VINTAGE BOOKS 2019
Edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer
MY REAL-TIME REVIEW CONTINUED FROM HERE: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2019/07/05/the-big-book-of-classic-fantasy/
IN THE COMMENT STREAM BELOW…
VINTAGE BOOKS 2019
Edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer
MY REAL-TIME REVIEW CONTINUED FROM HERE: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2019/07/05/the-big-book-of-classic-fantasy/
IN THE COMMENT STREAM BELOW…
39 responses to “*”
THE KINGDOM OF CARDS by Rabindranath Tagore
“, the laughter that, amazed at itself, expired in the vast vacuum of silence.”
The onset of Ichacha, the free will to be good or bad.
A Prince who dreamed of all the fairy or fantasy stories in this big book, no doubt, crosses the sea for such adventure, away from those who doted on him, to the eponymous kingdom where its inhabitants are playing-cards in strict hierarchy, characters that only played by the rules. Those who never read books like this one, I guess, but stare up gaping from their supineness. Now stirred by the essential Ichacha, the itch to hop and leap. Yet, thinking aloud about it…books that make you think that what they may make you think is not what you should be allowed or made to think? I’ll turn over the next card and see.
My review of ‘The Hungry Stones’ by this author: https://nullimmortalis.wordpress.com/2011/11/06/the-weird-2/
THE OTHER SIDE: A Breton Legend by Count Eric Stanlislaus Stenbock
“Ma zála liral va jé Cwamûlo zhajéla je Cárma urádi el javé Járma, symai, — carmé — Zhála javály Tyra je al vú al vlaúle va azré Safalje vairálje va já? Cárma serâja Lâja lâja Luzhà!”
A genuinely disturbing fairy story even for one like me who earlier spotted that church spire in the Aleksis Kivi work. Here it is with the boy Gabriel always seeing when he gets up a “gray old church with the exquisitely pointed gables bathed in the light of dawn”, a boy despite his mother’s own warning fairy stories chooses to cross over, to cross that brook dividing the village from the dark realm of blue flowers and wolves. And his two near (un)requited romances, one with a village girl and the other with a wolf called Lilith. The powers of his church here stridently drawn, too, the Mass, fighting the powers that tempt him when he crosses over. A remarkable find this story. And when we assume the church wins, we have the doubt of the last sentence. Nine days of madness is long enough in anyone’s book. The blue flower’s effect, not withstanding. A tentative mistranslation of the above, I suggest: “He came to the brook — he did not see that the water did not flow — of course it was the brook for separation; one bound, he should be with things human again. He leaped over and—“ (Not my em dash ellipsis at the end of that quote, but the book’s.)
I reviewed the next story here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2016/11/20/the-ghost-stories-of-edith-wharton/, as follows in its then context…
THE FULNESS OF LIFE by Edith Wharton
“At last even these dim sensations spent themselves in the thickening obscurity which enveloped her; a dusk now filled with pale geometric roses,…”
(A geometric rose in my earlier photo above?)
This story is fulsomely worded as a rhapsodic rapture, but only felt to be overdone, if you never each the end of it and learn about the imperfection she decides to await so as to complete eternity. This is a story of the ghost of a woman after her death, speaking about her previous existence to the Spirit of Life (a welcoming angel of some sort) and about her imperfect husband who read railway books, had creaking boots that annoyed her and never was able to reach her inner sanctum. The Spirit awards her with the perfect soulmate as compensation, a man seems in complete tune with her. About to spend eternity with him together. But she feel something is missing…the creaking of boots?
I have now decided this is the perfect story to read aloud to my wife. Better make sure I do it soon.
[Cf my synchronous serendipitous comment about ‘Down to the Boots’ here today in connection with EYES LOOKING (see review of ‘The Eyes’ above, too!)
Regarding regrets as well as eyes and boots!]
My ‘Down to the Boots’ here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/15669-2/
PRINCE ALBERIC AND THE SNAKE LADY by Vernon Lee
“…about enchanted tapestries and terrible grottoes, Twelve Caesars with rolling eye balls, barbers blocks with perukes on them, monkeys of verde antique, and porphyry rhinoceroses…”
Fat carp, colours galore, valuable stones, maidens, waters, pink roses, castles, exiles, prisons, hauntings, residual entities sequestered, religious confessions, “an unison of Cremona viols” etc. And, oh yes, a rabbit with a “pinkish lining”, but more of that later. Reading this lush work, worthy of John Gale and the multiple Ex Occidentes, I now realise that this author, aka Violet Paget, is effectively the distant original of the Ex Occidentes, and I had a book of her stories when I was much younger, and I am sure I read this mighty Alberic work then, about the Holy Roman Empire, dukedoms, the crusades, so richly worded, I have now become heady and dizzy again with it. The Machiavellian machinations of a dynasty, that of the grandfather the duke vis à vis his heir the grandson Prince Alberic, plus the hilarious machinations of the Jesuit, the Jester and the Dwarf, too … with that young feisty, but gloom-ridden, Prince also beguiled by a soul-swaddling tapestry, which, when fully revealed by the removal of furniture, bears the eponymous image of the snake lady who later haunts his life in various forms. This is a reading experience of a visionary richness beyond measure. [The pink rabbit? Something I had not noticed before when I was younger. I am now sure it is somehow significant. Such a rabbit is featured twice, once as dead meat, and again in the tapestry, as an oblique modernistic reference, as if sequestered in the story by a mischievous force, unlike the grass snake that is sequestered more obviously in the plan of the plot. I don’t think I would have noticed the pink rabbit, other than there was a rabbit of some similar significance at the earlier start of my, by chance, simultaneous review of a Rix novel here.]
“And now what shall we play at?”
THE LITTLE ROOM by Madeline Yale Wynne
“On the lower shelf was a beautiful pink sea-shell, lying on a mat made of balls of red shaded worsted.”
Another delightful discovery for me made possible by this book. If you are an appreciator of stories about missing rooms or mysterious rooms, this is the one you’ve been waiting for. With a deadpan gentility and sometimes feisty familial frustration regarding an alternating belief and disbelief in the eponymous room. I was disarmed completely. The ending will be, well, quite what I remember it to be, when I revisit it. I have long been a believer, sometime with tongue in cheek, in printed stories in books changing overnight between readings. This story I can TRULY believe is the rule that proves all the exceptions.
THE PLATTNER STORY by H.G. Wells
“You have heard of a beam of light. This was like a beam of darkness,…”
I am sure I must have read this in my youth, but most of its remarkableness comes up fresh for me, and thoughtfully provocative today, in our world. Anyway, this is another sort of RIPVW return of a lost person, after experiences that might stagger us, namely Mr Plattner, a man whose late wife was into the laying of parquet flooring and when he was six, he was photographed in a frock. Some talk of the evidence of his bodily asymmetry pre and post disappearance. A school teacher – and much satirical stuff about teaching in those days, and he spots (when vanishing from our world) his pupils cheating on Euclid! – a teacher who gets into teaching chemistry without knowing too much about it. To cut a long, fascinating story short, after a chemistry practical with a green powder provided by a pupil, Mr Plattner vanishes gradually and accretively to a greenish world that surrounds our own with not only its own green Gaia but with creatures that will astound you by dint of Wells’ descriptions of them. Creatures watching us. Watching us die. Watching us doing bad things. The head teacher is aptly called Lidgett (cf Ligotti) and one of the creatures that looks vaguely like Lidgett has “singularly large eyes, and wearing such an expression of distress and anguish as he [Plattner] had never seen before upon mortal countenance.” (And the woman spied – from that other world – doing bad things, is now a rich widow, married to someone in a place called Allbleeding!)
THE PRINCESS BALADINA – HER ADVENTURE by Willa Cather
“, and who ever cries unless there is some one to pity them?”
Or put two and two together? Two words that often make one. This is more a fable than a fantasy. A feisty spoilt princess, still a ‘silly girl’, with a fragile dignity, seeking a prince to rescue here her own contrived role as a damsel in distress, trying to curate wizards as well as princes, reminding me of literature’s Violet Elizabeth Bott, who almost, in the end, I suggest, made a prince out of Just William. Her design does not exactly work…
Caveat: I naturally tend, where any text allows, to eschew didacticism in literature and to promote l’art pour l’art. Fabulous fantasy rather than moralising fable. I also believe in the gift that some possess, as here, a gift of a preternatural instinct in curating literature rather than – or as part of – any conscious intention or design.
THE RELUCTANT DRAGON by Kenneth Grahame
“Rules always come right if you wait quietly.”
“, and try and remember that the noun governs the verb,”
An ostensibly charming story of more of the previous story’s mannered rôle-playing, here extended to the St George and the Dragon legend, a story told to a boy and a girl by the circus man who had invited them in for tea from amid the footsteps of the snow. The dragon was the sort, too, to invite people in for tea, with safe spots on his body for spears. Related at one point explicitly to a rocket, like that previously in this book. A ramping and jumping dragon with “huge ungainly bounds”, all for a show and a banquet! And to divert attention from a badger. We all know how to ramp today. The nature of what is evil and what is not, hero and villain, a moot point. The pomposity of even young boys, and the ridiculousness of gender stereotypes, notwithstanding. In the main, though, I just enjoyed this work gratuitously. Not even part of any potential gestalt. An evening at home without worrying about deeper things, while summoning “stories of old, old times, when dragons were quite plentiful and the world was a livelier place than it is now, and life was full of thrills and jumps and surprises.” And the quiet composition of sonnets.
Not part of the gestalt, that is, other than the ‘huge ungainly bounds’ and ramping!
IKTOMI TALES by Zitkala-Ša
“, he started off with a hop and a leap.”
…and you will see, in tune with this whole book, he ended with a jump (or not)! IKTOMI cannot help being a “little imp”, also in tune with much of this book, here an imp who lives in a tepee or wigwam, and is often hilariously bamboozled out of his carefully curated food by wilier entities. Curating the creators, as a pecking order of literature itself? IKTOMI with selfish tears, and his own mock-wily schemes. A series of post-ironic fables, and, like the wild rice, holding a multitude of obliquities, ‘blue winks’, speaking arrows et al. For this shape-shifter manqué (or for any gestalt real-time reviewer, hawler, träumtrawler, dreamcatcher) the best advice given in this whole quilted story: “do not take too much for granted.”
“Oh, I am so ugly! I am so tired of being myself! Change me! Do!”
“‘See! I can jump as well as you! […] He gave one tiny leap… […] Thus with his own hands he aids in making his grave.”
MARIONETTES by Louis Fréchette
Translated by Gio Clairval
“, that no way could a Chrissian twig a damn word.”
I saw Québec and Ottawa mentioned, so I guess this is in a dialect thereabouts. It indeed is a pungent tale, as far as I could gather, of human chancers and this book’s imps plus, now, marionettes, with another ensouled or ensorcelled violin, here called hexed. Much ramping like the earlier dragon, too. “Pirouettin” and more things that “jumped one over the other,” here including “a salvo of swear words.”
From the impish marionettes to…
THE DANCE OF THE COMETS: AN ASTRAL PANTOMIME IN TWO ACTS by Paul Scheerbart
Translated by W.C. Bamberger
A disarmingly deadpan hypnotism of the reader by stage directions for a seeming ballet either by puppets or human actors, I guess, one, that towards the end, goes explicitly off its “script”, but saying it goes off the script might mean THIS is paradoxically part of the script itself — deadpan but beautiful, incantatory at times. It is as the subtitle suggests, an astral pantomime, with a whole Kingly court dancing along with the constituents of the ‘As Above, So Below’ horoscope, the stage set imagined as you wish as specified by the words, within which set the staged gavottes, minuets, waltzes, polonaises etc, are enacted. Richard Strauss Space Odyssey music as opening, I imagine. With constraints and free intentions mixed, and “…with pointed black stars,” “The Jester’s face twitches as if he constantly wants to laugh — and knows he should refrain.” Pointed, not soft black stars, you will note. There are also pierrot costumes used in this ballet. Thomas Ligotti’s own avatar on his on-line forum has for years been YellowJester. My one and only Goodreads review is of his Penguin Classics book, a book with intro by one of the Revamenders, and takes into account here an intrinsic hoax, now played out by all the forces in this ballet (a preternatural prophecy of Ligotti, or a Jungian synchronicity or a cause and effect? — the latter two possibilities important to the study of astrology.) One can spend a whole lifetime, I guess, exploring these stage directions and aligning such speculations and transits and planetary aspects with the “spooky gestures”, “eerie buzzing”, the mention of invisible heads, “rotating kaleidoscope — full of violent movement”, “sounds restrained and mocking”, burnt fingers, “droll waggling dance with small jumps”, a donkey’s nose, THE INSANE as one of the sections’ titles, the pain of the (sometimes “compassionate”) king who later explicitly turns into the jester (see this happen three paragraphs from the end of page 384)! (the pain of the king indeed so “apparent that the courtiers cannot stifle their smiles.” And today, in our own world, “all the stars in the sky fall simultaneously straight down from the sky.”)
I watched the Swedish film BORDER (2018) a day or so ago, and the main protagonist’s real name turned out to be REVA, a person needing mending as well as mending other people…
A leap aside…
THE WHITE PEOPLE by Arthur Machen
“, and the stones looked as if they were springing and dancing and twisting as they went round and round and round.”
…seeming aptly, now, today, to follow my impulse exercise above, written yesterday, yet, this famous wonderful novelette, upon my re-reading it just now, continues to grow in power — from Voor to Voodoo and Coryn’s sash window syndrome — and it seems also to transcend this whole book’s erstwhile ‘leaping’ by means of its hypnotically naïve but dream-sinewy flow of long Proustian paragraphs stretching autonomously from page to page, flowing alongside the earlier frontier of a brook (Stenbock), an explicit “brook” quoted now in the Machen of faerie magic that we perhaps finally cross today with this work, as a sort of watershed. After an initial Socratic dialogue about the nature of evil, we are allowed to peruse the Green Book written by a sixteen year old girl until it ends abruptly upon a revelation … well, you know this work already and if you don’t know it already, please read Wikipedia about it. It is a significant work, and I am staggered that it is EVEN more significant today, by means of this my first re-reading of it since I started developing, over ten years ago, my stumbled-on-as-if-by-accident ‘processes’ of gestalt real-time reviewing…
“I have known cases in which men have stumbled quite by accident on certain of these ‘processes’, and have been astonished by wholly unexpected results.”
“The saint endeavours to recover a gift which he has lost; the sinner tries to obtain something which was never his.”
“the secrets of the secrets of the secrets”
My previous review of Arthur Machen: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2015/03/04/the-three-impostors-arthur-machen/
BLAMOL by Gustav Meyrink
Translated by Gio Clairval
“—everything, it is a well-known fact, is coincidence—“
A Danubian and undersea shenanigan – cf a longish passage of undersea fantasy in Thomas Mann’s Dr Faustus – with a soupçon of Lewis Carroll – featuring a squid, pince on his nez, plus, inter alia, a polyp, a perch, a sea horse, and a sea aNEMOne, the latter as mnemonic for female frailty as she is cured by the eponymous flotsam of a drug from a wrecked ship, or is she cured? Or cursed? Then married? Or hawled, träumtrawled? It all seemed to end happy, any spoilers excepted. A madcap vision that is still swimming around in my brain, its dowse or dose of Idiotine Chloride notwithstanding. Or any autosuggestion.
“A bluish, glistening wall — as tall as the world — comes flying through the sea.”
My previous review of a Meyrink story: https://nullimmortalis.wordpress.com/2011/11/06/the-weird-2/
My previous review of a giant homage Anthology to Meyrink: https://nullimmortalis.wordpress.com/2010/08/20/cinnabars-gnosis/
My review of ‘Blamol’ cross-referenced with that of Rix’s mighty blast here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2019/07/11/a-blast-of-hunters-david-rix/#comment-16698
GOBLINS: A LOGGING CAMP STORY by Louis Fréchette
Translated by Gio Clairval
“, noses like hazelnuts,”
Yet they have central eyes like torches, too?
I cannot really get on with fiction written in some form of dialect. But this work seemed, with the goblins looking like ‘spring mushrooms’, plenty steeped in this book’s gestalt so far.
SOWBREAD by Grazia Deledda
Translated by Gio Clairval
“Left alone, the shepherd picked up the sowbread plant, ran out, leaped from rock to rock, went down a path, shouting, calling the old man by his name.”
By MY name, I imagine. The sowbread aka the cyclamen, a would-be cycle of men in general, as betokened by shepherds in a cave, one who has displanted the plant to be used as a model for embroidery by a young woman as a token of her unrequited love for a priest. A token of this book’s continuing glimpses of a church spire at the edge of unChristian domains of fantasy? The amazing thing is that all this is seen through the eyes of the displanted plant itself, and I loved its poignancy and sense of self-truth, the Cyclamen awaking to nature’s pareidolia merging into the shapes of mankind. Sowbread or shewbread?
THE ANGRY STREET by G.K. Chesterton
“, I cannot read it through very carefully because, you see, it is not written yet.”
An intriguing and enchanting story, as yet unwritten, one that is here Gestalt real-time reviewed by the author himself! About those busy clockwatchers who work in Leadenhall Street (where I used to work in the 70s), one in particular in a tall hat who had for many years walked along the same street, who today finds its gradient much steeper to climb… I wonder whether it is a coincidence that ‘angry’ and ‘angel’ begin the same, the story’s moral being perhaps not to take things for granted, even inanimate things. Or there is no easy leap upward to Heaven, only a climb?
My massive real-time review (in several parts) of the all GKC’s Father Brown stories: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2015/09/30/the-complete-father-brown-stories-g-k-chesterton/
THE AUNT AND AMABEL by E. Nesbit
“…as soon as you get interested in watching your tears they stop.”
It seems appropriate to me, and not only because it is in a Revamender book, that Whitby (whither be?) is also known by the name ‘Whereyouwanttogoto”.
This story, meanwhile, is a cross between Narnia and Harry Potter, with the Big Wardrobe followed by a railway journey, a story about Amabel, a girl sent to Coventry for naughty, if well-meaning, deeds. “I cannot explain to you what had been going on in Amabel’s mind.” And I satisfyingly gather that I must eventually also be one of ‘The People who Understand’ by the very dint of reading this book and other items of good hyper-imaginative literature. Dreamcatchers and butterfly minds.
Cross-referenced above review of the E. Nesbit with ‘Four’ here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2019/08/17/an-american-story-christopher-priest/#comment-16728
I expect there will now be a few weeks’ sabbatical in conducting this review.
Yes, and also patterns BETWEEN discrete fictions and their authors, as well as within a single book?
SACRIFICE by Aleksey Remizov
Translated by Ekaterina Sedia
“, by re-hanging the paintings from one one wall to another,…”
Including the sacrifice of a body part, or the beheading of fowl, or surveying dead corpses as a hobby. Not sure I have followed this story – in fact I am sure I was not meant to do so, this new translation of a Russian work from early last century. Perfection of humours in a man called Borodin and his house, meaning that we are bewildered by his faults that make such perfection possible, and his wife’s easy curses – of their own children when they were disposably much younger – coming home to roost when death hurts far more to those you have now brought up beyond babyhood, it being a sacrifice to maintain such projected perfection, almost to the hindsight of a parrot, if not a rooster. All factored into the rat-infested future by putting a block on the future from the past when you are now already IN that future. As I am now doing by thinking of death’s approach, death as the only possible perfection during the life that led up to that death. A story that set me thinking. I am sure I would have understood it much better when I was younger, though. There’s the ironic rub. The burning at the end of all that you have built up by the gestalt of good and bad alike, of understanding and misunderstanding, and this photo I took of a restaurant wall a few days ago now seems the perfect accompaniment to the imperfections perfectly depicted in this sprawling story.
Cross-referenced later with Chapter One of Rushdie’s Quichotte here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2019/09/02/quichotte-salman-rushdie/#comment-16828
THE PRINCESS STEEL by W.E.B. Du Bois
“One would not for a moment have hesitated to call him a gentleman had it not been for his color.”
A remarkable ‘mad scientist’ story from early last century discovered here, for me, creating from a didactic approach to people that transgresses some instincts or constructively transcends them or sadly polarises our world today, depending on your own prejudice or presumption. But if this man is a mad scientist, so am I, a hawler, a träumtrawler, a dreamcatcher, a dowser of books and knowledge and statistics, dot on dot, by Great Curve, Law of Life or Over-Life or Gestalt, blending, in the du Bois, a swords and sorcery vision of New York, possibly, if the open dots are lined up in a certain way, as a template 9/11 EVENT (see my recent review of Priest’s An American Story here), the ‘castle’ syndrome embodied in the quote by Eleanor Farjeon in 1921 that I happened to post here yesterday and the ‘grey image’ rolled from a burst arm, or holy relic from amputations in Evenson book currently being real-time reviewed here. And much more, allowing visionary shifts from certainty and doubt together. The author is himself, on the face of his name, a prediction of our WEB and burnable Wide World Wood in forest or in ‘bois’ and bug (Boisea trivittata)
THE HUMP by Fernán Caballero
Translated by Marian and James Womack
“Little hump, little hump, would you like a pancake?”
When one visualises tossing pancakes by making them jump and hop, that would be an emblem for this whole book so far, towards what I imagine, beyond the explicit scope of this nifty tale, to be the sound of a flea bouncing on a tambourine. And ideas and plot-turns do jump and hop seamlessly, if absurdly, in this surprising audit trail of a young Princess and her suitors and impeders in marriage and her own desires thereto.
THE CELESTIAL OMNIBUS by E.M. Forster
“Yet he sprang out and dressed himself, for he was determined to settle once for all which was real: the omnibus or the streets.”
A boy from Agathox Lodge — on his own and later with Mr Bons (cf the letter chopped from BONES prefiguring Evenson cleavings in my recent review canon here) — travels the eponymous vehicle over the rainbow, with all the literary references and relevance to a literary or hyper-imaginative gestalt, a story telling of “a homonymous world” as well as how to ease a “queasy soul” with such “leit motifs”, in fact one of my favourite stories ever, and probably yours, too. Well, it is E.M. Forster after all.
“It is odd how, in quite illiterate minds, you will find glimmers of Artistic Truth.”
“Because — because all these words that only rhymed before, now that I’ve come back they’re me.”
“I have honoured you. I have quoted you. I have bound you in vellum.”
“For poetry is a spirit; and they that would worship it must worship in spirit and in truth.”
A genuine gestalt review motto, the last quote above, for me. And re-reading this work today, I am also alerted to the significance of one of my reviews in 2013 of a work entitled Ø ALTITUDO that is connected with the flights-of-imagination of the realist Sir Thomas Browne, who drives Forster’s bus on our hero’s first journey in it: https://nullimmortalis.wordpress.com/2013/02/27/o-altitudo/ (the later comments attached to that review are as important, I feel, as the review itself.)
THE LEGEND OF THE ICE BABIES by E. Pauline Johnson
“—before the white man came.”
Not one for those Squamish about Didacticism outweighing Fantasy in literature, yet an intriguingly and beautifully written fragment of story as told by the Klootchman (ironically a Canadian woman) with beautiful scenic passages and a Messiah-like walking upon water by two small girls, their feet upheld by a male deific forcefield. The latter eventually turns wind away and ice as stillness to continue to uphold the girls’ feet and their eternal innocence without being turned into the pain of womanhood. The male deific forcefield thus now ironically redundant?
THE LAST REDOUBT (Excerpt from ‘The Night Land’)
by William Hope Hodgson
“…I and he were both I — the same soul. He of that far date seeing vaguely the life that was (that I do now live in this present Age); and I of this time beholding the life that I yet shall live. How utterly strange!”
Thanks equally for letting me, at least partially, relive my own much earlier reading of ‘The Night Land’, a work that gives us all, in our terrible times, a new HOPE (H) for that far future DARKNESS, one that Lord Byron depicted in his work with that word DARKNESS as its title (essential reading). The new Rip Van Winkle as waking Metamorphosis, here with many Things with Upper Case Words — Pyramid, Redoubt, Watchers, Silent Ones and Earth-Current and Air Clog and Abundant Terror and Monstruwacans as well as a ‘futureness’ and ‘thiswise’ in lower case. And Many More Things. A re-doubt ironically become that new hope.
“And this is how I felt.”
Cross-referenced with Rushdie’s Quichotte here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2019/09/02/quichotte-salman-rushdie/#comment-16866
JACK PUMPKINHEAD AND THE SAWHORSE by L. Frank Baum
With all these detailed descriptions of two wooden creatures — one with a pumpkin as a head, both sent by Ozma (Bin Larder?) to rescue two lost children, children who some grey squirrels later accuse of emptying squirrelled-away larders of nuts — there is strangely no mention of even one nose to complete lifelikeness. Just seeds for brains. Not sure why this flibbetygibbet tale’s brief visit was indulged by this book.
To plant footsteps you need recurrent footsteps to start off with.
THE PLANT MEN [Excerpt from ‘The Gods of Mars’)
by Edgar Rice Burroughs
“Their speed and method of locomotion were both remarkable, springing as they did in great leaps of twenty or thirty feet, much after the manner of a kangaroo.”
Its brilliant descriptions of creatures on Barsoom that I once read with relish in my younger days is admirably fantasy for fantasy’s sake. I also suspect it has been placed preternaturally in this anthology for the above quote, as an emblem to the book’s gestalt, one this review has established so far.
STRANGE NEWS FROM ANOTHER STAR by Herman Hesse
“Everything here was like a horror story. […] He seemed more like a man accustomed to thinking only about himself and to seeing only false, ugly, and horrible things happen everywhere, like a man who lived constantly in ghastly nightmares.”
A parallel fable or parable, a didactic synergy, by “swoop” or a giant bird’s leap, between a planet (our world? ) where wars and horrors still prevail and the source planet here where floral tributes to the dead are a happy balm. There are many implications here, but who thought of sending an underage boy as messenger to flirt with the king to persuade him to provide more flowers after an earthquake? Transcending thankfully the parable’s dry didacticism more than once with such fanciful aberrations. Eat your heart out, you fabulists!
It also allowed me to glimpse another who does gestalt real-time reviewing, one who has succeeded where I am still trying to do so, where things linger in the back of the mind till one finds it by looking for it, painful or not, thus hopefully to transcend or enhance it by hawling, viz:
“‘…a wise man who lived long ago and who perceived the unity of the worlds as harmonious music of the heavenly spheres. Does this answer suffice? You may be, you see, a blessed creature from another world, or you may be God Himself. Whatever the case may be, you have no happiness in your heart, no power, no will that does not live as a presentiment, a reflection, a distant shadow in our hearts, too.’ […] However, the messenger, recalled nothing of the great bird and his flight to a foreign planet, nothing of the King and the battlefield. All this remained only as a shadow in his soul, a tiny, obscure…” (Please do read on with this remarkably important quote — well, on second thoughts, read the whole story!)
IN DUE COURSE, THIS REVIEW WILL CONTINUE HERE: https://elizabethbowensite.wordpress.com/the-big-book-of-classic-fantasy/