Alex Grecian Gives us the Devil

FictionReboot2Welcome back to the Fiction Reboot! As the companion blog to the Daily Dose, we aim not only to promote great fiction and brilliant authors, but also the intersections between literature and science/medicine. Today, I am pleased to bring you both in the third installment of Alex Grecian’s Murder Squad series, THE DEVIL’S WORKSHOP.

From my recent Huffington Post review of the novel:

indexI was twelve or so, I think, and my brother was eight. Something black and strange lived in the thicket, something with red eyes. Later years taught me to speculate: perhaps it was a bear, or a large dog, or a trick of the light. What remains quite clear, however, is the experience of fear in its purest form–a nameless horror that left a gaping hole of ragged terror behind. I’ve since come to expect the Devil to walk on human feet, and yet the worst of humanity’s offenders will undoubtedly vibrate with the same all-consuming dread. Now, thanks to Alex Grecian’s latest book, I know exactly what to call him. He answers to Jack.

Read more here–get the novel here–and, because we do more than tease, view the book trailer below!

London: the Wellcome Collection

I am presently sitting in Peyton and Byrne, the cafe inside the Wellcome. I shall define the Wellcome with its tag-line: “a free destination for the incurably curious.” While there are Wellcome centers in many cities (including Oxford), this is the two-building matrix including the Wellcome Library and the Wellcome Trust. The library contains 750,000 books, and on the first floor are a number of galleries. Through August of this year, the main exhibit is DIRT: The Filthy Reality of Everyday Life. There are image galleries and permanent galleries that include the birthing devices, etc. Here is a link to exquisite bodies. My favorite, naturally.

I am here for two reasons. Perhaps three, if you count incurable curiosity. Partly, I wished to get a reader’s card. The Wellcome Collection is a valuable research tool, and there are so many texts, images, and objects to explore. Given my interest in intersections of medicine, literature and anthropology, it is a kind of Mecca. I was shown about by Ross MacFarlane, a research officer and quite brilliant. He is a colleague of James Edmonson, whose name keeps appearing in my work and writing… Dr. Edmonson is the curator of the Dittrick Museum in Cleveland, a truly exceptional museum. The exhibit on birth is one of the best I have seen, and it was there that I had the privilege of beginning this work.

But the final reason for this trip is an upcoming class proposal. It is my hope to bring a group of students to the Wellcome in the future–I know plenty of them who are as incurably curious as I.

[And yes, there is a man standing on the ceiling in the atrium]

London: The British Museum

If you are ever in London, you would do well to visit the hallowed halls of the British Museum. It holds, among other invaluable items, the Rosetta stone and the carvings from the Parthenon. I wandered there today, in endless halls  of anthropological significance. Egyption mummies, the great artwork of Darius I’s Persian empire, the Minoans and Myceneans–Athens! Lycia! Assyria! Japan! There is also quite a bit from Europe 300-1100 AD, and a respectable collection from 800 BC. (Mark, it is practically a crime that you missed this, considering how you love history; we will have to come back). I think I was most awed, strangely enough, by the Roman mosaic tiles…though Greek statuary is utterly breathtaking to behold. There is soul in old objects; they speak. I suppose that explains my penchant for material culture (birthing machine again). The thingness of life.

While having a cranberry-brie baguette in the Grand Court (updated for the new millennium), I met two gentlemen from Switzerland. They noticed that I was sketching the museum lion in my notes, and so struck in. One of them remarked that he did not think experiences (like the ones we get traveling) are translatable. How do we share them? They live inside us. It is a good point. And yet, I feel that we do share them– that same sense of longing and desire for old and new things lives in everyone: the thumbprint of God. We are part of collective human experience, and I think poetry and music proves that the soul can be moved by inarticulate wonder from great distances of space and time (I am thinking of the composer Gibbons again). I am no great composer, of course. I am not a trained photographer, either. But I do believe we can share great gifts, and even great travels, through story, poem and song. And perhaps a blog counts for something, no?

We may even find there is a subtle likeness between us and those who have passed before. Mom, this one’s for you–I am standing next to “Amazon Woman.” I am sure you will appreciate the similarity. [There is a family joke wrapped up in that comment, for those not in the know]. The trouble I have in museums, therefore, is not difficulty connecting to the past or even trouble sharing it. Rather, I get mind-fog–a kind of fatigue from looking at too much amazing work at a time (I think it could be fatal at the Louvre). And so, naturally, I sought out another spot to have tea. In fact, I rather find my way around by frequent stops at tea rooms, coffee shops and pubs. Ants, you know, follow a chemical scent to find their way around (as several varieties are actually blind). I am a tea-shop ant. Go too far along the path without stopping in, and I am utterly lost.

Ant Invitation: Have a look at the snaps, and pour a cup of some friendly brew or other while you do it.