Harper Collins Article about Nemonymous:

My 27th real-time review
posted Thursday, 16 July 2009
I’m starting another of my real-time reviews. This time it is of ‘ANONthology: an anthology of fiction stories by various authors (Fourth Estate – HarperCollinsPublishers 2009), an experiment, I would say, in the tradition of ‘Nemonymous‘. I shall attempt to draw out the stories’ leitmotifs and mould them into a gestalt for the whole publication. I shall then give my personal attempt at assigning the stories to the random list of authors’ names given on the front cover (with a link elsewhere showing my guesses). 

All my real-time reviews: 


“The air has a coppery tinge, as though the whirling leaves have stained it…”

A beautifully touching story of bereavement and of a half-felt religion mingled with the watching for a palimpsest: a quest for the dear departed amid, I infer, a shaken snow-globe type of device, but instead of snow, there are falling autumn leaves.  The symbiosis of abrasive nature and heartbreak, of a child’s memorabilia and emotion’s attempted neutralisation. But then a tutelary ancestor gives the best advice…(16 July 09)


“He was a singer, and he sang for them every morning…”

I feel this is a fascinating fable concerning the coming ‘flu pandemic.  An interesting contrast between the different permanences – with the possibility of young people dying before old.  And, like the first story, the reader needs to impute death as a refined palimpsest of the spirit.  But not really palimpsest this time, but karaoke.

And I wonder if ‘pavilion’ is rooted in ‘papillon’?  The women to whom the man sang were kind enough archetypically to safeguard the chrysalis until he flew away and left its ‘tent’ behind…? (16 July 09 – 3 hours later)

The Hypnotist’s Wife

“Subtle threads tug her back.”

A truly wonderful story (reminiscent of ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ in some unaccountable way) where a wife keeps watch on her husband whose (often female) patients visit him for his skills in hypnotism. Like the previous stories, we still have a ‘mimicry’, but no metaphor by palimpsest or by karaoke this time – but more a possible mutual cancelling-out by symbiosis. Anything more would be a spoiler. Except perhaps the books on the shelf with spines turned inward. (16 July 09 – another hour later)

The Political Obligations of the Lover

“Be assured that it is better to die young and ecstatic than to suffer impotence, irrelevance and bureacracy…”

As one of those at least partially in the latter category of encroaching age, this is an uplifting set of legalese or ‘commandments’ to liberate the lover in us all, possibly ‘echoing’ the paradoxical optimism of ‘Pavilion’ about dying young (even when one is old?).  It proposes a sexual Gaia to set me gambolling like a centaur across the hills.  But it takes shadow from its irony, perhaps, with wit mirroring a hidden despair.  I hope not.  It takes a positive note, for me, in the end, from the final advice in ‘Do’. (16 July 09 – another hour later)

The Approach

“…you never know how it is going to pan out…”

A new day, and a new approach, for me. But I can’t get away from the leitmotif so far, culminating in ‘mutual cancelling-out by symbiosis’ most obvious so far in ‘The Hypnotist’s Wife’.  And the sex drive in the previous story. The treatment in ‘The Approach’ is a plain staccato English monologue addressed to an inscrutable ‘you’ who sometimes answers (spoken off-stage as far as the reader is concerned).  The piece is driven along effectively by the reader’s gradual realising of the scenario, potentially ‘spoilt’ by the publication’s illustrations for the story. The definite ‘pavilion = papillon’ entymological / etymological  root / route is also still at the back of my mind here. (17 July 09)

Purple Ink

“Between the two – the middle-aged remedial English teacher, the near sixteen-year-old boy – there was a curious, clumsy connection.”
Bravo! This anthology is truly cohering — presumably, in accordance with ‘The Intentional Fallacy’, beyond the intentions of the individual authors who wrote these quite separate stories.  This often happens – in my experience – with anonymous sets of multi-authored stories. I call it the gestalt effect. Of course, this may not continue to work here.  I have three more stories to read.
This has an effective sinewy prose style telling of a teacher who considers purple ink kinder than red. I imagine the participants of the previous story, however, have purple ink in their veins. And Mrs Hare, the teacher, is nicknamed ‘Hair-y’. We have an example of a pupil’s ‘clumsy’ prose style shown to us outside the story plus an illustration of a girl’s face flayed partially to look like a buttefly.
This is a truly touching story. (17 July 09 – an hour later)


Letter From Paris

“The prefabricated pavilion had been constructed in the years before or immediately after the Second World War.”

Simply lovely cognitive story of a bureaucratic drogulus.  Satirical in the same way as ‘The Political Obligations of the Lover’ was satirical. A symbiosis of a the witlessness and wit of man leading to a house of cards.  Or at least a house of false premises. Loved it. And it resonated so well with the previous stories in a way I hope I have shown those stories already portended before I read it! (17 July 09 – another 2 hours later)

In The Camp

“…they tended to become so muddy and stuck with leaves…” 

A Nudist Camp with sensible rules to prevent voyeurism from outside … and inside.  The families’ children play games of He and Catch and a vague form of paintball – and they interact with various loyalties, suspicions, excuses, recriminations and subterfuges. 

This publication seems to be about engaging through sometimes fatal symbiosis and this story is no exception.  Here it is responsibly told in a plain style.  A story that sticks to the mind.  To be fair, all the stories so far stick to the mind.  This one, too, makes me want to gambol across the hills like a centaur.

Here, the ‘autumn-leaves globe’ from the first story is a hothose for all these things and more.  Including xenophobia, even when (or especially when?) you’ve got no clothes on.

“At the same time she found she longed to be He, longed to be at once victim and aggressor…” (17 July 09 – another 2 hours later)


The Bears

“‘I bet everyone is having this exact same conversation at this exact same moment.'”

After the more ‘clinical’ separation of nudes in the previous story (other than games of a fleeting ‘Touch’), we now have the ‘bares’ (?) in all sorts of conceived orgy positions.  Symbiosis by mating in more ways than one.  Nothing touching about this story in another sense.  The cynical side of sex, the politics of the lover ….  But hilarious, hedonistic and palate-cleansing … in a sense.  The struggle with putting on leather trousers that are in reality too small is like squeezing back into the inferred chrysalis in ‘Pavilion’.

The final gestalt? It may be a drogulus as warned by ‘Letter From Paris’ – i.e. it doesn’t exist. I believe it does exist, however, and the longer you live with this publication, the clearer (and paradoxically the unclearer) it will become.  A drogulus trying to replicate itself.  Trying to ‘do’ things.

‘Buddenbrooks’ is mentioned in ‘The Bears’. This is Mann’s great novel with ‘Wagnerian’ leitmotifs. 

‘ANONthology’ has a wonderfully similar use of leitmotifs and, on a simpler level, contains well-written stories to read individually and to guess who wrote which.  Will you be staggered by your own prejudice by assigning them all wrongly? I wonder.  My guesses are shown HERE. (17 July 09 – another 2 hours later)


2. Weirdmonger left…

AUTHORS REVEALED! See lnk immediately above.


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4 responses to “ANONthology

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

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  3. Pingback: DF Lewis's Real-Time Reviews

  4. Pingback: Anonymous Anthology | The Des Lewis Gestalt Real-Time Reviews (from 2008)

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