Celebrant – by Michael Cisco

I’m due to start below another of my gradual real-time reviews, turning leitmotifs into a gestalt. A book I recently purchased from Amazon. And it is entitled:-


by Michael Cisco

Chômu Press 2012

Cover artwork: Christopher Conn Askew

There is no guarantee how long it will take to complete this review, whether days or years.

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.

My previous Chômu Press real-time reviews.

All my other real-time reviews: http://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/


Up to page 6 (but quite a few more than 6 pages)

“…he is his own go-between…”

I meet deKlend or he meets me or he meets himself gradually as I negotiate the title pages and text of the first ‘six’ pages. The prose – as I have discovered with previous Cisco prose – is immaculate, richly textured, the Weirdness School of writing constructively teeming with surprises like using the word ‘vaccinated’ with regard to applying one’s signature. He finds a book with a country called Votu mentioned and there is a word I should have invented myself but didn’t: ‘Mnemosem’ (according to my own real-time review here, it means ‘wolves’ but it means something else in this section of ‘Celebrant’?) — “The authors whose names are not prominently displayed anywhere in its numerous pages, but only intercalated with the material...” And, oh yes, there is a time ‘flow chart’ for this novel that does not promise linear! (14 Aug 12 – 1.55 pm bst)

Pages 7 – 23

“A seed is neither alive nor dead, it waits to live.”

Travelling with deKlend to Votu, a place with a frontier future, is not runofthemill weirdness; it is something I don’t think I have quite experienced before in any storyself-referentiality school of fiction-building. Somehow I am given the truly felt sense that my reading the book’s words about deKlend is affecting the nature of his experiences in a unique way. Hard to explain without me pushing your face into the words so that you can see for yourself, through the veil of text. The book’s uniqueable concepts of Sound, Time, heavy door-use and the Black Radio, just as examples, are real tantalising page-turning teasers even this early in the novel. “…people are noodling in and out among each other brushing by with breathless, soft expressions of excuse, pardon and apology.” (14 Aug 12 – 3.15 pm bst)

Pages 24 – 38

“So-and-so was the worst mortician in the business. He was so bad his clients walked out on him.”

What with that and a glass of water becoming a stranger you’ve never seen before, there are definite Rhys-Hughesian touches to this vision, or definite Michael-Ciscoisms affecting Rhys Hughes fiction… Or a gestalt of all such conduits where the seed about which I serendipitously quoted earlier from ‘Celebrant’ in the section above multiplies and these seeds become life forms of literary creativity through some ‘opportunity’ of parthenogenetic congress, if that’s not a contradiction in terms!  Meanwhile, we alternate between sections about the land of Votu itself and discovery (via deKlend) of its enthralling weirdities (too numerous to mention)… The aura so far, for me, is a blend of Barton Fink, Gulliver’s Travels and a Reeves and Mortimer TV show (Shooting Stars) – but that demeans the Cisco vision; it is more beautiful than that comparison of mine implies. Also the concept of the houses being decked out “in enchanted awnings, made by carpet weavers” makes me wonder if there are any balconies to go with the awnings? And those wayward seeds of sex turning into ‘Burns’ and the ‘natural robot’ nicknamed ‘urchin’ is also called ‘burr’… And, hmm, books can burn…? Hmm, early days in what is already promising to be another major read for me from Cisco… Each section being like those hotel rooms arranged like a railroad car where you need to pass through someone else’s room to get to your own. (14 Aug 12 – 7.55 pm bst)

Pages 39-50

“It’s said that a curse of some kind will fall on any who take a carpet out of earshot of the walls.”

I am personally fascinated that carpets are important to Votu (I didn’t know this when I earlier quoted an isolated mention of carpet-weavers from this book). The fiction-building of Votu continues in a high rarified complexity that would normally need a special sort of reader to cope with, but strangely I sense that the book is its own ‘madrasa’ and teaches the book’s lore with the pre-understood lore itself giving off retrocausal spells of tutelary osmosis  unnoticed by the reader: a subconscious catechism towards full understanding. You only need to be a special sort of reader to notice that happening, but noticing (or not) the mechanics of this book makes no difference to understanding it nor to gradually gathering the ‘intercalating’ leitmotifs into the eventual Votu gestalt. Meanwhile, by “whrounim” or “whim” or “willful intervention” there remains a “principium individuationis”: acclimatising deKlend as reader and protagonist… (15 Aug 12 – 3.05 pm bst)



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