Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Arabian Nightmare by Robert Irwin

A specimen of narrative trickery like Calvino’s If on a winter’s night a traveler; but mixing the obfuscation with ghoulish horror brings this more along the lines of Potocki’s. The Mauscript Found in Saragossa (which is reference in the book, or Machen’s Three Imposters. Set in a 15th century Cairo that is turned into a oneiric labryinth, when a young Christian traveler (and spy) falls down the rabbit hole of the titular event (or not ). Endlessly switching narratives and states of reality keeps the reader wrapped in a web of possibilities and conclusions. A world of leper knights, automatons, storytellers, talking apes, murderous somanabulists, djinns, eidolons, dervishes, and other oddities and horrors(Fatima the deathly); ruled over by the sinister Father of the Cats, ruler of the house of sleep (or once again not). Delivered with deadpan humor and filled with a wealth of allusion to folklore, the occult, theology, and medieval history, this book is a lot of weird fun.

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