by Rhys Hughes
Bought by me on-line from the publisher.
Eibonvale Press 2013
‘sixty linked stories’
Below is another new style real-time review of mine
More DFL-connected Rhys-Hughesiana
1 – Rainbow’s End
“That’s the trouble with THE TALL STORY on Raconteur Road; every time you want a drink you have to tell one.”
This, so far, seems delightfully akin to the earlier Rhys-Hughesian pub-talk fictions with which I once real-tuned my time when reading THIS book. Here an engagingly imaginative abseil-surdity that deals with whether rainbows are what they used to be, e.g. complete with a crock of gold at its end. Rather than the actual ‘crock’ joke in the story, I think it fits in better with my obsession today about ‘the last gold of decayed stars’ and the crock (wreck) with which some such chunk of ‘decayed star’ might crock the crock of this world at 7.30 pm tonight (Welsh time). If so, I may never finish this review! 😐
THE ABOVE REVIEW CONTINUES BELOW IN THE COMMENTS TO THIS POST.
16 responses to “TALLEST STORIES by Rhys Hughes (a real-time review)”
2 – Ghost Holiday
“Ghosts are not fond of the places where they died.”
That startling truth seems to evoke a panoply by Flann O'Brien, Lewis Carroll and some old-fashioned murderers who lived in a lard hat with a Rachman landlord in Birmingham. I must state here at the early stages of this review that the multifarious pieces of internal (and cover) art by David Rix are wonderful and give the whole book a definite character. Based on my nostalgic, old-fashioned experience of secondhand bookshops, I can imagine one where somebody much younger than me pounces on this hard copy book as the optimum book to be found in any secondhand bookshop ever – surely because of its durable soul as a book.
I can give its overall production no greater praise.
Above is a view of the sky from my garden in Essex about 45 minutes ago.
3 – Those Wonderful Words
“…like shooting stars,…”
Rhys-rich, alogical, high-wire, para-absurdic pub-storifying continues with words (some unused, if not useless) carpeting the floor instead of spit and sawdust. My future comments will summarise various aspects of clutches of stories together before they get individually too tall. Almost impossible to review as meticulously as I usually do. There are sixty stories (!) in this ever-tallingly, ever-tellingly story-wide book. But in this particular story we have someone who can only foretell the past! So who knows what the future holds!
4 – Learning to Fly
“At night, he was convinced that his spirit left his body and danced with the clouds.”
…which is appropriate with my having stared scrying the benighted clouds for a while last night. This story has a ‘dying fall’ of bemused wisdom about walking two feet off the ground like a ‘housework angel’ – and many Rhysian fables have, amid their alogical bravado, such subtle techniques of philosophical ‘music’ that enlighten tenuously enough for underlying reveries to sink in optimally upon the brink of you being tantalised to grasp the actual flight of fancy and even simply the rationale or impetus to climb life’s mountain or hill.
5 – Learning to Fall
“Billy Belay had set off from Southerndown towards Nash Point with a bag that contained an anvil and a rope.”
…as if to dovetail with the climbing motif I just left you with above, but now here as an abseil-surdist, gratuitously anti-natalist inversion, in turn leading paradoxilogically to further life as a ghost (and I’ve included a picture of Nash Point where all this happens complete with Billy’s ghostly face if you look closely enough). This story leads to its own double-bluff ‘dying fall’ ending – a perfect bemusement that sheds more wisdom than clarity.
“…his face as white as a summer cloud.”
6 – The Banshee
“It is very heartening to see that you have resolved your differences. Life is too short for bickering.”
The next two stories seem to flow even more into each other than those erstwhile combative concomitants above! The THE TALL STORY pub in Cardiff and its barman Hywel take centre stage again, where Madame Ligeia and Madame Berenice of Poe fame act as a sort of fortune-telling see-saw of time. And the promise of a Jazz performance that…
7 – The Queen of Jazz
… this story fulfils with a new twist on the ‘improv’ of selling one’s soul to the Devil. At last the Dying Fall for real!
As well as blatant jokes and connections endemic to the fictionatronic Regions of Rhysrealm, there are subtleties that suddenly blossom in the mind, like the earlier words literally on the floor in one story and bad household clutter on the floor in the next (itself made of words that describe it) – and, here, ‘bitter observations’ in the same sentence as ‘beer garden’, a passage which turns out to be a skit on published and unpublished authors whose pub talk in real pubs is hopefully not quite as as bitter as it is in the electronic universe where I’m writing this!
I think that someone just called me Logodaedalus on Facebook for actually undertaking this real-time review of sixty linked stories by Rhys Hughes in the first place!!
I think he meant his son Lexicarus. :\/
8 – Anna and the Dragon
THE TALL STORY pub is not only cosmopolitan by race, it has students (facts that resonate with Rhys’ famous Indigo Casbah pub), and this story also features Anna who interacts with pictures in books and we wonder if such utter collusion between reader and book will affect us, too, and that I am another Annalogy (while feeling myself for the sake of comforting recognition)? And we slide seamlessly into the next exquisitional story with the help of the narrator…
9 – Three Friends
who, attuned to the ‘climbing’ aspect of becoming ‘Tall’ in the sense of this book, are mountain climbers tellingly trapped on a ledge over a crevasse, and that need for self-recognition again comes over me having taken this photo earlier today before I read this story:
Here ironic takes on a sense of adirondack.
These stories grow taller in turn, not necessarily in physical height. Certainly in ingenuity and often with a tantalisingly textured description or dialogue, yet also limpid or upon a crystalline edge — and you, too, need to climb creatively as it were, to see the views.
“You know how it is when you stop noticing the wallpaper in your house, however exotic the pattern? That’s because it doesn’t try to interact with you.”
…unlike Anna’s picture earlier today in her dragon book. This story is a much longer taller story than the others so far, one that has an undercurrent of seriousness as it deals absurdo-philosophically with loneliness, and a new form of solipsism that seems to make suicide feel like genocide. I can relate, both neutrally and personally, to some of the implications summoned skilfully by various items of wordplay, japes, alogicalities, wild extrapolations, together with a pathos that transcends them all. I think this story makes my mind feel as if it has been stretched even further than it has been stretched before, but I can’t put my finger on the process that is managed by the story’s words. The plot features milk’s sickness as butter, but that makes it no easier to grease my passage through it. And there is the Faskdhfgasdhian known as Asdgfxfkh Kuhfoashfubv — and, for anyone unaware, those are not too tall-fetched as names when you take into account some real Welsh words! This is deep stuff, don’t get me wrong. And a God embedded somewhere in the story’s title – don’t ask! And an island within sight of the pub – don’t go there! [When I first saw the above sketch just now, I thought this was one of the Aickman Islands as I had referred to them in a blog post just before reading this story! (I am not going to make a habit of snapping the story-headings, but I thought it was relevant here. You need to buy the book to see the rest of them!)] And after the earlier ledge over a crevasse today: “I can guess how he feels standing on the edge of a genetic, linguistic and social abyss.”
The shadow of the goblin or juggler or namesmith?
11 – Goblin Sunrise
“She introduced the toes of the left foot to the toes of her right.”
A variation on the exungulation-of-the-drogulus theme, in my book, tallingly mixing marital discord with cutting clouds intsead of toenails – or was it grass blades?
12 – The Juggler
Neighbour discord now (can be worse than maritals, in my book) and here we cut pumpkins, not corners.
13 – The Peat Fire
More marital discord, the worst possible! On holiday together! And as I juggle this trio of stories (thus bracketed by maritals that perhaps in these modern days should be renamed by the namesmith uncivil partnerals), it dawns on me that there are both sad and serious matters underlying the works of Rhys Hughes, and perhaps beneath the author himself: tears in pumpkin eyes. And this story ends with one of the funniest ‘dying falls’ yet derived from unashamed wordplay, assuming that you’re attuned enough to appreciate it after being clever enough to spot it in the first place!
14 – Knight on a Bear Mountain
“Its lower slopes were covered in snow and lost climbers, one of them wedged in a third crevasse.”
The narrator – who I believe to be Napoleon Bonaparte – continues a form of literary-aware symbiosis with Hywel the barman in THE TALL STORY pub, where the words on the floor again echo and/or create the things really cluttering it, (“the loose skull and the bootprints”) but waste not want not, make do and mend, the stories must be told and words are words, after all. I think my image of the author, Rhys Hughes, is of a walking Eroica Symphony, bravely giving birth to romanticism from classicism, with flaws, disowned regrets, and changing of knightly or troubadourean horses from time to time, like Beethoven with Bony, laced with all too human dilemmas (often disguised or emphasised in Hughes as jokes and wordplay) like, for example, if he thinks of a wooden actor, he defies the actor not to be wooden as real wood in preference to being simply wooden as a stilted actor would be (or here in this story a stilted giant!) That’s the author for you, I guess, angry that words don’t mean what they mean. And the energy of that anger is transformed into imaginative extrapolations, an energy that has impelled me to write, baldly, on Facebook today: “I am confident that there are great truths embedded in the creation and absorption of literature, its flights of fancy and faith.” But that is too pretentious. So I needed to return here to absolve and cleanse my reading-mind. To kill pretentiousness paradoxically with pretentiousness. And something about this story’s title seemed to point towards the metamorphosis from Bare and Night to Bear and Knight as systematic of ‘the fictionatronic heroism’, the greatest exponent of which is Rhys Hughes. And this book, so far, promises to be its definitive expression.
15 – Something About a Demon
…and this fable of the ‘demon drink’ that takes place in THE TALL STORY is tellingly relevant to the ‘wooden actor’ example of angry literalness I mentioned above in connection with the previous story as another form of the potential anger created by what I have found throughout my life to be a common sarcasm blind spot of many people that this story deals with. A story that ironically ends sarcastically with some words of a collection of junk crashing to the pub floor!
THIS REVIEW NOW CONTINUES HERE
The four parts of this Real-Time Review:
Pingback: Three Tallest Reviews… | The Eibonvale Press Blog