATH NERVE aka BAY OF BLOOD [Ecologia del delitto, 1971], BARON BLOOD (1972) and RABID DOGS [Cani arrabbiati, 1975]!