Dark Awakenings – by Matt Cardin
DARK AWAKENINGS by Matt Cardin
MYTHOS BOOKS LLC (2010)
I am starting a real-time review of the short fictions in this book. I genuinely don’t know how long this will take, whether days or years? Probably somewhere between!
Beware possible but unlikely spoilers.
All my real-time reviews are linked from here: https://nullimmortalis.wordpress.com/2010/09/07/df-lewis-real-time-reviews/
“The knocks were somehow amiss, as if they were produced by the wrong kinds of hands beating on the on the wrong kind of wood.”
This is Lovecraftial cosmic horror of the highest quality. We, mankind, in a cosmic trap of metaphysical despair and encroaching wrongnesses (wrongnesses apparent to all who can collate evidence of them in commonplace events). It seems coincidental that I received a long awaited book only two days ago (THE CONSPIRACY AGAINST THE HUMAN RACE) which, now, in my mind, resonates with the notebook (commonplace book) that the protagonist discovers in the possession of a co-student. Furthermore, specifically, with this story, I note a resonance between the words ‘teeth’ and ‘truth’. I await my own self-engulfment with trepidation.
“…the best thing is never to have been born.” (3 July 10)
The Stars Shine Without Me
“Then he looked at the papers and smiled, showing me two rows of tiny perfect teeth.”
This Ligottian-like Corporate Horror Story has a title that means a lot to me in today’s circumstances of events in my own life. I enjoyed this wonderful story of (for me, meaningful) bleak office work in a giant city office leading to a mandala-design situation similar to that in the previous story’s commonplace book. There is some ‘teeming’ kaleidoscope that is in this story that conjoins my own via some common daemon muse, I sense. It allows me not to worry about things I could be doing if I weren’t doing something else. Thanks, story. (5 Jul 10)
“And I could not help feeling a momentary surge of protectiveness toward her, like the phantom sensation of a lost limb.”
An amazing piece, resonating with the connected teemings in the previous two stories, here a merging of plant-life, at times, with other plant-life, but, overall, a DH-Lawrencian connection or balance, a troilist sexual synergy that possesses, in turn, a symbiotic relationship, for me, with Steve Duffy’s equally amazing story THE FIRST TIME reviewed here: https://nullimmortalis.wordpress.com/2010/08/23/tragic-life-stories-by-steve-duffy/.
There is also a cosmic connection, too, between Lovecraftian and Roman Catholic sensibilities? I still wonder at the harvesting that my real-time reviews seem serendipitously to reveal… (5 Jul 10 – five hours later)
“…gripped in that hand was the light of a four-pointed star, which gathered and swelled until it was a blazing beacon of truth…”
Corporate Horror again but with the theme of your own monstrous muse living off the perceived ‘wrongnesses’ of life and becoming YOU. Neatly speaks the words you want to speak from thought but daren’t (cf: ‘The Scream’ by Tim Casson in ‘Null Immortalis’) and conveys the wrongness of an office building and the human interaction therein that synergises with another Steve Duffy story, i.e. ‘The Fabric of Things’ reviewed here: https://nullimmortalis.wordpress.com/2010/08/23/tragic-life-stories-by-steve-duffy/ Meanwhile, Matt Cardin’s prose is the organic counterpart of the monstrous muse itself: rich, grotesque, each word drenched in the syrup of ‘wrongness’ without the effect of the words being anything other than ‘right’! (6 Jul 10)
Nightmares, Imported and Domestic (a collaboration with Mark McLaughlin)
“…even as the borders of his consciousness began to crumble and allow the pure seed of awareness to expand outward to the next level of selfhood.”
Well, I was bound to enjoy this brilliantly catatonic and visionary felo de se in Proustian selves (here, not as phantom limbs, but as whole phantom bodies dreaming or haunting each other in an Aesthetic (Art Philosophy) soup of reality and irreality) – and (pleasingly for me) synergises with the general geography of the soul in my own novel ‘Nemonymous Night’ (that I put on-line in 2005 originally as ‘The Hawler’ etc). A synergy of dissimilaraties. A symphony on the theme of identity.
It is not all vision and horror, but also portrays some involving characterisation. (7 Jul 10)
The Devil and One Lump
“…a smile that revealed far too many silvery teeth, each one as long as a dagger.”
An ingenious philosophical dialogue between an (ex)-writer of Horror Stories and his Muse, with pregnant repercussions regarding Biblical exegesis, comparative good and evil, ‘self’ness &c. All stuff in pursuit of my own heart… It is also a great story (in the tradition of O. Henry?) (9 Jul 10)
The God of Foulness
“My love of ideas had somehow evolved into a kind of philosophical schizophrenia that expressed itself in terms of a kaleidoscopic shifting of worldviews,”
This seems to be of novella length, told from a ‘bipolar’, daemonly-haunted and studious point of view regarding a new religious movement or plague of Sick Seeking, i.e. celebrating illness and refusing treatment for it, akin to the Millennial Madness of the centuries’ last turn. The first person narrator is put on a mission, almost like a Raymond Chandler detective (here a journalist), to investigate the ‘movement’. (9 Jul 10 – 2 hours later) II & III
The narrator suddenly (gratuitously?) reveals himself to us readers as a ‘strikingly handsome man’ – who then uses his charms with a woman at the hospital to gain access to a very old man with throat cancer at his home, one who seems central to the Sick and Save movement and who suffered shrapnel in his throat many years before – and one wonders about the ‘guard’ of teeth having might slipped (my surmise, not the narrator’s). An interesting interchange between the two of them that involves ‘ends’ and ‘means’ regarding God’s behaviour with regard to disease – and its connection, perhaps, with suicide sects (pacts) and ‘The Conspiracy Against The Human Race’ (again my surmise). The fact that our protagonist narrator is himself a ‘pretty boy’ in contrast to cancer and disease as well as putting himself in ‘proximate cause’ with them makes this interaction particularly effective. (9 Jul 10 – another 2 hours later)
IV & V & VI
The narrator has echoes of his own earlier imperfections with which I shall not ‘spoiler’ this review by detailing – as sickness can spoil the soul of someoneness as well as somebody. Suffice to say, we are here taken into the most potentially sick realms of religion and corrupted religion – beyond even Azathoth (my surmise and italics for teeth/truth half-spoken by a disfigured face or throat). You will need no encouragement from me either to read this novella or eschew it. You will know what you need. Simply think of me as just another Cardinal guinea-pig. (9 Jul 10 – another 90 minutes later).
VII & VIII
“…as if a hook were lodged in my cheek and someone were reeling me in…”
Those genuine Sick Seekers among you should seek out this story.
This is a fitting end to a fiction experience you will hardly forget even if you don’t experience it so as to remember it for real by reading the book itself. Your Daemon or Muse has already read it – has always read it. Now perhaps it’s your turn. (9 Jul 10 – another 80 minutes later)
This book has 319 pages. The so-named ‘Fictions‘ I have real-time reviewed above take us from the book’s beginning to page 180. A beautifully crafted book, by the way, with wonderful cover art by Jason Van Hollander.
I have always decided, in my fiction real-time reviews, not to read author notes, introductions, etc etc, before reading and reviewing the stories. I do later read this extraneous matter, but I do not publicly review it. Perhaps in anticipation of this, the rest of the book from page 180 is headed ‘Other Fictions’. But this does not fool me. I shall merely list below the contents for this sizeable section of the book:
Icons of Supernatural Horror: A Brief History of the Angel and the Demon
Loathsome Objects: George Romero’s Living Dead Films as Contemplative Tools
Gods and Monsters, Worms and Fire: A Horrific Reading of Isaiah
END (9 Jul 10 – another 30 minutes later)
For tangential interest: “Tiny Hooks and Dainty Door Keys” (by Mark McLaughlin & D. F. Lewis), Flesh & Blood #13 2003
2. Matt Cardin left…