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    • CommentAuthorEmperor
    • CommentTimeMay 2nd 2011 edited
    I once opened the door to three refugees from Father Ted - two odd-looking silent youngsters and a tiny, wizened old man. The local Catholic church had flown them in from Ireland to chase down those of us who have strayed from the path. He was struggling to engage me with his banter (there aren't many ways to say I don't believe in your God, in fact I am unsure I ever did) until he asked if I wanted a miraculous medal. I am always interested in freebies and I figured I'd be foolish to turn it down, especially as my birth has been put down to a miracle.* The medal came with a little booklet on St Catherine Laboure and her medal, which I flicked through and then put aside.

    The next day a book I had ordered turned up - a 1950 copy of Thurston's The Physical Phenomena of Mysticism, which details all the strange things that had happened to the bodies of the saints during, and after, death. When I opened it a newspaper cutting fell out - it was all about the incorrupt body of Catherine Laboure, which was doubly impressive as it was incorruption that I was researching at the time. I cellotaped the medal to the leaflet and use it as a bookmark in that volume. When I die and it is sold on, I hope it stays in the book for the next owner - I doubt it'll freak the crap out of them, like it did me, but it is worth a try.

    And the actual strangest book? I have a lot but Diane Keaton's Clown Paintings always manages to raise an eyebrow or three. Also Secret Cipher of the UFOnauts and Secret Rituals of the Men in Black by Alan Greenfield are two pretty weird books, even amongst my shelves of odd tomes. Dipping into the medical oddities section Victorian Grotesque: An illustrated excursion into medical curiosities, freaks, and abnormalities, principally of the Victorian age stands out.

    * My folks hadn't produced any children, despite being married for a number of years, so my great aunt sent them a copy of Saint Anne's magazine, which had helped her conceive (she had some medical problem that saw her pensioned off before she was 25 and told she'd never had a child - she slipped a copy of the magazine under her mattress and ended up having a daughter and living well into her 70s). Lo and behold, I was born 9 months later - this had nothing to do with my mum coming off the pill round about that time. I helped move my auntie's bed last year and found a couple of copies of the magazine under her mattress, presumably for their general health-giving benefits.
  1.  (9817.22)
    One of my favourites is Sleeping Beauty: Memorial Photography in America by Stanley Burns M.D. - apparently it's worth quite a bit now but I wouldn't part with it. It's a beautiful treatise on the 19th century practice of photographing the deceased. The images are wonderful. I also have a Joel Peter Witkin monograph... just google him. You'll see. I keep that one away from the kids.

    My copy of The Screenwriter's Workbook by Syd Field has one page upside down and in mirror - the letters are actually reversed on the page.

    The weirdest thing I have ever found in a book was a tiny photograph of a man with a giant curled moustache hidden in the middle of a worm-eaten 18th century German religious tract that an ex sent to me, for no reason that I ever figured out. (I mean, I'm an atheist with occasional neopagan leanings and she's Jewish... why the Christian text?)

    I do have a large collection of "Miraculous medals" courtesy of my very Catholic paternal grandmother. My favourite is this one:

    I like to rescue ruined poor-quality stringed instruments from flea markets and rebuild them better than they started out. Whenever I finish one, I put a decal of one side of that medal on the headstock with a backing of gold leaf. No idea why I started doing that. Something to do with the symbolism of salvation and rebirth maybe. It's become a habit.

    I was shelving 14 years worth of Fortean Times yesterday (moving house is never truly complete until the last box of miscellaneous shite has been sorted out, sometimes years after the actual move) and I noticed that there are elements of High Weirdness in their publishing schedule from time to time. They have been doing a 13-issue per annum run for at least the last decade, with one "special" that usually appears during the English summer. That's straightforward enough, except that in 2005, July was Issue 198. Issue 199 ought to have been August but was dated September; then Issue 200 was the special; then Issue 201 is also dated September, but is a totally different magazine to Issue 199.

    Also I have some duplicates and many missing issues because every so often they would fail to post me an issue and then double up on the next month's delivery when I complained. Incidentally, if anyone is interested in selling or swapping FT back issues, please feel free to contact me off list. I have made my email address visible in my profile.
    • CommentAuthorMr. Skar
    • CommentTimeMay 3rd 2011
    So far the flat out strangest idea i have ever come across in books is that of the two cities in China Mieville's (just imagine that first e with an accent over it) <em>The City and The City</em>. The strange coexistence of the two is hard to wrap your head around at first and to be honest you may never really get the hang of it, but it is a shockingly brilliant idea. While anything by him is gonna have some strange ideas in it, this was the one that really got me. I'm always up for the weird and wild in fiction.

    Aside from that, anything by Joe R. Lansdale (he wrote the story that became <em>Bubba Ho-Tep</em> if that means anything to ya) will fit the weirdness bill pretty well, but start with <em>The Complete Drive-In</em> which is a batshit insane horror story set in drive in movie theater that has been transported to another dimension. The complete collection has all three books in the series compiled into it, and while the last two don't really match up to the first all that well, they are still excellent reads.
    • CommentAuthorEmperor
    • CommentTimeMay 4th 2011
    The City and the City is impressive in that it forces into a new way of thinking in order to understand what is going on, so that you eventually have a similar mindset to the inhabitants of the two towns. I can't think of many books that do that (although I did read a non-fiction book once that I thought was trying to rewire my brain).
    • CommentTimeMay 4th 2011
    When I was in 8 years old, someone gave me a copy of Star Wars. Chapter 4 was printed twice.
  2.  (9817.26)
    This is one of my favourite books. Strange as in it looks at a landscape very familiar to me in a completely different way. In the 1930s Chiang Yee came to England and towards the end of the decade travelled round the Yorkshire Dales painting chinese watercolours of the landscape. This is a landscape I know well, both personally and professionally, yet Chiang Yee's art opens up a whole new perspective on how I see these places.
    He wrote other books in the Silent Traveller series. I would highly recommend them
    Kilnsey Crag, Yorkshire

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