My gestalt real-time review of THE ABNORMALITIES OF STRINGENT STRANGE by Rhys Hughes, a book received as a result of my purchasing this novel in the form of its signed ‘special edition’.
All my previous reviews of Rhys Hughes work are linked from HERE.
All my gestalt real-time reviews since 2008 are linked from HERE.
My review will appear in the ‘comment’ stream below as and when I read each section of the novel in random single sittings — however long this strange process may take within the stringent strictures of my otherwise normal life.
10 responses to “The Abnormalities of Stringent Strange”
Pages 11 – 20
“Melodramatically, he laughed in the face of the Protogruppenführer.”
Stringy Strange is half man half ape, discovered, I infer, like Tarzan was discovered except Tarzan was not a conjoined ‘adjacent’ to hirsuteness or anthropomorphic racism! Stringy, a test pilot, with I anticipate Rhyshughesisms that are becoming crazier and even more popular as each year goes by of me reading his work. If you want advertising space in this review please let me know, as there will be more coverage here I anticipate than any rival who may be offering you similar services. Only non fiction like this review will be able to reach the classy customer. Adverts in fiction, even (or especially?) in Rhys Hughes fiction like this book, could reach any Tom, Dick or Harry.
Back to the book, this might be metafiction and any adverts in it may be lost in diminishing returns of reality, so there you are. Meanwhile, I anticipate it being a tale of fantastical–ironic derring-do in battling with dastardly Nazis for the freedom of the skies, involving air flight inventions and rivalries and all manner of neo-pulpish excitement and imaginative conceits. I feel as if I am due for a literary treat.
Pages 21 – 32
Wild, wild, wild, flying close not to the wind but to the politically incorrect and the Indirigible. The hypersynaesthic and conceited conceit. Inventions and loyalties, dogfight chases, porno-buxom zeppelins, old-fashioned SF against something quite else, something that needs to be pinned down critically – or shot down in lexicographical flames! Outrageously flying under the gaydar.
Some of it reminds me of scenes in Salvador Dali’s only novel, ‘Hidden Faces’, pulped and then reconstituted by a rampant Rhys.
“But this is a work of fiction, not a rant, so let’s not get too righteous” it says in the book, rhysus or rhyseous notwithstanding.
Interesting backstory, too, to Stringy and the rationale of his loyalties and ambitions.
Pages 33 – 44
“He made an effort to smile, but tears still shone on his face and dropped like greasy gems of deliquescing sissy lubricant.”
There is also an explicit quote embedded within this section from LP Hartley (a master of the Alternate World novel that I reviewed here) and I wonder if it is Rhys himself who is now the one and only true Go(d)-Between between sense and absurdity and he has created Stringy as the deputy go-between for the two alternate worlds in this book, shedding light on the Second World War and who won? and what happened next? – the Three Moons (of a new Astrology?), travel by chronons, heighth charges and much more – all leavened with quorn joy and other shenanigans for we readers to become breathless at – as Stringy’s rescue mission involves us with its intriguing plot.
Perhaps, too, we should remember Northrop Frye (full name: Herman Northrop “Norrie” Frye) – a major literary theorist of the middle of the last century – whose work ‘Fearful Symmetry’ and ‘Anatomy of Criticism’ may have bearing on this Hughes novel.
Pages 45 – 61
On page 52 is the first sex scene in Rhys Hughes fiction that actually comes, for me, the closest yet to how I would empathise sex really feeling like if one had it within a Rhys Hughes fiction! The Alternate World, meanwhile, in which Stringy is operating approximates to some unlikely blend of an English speaking Nazi Germany and of a Hippy Commune, with a transport system by which travel to Berlin is facilitated, and Berlin was where Stringy’s rescue mission was originally heading, and that travel system is a bit like Priest’s telpherage or Lamson cable cars that feature in the concurrent or adjacent ‘The Adjacent’ as an adjacency to real aeroplanes…but I am convinced neither book could possibly have known of the other when each was first written. Indeed, with Stringy Strange’s electronic ouija boards, it is surprising that fiction works don’t more often tap into the now electronic Jungian web – finding new overlapping archetypes? – by increased ease of synchronicity rather than by any form of cause-and-effect, retrocausal or not.
> “…the first sex scene in Rhys Hughes fiction that actually comes…”
Tee hee! 🙂
Seriously, though, Des, thanks so much for embarking on this review!!!
I won’t interfere anymore, but I will just say that the cable car transportation device in the novel was entirely nicked from Jack Vance, from his *Big Planet* in fact, one of my favourites of his novels. It’s another shameless theft from a writer I have nicked many things from! 🙂
It was just the synchronicity of two novels published at the same time where at least part of each novel featured both wired-travel and wireless-travel in a synergy of moving through the air in vehicles. (I have used ‘The Adjacent’ as an adjacent book in photographs for a couple of previous reviews before I started reading the books being reviewed. And no doubt will do so again. Its title begs for this to happen!)
I have loved Vance over the years, but have forgotten the plot of ‘Big Planet’, other than the fact I remember enjoying it decades ago.
But as far as synchronicity and cause-and-effect being ostensibly two distinct forces, maybe they do blend in some rarefied medium where each author is telling the plot of what actually happened for real and each author has no option but to tell that plot-truth while disregarding the echoes, resonances, synchronicities, causes-and-effects, tributes, whether conscious or unconscious, from Literature’s main fuselage. Arguably, Stringy’s story has therefore happened already in time past or time future and you are creatively (p)re-telling it in the Rhyshughesian mode for our entertainment.
I hope to resume reading this wonderful book about Stringent Strange tomorrow, as I’m attending a wedding today.
[That ‘comes’ “joke” was unintentional. I’m sorry.]
Maybe it’s significant that Stringent is sometimes known as Stringy where air travel can be with or without strings!
As a child, I imagined the planes were up in the sky by means of some string or wire. How else could they be up there, I thought!
Pages 63 – 70
Now we come to a cornucopia of Rhys Hughes fiction in overdrive, a sheer delight. I cannot convey here to you all the machinations of the plot or the panoramas and conceits attached to the plot, but suffice to mention that Berlin turns outs to be one of those idealistic architectural wonders that some of the Nazis (in our own alternate world) were bruited as having envisaged, but now, straddling a tranche of squeezed out time; it’s all of that ‘whitish’ city that John Howard often infers in his stories but also it is linked to a gentle nature culture that it has developed into – permeated by what I shall call a Glistenberry Music Festival (my expression, not the book’s, but please read this section to see what I mean) and the Lamson and Telpherage systems indeed are borne out here by my prediction of them earlier in this review as a factor in Stringy’s ‘stringy’ world. And much much more.
This book is turning into not only a prime example of vintage Rhys Hughes but also a freshly multi-envisioning Rhys Hughes
who actually writes from within the very alternate world he seems, so far, to be constructing for real around us.
This GRTR now continues HERE.
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