DEFEATED DOGS by Quentin S Crisp
Eibonvale Press (2013)
My RTRcausal is continued from HERE and extends into the ‘comment’ stream below:
(please click to make pictures bigger)
The Broadsands Eyrie
“These rocks were eerie with a prehistoric loneliness,…”
I spoke earlier of the ‘purple patches’ of John Cowper Powys and indeed he sometimes out-purpled his own purple (please see my review of his novel ‘The Inmates’) – and I don’t know whether QSCrisp has read Powys, but he, too, can out-purple his own purple, out-Powys his own Powys, but with a more dependable degree, I feel, of empathy and non-grossness. QSC’s adjectival phrases like ‘eerie-solemn’, ‘hag-ancient’ and elsewhere in this book, ‘ivory-nervous’, are just one type of example. These two authors’ respective intense personal mysticisms are not identical to each other in subject-matter but are blood-brothers in sumptuous texture and spiritual ‘O Altitudo’. This QSC story is an intensely rarefied treatment (Proustian as well as Powysian) of the narrator’s boyhood memories, factored into unrequited love (and this book’s underlying theme of ‘unrequited writing’?) – and dreams, magic, love, ex oriental & ex occidente.
Nostalgia, social unease, under- and over-lain with the striking trope of the palimpsest of layers of sand, and those layers’ surfaces’ kinship with the sky of stars and the sea of ‘stars’. And such sand giving Poe’s premature burial a luxurious feel? “The salt-terror of near-death”. The genius loci of a seaside cove and his family’s visit will stay with me, particularly as I love walking beside the sea and collecting pictures of rocks near where I live. The ‘edge’ where no-one had touched – yet. Except with this book?
“What a horrible, attractive fate, to have to cling and cling, grabbing and crying like the child that you are, knowing that you cannot cling forever.”
The above points away from the entrance to my secret wood with the trees I hope to show at the end of this page below.
The Gwyllgi of the Lost Lanes
I wonder if the preceding stories in this hardback book that ends here have now become a trick for us to believe this Aickman-like ghost story for real! But surely the visions we have been told heretofore are indeed the authorial ‘confessions’ of truth we have been tutored to find them to be as an intrinsic reality, a reality that transcends the synchronised shards of truth and fiction, and so when we are faced with this archetypal MR James story technique told by the book’s narrator, our narrator, about strange events told by one of his friends, we now truly believe about the (defeated?) dogs at the crossroads, the lost girl, the legends of a locale, that wonderful description of a Spiritualist ‘show’, and it becomes creepier and creepier. In the preceding context of the book, this story – that vaguely reminds me of other stories by QSC in the ‘All God’s Angels Beware!’ collection – is genuinely chilling. That’s what good codas should all be about!
I shall now read and review the story in the pamphlet that accompanied this book.
The Magical Universe
The pages are made of magical paper. Simply touching their surfaces gives me a frisson. No idea how that works.
Also, the story itself – echoing the unrequited ‘magic, dream, love’ Trinity of ‘The Broadsands Eyrie’ – is pure joy. I thought about writing this item in my review solely with the language of ‘Hlem’ … in a Monty Python voice. But that would detract from what I think I remember as the main book’s human relationships ever defaulting to the ‘macabre’ — and, as I think I pointed out, human relationships always being one step behind or one step ahead of reality. This is a man-woman rapprochement that hopefully transcends shyness or social unease by inventing a new language via email before the couple’s first meeting and by vowing only to talk in that language when they do meet. This eventual romantic encounter is bracketed by remarkable coincidences … allowing my ten year old concept of ‘synchronised shards of random truth and fiction’ to become FOR REAL and EXPLICIT for the first time in my reading life. Thanks so much.
“…the way a grub buried in the bark of a tree might shift and wriggle…”
I shall now read any non-fiction material (including the introduction by Brendan Connell) but, as is common with all my RTRcausals, I shall not be reviewing it.
[Typos that I noticed: Page 41: where is happened –> where it happened. Page 169: paragraphing needs correcting: She extended…. Page 300: the this limbo –> this limbo; agéd –> agèd]
This is a wonderful book overall and the publisher deserves congratulation.
THE END OF MY REVIEW
My walk today in the local area took me for the first time into the wood…
My piece today on the story entitled INTO THE WOOD by Robert Aickman.
I ventured further into the wood today:
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