As Allan’s proofreader, I can attest- it’s awesome! He’s a master of storytelling, pacing, foreshadowing, and insight. And Caitlin Sagan’s great cover is just perfect. Get it!
Very sorry to hear of the death of Dylan Kowalewski, AKA The Monster Librarian. I’ve been reviewing for Monster for the last few years. Condolences to his wife Kirsten and his family. A lovely memoriam by Kirsten is here: http://www.monsterlibrarian.com/TheCirculationDesk/
I hope the site continues as good horror reader’s advisory.
Can you believe it has been almost 2 years since the release of abbey tapes: the exorcism? Gorgeous music for an outstanding book. http://www.philrickman.co.uk/the-shop/
The long-awaited retrospective from Columbus Road, aka Allan Watson and Gordon Davidson: http://allanwatson.blogspot.co.uk/p/columbus-road-tokens.html
I’m pleased to play a wee flute part on “Rain”, one of Allan’s prettiest songs ever! a short Beatlesque love song. Available on iTunes, Amazon, and from email@example.com
I was pleased to see this on Twitter, a tweet from a Glastonbury shop called “Man, Myth and Magik”:
“The Abbey Tapes ‘cd’ to accompany ‘December’ by @PhilRickman available @MMMagik #Glastonbury NOW ..,,”
The website for the shop: http://www.mmmagik.co.uk/
21 hours in the Abbey…. December on audio book, available from Isis and now as an Audible download as well. Highly recommended.
My audio book arrived Monday from Isis and so of course I immediately had to rip it to my computer, put it on my mp3 player, and start listening. And was immediately mesmerized and enthralled! That Sean Barrett is marvelous, the story, of course, compelling. And to hear the strains of “The Ballad of Aelwyn Breadwinner” come floating up from the abyss just gave me chills.
The next evening I listened to more chapters, and on file #7 got to hear a bit of “The Comb Song” during the part about Moira’s growing up years. Yes, a little of my fluting is evident!- really thrilled.
Then I came to the portion where Moira talks to Donald after the Duchess’ funeral, and she tells him ……….. WHAT SHE DID WITH THE COMB… and my jaw dropped and my drowsy eyes flew open… wait a minute, that wasn’t in the book! I went to find my 2011 MHB Press edition to find the text, and sure enough, there it was. But then I checked the old tattered 1996 Berkley US version I’d read 3 times, and it was not there. Had Phil put new things into the MHB version that came out a year ago? Mystery. Hurrah for Kindle search feature: I searched the word “comb” in the Kindle version of December to find a whole bunch of references to it that were not in my old paperback! Have to admit sort of freaking out- it totally changes the story for me. I don’t want to completely spoil the story for people who may still need to read December, but the ancient mystical hair comb given to Moira by her Gypsy mother figures greatly in the story after all. Moira did something macabre with it, is warned that she is unprotected without it, misses it in her guitar case, tells her band mates about it in the Abbey, and then on the last page…. well, you have to hear/read it. All missing from the Berkley edition.
So, I mentioned it on PRAS, and Anne and Phil explained that the US publisher, Berkley, wanted to shorten the story and so left certain stuff out, Phil recalling being told that it needed to be more “accessible” to people in Ohio!!! And then the publisher dumped him for being “too British.” OK, if you know me, you know I’m a librarian and very much against censorship. To me this was at best censorship and at the very worst a travesty to change an author’s book. But to leave out such an important part of the plot… it’s just a sin. Not to mention an insult to American readers.
Of all things to cut, that was not even one of the more disturbing bits in the book. I mean, Simon and the brown candles, the dinner party bloodbath, the ghosts … why leave out the comb? They weren’t trying to protect those Ohioans from any gritty sex or murder. And it was so deliberate- these clever editors had to search out tiny bits on far-flung pages. Go through it with a fine-tooth… never mind. There’s a lonely sentence where Moira walks along the frosty ground and the bristly grass makes her think of the comb, now where it is … sentence gone. On the last page where the comb makes one more plot twist in barely a sentence – they had to find that and cut it on purpose. Why the comb? Phil has added on PRAS that they may have left out the comb since they weren’t publishing Man in the Moss (due to Glasgow and Northern English accents) in which the comb story is retold, the song performed and the lyrics included, but again he says not the real reason, could embarrass someone yet. Being oblique as usual, the cheeky sod, -affectionately said.
So as I listen perhaps I’ll find more things that are new to me, things left out of the crappy US edition. Spread the word- DON’T read the butchered 1996 Berkley edition, or if you have, be sure to get hold of the original 1994 UK Macmillan, the 1995 paperback from Pan Books, the 2011 Mansion House or Kindle editions, or the new Isis audio book (on Audible, too) to get the unadulterated text of December. Sure wish I’d read the new MHB version when it came back in January- I assumed I knew the story well having read it three times. Then there was me writing a bleedin article about the book. I feel kind of duped.
In the US edition, “The Comb Song” is mentioned once, early on in describing Moira’s faded folk career. And that is the only mention of it or of a comb at all. I thought that Phil and Allan were stretching it a bit to include a song on the Abbey Tapes CD which features more heavily in The Man in the Moss, though I was glad they were. And while it is true that the song isn’t mentioned as being played at the Abbey, there’s a much stronger chance that it might have been, considering the comb’s importance to the book. Now that I know that, it is even more meaningful to me that I got to contribute a little to it.
Update as of Dec. 6, 2012- I finished listening to the audio book last night and it was marvelous! Scary and chilling and horrifying but satisfying and redemptive. I can pretty confidently say that the comb references were all that were new to me as a reader of only the butchered American Berkley Books edition. It remains a puzzle as to why that was omitted. It was a beautiful and I think essential part of the story. Anyone with ideas please comment.
From PRAS, Phil Rickman on the new Isis audio book: “Got to hand it to Isis and Sean Barrett. The audiobook of December is, in some ways, actually better than the book. At 21 hours long, it’s an epic production. Every character beautifully developed, even minor players like Moira’s dapper, slightly camp agent, Malcolm Kaufmann. And with the Philosopher’s Stone songs fading up here and there… well, it truly comes alive in your head. I can say all this because my contributions were minimal. So… it’s probably a pioneering venture in the field of audiobooks. More than a bit expensive, but don’t forget you can order it from your local library.”
The Audible download will follow in the UK on Dec. 1- will have to find out about in the US.
The Isis audio book is ready to order from:
I’ve opted for the MP3 cds. Looking forward to this. I may be out busking for change to help me pay for it, but it’s a must have, with original music by Philosopher’s Stone. They also have CD and cassette formats. Does anyone still use cassettes?
Phil Rickman’s new historical fiction book, the sequel to The Bones of Avalon, was published November 1. My copy is on its way from Amazon UK since there’s no telling when the US edition will be available. It continues to astound me that Rickman still has no US publisher. In any case, it isn’t expensive to order from Amazon UK and just takes a week or two to arrive. It might freak out your credit card company when the charge is applied. There should be a Kindle version eventually.
This tweet today from Isis Publishing on the audio book:
“Two days editing and December by @philrickman has gone to manufacture! Complete with music by the author, this is one of our best for ages.”
The word from Isis Publishing is that Sean Barrett has finished his 5th and final day of recording the December audiobook, and that his Lennon voice is very convincing. It should include clips of Aelwyn, Bad Day, Take Me 2, Dakota Blues, Holy Light, and The Comb Song! Really chuffed.
According to Phil Rickman, “Sean Barrett starts recording the long-awaited December audio book next month… with six songs on there, from Bad Day to Holy Light. Better than a movie.”
Isis http://www.isis-publishing.co.uk/ has already included Hazey Jane II recordings in a couple of the Merrily Watkins audio books. These are unique in the audio book world! Exciting.
Richard Winham and I talked about the Abbey Tapes project and played many of the tracks on WUTC.org, the NPR station at the Univ. of TN at Chattanooga. It was an hour long radio program airing in February 2012. That interview and our March program on the 2 Hazey Jane II CDs are here for download: https://spideroak.com/browse/share/Julie_Adams/Radio
Richard commented that the music was beautiful and stood on its own even apart from the books and that this fiction/music collaboration was unique. I’ve been listening to Richard’s fantastic radio programs for years, so it was a thrill to meet him! In fact it was he who introduced me to the music of Richard Thompson and other artists that surprisingly few Americans know about.