Author: Robin Spriggs
Publisher: Anomalous Books
Number of Pages: 208
Format: Print (Paperback)
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars aligned
Metafiction or monograph, biography or balderdash, demonic revelation or divine obfuscation, The Untold Tales of Ozman Droom is at times deeply disturbing, at others weirdly sublime, yet ever enigmatic and profoundly haunting throughout-an ouroboric shadow play of strange wonder, mad prophecy, and inescapable dread.
It’s not often I am asked to review a book that I actually end up liking, yet throughout Spriggs’s latest anthology, The Untold Tales of Ozman Droom, I became entranced by the way that each sentence is carefully crafted to carry the reader along these incredibly dark journeys that have been laid bare for all to attempt to understand. Each passage in this book is capable of standing alone as a piece of solitary fiction, yet when confined between covers and anthologized as it is, The Untold Tales of Ozman Droom becomes an eldritch tome of prose and sinister plots that none can easily forget. Like horrible things you can’t unsee, these tales are fashioned to implant themselves in your mind until insanity takes hold and you lose yourself in a world, eternally searching for a man with the last name of Droom.
The only refuge from such a fate can be salvaged from the first passage in the book in which the author describes that the stories that lay ahead are told to be absolutely true, but can at times smell of absolute bull-shit. As it should.
All fun aside, because it’s all there is to be had while reading this book, you are meant as a reader to buy into this world that has been created by Spriggs. By not doing so, one would simply jeer at these tales as things of nonsense and loose the rhythm that is so elegantly constructed to impact the reader from story to story. And although I do find the annotations to be a little distracting, they are fun tidbits to read after finishing each tale while taking on the entertaining task of deciphering truth from fiction. I often found myself needing to reread each story, not out of misunderstanding, but because each ending left me with many questions. Yet after a second reading, and possibly answering said questions, I would be cursed with more perplexity than the first go around. But that is a great tool in weird fiction, to deliver more questions than answers. It is what engages the reader’s imagination and hooks them into the story while they hope that something will be explained.
Usually with an anthology the reader isn’t obligated, or at least shouldn’t feel so, to read the book cover to cover. It is the beauty and curse of the anthology. The reader has freedom to pick it up and put it down, story by story instead of chapter to chapter until it’s done and over. However, in this case, the reader would be missing out on the bigger picture that is painted when most of these pages are read in succession. This is apparent when understanding the themes and motifs amid the book. For instance, it would seem that Mr. Spriggs has a fetish for the number 9. This begins with one of the first stories, The Sigil, in which the character (either created by Droom, or Droom himself) is in attempt to summon a nonagonal sigil, nonagonal being a nine sided shape. There’s the story of The House of Nine, and mentions of nine rooms, and a pantheon of nine in other tales as well.
I also found myself wondering if there was a sentimental value behind the authors use or fascination with the letter I and the word “eye.” Like the ongoing theme of nine, in many stories the reader will notice close attention characters eyes, or the significance to the letter I. I was lost on this motif at times, but enjoyed the incorporation of it in a few of the stories.
I had fun reading this book. Whereas usually these types of review are more work than leisure, I rather enjoyed having to pick this one up and digesting all the little goodies that lay within. The only momentary dislike I felt was in the use or reuse of some of these stories from his previous work, including Diary of a Gentleman Diabolist. I first became aware of Robin Spriggs, while reading issue#22 of the Lovecraft eZine. The prose poem, The Dance, had something in it that I had forgotten existed until reading The Untold Tales of Ozman Droom. I am hoping that the next publication from Robin Spriggs has some fresh material that will further enlighten and grow the hordes of acolytes he has surely developed through his craft.
Well done, sir.
If you have checked out The Untold Tales of Ozman Droom, let me know what you think by leaving a comment. And if you like all the tasty bits we gibber about here, become a follower or submit to receive email updates with every new post! Check us out on Twitter @UnspkbleGibberr and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/UnspeakableGibberer.
A very appealing article on monsters and their influence on humanity and their reflections of our world.
Originally posted on The Geek Anthropologist:
Throughout the past decade or so, we’ve had a resurgence of monsters. Werewolves, vampires and zombies have all experienced their zeitgeist moment, capturing the public’s attention and circulating through television spin-offs until the next monstrous trend took over. The latest incarnation of our fears, Guillermo del Toro’s The Strain, will premiere on FX on July 13, featuring a new breed of vampire. Other shows, like Hemlock Grove, Salem, and In the Flesh feature a horrifying panoply of nightmarish creatures. But it might be useful to think about why pop culture is raising the dead, and what it says about our contemporary fears.
Monsters have for centuries been manifestations of society’s fears and anxieties. As Stephen T. Asma explains in On Monsters, “Monster derives from the Latin word monstrum, which in turns derives from the root monere (to warn). To be a monster is to be an omen […]…
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After photos surfaced Tuesday of an apparent “Gollum” creature spotted near the Great Wall of China, the story went viral. Within a day tens of thousands of comments and speculations collected as to what the thing could be. Anything from a hybrid pig man, to an actual “Gollum” (A character from J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit books) or an ancient lineage of mountain folk being discovered. All the talk got people pretty excited, as will happen when these possible hoax photos pop up.
But new controversy has sprung up after a young man has come forward with not only his testimony, but with photos of him in makeup and being photographed for a local advertisement. However, though it seems very likely that that is the case, some folks have began to point out marked differences in the photos taken by a wayward hiker, and those provided by the young man in the costume, such as; why are the ears slightly shaped different? Or why do the eyes look smaller or closed, when in the costume they are gaping holes. The initial photos by the hiker have been proven authentic and not modified, yet I still see what maybe shoes on the creatures feet, which made me curious before I found that this may all be a hoax.
Along with these differences come a string of questions in regards to why a hiker would spot this “guy in a costume” and no photographers or crew shooting the young man. The hiker explains that while he was on his journey, near the Great Wall, that he was struck with fear as he spotted a bronze skin toned creature drinking water from a small pond (Below.)
In comparison to the photo of the man in the costume, I am curious as to how he is able to drink with his hands through the mask. Not only that but I feel as though the eyes and ears look slightly different in the photos supplied by the hiker.
Either way, its always fun to have a new hoax to speculate about. I feel people gasp tightly to these kinds of false discoveries because we need something new and different in this world. Hence the reason people are so keen on finding bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster or aliens. It gets our imagination running at full speed. It scares us and exhilarates us. It makes us feel alive when we find something strange or unlike us living and reminds us that maybe, just maybe we humans aren’t so special in a world, or universe full of possibilities.
That’s right, the June issue of the Lovecraft eZine is up and out there folks. This months enjoyment includes, of course, the free online edition, the nook/kindle format, a special print edition, and soon the podcast/recorded edition of this issue. Currently at #31, it is hard to believe that this online fiction eZine has made it so long. I have seen many similar sites/mags come and go, yet there is something special that keeps this Lovecraftian train rolling; The people. The community that Mike Davis has gathered is special. They are kind, supportive, and generally interested in each other when given the chance. This is a good place people, and a good environment to breed creativity and generosity to our fellow man in this insignificant universe we live in.
Though video chats, games, contests, and general awesomeness on Mike’s behalf, the Lovecraft eZine has trudged through the primordial soup of the internet that commonly drags down and devours many a man and fiction mags alike. But with a thriving cult… uh I mean community supporting and enjoying what Mike does, there is no end in sight for this… uh… site… yeah.
This months issue includes stories from a few commonly known entities in the Lovecraftian writing milieu; Joseph S. Pulver, Ross E. Lockhart, and Scott Nicolay. And features a few regular columns that everyone thirsts for; Robert M. Price’s Echoes from Cthulhu’s Crypt, and Ronnie Tucker & Maxwell Patterson’s hilarious comic strip, Cthulhu Does Stuff.
Get over to The Lovecraft eZine and share in the weirdness. Enjoy a little horror and maybe gain some perspective through the tales you read or the information you siphon from these texts. While there, do Mike, and presumably every reader and partaker of the site, a plus one and buy the print edition, or simply click on one of the sponsors that endorse the eZine, or click on one of the Amazon portals to access all sorts of Lovecraftian goodness while supporting the site.
My friends, if you haven’t been listening to the podcast, The Drabblecast, then you might be no friends of mine. I take that back I need all the friends I can get. But if you haven’t checked out the fabulous work done by the team at The Drabblecast, then you are missing out. Hosted by Norm Sherman, The Drabblecast is a weekly podcast that brings you full audio productions of some of the brightest and weirdest fiction out there. Anything from the diabolical floaters in your eyes becoming sentient organisms, to otherworldly entities possessing a teddy bear and saving an abused girl from her mother.
Great stuff here folks, and you shouldn’t be missing it. Below is a video that Norm and the family have posted on YouTube, entitled: The Parasite Parade: A children’s book. This is a proper example of how creepy/weird the imagination of Mr. Sherman really is and the production value that goes into every episode. Though the episodes are mostly heard, rather than seen, you won’t be disappointed while you listen to some of the most fantastical or horrifying literature read to you along with scores of music to accompany the tale while creating an ambiance that you just can’t get out of reading these stories.
The latest episode, Local Delicacies is out now and awaiting your ears. You can download The Dabblecast where ever you listen to podcasts (i.e. iTunes,) or you can just go to Drabblecast.org and browse their archives including over 300 episodes of weirdness and hilarity.
If you have checked out The Drabblecast, let me know what you think by leaving a comment. And if you like all the tasty bits we gibber about here, become a follower or submit to receive email updates with every new post! Check us out on Twitter @UnspkbleGibberr and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/UnspeakableGibberer
The book you see to your left has officially been identified as being bound in human skin. June 4th a tweet from the Harvard Library confirming that a copy of French writer Arsene Houssaye’s “Des destiness de l’ame” was given to friend Dr. Ludovic Bouland. The book in question, when translated, is a text entitled “a meditation on the soul and life after death.”
It was upon his receiving of the book that Buffalo Bill… oh I’m sorry Dr. Bouland bound the book in human skin (believed to belong to the back of an unclaimed female mental patient, who died of natural causes,) because, and I quote:
“I had kept this piece of human skin taken from the back of a woman, … A book about the human soul deserved to have a human covering,”
Though it is not uncommon to see a skin bound book in the Harvard Library, they are typically bound in sheep skin. And after many tests, including a check to make sure its not ape skin… cause that’s lest creepy… they concluded with 99.9% confidence that the cover is indeed human and not some makeshift paper bag book cover we all did in junior high and high school to protect our texts.
Although I’m sure a plethora of tests weren’t really necessary since Boulden was kind enough to leave a note within the book declaring that the book was lined with human flesh. Because why would someone lie about that, especially back in 1880.
In all seriousness though, I wouldn’t be surprised if more of these popped up in the future. Though the texts may be archaic, back in the 16th century it was common and even a manner of remembrance to bind a book in human flesh, or for criminal confessions to be bound in the perpetrators skin.
It is also known that numerous 19th Century accounts exist of the bodies of executed criminals being donated to science, their skins later given to bookbinders.
Turns out human skin