Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Malign Interiors 2: Bigger on the Inside

In September I'm running a reprise of Malign Interiors, a book club that's part of the Architectural Association's excellent Night School. The first series was a real pleasure, with three fascinating discussions of architecture and literature over three successive Tuesdays - you can get a taste of what it was like from this precis at the RIBA Journal blog.

Here are the details for the second series - again, it runs over three successive Tuesday evenings:

2 September: Vathek by William Beckford (1786)
A gothic classic, Vathek is a sprawling orientalist fantasy set in the court of the depraved Caliph Vathek, whose quest to unlock the high mysteries ultimately leads him to the underground city of Hell. I'm aware there's only a week to read it but it's pretty slim for an 18th century gothic novel: only 90 paperback pages in the edition I have. Out of copyright and widely available.

Further reading for the keen: Notes on the Underground by Rosalind Williams

9 September: Report on an Unidentified Space Station by J.G. Ballard (1982)
Explorers in an abandoned structure in space find much more than they expect. A short story, available in volume 2 of The Collected Short Stories (Harper Perennial) or elsewhere. Only five pages, so for this one at least the suggested further reading is strongly suggested: The Enormous Space and The Concentration City, another two J.G. Ballard short stories.

16 September: The Way Inn by Will Wiles (2014)
An anonymous motorway hotel is transfigured into a literal hell in this paranoid satire. The Shining as reimagined by J.G. Ballard. My second novel - 300 pages, but you've got three weeks and it's a real page-turner, obviously.

Further reading for the keen: Junkspace by Rem Koolhaas

You don't have to have read the texts to attend, and I'm sure the discussions - which were very wide-ranging last time - have much to offer all the same; also it's all in the AA's Bedford Square Bookshop, so the books are available to buy. Each session starts at 7pm and costs £5. Last time they provided wine.


Monday, 27 January 2014

Book Club: Malign Interiors

At the invitation of Prof Sam Jacob, next month I'll be presiding over three sessions of the Architectural Association's Book Club. The three texts are joined by the theme "Malign Interiors" - rooms that derange, abduct and kill. So plenty of interest for architects, but the sessions are open to all. Here are the details:

18 February: The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Confined to bed by illness, a woman is tormented by the hideous wallpaper in her sickroom.

25 February: The Dreams in the Witch House by HP Lovecraft
A student of advanced maths and quantum theory is haunted by the irregular geometry of his room in an ancient house in New England.

4 March: Care of Wooden Floors by me.
Looking after a friend's flat in a foreign city, a man expects its beautiful minimalist interior to make him a better person - but it leads to chaos and humiliation.

Starts 7pm each time in the AA's Bookshop. The first two stories are out of copyright and free online (here and here, for instance), but I recommend buying them in anthology so you can explore more by their authors. The third is reasonably priced in all good bookstores. A man's got to eat.