Posts tagged Bryan Thao Worra

What They’re Saying About ‘When The Stars Are Right’

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Ross E. Lockhart, editor of The Book of Cthulhu

“In the decades since H. P. Lovecraft’s untimely death, countless objects, films, novels, stories, and poems have expanded upon The Old Man of Providence’s oeuvre and its associated pantheon of alien god-things. Among those secondary creations, alongside such nameless horrors as plush Cthulhus and stranger things, have been numerous false Necronomicons, promising arcane wisdom and occult power, but too-often turning out to be a gamut of unpronounceable gobbledygook and a handful of incomprehensible rituals borrowing heavily from Buckland, Crowley, and Spare.

No longer. Canadian author, editor, and poet Scott R. Jones eschews such fannish faux-cult nonsense by approaching Old Grandpa Theobald’s life’s work and literary legacy as a true spiritual seeker, and, as a result, uncovers real spiritual truths. This is no Simon Necronomicon, no coy cash-in; instead, the book you hold in your hands is a sort of Cosmic Horror How to Win Friends and Influence Cultists, filled with potentially life-changing wisdom, provocative observation, and beautiful madness. When the Stars Are Right is the first real self-help book for the weird fiction crowd.”

Richard Gavin, author of At Fear’s Altar and The Darkly Splendid Realm

“With this book Scott R. Jones manages to transcend the mire of pseudo-Necronomicons and the pop Cthulhu cottage industry. When The Stars Are Right is a stirring examination of the genuine Darkness that churns not only in the mythos of H.P. Lovecraft but in the universe at large.”

Leeman Kessler, AskLovecraft.com

“Lovecraft has endured a great deal of violence to his name, his reputation, and his legacy over the years, not all of it undeserved, but the particular violence that Mr. Jones has wrought upon him is a thing to behold. One could easily imagine Mads Mikkelsen portraying this level of cool, methodical, and above all stylish act of brutality all while beautiful music plays in the background, enticing us to enjoy but horrifying us at the same time and leaving us confused and alone with our own feelings.

When The Stars Are Right is not a book; it’s a crime scene. We are invited to watch the crime take place and are made accomplices in the act, following Mr. Jones as he not only carries out this crime but tells how he will accomplish it and then serves us up the cadaver in delicious morsels that we swallow with every turn of the page, knowing we should tell someone, anyone but not sure if they will even believe us.

For devotees of an atheist, Lovecraft’s followers can come across as dogmatic and unyielding as any Barnstomping Baptist and Mr. Jones delights in slitting the throats of every one of their sacred cows all while somehow remaining more true than should be considered a good thing. So read this book, safe in the knowledge that you will enjoy the journey into darkness, just know that it may not be the same you that comes out the other side nor, perhaps, should it be.”

Bryan Thao Worra, NEA Fellow in Literature, author of DEMONSTRA

When The Stars Are Right constitutes an important contribution to Weird literature. At points profound, perverse, and personal, Jones provides a reading of the Mythos that reclaims the horror and cosmic strangeness, contradictions and all, framing them as a journey along a dreamer’s path, deep among infinitely inexpressible wonders. This book comes at a critical point in space and time as Lovecraft’s literary legacy expands globally. As one might expect, this work frequently dances on the edge of madness and genius. But it boldly contemplates the life-changing notions that chortled and skittered along the edges of Lovecraft’s best work. Highly recommended, but don’t expect any gates to close easily afterwards”

Luke R. J. Maynard

“The William Blake of Cosmic Horror … Jones is a thinking person’s spiritualist, and debunks the mindless-cultist stereotype once and for all by exploring R’lyehian spirituality here not through the repetitive rote chanting of a preacher, nor even through the mysteries and ambiguities of a vision-poet, but through the targeted and sensitive analysis of a theologian … [his] work here is, in essence, not to write the mysterious, inscrutable gospel of R’lyehian spirituality, but rather to write a functional theology … what it really means to draw one’s spirituality out of somebody else’s writing, and how that ought to be done, and what we must understand about it in order to do so. This is serious work; that he has done it at all suggests that we ought to take R’lyehian spirituality a little more seriously. That he has done it well demands it.” (full review here)

If you’re Canadian (and congratulations if you are!) you can pre-order WTSAR HERE (15.99 + 3.50CAD shipping & handling)

If you’re American (brave! free! delightfully weird!) you can pre-order WTSAR HERE (15.99 + 8.00CAD shipping & handling)

If you live anywhere else on this bizarre spinning mudspeck, you can pre-order WTSAR HERE (15.99 + 16.00CAD shipping & handling)

Want your copy autographed by the author? Please indicate this in the SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS section before completing your transaction.

When The Stars Are Right will be officially released for general purchase in both print and ebook formats on FRIDAY MARCH 21, and we will do our utmost to ensure that readers who pre-order the book early (say, within the first two weeks of March) receive their copies as close to the release date as possible.

Martian Migraine Press: the Best Kind of Headache

 

Bending, Curving, Humming Cosmic: Bryan Thao Worra’s Sublime DEMONSTRA

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If there’s a problem with genre fiction at all (and particularly the horror genre, and even more particularly Lovecraftian genre fiction – OK, multiple problems, I know, I know), it’s that its writers have an unfortunate tendency to bog down in the minutia of the form and format, resulting in stories which merely rehash the already fragrant pulped material of previous years. And so we end up with protags going for a drink down at Tcho-Tcho’s Bar & Grill, or yet another shuddersome “Check it! The Yellow Sign!” and so on. I highlight Lovecraftian tropes here (because that’s my eldritch bailey-wick) but this same issue can and does appear anywhere in genre material: we all know what to expect from zombies, vampires, Little Green Men, and the like, and most toilers in the genre vineyards see little reason to break from those tried-and-true molds.

That’s prose, and such laziness can in most cases be forgiven. There’s only ever one Story, after all, or at most a dozen, so more repetition than reinterpretation/rehabilitation can be expected, even tolerated.

Unlike mere story, though, each poem is (or should be) unique, and when the above happens in poetry, and particularly poetry in the speculative fiction arena, the results are disastrous: lame re-treadings of sci-fi or horror tropes, humourous barely-a-poem asides loaded with references for the in-crowd, and no examination of wider themes relating to the poet’s world or indeed, the world outside that world. This is why (with the exception of Ann K. Schwader) I’ve steered clear of reading “horror poetry”: it is largely a shallow dip into a mostly empty interior geek-space, the space of the specific subject of the poem (zombies, extra-dimensional beast-gods, whatever) and it has nothing to say to me. With a poem like that, once read there’s just no good reason to re-read, and that, for me, is what characterizes a decent piece of poetry, the urge to return and begin again. So why start?

Well, on several recommendations I bought and started Bryan Thao Worra’s DEMONSTRA. I read it straight through in one sitting, and have since read it several times more, in whole or in part. DEMONSTRA is clever, insightful, compassionate, often funny, sublime. Worra brings a very human eye to the world he sees, and that world is filled with, yes, Lovecraftian critters and deities, rampaging kai-ju, giant robots, and the occasional zombie, but also the cultural warping of the Lao diaspora, the god-forms and spirit beings of Laotian belief systems, wrestling sages, surreal road trips, and the meathook realities of wars public, secret, and internal.

Only two pieces into DEMONSTRA, there is a poem about the Deep Ones. Now, there are only so many places a poet can go with Lovecraft’s batrachian breeders from below, right? Worra doesn’t go to any of those places and the result is a poem of peculiar melancholy and spiritual intensity. A line:

Bending, curving, humming cosmic.
Awake and alien.

That is as good a definition as any of what great poetry actually is: the written word used as a hyperspatial bridge to another, radically different point of view, an eyes-wide-open felt experience of ourselves as not-ourselves, which yet comes round again, bending, curving, to speak to our centre: great poetry is a humming transmutation device for the soul. And that is what Worra’s writing in DEMONSTRA does, piece after piece.

Some highlights were Zombuddha (a striking comparison of the traditional Western zombie with the rough lineaments of enlightenment that made me laugh out loud with the pleasure of recognition “Yes! Of course!”); the rich re-telling of Call of Cthulhu from a Lao perspective in The Terror in Teak; the epic road poem The Dream Highway of Ms. Manivongsa (“Fifty years from now, no one will see any difference / Between J.R. and J.F.K., or who shot them. / Now, flee.”); and Full Metal Hanoumane, which includes a geeky reference to Planet of the Apes, true, something that in lesser hands would make a clanging mess of the poem, but here transforms it into a clear bell tolling in the purple depths of space.

Worra has mastered his subjects, instead of the other way around. He has, over four previous books and multiple publications, also mastered his poetry, and I suspect he has mastered his self, his own “writer’s ego”, to a degree that allows him to enter his interior world, return with jewels that reflect that world and ours, and then place those jewels in perfectly appropriate settings that only add to their lustre. I highly recommend this book: it is a bright spot in the overwrought gloom of standard speculative/horror poetry and well worth acquainting yourself with. The appendices: of Lao spirit-entities, and Cthulhu Mythos deity-names translated into Lao; as well as the lovely artwork of Vongduane Manivong that grace the pages, are an added bonus.

DEMONSTRA is published by Innsmouth Free Press, a Canadian micro-publisher of weird and truly wonderful work. You can order DEMONSTRA from them directly here. Bryan Thao Worra can be found here and followed on Twitter @thaoworra

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