(One for English Literature on narration in Muriel Spark's The Driver's Seat and Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights; the other for Philosophy on sense-data and physical objects in Bertrand Russell's philosophy of perception - but that's by the bye. No, no, in fact it's utterly pertinent as Narration and Perception are HUGE themes in Lafferty's writing! Not to mention that Spark is a fellow Catholic hybrid-fiction writer that will someday make some Lafferty academic a very fine comparative study and Russell provides a perfect secular humanist foil for much of what Lafferty had to say.)
After handing the second essay in today, I came home to find a greatly anticipated parcel awaiting me. The perfect reward! You guessed it, Iron Tears, a now rare collection of Lafferty's short stories. I found this for under £40 the other day at random online (I haven't seen it for under £100 for a few years I think). I begged my wife and promised to skip coffees and sandwiches in town and put some of our children into factory work or whatever it takes to afford it! I just couldn't pass it up at that price. To be honest, I've been fully expecting to get an email telling me it wasn't for sale after all (it's happened to me more than once with Lafferty books - and one time several years ago with Iron Tears!).
And it's the original version from Edgewood Press with the introduction by Michael Swanwick and what I think is a really cool cover! (Mr. Swanwick's intro is a very poignant little essay entitled 'Despair and the Duck Lady' that I will interact with another time.)
Here it is in all its second-hand glory (photo by my lovely wife, Andrea)
Three incredible blurbs about Lafferty by fellow writers grace the back cover:
'In these wonderful stories Lafferty unfailingly puts us, in his own words, "into a different juxtaposition with all things else in the world." Nobody else does it better. In fact, nobody else does it at all -- not like this. Lafferty is one of a kind, a magician of strange images made fleetingly recognizable, of familiar emotions made strange and new and haunting. A delight.'Nancy Kress
'The stories in Iron Tears are alive with the strange combination of beauty and inexplicable terror and wonder usually found only in dreams.'James P. Blaylock
'I love this book... Lafferty is our unheralded American Garcia Marquez... a word-slinger totally out of synch with today's slim-fast reductive rhetoric; a sly old buzzard who conjures up fables as lurid as Bible stories and tells them in a tornado of words wild enough to drive wood splinters through a windshield.'
Introduction: Despair and the Duck Lady
by Michael Swanwick
You Can't Go Back
Lord Torpedo, Lord Gyroscope
Thieving Bear Planet
The World as Will and Wallpaper
Horns on Their Heads
By the Sea Shore
Selenium Ghosts of the Eighteen Seventies
Or Little Ducks Each Day
Le Hot Sport
Gray Ghost: A Reminiscence
A good half dozen of these I've already collected in multi-author anthologies, but some are very rare indeed, only collected in very limited chapbooks that are now unavailable or very expensive (just for a story or two). Plus, the prospect of an overflowing handful of stories I've never read by Laff, well, you can't beat it. The ones I have read are some of Lafferty's VERY best in my opinion and I'll no doubt discover at least a few more to put in that category.