Caitlin Kiernan's Alabaster

Ms Kiernan's writing sits comfortably on the shelf between Poe and Lovecraft, perhaps leaning with her ear held close to Lovecraft; albeit the stories she tells are character-driven, with non-kitschy prose and sans unpronounceable horrors with not enough vowels or too many consonants or both (or have i got it the wrong way round?) and without a hint of the word 'eldritch'. (i don't think i've encountered it yet, but you never know.) on a table (the sideboard loaded with sweetbreads and cornbread and raw fish and foie gras and tarts and gorey puddings and jellybeans--and is that a bottle of absinthe?) with Neil Gaiman seated at one end and M. John Harrison at the other, Ms Kiernan sits beside Neil, waving, perhaps, at Edward Gorey leaning in to say 'Halloo'; Elizabeth Hand is also at the table--she sits closer to Mr Harrison. the two ladies seem to be somewhere between the two, but that might only be a trick of perspective. they might be holding hands beneath the table one moment, or arguing over matters of natural history the next. Ms Kiernan might also have a place at Angela Carter's knee--Ms Carter's very modern, very hip teenage daughter, who just so happened to be raised in that strange land across the Atlantic. Michael Moorcock creates a whole other tangent with her work, though who sits on the other end of that particular line it's hard to say; maybe it's only Moorcock again, in Mother London rather than Eternal Champion mode. William Gibson, in Goth drag after listening to Robert Smith and Tom Waits all night, coated with the dust of paleontology rather than the junk of technophile sociology, might also be peering from some tenebrous corner.

of course, Ms Kiernan's voice is also very much her own; this taxonomy, or genealogy, is all mine (and, probably, subconsciously stolen from the literature map though i haven't been there in a while): a lazy way to describe what should better be experienced. i could drop quotes, but, like i said, i'm lazy, and while one line seems as good as another spoken in Ms Kiernan's beautiful voice, i'd rather you went and found them yourself.

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