Real-Time Review continued from HERE.
The WEIRD: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories
Edited by Ann & Jeff VanderMeer
First published in Great Britain 2011 by Corvus, an imprint of Atlantic Books Ltd.
29/11/11 – two hours later
The Meat Garden – Craig Padawer
“One grunt had a trained clock spider that lived inside his nose and roamed his face on a thin leash that was anchored to his nose;…”
…being a new form of Ewers’ “spiderous symbiosis” between the balconies of the face? In many ways this is a confusing mishmash, but once you get used to its wild Spinrad / Clark-Ashton-Smith-Seed-and-the-Sepulchre / cyborg-frenzy anti-war with pro-war grotesque humour & with insertions of meaning actually becoming Shepard-hard within the bodies like latter-day suicide bombers within other suicide bombers as both dirty bombs or even dirtier tumorous disease / a brothel that needed to take precautions against – against what?
then you begin to latch on to meanings but not really … war or implants as music, staccatos and fugues, arpeggios (all words in the story) and then as the Bible’s Logos itself – in the beginning was the Word and nothing but the Weird – leading to the previous story’s snow-plain blank page eventually (cf the world’s first blank story I mentioned before). A dying-fall giving the perfect ending to a story so mad and imperfect, you can only call it perfect.
Or did I misunderstand its whimsical frenzy – its crazy deliberate Barker ‘upright’ of everything foul and fair and fowl (including tiny chickmen inside women to stop other men penetrating them)? Did I miss its clear message? If so, I am glad I am thick and can let this “cacophony” sweep over me like Xenakis or Penderecki or Stockhausen or just another Debussy vista-vision but now gone Kingian slow muties.
As a reader, I took “weird casualties” of the mind. “Friendly fire” from a book I thought was my friend. And the music in Kathe Koja now “funnelled”…. She sure didn’t expect that.
“Their maps were meaningless.” — “Their heads seemed to swell with music” — “Their bodies had been obliterated by language,…” — And the readers’ minds. And, like our boy-dog, “a mute yap child dressed in rind with long ears and pink hairless tail” cowering in a cage.
This story has a scorched earth policy. And on page 875 you can see the result for about 7/8 of the paper.
The Stiff and the Stile – Stepan Chapman
“- a string of worm sausages perhaps, or a nice roast of dog.”
A brief piece with cumulative vocatives of nursery rhyme without enjambement. Enjoyable, but not terribly impressed. But I can talk – as much of my own reputation was once based on similar experiments. (29/11/11 – another hour later)
Continued as The WEIRD (29) HERE.
Index of this whole real-time review HERE.