My new-style real-time review of the BFS Journal Winter 2012 / 2013 was ignited here.
My review comments will appear below in the comments to this post as and when I read the stories and poems (in the order they are printed) — hopefully garnering a gestalt…
[My latest RTRs of other books are linked from here.]
14 responses to “*”
As with all my recent RTRs, I have imposed on me a trio of typo hunters (below). Sadly, their task, they tell me, started early here as the first story is shown in the contents as starting on page 15 while it actually starts on page 13.
saarbrucken witch – juliet hubbell
“‘No, I make them as people have described them to me in their stories,’ he responded.”
A very well-written and clever story (I won’t give the ending away). I thoroughly enjoyed this tale of a journey by “aero plane” — with, for me, at least a tinge of ‘steampunk’ — a journey of a mother and son with a secret language between them, a relationship very well built up, and the sudden realisation that among the other passengers is a group of mothball-loving (inter alia) ‘witches’ conveying, as felt by the reader, a tremulous sense of menace towards the boy…
His model figures work in the same way as my typo-hunters, I feel! But I hadn’t yet read this story when making the last post above! But please don’t let that personal comparison of mine detract from the serious power of the story itself.
choose your adventure – mark lewis
“The devil flashes up / Out of the screen”
For me, an accomplished staccato poem that had me in fresh stitches. A cross between Ian Livingstone and Facebook with a dash of creative non-sequiturs bordering on Dada. Bordering, too, on an actual re-configuration of self not dissimilar to the effect of the ‘objective correlatives’ set up as models in the previous story…
illuminati – gary mcmahon
“It was speaking to him in a language he was yet to learn, but given time he’d be fluent.”
A typically powerful, bleak and messianic McMahon, ranging from that language akin to the secret one in the journal’s first story, ‘“robotic bees” akin to that story’s ‘mothballs’, and something that is part of “a larger, more complex code” that is the gestalt I personally seek by means of this review, here the formulation and interpretation of lights, emerging like the devil from the screen that the previous poem prefigured, a name not a face. Not even a face-book. Effectively mixed with the tawdriness, lust and greed of ‘The Beneath’ that underpins the city that is us. Scrying the trivial contours of where we live for the large picture, whether a back-lit Bosch or Munch or, even, something light.
psyche – megan kerr
“if I translate what’s not there till |”
A poem that has its own inbuilt enjambements within lines as well as between! This seems to mirror much of what’s been said fiction- and poem-wise so far in the journal, but I shall need to keep checking back at this intriguing poem as I continue beyond it. That says it all.
green river – aliya whiteley
“…I looked around for the highest building, to try to get a view of that river. I found it at the top of the museum.”
I defy anyone not to find this story beautiful, an emotional experience rarely found. It strikes me as having the same ‘universe’ as this journal’s first story and here there is indeed another container of models or figures or symbols, this time of lost souls. A sort of Pandora’s Box but in many ways that gives a misleading impression. The skimpily dressed cowgirl performer and her friend who sings these boots-are-made-for-walking for eager men in the audience… The symbols are tantalising. The ‘sin-eating’ (?), too. A Pandora’s Box now in reverse involving the first story’s mother-figure? The green river ending brought tears to my eyes.
6 word stories – clockhouse london writers group
I enjoyed the 21 examples of 6 word stories, the ultimate ‘dying fall’ or ‘lament’ in literature, perhaps. My favourite was no. (17): “Island Motorway: thousand mile pile up.”
I then looked down the page and found this was written by Mark Lewis. Other writers involved: Allen Ashley, Madeleine Beresford, Gary Budgen, David Penn, David Turnbull, Nick Wood.
It invites others to have a go. This is mine:
“Silence. Voice. Silence. Voice. Silence. Silence.”
Perhaps leave yours in the comments to this comment. One per person.
Pleased to report that the three typo-hunters have failed to find anything to report so far, other than the initial deliberate contents typo provided so as simply to test their mettle!
reminding – sathya stone
“3 am was the witching hour, in the new age, now that midnight was no longer even close to the deepest pit of night.”
An engaging, substantive story, about two old fogeys, whom I yearn to be like, one George, the other Jack, of erstwhile slaying fame, who are tantamount to being assigned a mythic mission “heroing” in modern, undark, 24/7, wikipedia/google, supermarket-land … assigned by a supermarket checkout miss — no doubt one of the new-mythic misses. I won’t bother you here with the plot and what monsters need facing, and whom needs saving (a great plot involving bindweed and the legends below the ley-lines of our land). Let me just say this is a delightfully written, quite original (to my eyes) narrative that had me chuckling as well as sitting quite uncharacteristically wide-eyed at good fantasy, well spun. There is surely much here to provide material for several stories or a novel?
the oubliette – joe lord
“it is full of story”
Starting with an evocative ‘genius loci’ of a Spanish shop and its environs, we are led into a narrative intaglio that I found absolutely entrancing…and somewhat frightening. I don’t know what I really expected upon opening this BFS book to its fiction and poems but the dividend has surely been beyond my wildest expectations, even if the good stuff stops here. Again, this story is beautifully written and you expect books with only one such gem. But this book has a good few.
The containers of the boy’s figures, earlier, the case of lost souls, also earlier, and now here a book container, literally and figuratively. In many ways a plot idea used before (I won’t say what it is as it will spoil it for you) but the idea here is used so freshly it becomes tantamount to a new idea.
[The witches in the hubbell and the stone still radiating the book’s overarching universe – or gestalt. A concertina river from a green book. A quilt of 6 word stories made whole. Christmas illuminations in the lord to match mcmahon’s illuminati… choose your own adventure, I say].
the apprentice – sarah newton
“…its single elegant arch holds together without nails, by the balance of natural forces alone.”
I can confirm that I used the word ‘overarching’ in the previous post before I read this story! And in the context of the book’s fiction and poems so far, it has its own satisfying part in the overall gestalt or bridge of the book’s leitmotifs (light-motives scried as a whole by the mcmahon, for example). On its own, this is a traditional, lovecraftian horror story, one that benefited from its context but I have to say pleasantly surprised me how much I miss reading such books as Lovecraft’s that I haven’t read really for many years. This story has its gruesome coincidences and stock shocks, but overall I sense it is well above the general pack. Immaculate prose, its own glue of cohesion by scion or tract, a “morbid sensitivity” as well as an exciting bravado of narrative, with the ambitious academic protagonist seeking the secret of the bridge, just as I am seeking the secret of this book’s own bridge of fiction, a secret that all participants have kept secret till now because they didn’t know they were keeping such a secret!
Perhaps I am the book’s own apprentice.
[Sadly, my typo-hunters found two minor typos. Page 155, 5 lines up. Page 161, 4 lines up.]
the dream of the yellow room – megan kerr
“the planes that trace”
A poem that is shaped on the page like four stanzas with a fifth stanza as a bridge between them. [cf my own prose fable – ‘too many bridges’ – that I wrote a few days ago here.] The words themselves seem to me to be a satisfyingly evocative theme-and-variations upon the room in the Yellow Wallpaper brought up to date with the sound of a train yard etc.
The whiteley seems in kinship with it.
rope of words – megan kerr
“Words have a life of their own. Cut them in half and they grow like worms; they expand to fill the gaps in our vocabulary.”
People who know me will not be surprised that I loved this final story in the book. Others may find it an acquired taste. It is, for me, a telling coda to the bridge of books, now a rope of words. It also tells a story of a woman, who has been dotted about in all these stories already, I guess; here angels have sky ships to match the earlier ‘aero plane’ and, now, a tower that is in two valleys at once like some strange bridge to the background of bells’ ‘sound petals’. It is somehow perfect in itself as well as for the book’s fiction and poems as a gestalt. It is “…a map of the world’s forgotten secrets”. In many ways, Rhys-Hughesian but perhaps more linguistically poetic rather than constructively ‘absurd’ as his fine work often tends to be.
A whiteleyan ‘green river’ of text this whole book in a golden valley with thoughts of yellow wallpaper. With the odd monstrosity grinning or girning to season the mood. A container of figures or souls, or a container of ‘mere’ words?
The typo-hunters have gone on strike because this final story is full of lexicographical tricks that do not bear normal typo-hunting! Good riddance to them I say. They were only my apprentices, anyway.
I shall be fired, too, I guess, as the book’s own apprentice, especially when the authors get together to discuss my review. But I shall remain truly enamoured of this book’s fiction, as I hope I have sufficiently expressed above already. There is much else in this book, by the way, in addition to the stories and poems. In fact, there are many non-fiction articles on the subject of fantasy, horror, creative writing etc that probably amount to most of the book.
written later today: http://weirdmonger.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/a-bridge-of-green-books.html
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