The Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson (Books 2018, 7)

    As I said in the last books post, reading the JAMs’ Illuminatus-inspired attempt made me want to read the real thing again. Seems I read it about every four years or so, based on the fact that I wrote about it last in 2014.

    It doesn’t lose any of its charm. I suppose I’d have to say, if we judge by number of rereads, that this must be my favourite book of all time.

    If you haven’t read it, it’s probably because there’s a conspiracy to stop you doing so. Kick out the jams and go get it. Hail Eris!

    The Secret History of Twin Peaks by Mark Frost (Books 2017, 1)

    In case it’s not obvious, the reading year starts and ends on Christmas Day. This was a Christmas present, and is also preparation for the new Twin Peaks series, which is due to air sometime this year (though what we’ll have to do to see it in the UK is an open question, and one which I’ll discuss at another time).

    Mark Frost was, of course, half of the team that created the original series. This book is presented as a mysterious dossier which has been given to an FBI agent to analyse. It consists of a series of extracts from government and newspaper reports, and comments by someone who signs themselves “The Archivist.” These are further annotated by the FBI agent.

    The subject matter is mysteries: the many UFO reports, going back to Roswell and before; the mysterious goings on around Twin Peaks itself; stories of the Illuminati and the masons, and so on. Some of the quoted reports are, I assume, real. Many are part of the Twin Peaks universe. As a whole the work is entertaining if you like that sort of thing — which I very much do — if a little unsatisfying. Though it has certainly whetted my appetite for the new series.

    Masks of the Illuminati, by Robert Anton Wilson (Books 2008, 21)

    If you had asked me a few months ago whether I had read this I'd have said yes. I thought that I had read most, if not all, of Wilson's books that are in linked to the Illuminatus trilogy. But I'd have been wrong.

    This one features James Joyce and Albert Einstein drinking in a bar in Zurich in 19??. They meet one Sir John Babcock, who has been studying magick (though from a Christian perspective) under the guidance of the Society of the Rose Cross, or Rosicrucians.

    Maybe. Unless it’s something else.

    Stuff happens. Magic and monsters ensue, or people are made to believe that they do.

    It’s not the best or most momentous of his works, but he makes the characters of Einstein and Joyce surprisingly compelling, and Babcock is an affecting innocent abroad, and it all keeps you reading. Good stuff.