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The Course of the Heart

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Night Shade Books
Posted on Monday, June 28, 2004 - 03:55 pm:   

I'll be posting updates to Course of the Heart as we get them. News, reviews, that kind of thing.

CotH is at the printer now, and due for a July release. All we know so far is that B&N is featuring it in their Explorations catalog, which should sell a couple of copies.
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Night Shade Books
Posted on Monday, June 28, 2004 - 03:59 pm:   

And here's the cover. As with Things That Never Happen, David Lloyd did the cover piece.

Course cover
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neil a
Posted on Tuesday, June 29, 2004 - 08:05 am:   

Excellent to see this is being re-released, Mike. I've got the Flamingo edition: very different cover image. Like this new one though.
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MJH
Posted on Tuesday, June 29, 2004 - 08:45 am:   

Hi Neil. David Lloyd's image fetches out the romantic elements; there's a sort of sadness and passion to it which sees something quite different to Dave McKean, say--not that I didn't think that Dave's image was brilliant, too. Carol Fulton's Flamingo cover was lusher & bloodier than both, very much the heart of the rose. Thanks to some Spanish readers I finally got hold of the Minotaro edition of 1996, a curiously-lighted red rose emerging from a box, which brings out something bleaker. As a title, you can't beat El Curso del Corazon.

What I hope now is that, given all of Jason's hard work, people enjoy the book.
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Night Shade Books
Posted on Tuesday, June 29, 2004 - 10:33 am:   

People will enjoy it or I will pull off their arms.
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Wednesday, June 30, 2004 - 06:45 am:   

I wrote something for the WASHINGTON POST singing the praises of MJH. If you're desperate for blurbs on the book, you're welcome to pull something from it. I think this is the version they published:

In =The Monster Show,= David Skal says it's no coincidence that Bobby "Boris" Pickett's song "The Monster Mash" topped the charts right after the Cuban Missile Crisis. I've been struck by the fact that the two most popular movies in America since Sept. 11 are fantasies with deep British roots, both assaying the question of good vs. evil. We live in times when fantasy helps us see more clearly.

While there are scores of Americans doing top-flight work right now---Jack Womack, Jonathan Carroll, Elizabeth Hand, and Jay Russell come to mind right off---one British writer with a dark view of his homeland hits me hardest: M. John Harrison. In =Signs of Life, Course of the Heart,= and in his recent short fiction, Harrison gets into his characters hearts and holds up their deepest dreams and fantasies. “To write about people’s fantasies is to write about desire,” says Harrison in a recent interview. “We live in a fantasy culture, a culture of comfort.” His stories are not comforting, they show what happens to those dreams in the light of day (in =Signs of Life,= one woman longs to fly so badly she undergoes an experimental procedure to give her wings; it doesn’t end well), but the tales are harrowing and they’ve lodged inside my chest like little else I’ve read in adulthood.
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MJH
Posted on Friday, July 02, 2004 - 07:07 am:   

Hi, Gordon. Many thanks. How's it going at FSF ?
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bryan
Posted on Monday, August 30, 2004 - 10:40 am:   

finished up 'the course of the heart' last night. great read. lots of little esoteric tid bids and asides scattered throughout; got a kick out of the mary baker eddy mention at the hospital. the people are real, the relationships are complex - it's a book i'll be thinking about for a long time. thank you.
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MJH
Posted on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 02:27 am:   

Hi Bryan. I'm glad you liked The Course of the Heart. When I wrote it, the idea of ever finding anyone who would think it a "great read" was remote. Good to see it alive again, and haunting someone. (The Mary Baker joke happened, by the way: worse, so did the Steve Ovett/Long John Silver joke. They were some tough people in that cancer ward.)
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MJH
Posted on Wednesday, September 08, 2004 - 04:30 am:   

Jason: got my copies this morning. Very nice book, very nice indeed. Thanks

Quite odd to leaf through it, read sentences I last looked at years ago, and think: I wouldn't do it like that now. Also, you get thrown back into the parts of your life the book stands in for. I'm not only not the person who wrote it anymore; I'm not the person it's about. (Although that Lucas-like statement perhaps suggests I am...)
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Anonymous
Posted on Friday, September 10, 2004 - 10:07 am:   

Hi Mike,
I don't know how you could improve on CotH.
There's a sentence at the heart of the book (I can't quote it exactly because I've lent my copy to a friend )
"The opposite of innocence isn't irony, it's disillusionment."
I think I got the last bit wrong, but anyway that sentence made a big impact on me. When I read that I wanted to shake your hand and buy you a drink. I wanted to give you a standing ovation.
Funnily enough, now that I know your work better I can't think of a more ironic writer. You build irony on top of irony on top of paradox on top of irony.
My question is : Was it you that said that, or the character ?
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MJH
Posted on Friday, September 10, 2004 - 12:26 pm:   

Hello Anonymous. Do you know, I can't remember writing that ? Speaking of layered ironies, it sounds like something "Michael Ashman" might say--or Lucas Medlar writing as Michael Ashman. Because of that I don't want to claim it, and yet--

Well, I'm glad it struck a chord anyway. Maybe if we met one day, and you weren't being anonymous, and I wasn't being M John Harrison, you could buy me that drink.
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Keith Lacey
Posted on Monday, September 13, 2004 - 02:43 am:   

The Course of the Heart p124, Night Shade ed. "The opposite of innocence is not irony but emptiness." Narrator paraphrasing Lucas Medlar.
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Jason Williams
Posted on Sunday, December 26, 2004 - 10:25 pm:   

From the Washington Post:

The Course of the Heart (Night Shade, $25) is, on the surface, a different sort of book that shares a number of Light's thematic concerns. The novel begins as a riff on Arthur Machen's "The Great God Pan," in which an experiment aimed at piercing the veil of the visible world leads to disastrous results. In Harrison's version, three Cambridge students, led by a sinister magician named Yaxley, conduct a metaphysical experiment of their own, one that leaves them vulnerable to nameless occult forces and alters their lives forever.

The narrative traces the disordered, often chaotic nature of those altered lives and presents a powerful portrait of ordinary people making their way through a fallen world, driven by forces they can neither understand nor control. Woven through this primary narrative is an ongoing account of the search for "the Coeur," a country of the heart in which all things are possible and which serves as an antidote to "the bitter world" of pain, grief and unresolved longing. Like most of Harrison's work, The Course of the Heart makes large demands and offers large, unexpected pleasures. Its appearance in America is a welcome, long overdue event. Don't let it pass you by.
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iotar
Posted on Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - 01:37 pm:   

New paintings by Course of the Heart and Things That Never Happen cover artist David Lloyd:
http://www.davidlilford.com/david%20lloyd.htm
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Anonymous
Posted on Friday, November 04, 2005 - 04:03 am:   

http://www.livejournal.com/users/commonplacebook/

Also posted as a review at Amazon.com
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scott fodness
Posted on Saturday, July 29, 2006 - 02:30 pm:   

Greetings,
I hope someone is still reading this thread! I recently finished The Course of the Heart, one of the most perplexing and intriguing books I've read. I'm asking for help/comments on understanding Pam's choice to see herself as Phoenissa rather than Lucas's casting, the Empress. This also seems to be a key difference in what they each take from the Ashman tale.

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