Quentin S. Crisp's Defeated Dogs was published by Eibonvale Press in April/July 2013.
Information about Quentin S. Crisp:
Quentin S. Crisp was born in 1972, in North Devon, U.K. Leaving A-level college without grades, he spent five years working with the Wolf and Water Arts Company before going on to study Japanese at Durham University. He graduated in the year 2000. His first collection of fiction, The Nightmare Exhibition, was published in 2001, by BJM Press, while he was teaching English in Taiwan. He returned to Japan later that year to research Japanese literature on a scholarship at Kyoto University, studying in particular the works of Higuchi Ichiyo. He returned to Britain in 2003, since when he has had fiction published by Tartarus Press, PS Publishing and others. He currently resides in a garret flat in South East London, and is editor for Chômu Press.
Information about Defeated Dogs:
This book is the fifth original fiction collection from one of the true eccentrics of modern British writing – stories that blend erudite skill and a startling emotional intensity, classical elegance and unexpected experimentation, sophisticated miserablism and innocent beauty. A fairy tale as dark as they come amid a shattering clash of two opposing and poisoned personalities. A Meyrink-tinged dream of atavism and Italy that awakens the dreamer to philosophy and fate. A quiet and perfectly observed journey through the far reaches of Japan. Myth-working fantasy haunted by the motley ghosts of Lord Dunsany and Matsuo Bashô, and by the imps of postmodernism. A vision of the afterlife where heaven and hell are entwined in torturous symbiosis. The sinister Black Dog folklore re-imagined as a cosmology of thanatophobia.
For all the diversity of styles in evidence, they are united by the author's distinctive voice – a window into a crepuscular human world torn between magic and reality, earth and infinity.
"To call Crisp's stories simple would be to malign them; to say that they are complex would be to slander, for the highest art is that which, in its directness, its naturalness, says what it has to say without pretence."
-Brendan Connell – from the Introduction
A REVIEW OF QUENTIN S. CRISP'S DEFEATED DOGS
Quentin S. Crisp's Defeated Dogs is one of the best short story collection's I've ever read, and it's definitely one of the best collections of the year, because it contains beautifully written stories that demonstrate how good and versatile an author Quentin S. Crisp is (I read this collection twice before I began to write this review, because all the stories deserved to be read twice). I was very impressed with the author's prose and imagination.
I first read Quentin S. Crisp a couple of years ago and I immediately liked his stories. I recently read The Cutest Girl in Class, which he co-wrote with Brendan Connell and Justin Isis, and I liked it too. I'm glad that I had a chance to read this new collection, because he's an excellent author who has plenty of imagination.
I think it's possible to say that Quentin S. Crisp is one of the best kept secrets of British speculative fiction, because not many readers have heard of him. Hopefully this collection will bring him more publicity, because his stories will be of interest to several speculative fiction readers. He is one of those authors whose stories will haunt readers for a long time after reading them.
Defeated Dogs contains an interesting introduction (written by Brendan Connell) and the following stories (the stories range from short stories to novella-length stories):
- The Fairy Killer
- The Gay Wolf (previously unpublished)
- The Temple
- Lilo (previously unpublished)
- The Broadsands Eyrie (previously unpublished)
- The Gwyllgi of the Lost Lanes (previously unpublished)
Quentin S. Crisp's prose is beautifully descriptive, vivid and surprisingly observant. He fluently combines elegance, emotionality, magic, mysticism, fantasy, dark fantasy and horror in his stories. He writes beautiful, dark and a bit bleak stories and uses fantasy elements in a modern and fresh way. His observations about different places, people and happenings are wonderfully nuanced and full of small details. His literary and observant prose adds a fascinating element of deepness to his stories.
Quentin S. Crisp's prose can be best described as elegant and sophisticated. His prose isn't simple, but it isn't too heavy either - it somehow manages to be both and that's one of the reasons why it feels wonderfully invigorating to read his stories. His prose is so beautiful - and at times even poetic and tragic - that I have to mention that I love his prose very much. I've always liked good and well written prose, so I instantly liked the prose in these stories.
Another reason why I like the Quentin S. Crisp's prose is that he has added interesting philosophical elements to his stories. These elements add depth to the stories. For example, The Gay Wolf contains philosophical elements, because the conversations with the creature are interesting and reveal hidden feelings and longings.
Quentin S. Crisp is an author who has an ability to transfer his readers temporarily to another world with his stories. I've always considered this to be a sign of an excellent author, because only the best authors are able to write this kind of stories. I think that all readers who read these stories will forget everything else for a while and will be fascinated, impressed and even shocked by what happens in them.
Certain stories in this collection contain fantastic echoes of Lord Dunsany and his lush prose. These stories also reminded a bit of the stories written by Brendan Connell, David Rix, Nina Allan and D. P. Watt. There are also echoes of other authors, but Quentin S. Crisp has a voice of his own, because he has a distinct writing style that separates him from other authors. Although his stories are complex, they're easy to read and offer the reader a unique reading experience.
There may be readers who are not familiar with the black dog folklore, so I think it's good to say a few words about it, because understanding this folklore helps to understand certain elements in The Gwyllgi of the Lost Lanes. The black dog is a nocturnal apparition that has been regarded as a portent of death. Black dog is larger than a normal dog and is said to have glowing eyes. More information about black dog folklore can be easily found from the internet.
The Gwyllgi of the Lost Lanes gets an honorary mention from me. It's a fascinatingly dark story that contains echoes of M. R. James, Robert Aickmann and even H. P. Lovecraft (The Hound). The author has created a perfect atmosphere and writes well about the happenings. The clairvoyance session added a nice touch of weirdness to this story. The Gwyllgi of the Lost Lanes is a perfect and creepy horror story in all the possible ways.
The Fairy Killer is one of the best and most powerful stories in this collection. It's an unforgettable story about a young girl, Faye, who believes in fairies. Faye is a bit odd child and her parents have noticed it. She has trouble getting along with her uncles Jamie. Her belief in fairies, her problems with uncle Jamie and what happens after a strong disagreement with uncle Jamie about fairies, form the core of this story. The ending of this story brilliantly disturbing.
The Fairy Killer is an impressive combination of innocence, brutality and deception. I'm sure that everybody who reads this story will be impressed by the author's ability to describe how Faye feels about her uncle and his actions. She's an innocent girl who does what she has to do and doesn't feel any remorse about her actions.
The Temple is a fascinating fable-like fantasy story that reminds me of Lord Dunsany's stories. I'm not sure if other readers will be able to notice this, but in my opinion this story is also slightly reminiscent of H. P. Lovecraft's The Doom That Came to Sarnath and The Quest of Iranon. It's a beautifully written story about a mysterious temple in the woods and its guardian.
The author's interest in Japan and Japanese culture can be seen in Sado-ga-shima. It's a surprisingly personal account of events that happen in faraway Japan. It's a totally immersive and compelling story that reads like a travel documentary, but it's much more than that. The author writes about the atmosphere and the happenings in a fluent and fascinating way and lets the reader immerse himself/herself in the story. In my opinion Sado-ga-shima is a remarkable story that will hook readers immediately when they begin to read it.
Tzimtzum is a fascinating story, because it was originally published in Cinnabar's Gnosis: A Homage to Gustav Meyrink (Ex Occidente Press, 2009). I think that most readers know who Gustav Meyrink is, but I think it's good to mention that he was an Austrian author and most famous for his novel Golem. I think that Tzimtzum will be of interest to readers who like Meyrink, but other readers will also like it. I personally liked this story very much.
The Gay Wolf is a surprisingly strong story that has plenty of emotional depth. It has a fascinating dream-like quality to it, because a wolf-like creature visits the protagonist, and the protagonist dreams of the creature. In this story the author writes amazingly well about the wolf-like creature's life and what he means to the protagonist. This story is one of the most unforgettable stories I've read during the last couple of years.
Lilo is an intriguing story about Glenn who is a plastic doll and immortal. This story grows slowly into an interesting examination of Glenn's feelings, life and existence. I like the way the author writes about Glenn's life, his girlfriend and his immortality, because he explores these things perfectly. There are fascinating signs of underlying bleakness in this story.
Dreamspace, Non-Attachment and The Broadsands Eyrie are beautifully written stories that compliment the other stories and demonstrate the author's ability to write different kind of stories. Dreamspace is an interesting story about how a father and a daughter visit a new kind of a "bouncy castle" called Dreamspace. Non-Attachment is a fantastic story about getting into Heaven. The Broadsands Eyrie is an enthralling story about dreams, magic and love that will seduce the reader with beautiful prose (the author's descriptions of the Broadsands beach are beautiful).
I liked all the stories in this collection, but my favourite stories were The Fairy Killer, Sago-ga-shima, The Gwyllgi of the Lost Lanes, The Broadsands Eyrie, The Gay Wolf, The Temple and Lilo. The best story in this collection is without a doubt The Fairy Killer, because it's a dark and disturbing fairy tale for adults. It made a huge impression on me. The Gwyllgi of the Lost Lanes also gets full points from me for being an excellent horror story.
I give this collection full five stars, because it contains hauntingly beautiful stories and excellent prose. If you like beautifully written speculative fiction and want to read good stories and wonderfully observant prose, you must read this collection, because you won't be disappointed by it. This collection is a literary marvel and an unforgettable reading experience that should be treasured and cherished by as many readers as possible.
Very highly recommended!