Beneath The Surface – by Simon Strantzas


My second real-time review (in 2008):

‘Beneath The Surface’ by Simon Strantzas
Humdrumming Press 2008 


As a rider to the first story (A Shadow In God’s Eye) in this Strantzas book:
“Experience is never limited, and it is never complete; it is an immense sensibility, a kind of huge spider-web of the finest silken threads suspended in the chamber of consciousness, and catching every air-borne particle in its tissue.”
Henry James from ‘The Art of Fiction’ 1888


The almost eponymous second-story (It Runs Beneath The Surface) is about entropy as spiritual epoxy. Really enjoyed it.


THE CONSTANT ENCROACHING OF A TUMULTUOUS SEA was really effective for me in itself – and also because I live in a place beside the cold grey North Sea similar to your City and its surroundings (albeit mine is a town not a city).


BEHIND GLASS has an excellent ‘genius loci’ as well as reminscences of scenarios by Thomas Ligotti and SD Tullis – together with a decidedly off-kilter factory and employees that have the spiritual epoxy… and Lovecraftian aquaria… very enjoyable.


A THING OF LOVE – my favourite, so far. Genuinely disturbing and, although summarisable as a furry muse or a replacement mother when agent meets agent, it is seriously unsymbolisable – which is good.


IN THE AIR – starting as an Aickman-like tale (Aickman was into dust and aeroplanes in his fiction I recall) it becomes a mystico-Blakean, Byronic Darkness of a climax. Excellently done.


YOU ARE HERE – amazing interesting concept of an urban pedestrian map ‘shelter’ that has its own ‘you are here’ indicator wrong! And I felt that about the whole story – as if lost in a credit-crunch-corrupted shopping-arcade that mis-memory of the protagonist’s past makes his present moment seem hidden beneath some surface but still above other public transport systems. A tunnel above a tunnel wherein its wooden struts break as easy as human limbs – a mannequin-frail global economy (as well as a the protagonist’s cherished past) breaking down into meltdown or subsidence.


I think I can safely say that THE WOUND SO DEEP is one of the most disturbing stories I’ve ever read. I felt actually polluted by the protagonist’s ‘passenger’ (a form of Mr Can?). As well as that, it was an excellent portrait of a sensitive office-worker (a man not comfortable with the laddish company of other men) one with paranoiac fear of endangering other people with pollution, then revelling in it, then being subsumed himself. This has definite archetypes within us all, to a greater or lesser degree. Phew! Must let this story rest for a good while before I decide whether it is an all-time horror classic or not, for it is certainly a candidate for so being…
“…a bodiless head floating on the periphery.”


SOMETHING NEW is something also right up my street. Aickman and paranoia taken to extreme degrees, almost to constructively absurdist lengths – mixing music that I love and wedding receptions that I hate.


THE AUTUMNAL CITY – has a prose poem feel, satisfyingly reminding me of TS Eliot (Unreal City?)


THOUGHTLESS – Dr Who mannequins, Ligottian / Dickian concepts, Henry S Whitehead’s Lips – but essentially another story with a style/content combo that I’m fast learning is Strantzaic.
Doctor Meme (may be a ‘meme’ reference which is a bit overkill in the context) but then I realised the irony of him being ‘Me’ twice.


DROWNED DEEP INSIDE OF ME: Rain and Static … darkness then brightness – but the cruelty against children prevails (in the news so much in UK in recent days) … this remarkable story is both an up-beat & down-beat ending to a great book, a lasting image floating through the sky in my head. An arrhythmic threnody.

comments (1)

1. Weirdmonger left…

Friday, 5 December 2008 9:19 am ::

Simon’s stories (as evidenced by this book) are not depressing so much as gutting, leading to something that either depresses and/or uplifts in truly extreme degrees.

The whole of the above ‘review’ was extracted from an inteactive dialogue on a message board linked above.


All my Real-Time Reviews are linked from here:


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2 responses to “Beneath The Surface – by Simon Strantzas

  1. Pingback: DF LEWIS REAL-TIME REVIEWS | My Last Balcony

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