The Course of the Heart

The Course of the Heart

by M. John Harrison, David Lloyd
     
 

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John M. Harrison delivers an extraordinary, genre-bending novel that weaves together mythology, sexuality, and the troubled past and present of Eastern Europe. It begins on a hot May night, when three Cambridge students carry out a ritualistic act that changes their lives. Years later, none of the participants can remember what exactly transpired; but their clouded

Overview

John M. Harrison delivers an extraordinary, genre-bending novel that weaves together mythology, sexuality, and the troubled past and present of Eastern Europe. It begins on a hot May night, when three Cambridge students carry out a ritualistic act that changes their lives. Years later, none of the participants can remember what exactly transpired; but their clouded memories can't rid them of an overwhelming sense of dread. Pam Stuyvesant is an epileptic haunted by strange sensual visions. Her husband Lucas believes that a dwarfish creature is stalking him. Self-styled Sorcerer Yaxley becomes obsessed with a terrifyingly transcendent reality. The seemingly least effected participant in the ritual (who is haunted by the smell of roses) attempts to help his friends escape the torment that has engulfed their lives.

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Editorial Reviews

bn.com
The Barnes & Noble Review
British author M. John Harrison's The Course of the Heart -- a hauntingly provocative novel about four Cambridge undergraduates involved in an inexplicable occult ritual and its bizarre consequences decades later -- has finally been released in the United States.

Years after the arcane ceremony in a Cambridge field on a hot summer's night, none of the participants can remember what exactly transpired. But their unclear memories can't rid them of an almost overwhelming feeling of foreboding. Pam Stuyvesant is an epileptic haunted by strange, sensual visions. Her husband, Lucas, believes that a dwarfish creature is stalking him and, with the support of his sickly wife, begins to create an alternate Middle Europe steeped in myth and magic as a kind of psychological sanctuary. Self-styled sorcerer/egomaniac Yaxley becomes obsessed with a heavenly -- and terrifying -- transcendent reality. The nameless narrator, whose only consequence of participating in the ritual is a recurring smell of roses, tries valiantly to help his friends escape their torment -- with utterly shocking (and magnificent!) results.

Speculative fiction wunderkind China Miéville (King Rat, Perdido Street Station, et al.) chose The Course of the Heart as one of his Top Ten Weird Fiction novels of all time and described Harrison as "a towering genius of modern fiction." Reminiscent of Aleister Crowley's Diary of a Drug Fiend, this disturbing, poignant, and at times poetic reissue demands to be read -- a supernatural masterwork has been unearthed. Paul Goat Allen

Bill Sheehan
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.
— The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
An unspoken secret that warps the lives of three Cambridge graduates is a springboard into mysteries of the heart and spirit in British author Harrison's enigmatic dark fantasy. Lucas Medlar, Pam Stuyvesant and the novel's unnamed narrator are all middle-aged intellectuals mired in the entropy of their lives. Lucas and Pam are in a deteriorating marriage, and the narrator uses work as a refuge from family and friends. All three are beholden to Yaxley, a creepy acquaintance from their schooldays who shows up periodically, always speaking in metaphysical riddles about a sensual realm called "the Pleroma." Meanwhile, Lucas entertains Pam with a fanciful history of "the Coeur," a symbol-laden quest that spans centuries and continents and is linked to the understanding of the Pleroma. The meaning of the Pleroma and the Coeur, and how they relate to visions of awe and terror that taunt all three characters over the course of the story, are just part of the weird aura that cloaks all the novel's events and points back to a strange shared experience from their youth. Harrison (Things That Never Happen) tantalizes the reader with explanations that are always just out of reach, and this sense of imminent revelation heightens the tale's mystery and suspense. Readers who like fantasies tinged with the transcendent will find much to enjoy. Agent, Susan Howe. (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781597800402
Publisher:
Night Shade Books
Publication date:
04/05/2006
Pages:
224
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.75(d)

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