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Guest Blog (Excerpt): Anton Strout

Monday is a big day for two friends of the blog: Anton Strout (antonstrout) and Mark Henry (mdhenry) are both having book birthdays! In honor of their forthcoming sequels, I debated long and hard about whose previous book I'd take a quick excerpt from. Both of them write tremendous urban fantasy, drawing on different aspects of real world folklore, legend, scholarship, and mythology. In the end, Anton won this one, in large part because my copy of Mark's first book, Happy Hour of the Damned, is still in the possession of one of my gentle blog readers.* So rather than getting an excerpt about leprechauns, chupacabras, and wendigo all at the same Seattle bar opening,** and a short discussion on use of footnotes in fiction in my header***, today you're going to get a quick recollection of my own experience reading Dead to Me and a short excerpt from Anton.

I read Dead to Me while I was on the Turkey and Greece trip. The mix of comedy, action, and real-world references to scholarly movements in art and literature fit remarkably well with my own mindset on the trip. We were, after all, on a fairly action packed trip that was a bit more on the scholarly side and a bit less on the action than the novel, but the mix reflected well. On several of the ferry trips over the course of the tour, we played games like Password. At one point, the word given to the clue givers was "surrealism" (which, for the record, is practically an impossible Password clue; I generally don't recommend it). Thankfully, Dead to Me features a crash course on the Surrealist movement, and my partner and I handily won the round, much to the astonishment of the rest of the group. Frankly, basking in the astonishment was worth more than the points we earned! It probably earned me extra real-world points in the "our TA knows her stuff" category, and I owe it all to Anton!

My hope is that one of these days, I'll convince both of these excellent writers to do a quick original guest blog piece, but until then, here's a short excerpt from Dead to Me (below the double dash). And remember, Deader Still and Road Trip of the Living Dead go on sale on Monday. Pick them up!

* You know who you are.
** You'd have gone, too. What a crowd!
*** Because I really can't seem to talk about Mark's novels without using footnotes. It's contagious or something.


"You know I have a somewhat shady background in art history so bear with me for a moment if I get all lecturey. When you have my ability, you take an interest in the art world. But Surrealism wasn't just an art movement; it was a serious way of life for people. To that point, there was a huge blowup, in the thirties I believe, between two of the leading fathers of the movement, Salvador Dali and Andre Breton."

"I've heard of Dali," Jane said. "He did all those creepy stilt-legged animals and melting watches, right? I think I've seen them at MOMA, but I don't think I've ever heard of this Andre Breton character."

"Not surprising," I said, feeling quite juiced now that I was in my element. "Outside of the Surrealists, few people knew him, but he's a poet who was regarded as the 'pope,' as it were, of the movement. Eventually he kicked Dali out of the elite inner circle of Surrealists because he was considered too far right-wing, and if you can believe it, even too extreme for them."

"That is saying something," Connor said.

"I know," I said, nodding. "There was a huge falling-out in their circle, and it upset Dali greatly. His pissy response to it all was, 'The only difference between me and the Surrealists is that I am a Surrealist.' The whole movement started as a very literary thing, but eventually their philosophy snowballed until it became more like a religion."

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