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Baker's Dozen

The Count Of 13: Ramsey Campbell's Weird Selection
Sean Kitching , May 6th, 2020 09:26

In a Baker's Dozen diversion, writer Ramsey Campbell guides Sean Kitching through 13 favourite pieces of weird culture, from film to opera and literature, via David Lynch, Arthur Machen and more


Kazuo Ishiguro - The Unconsoled
I was tempted to cite Never Let Me Go instead, which I think is one of the great horror novels of this century and I don’t think he’s particularly opposed to that notion. However, The Unconsoled is lesser known and to my mind is at least as extraordinary. It’s actually not really very much like any other novel that I’ve read. Our daughter gave it to me as a Christmas present because she felt it was a little bit like a novella of mine called Needing Ghosts. It’s the only thing I’ve ever written which is like dreaming straight onto the page. I think that may have been what she had in mind. The Unconsoled is like a more genial Kafka. It’s a comedy of paranoia, or of insistent unease if you prefer. An orchestral conductor goes to small-town in England where apparently he’s going to try and recapture his reputation and things just go quietly but persistently wrong in every possible direction around him and it has exactly that sort of sense of a dream that you can never quite wake up from. One thing it does remind me of, is Richard Linklater’s film Waking Life, where the central character keeps trying to wake up but can’t. Bit of Buñuel, bit of Kafka, but it’s all Ishiguro as well. Very elegant, deceptively simple style that takes on the most extraordinary experiences. It’s my favourite book of his, although I love many of them.