OMENS by Richard Gavin (Mythos Books 2007)
My commentary on this book extracted from an interactive discussion thread here: http://shocklinesforum.yuku.com/reply/82880/t/-Omens-by-Richard-Gavin.html#reply-82880
The first story, IN THE SHADOW OF THE NODDING GOD, is where a muse uses the author as a muse rather than the other way about. This is one helluva great story. Lovecaftian, Ligottian, Gavinostic…
THE PALE LOVER – another good’un, with elements of Dennis Wheatley, excellent old-fashioned story-telling, even the screen static that Mark S has in some of his stories. And the first encounter, for me, with a ‘ghost-whore’! (Not the ghost of a whore as such but a ghost that is a whore!)
Only one complaint: the print in this book is uncomfortably small for me.
THE BELLMAN’s WAY – the bellman explicitly and implicitly a question mark, the sanctimonious ‘Outsider’ of Camus, the gratuitous act, all veiled behind an otherwise conventional horror story. Impressive.
DOWN AMONG THE RELICS – spiritual epoxy carrying an audit trail of ‘mnemonic-dream’ (lovely expression!), a Christmas Tree that needs to be taken down on Christmas Day itself because it’s already gone brown, a turkey dinner / a spider’s nest, a car crash., & as in ‘The Bellman’s Way’ police authorities (in the know?) this time with yellow tape…. Wow! I hope I don’t have a mnemonic-dream! On 2nd thoughts…
DANIEL – is is a very powerful story that out-Roads Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Road’ and out-Pans the Pan Book of horrors, and better written than both with a real texture of style rather than just bald statements. It poses the moral question of Evil as Disease rather than simply Evil. I really ‘enjoyed’ it and what a great first sentence: “I was depositing my wife’s severed head into the soil beneath my basement floor when I heard the telephone ring.”
STRANGE ADVANCES – with due respect to the other stories in this book, ‘Strange Advances’ is my favourite in it so far. A beautifully written Venice-centred story that will resonate, I’m sure, till I forget it upon Alzheimer’s or death.
MNEMONICAL – an effectively charged prose poem dealing with the ‘often parish’ of unrequited dream-time.
& ON THE EVE OF YULE – a genuine gem of decay and yuletide pungency, as the narrator has the bottle to let out the dynastic genie…
WHAT BLOOMS IN SHADOW WITHERS IN LIGHT – a gorgeous texture of a symphony in movements of various shades of dark mood — leading to obverse redemptions and resurrections. It may resemble music but it has a clear onwardness of plot & character. I found the *unused* Christmas decorations particularly poignant. I don’t know why.
A FORM OF HOSPICE – a dream therapy as a filter that works both ways, an announcer on an untuned radio station, an imitation blue – the narrator wonders if Hell is better than simply nothing. This story shocked me, actually. A good sign.
BENEATH THE HOUSE OF LIFE – a story for ‘those that attune their minds to its strange frequency’ and for the ‘puzzle-hungry’, it reminds me of my own vision of story-telling as: “SYNCHRONISED SHARDS OF RANDOM TRUTH AND FICTION” – and the ‘Lurking Fear’-like climax engulfs any residual kindnesses that a retired couple may have wanted to harbour in the Autumn of their years given a saner universe where would otherwise hopefully lurk no Junktongue … or even Weirdtongue… Arrrgh!
EVOKING THE HORRORS – “These were our true names but they were ones that we kept secret from the world.” A love of a couple in poignant simplicity that reminds me of one of my really favourite books: ‘Martin Pippin In The Apple Orchard’ (1921) by Eleanor Farjeon. But its dire ending (the very last sentence) prefigures and pre-echoes….
FOREWORD: GNOSTIC NIGHTMARES, HAUNTED DREAMS
An excellent ‘story’ that abandons omniscience (Cf ‘Nemonymous’, where RG once had a story) and embraces ‘The Ominous Imagination’ (Cf ‘Omen’).
This book is a Gavinostic Nightmare. One that works.
And I have evidence: I had a Gavinostic Nightmare for real the other night. I knew I was in a dream although I was in my own bungalow-house in UK getting up to relieve myself as I often do – but halfway down the stairs I knew this was a nightmare and I don’t know why but it was one I was truly living and all I needed was some proof that I was awake as well as dreaming (somehow and in some sort of sense). There was a grill-like thing, a square of criss-cross wire, on the inside of the front door at the foot of the stairs. This must be a dream. It had never been there before. I knew if I touched it, it would dissolve… I touch it. It was hard. I could move it. I could truly feel it, almost with an electric shock. But before I could investigate further I woke in my bed upstairs, next to my sleeping wife. My fingers could still feel the wire they had touched. I went down to relieve myself ‘again’. Of course, the grill-like thing was not there. I am sure I would never had this quite amazing yet highly disturbing experience without reading OMENS.
All my Real-Time Reviews are linked from here: https://nullimmortalis.wordpress.com/2010/09/07/df-lewis-real-time-reviews/
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