This Week: K.J. Bishop and That Book Your Mad Ancestor Wrote

This week on, we’re featuring the work of Australian writer K.J. Bishop. Readers of The Weird and this site are hopefully no strangers to her work; her novel, The Etched City, is regarded as a neo-Decadent classic of urban fantasy, and her story “Saving the Gleeful Horse” is collected in The Weird. Her new collection of short fiction and poetry, That Book Your Mad Ancestor Wrote, has been available in the Amazon Kindle Store since last December and is newly available in trade paperback form via CreateSpace.

mad_ancestor_createspace_yb_finalThose who have read The Etched City and Bishop’s short fiction can attest to the fluidity of her prose and the vibrant strangeness of her imagination, equally surreal, absurd, and lush. Reading Mad Ancestor in a single flush, however, or even reading it with focus over the course of two or three days, is a surprising experience. There is, of course, the influence of surrealism and Decadent literature that manifests in highlights such as “Maldoror Abroad,” “We the Enclosed,” and “Saving the Gleeful Horse.” From there, though, readers may find themselves in the realm of posthuman singularity via “Beach Rubble,” or the post-apocalyptic animal warfare of “The Heart of a Mouse,” or the deal-with-the-devil metafiction of “Between the Covers.” It’s entirely possible to start with one story, flip to another at random, and find oneself in startlingly different territories altogether.

This kind of  stylistic variety is why it’s so important to read the whole of Mad Ancestor, to understand that what we have in Bishop is someone capable of writing just about anything that comes to mind, and not just that but writing it wonderfully. That same variety makes the selection of one story from the collection for reprinting here at a sad dilemma; there’s no hope of demonstrating the full spread of her ability with just one example. That said, we’ve reprinted her story “The Love of Beauty” in hopes of pursuing that end. Readers should also check out our interview with Bishop as well, which provides some additional context for that story and others from Mad Ancestor, among other things. We also have a new column from regular contributor Edward Gauvin, returning to the work of French fantasist Noël Devaulx, who Gauvin more than ably profiled earlier this year on this site.

We hope you enjoy our material this week, and be sure to keep your eyes peeled for more fantastic material from our regular contributors and featured writers in the weeks to come!