Thursday, 19 May 2022

Infra Noir 2020

Wyrd Britain reviews 'Infra Noir 2020' from Zagava Books featuring Mark Valentine, R.B. Russell, Rosalie Parker, Reggie Oliver and others.
Various authors

Since some friends of Zagava missed single titles of our chapbook series, Zagava now offers all 11 Infra-Noir chapbooks published in 2020 as an inexpensive paperback! If you want all of the brilliant stories in one affordable place, this is the book for you.
D.P. Watt: Craft; Mark Valentine The Clerks of the Invisible; Jonathan Wood: The Idyll Is Over; Karim Ghahwagi: Codex of Light; Mark Samuels: Posterity; Rebecca Lloyd: Ancestor Water; Mark Valentine: Stained Medium; Timothy J. Jarvis: The Purblind Bards; Reggie Oliver: The Wet Woman; R.B. Russell: A House of Treasures; Rosalie Parker: Home Comforts

Through 2020 Zagava released a series of small chapbooks by a coterie of authors associated with the publisher and enjoyed by us here at Wyrd Britain including Mark Valentine, Rosalie Parker, R.B. Russell and more.  These stories have now been collected together in this delightful volume.

D.P Watt has the honour of opening the proceedings with an entrancing tale of a beautifully made book whereas for Mark Valentine - in the first of two contributions - it's the mystery of a rare book and the joy of the hunt whilst Jonathan Wood explores the inner life of the book and the characters that the writer hopes to populate it with.

Karim Ghahwagi's 'Codex of Light' takes a different tack with a fantastical fable of fire and the restrictions of tradition.  Mark Samuels' 'Posterity' tells a wonderfully creepy talke of scholarlty hubris and a dead author (a thinly veiled Robert Aickman).  Rebecca Lloyd's 'Ancestor Water' like Ghahwagi's earlier story deals with the pull of heritage although it's contemporary setting free of gothic trappings gives it a more urgent and less folky aspect.

Happily we are given another Mark Valentine story (regular readers will be well aware of our love of Mark's writing) this time dealing with forgotten philosophies chance meetings and lost literary treasure whilst Timothy J. Jarvis spins a fascinating post apocalyptic tale in 'The Purblind Bards'.

Reggie Oliver is one of several authors on my ever growing 'must read more' list as what I have read has been a treat.  Here his story 'The Wet Woman' continues a trend I've noticed in his writing for a sort of dark whimsy which here takes the form of a group of thesps and musos engaging in petty revenge that unleashes more profound events.

The book ends with two stories from Tartarus Press publishers R.B. Russell and Rosalie Parker.  Ray's story 'A House of Treasures' is a beautifully poised tale of a search realised whilst Rosalie tells of desire and perhaps lust for a cuddly but avaricious toy waiter named Nigel.  It's very wrong and very funny.

Unfortunately this collection, as with all the Zagava paperbacks, was only available for a very short while due to to issues with print quality but if you can track a copy down it'll definitely reward the hunt.


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