The Mauve Embellishments – by Charles Schneider

I’m due to start below another of my gradual real-time reviews, turning leitmotifs into a gestalt.

And it is of ‘The Mauve Embellishments’ by Charles Schneider (Passport Levant MMXI).  A book I purchased from the publisher.

There is no guarantee how long it will take to complete this review, whether days or years. Indeed, this is said with the knowledge that a busy Season is afoot and many people have calls upon my time. So I do not wish any of you interested in this review to keep returning to this page and finding nothing added. However, I do not know how to resolve this problem ….

CAVEAT: Spoilers are not intended but there may be inadvertent ones. You may wish (i) to take that risk and read my review before or during your own reading of the book, or (ii) to wait until you have finished reading it. In either case, I hope it gives a useful or interesting perspective.

All my real-time reviews are linked from here:

All my Ex Occidente Press (Passport Levant) real-time reviews here:


This is an exquisite landscape-configured artifact of the highest treebook standards of yore – complete with a beautiful dream-haunting illustration in colour for each of the many items or stories, as my quick breeze through its leaves has so far attested.

Bascade Bay – A Grotesque Confessional  Tale involving The Muslin Nonedscript by “Q”

“… paper machè clown-head.”

 I have been warned on the grapevine to sip these stories with the slow-savoured meticulousness that they deserve. And, indeed, whether by dint of my earlier waiting-room reading circumstances or through an intention within me that ignores such circumstances, I have only read the first story so far and then lived to  dwell on its discreteness – and it is one that prevails gem-like in the mind (helped by its illustration) regarding  a theatrical revenge and human-outsized puppetry that led me later to the sea near my home in hope of rescuing the plot’s worthy victim just to spite the happy-ending narrator! (22 Jun 11)

Osmiae Occularum: Field Notes

This story as brief journal notes makes me think that each artwork and item of text are mutually organic: and this particular symbiosis proves the meticulous care required to scry insect-scrobble for monstrousness as well as beauty: i.e. to establish the sip of reading … causing  the sentence – “It took me half a century to understand what he meant.” – to become retrocausal. (23 Jun 11)

In Situ

“The Bookbinder-Taxidermist sets about preserving your  face. Your head.”

I am sort of speechless at this incredible prose poem. It’s so personal to me, synchronous, serendipitous….  Vis-a-vis the multi-authored book I’m about to publish next month (the HA of HA) and its already decided-upon cover image of a human head of print emerging from a book!! And vis-a-vis ‘The Last Balcony’: “the finishing of your ultimate artistic statement”. I simply can’t write a neutral review of ‘In Situ’ and its bespoke artwork. (23 Jun 11 – four hours later)

Hybrid Revel

“Heard whispers of the growling Garbrilathes.”

A line from this poem that will at least give Google its first Garbrilathe meat of meaning to chew on.  A Poem and its Picture – a hybrid Uccello. (23 Jun 11 – another 2 hours later)

The Map

“You sure he said it was here? All I see is a buncha spooky paintings,”

Another piece that much touches me personally, spookily as if intended to do so.  In my novel – just published – there is a special ‘hawling’ within a mine: I see this as hawling that mine in the same sense. And mines are called that for good reason, i.e. a mine that is ‘mine’.  Conrad’s chance physiognomy of the human mind as both a map and (actual) painting  – a mind that is also mine: all up front as well as deeply to be mined. (24 Jun 11)

Grey Man’s Journal

“He had the most beautiful shadow I have ever seen, walking gracefully beside him.”

Not the grey man’s shadow but what the grey man wrote he saw and yearned to inveigle or exchange… [You know, seriously, I cannot really do justice to this  book’s  prose symbiosis with each of its pictorial shadows and/or each picture with each of its textual shadows. You must see for yourself.] (24 Jun 11 – three hours later)

Croppingham Fair (an old ballad)

“…the wreaths, the weeds…”

This short poem (if new, should be old) – one that I feel like learning by heart for recitation purposes – has, for me at least, a supernatural dalliance with ‘going to St Ives’. (25 Jun 11)

The Brood Pouches of Theron de Casse

“Words resembling winged segmented things…”

A difficult claim to make, but this is the best symbiosis so far. With due modesty, it reminds me of my own attempts during the 1990s (around 1,500 of them printed in that decade in obscure and less obscure publications) to create ‘magic fiction’ as opposed to ‘magic realism’.  But none as successful as this.  The parthenogenetic-sea-horse ending is so incredible, you must read it. Pity there are only sixty copies of this book, I believe. Mine is hand-numbered 20. (25 Jun 11 – another 2 hours later)

The Temple in Ruins

“There are stones within stones…”

Yes, only sixty copies and plenty of white space to protect the multifarious artwork items. A chunky aesthetic book to cherish and, depending on your purse, to treasure. This is a very short prose piece, with its own white space built in.  It is again an attempt at magic-fixing (fictioning) the soul as body, and the body as soul, its own symbiosis with itself and – at the end – a startling John-Donnean metaphysicality of a ‘conceit’. It would spoil it to tell you what it is. But it does jump out at you rather than creep up.  (25 Jun 11 – another 45 minutes later)

The Starving Spectre

“…watching the pallid wisp descend deep into the throat of these brittle woods.”

An effective ghost-story vignette using this book’s hallmark dense textured prose, but a prose loose-limbed enough for relative ease of accessibility.  Again reminded of the ‘going to St Ives’ conundrum… (26 Jun 11)

Shadow Barge of the Khalifehs: A 19th century translation of An Eastern Fragment by Anonymous

“…a mad poet’s hell.”

Three fragments, in fact, where a named reviewer is absorbed by the anonymity and parthenogenicity of a sea-horse prow tussling with Ghouls and an “amethyst-caked leviathon“.  I am the first to admit one would probably need to drown in the words of this story before fully understanding it, but having drowned, one wonders if that would serve me any purpose. Not knowing is sometimes half the battle won at least. And I just stare gurgling at the story’s blotchy painting. [By the way, the previous story (‘The Starving Spectre’) wields a painting that alone makes the book worth owning.] (26 Jun 11 – three hours later)


I am quoting the first short sentence of this prose poem, but hiding it at one remove here in case it is a spoiler.  I quote it as it seems central to my review so far. And if a parthenogenetic birth is possible on a bigger scale of creature, then I imagine the process would involve at least some form of “Caesarean pact”.  [The painting here is both vulpine and Lovecraftian, to my eye.] (26 Jun 11 – another 2 hours later)

The Stereograph

“Yes. He had heard a fragment of a rumour many years ago at a slide collectors convention in Blackpool.”

Blackpool, or Menton? Seriously, I’m sure I’ve now reached a genuine Weird fiction classic, as if I’ve been led craftily towards this story by the previous ones so the shock is processed to the fullest.  The obsession of collecting, to the point of not even sharing the primest item in the collection with oneself!  Collecting and death in symbiosis.  The secret of parthenogenesis reached but only for those of us who can ‘gestalt’ the twin paintings or illustrative leitmotifs affixed-within-white-space to this text.  A rorschach of extreme identical opposites.  Clark Ashton Smith eat your heart out. (27 Jun 11)

The March of the Greater Abominations

“A vast natural bridge was found, graven by the God of Frail Winds.”

Well, I didn’t think it could get any better. I assumed I could now travel downhill with my memories being safely packaged by the remaining stories. But no, I need to cross that bridge (via the provided painting) into the most dense and effective weird description of even weirder fabrictions brought to life beyond their own description: a meal you can only experience once: a meal with if not of Centipaux: sustenance for future travel within this book? (27 Jun 11 – two hours later)

Poe’s Inkwell

by Jeremy Lassen, 1987

I’m not sure what to think of this tale of a “kleptomaniac” or “petty criminal” who used Poe’s Inkwell from the Poe museum to try enhance his own weird writing. Perhaps the tale itself is petty, too?  The ink itself turns watery, in an attempt at distillation. I imagine Poe’s ink was mauve? I wonder if retrocausality will eventually give me a clue as to the contribution to this book’s gestalt of this story. The story’s painting (or atmospherically blurred photo) depicts a striking trilby (?) hatted face staring out at me with startling or startled eyes from between facial shadows – making me feel decidedly uncomfortable now that night is coming on. (27 Jun 11- another 5 hours later)

Night Visitation

A short rhyming poem about a sanity-threatening item of femality – one that I can imagine Poe writing in an off moment.  The painting pointedly depicts the creature’s pouting or tongue-poking head and “elastic tail“. (27 Jun 11 – another 15 minutes later)

Slith Gibbelin

Unwritable here, unreadable there / Unthinkable anywhere

An excellent extended Nursery Rhyme. If I’d been exposed to this (with its picture) as a child – whispered into my ear by my own dear mother – I wouldn’t be here today to read it, I’m sure. [The title is as I have it above, while in the textual refrain it ‘s “Slith Gibbilin”.] (28 Jun 11)

The Tuurngait: An Invocation

“…destructive and monstrous forces, hoping to leech upon a living form…”

Like picture with text, wolf and demon grapple with each other as well as with feral, fetid existence.  I intuit this is a sort of inverse parthenogenesis… Wow! (28 Jun 11 – three hours later).

Aside: like any special ink and the writer who uses it? (2 minutes later)

La Society Lumineuse du Masque Noir

“His hours consisted of mail-ordering, and then receiving, very expensive books detailing esoteric subjects…”

I shall need to sip this story again but, intially, I get the feeling that if I formed a group with the other 59 owners of this book – ‘The Mauve Embellishments’ by Charles Schneider – together with Mr Schneider himself and young Dan Ghetu and, perhaps, inscrutable collaborator, Jeremy Lassen – we’d be a uniquely artistic driving-force with which to reckon, i.e. in the sense of easing Caesarean birth to things that must exist but cannot. [You can see some of us depicted – in bandit (or, more tellingly, ‘lone ranger’) masks – by this story’s picture.]

“I hate being compared to people similar to myself.” (28 Jun 11 – another 2 hours later)

Night Shackles

“A span of wounded moons cruelly unfurled,”

… is one line from this short poem that I feel should be sung like Parry’s rendition of Blake’s Jerusalem – and, suddenly, completely unpremeditated, the crowd in the Elias Canetti painting lurched forward, in unison, and sang of Bosch and Grosz instead. (28 Jun 11 – another hour later)

The Street of the Waking Dream

“It has been said that if we do not dream, we will die.”

An exquisite piece that deals with dreams in evocatively redolent prose – reminding me (immodestly?) of some of the themes of my recently published novel (the only novel of mine to have been published so you can’t mistake it). The only difference is there we vary upon a theme of ‘dream sickness’ – here, in Schneider, the oppposite. But ending, in my 1/60th share of the reader’s mind, with a symbiosis – enhanced by the painting’s Escher, Wyndham Lewis, vorticism of Lovecraftian bending of dreams … or did I mean blending?  (28 Jun 11 – another hour later)

The Tricycle Rider

“His desire to protect the Things of Long Ago…”

A charming, truly haunting vignette of the world of childhood toys in retrocausal nostalgia – in face of our modernity today staring (like the image attached to ‘Poe’s Inkwell’ ) at the inside of the secret room where the toys are housed, as guarded by the Otto Dix-esque tricycle performer with his nurturing of the parthenogenetic past.  Claustrophobia is even welcome in such circumstances.  The art of this work to convey. (29 Jun 11)

The Mauve Embellishments – as lasst sich nicht lessen

“The Dreaded Bookmen have come! They have brought boxes with them, which they anticipate filling with your books.”

Which is very telling with treebooks vanishing into eeeeeebooks…  This is a substantial masterpiece of arcane book-collecting and – the ultimate parthenogenesis of this very book: i.e. itself. It seems the inevitable culmination. I sense the mauve ink flowing like blood round my body. A meticulous examination of dusty aesoterica as well as of love!  I too have a first edition of ‘The King in Yellow’. This new colour – in the context – gives me the willies.  And I now begin to dwell further on the various symbioses of text and picture through which I’ve travelled above.  Sin-ergies.  Gas salt. Litemauveteeth. Book as Ha of Ha. Self as enemy, and friend. Parfait.

PS: Some images of the book here:  i.e. 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th images (running horizontally). END: (29 Jun 11 – two hours later)



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7 responses to “The Mauve Embellishments – by Charles Schneider

  1. “Symbiosis basically means ‘living together’ and in the context of marine biology refers to a close relationship between two species, for example the Clown fish and the anemone.”

  2. Pingback: The Mauve Embellishments | Hoist Aloft Upon Fiction-Rapture

  3. Final image above is by Tony Lovell – please click it for further reference.
    Its full splendour can be found in the Ha of ha book.

  4. There’s been a whole spate of hits on this review today.

  5. Pingback: This Hermetic Legislature | The Nemonicon

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