A selection of good or bad (and a few frankly ludicrous) quotes about my work pre-2000. Indifferent ones probably forgotten. Perhaps pretentious for me to have listed them here for several years. We all share a fallible humanity.
More recent quotes about me further down this page. Most recent quotes in comments attached to this post.
But, firstly, some quotes from during the 1980s and 1990s:
# I saw Elvis at the mall last night. He was eating pizza with DF Lewis. Can’t think why they’d ordered anchovies—Karl Edward Wagner (Deathrealm 1990s)
# DF Lewis is God … DF Lewis manages to crank out story after story, and each one reads better than the lasto, like a sprawling and surreal novel-in-progress … In one short page, Lewis manages to unsettle in a way that a ream of small press magazines could never do in a lifetime of trying—STYGIAN ARTICLES
# As for DF Lewis, my view is that he is a national treasure. He writes in a genre of one. His writing is very disciplined, with not a word out of place, and there’s such joyful play in the language… —Graham Joyce (Visionary Tongue)
# If he’s such a genius, why is he sometimes mocked? Because his work is an acquired taste, like celery or Guinness (Rhys Hughes); The man is a phenomenon (Allen Ashley); Des Lewis, master wordsmith (Paul Pinn); Few can doubt his mastery of words; none can question his genius (Tim Lebbon); “THERE IS ONLY ONE DES LEWIS!” (Simon Clark)—from the intros in AGRA ASKA.
# DF Lewis? When he’s bad, he’s awful, but when he’s good there’s no-one can touch him—Rhys Hughes
# Every mag I ever read has a DF Lewis story in it, and none of them are ever any good! … I thought the small press was all about introducing new talent, and not perpetuating mediocrity!—James Miller in SIERRA HEAVEN #2
# That master of weird dream-like fiction, D.F.Lewis—Simon Clark in THE DERELICT OF DEATH
# At 1.20 or so the rumour went around: The Master had entered the building – the half-century man/the 1000th story man, our very own dear old Des Lewis. Yep, we were all there for a surprise 50th birthday bash. DesCon1 was up and running!—from Allen Ashley’s report in BFS NEWSLETTER (May/June 1998)
# The connoisseur of horror will find more sustenance here than in many a bestseller —Ramsey Campbell’s Intro in “BEST OF DF LEWIS”
# I have been reading horror and supernatural fiction for 25 years. What leaves me wide-eyed is the actual ability of this writer to still surprise, even chill, a heart grown used to the second guess. Lewis captures the secret language of commonplace thoughts, as transforms the mundane into the arcane. He is a verbal swordsman. And he knows just how, and where, to strike—from “DF LEWIS: THE WIZARD OF ODD”
#…like jerking off harder and harder, but never quite coming; not until the creature in the corner suddenly lurches out and sucks your brains through your ears—BROKEN PENCIL (Canada) re At’mõs faer
# To many writers, editors and people involved in Horror, DF Lewis is one of the most important writers in the field today—”Getting To Know Des” in BLOODSONGS (Australia)
# He has been cited as one of the acclaimed ‘Gothic Light’ journal’s four favourite fantasy authors—along with Harlan Ellison, Ray Bradbury and Lewis Carroll … He is, of course, Des Lewis—TOUCH WOOD (Little, Brown book)
# features an amazing literary talent from England, Mr DF Lewis—BLOODLINES (Hawaii)
#’The Silver Tealeaf’, is very short, but delivered with all the power of an expensive perfume. And it opens with one of the best lines I’ve ever read. Mr Lewis has a true command of the language—DEATHREALM
# Highly sophisticated and wonderfully nightmarish imagination, an expertly controlled and sardonic vision that reminds me as much of avant-gardists like William Burroughs as it does the best traditions of horror literature—Thomas Ligotti in DAGON DFL SPECIAL
# DF Lewis is DF Lewis and there will never be another like him … Everyone I know is in awe and a fan of his talent—GATHERING DARKNESS
# I’m very sure that medical science will want to examine his brain—Editor in TERROR TALES
# After Derleth rejected two of Lewis’ stories in 1968 as being ‘pretty much pure grue’, Lewis dropped out of sight for twenty years. Hey, we all get rejection slips—Karl Edward Wagner in YEAR’S BEST HORROR
# My first ever taste of the small press was a ‘chance’ discovery of a publication called Dagon. That particular issue contained a single fiction entry, a beautifully sinister tale which haunts me even today, its author was (you guessed it) Des Lewis. So nine years on you can imagine how surprised and delighted I was when, out-of-the-blue, I just happened to find one of his concoctions festering in the post—THE ASPHALT JUNGLE #1
# Whether his prolific output has served, in the long term, to spread his reputation or to dilute it remains to be seen. But for now, his status is unassailable—both as a figureheBad of horror fiction’s avant garde and as a dedicated excavator of its traditions—Joel Lane
# As I’ve remarked before, Des Lewis is a true original—Stephen Jones in BEST NEW HORROR
# To properly read a DF Lewis story, one must allow oneself to simply flow along on a tide of words, through whatever twists and turns his strange mind takes you, to a destination you may never actually figure out. But his images linger stubbornly. You know you’ve been assaulted by a master story-teller—TRANSVERSIONS (Canada)
# With Lewis, it is not essential to understand in order to enjoy … as funny and as quotable as Pratchett or Adams, without resembling either in the least …—Paul Beardsley’s INTERZONE review of WEIRDMONGER’S TALES
# Terse and vaguely erotic stories where anything can, and does, happen. He takes a variety of viewpoints, and part of the horror lies in the matter-of-fact telling of macabre events. …teasing stories which pull away into different meanings just when you think you’ve understood—prose conundrums, but far from humdrum. The prose style is curiously decorated and gothic yet tremendously concise. My favourite story is ‘Beyond the Park’, full of sinister magic and half-comprehended male power —ORE poetry magazine (UK) re BEST OF DF LEWIS
# This is typical of Lewis’ work, concerned with a fellow bedeviled by the story’s title character who lurks in the neighbourhood, weirding out the narrator, and all of us – much like Mr Lewis himself—DEATHREALM review of DEAD OF NIGHT MAGAZINE
# If you really need us to tell you who Des is, and what he’s accomplished – then, we can only assume that you have only just learnt to read!—PREMONITIONS (UK)
# For my money, DF Lewis is the leading figure in the ‘New Lovecraft’ circle … However, just because there is a curse involved, this shouldn’t frighten any critics—SF EYE #13
# It’s a great thrill for me to be printing DF Lewis … I’m a big fan of his work. When I first started reading small press publications, the first ten magazines possessed a story by this man—THE DARKLANDS PROJECT
# I found ‘The Weirdmonger’ [by DFL] amongst the best stories I’ve read recently—Mike Ashley in BBR#12
# thought the DF Lewis piece at least semi-autobiographical as he seems in increasing danger of disappearing up his own arse and yet… the day can’t be far off when someone writes a story in which the only literature in a post-holocaust society is the collected Des Lewis—J.C. Hartley in letter column of PREMONITIONS #3
# …he adopted a deliberately obscure style in order to con the reader into assuming that his work contained ‘hidden meanings’: it didn’t – his writing was crap— Philip J. Backers re DFL in AUGURIES #11
# THE WEIRDMONGER’S TALES (art by Camille Gabrielle) “‘The British Harlequin of Horror’, Lewis is an extraordinary literary genius who is currently dazzling this genre with his verve, nerve and craftmanship. He is certainly one of the most loved and most admired horror/macabre/surreal writers on the contemporary scene. …this very special tribute to DF Lewis … shows the master at his best.”
# CORSET DIGEST will be rare inasmuch as it is the only small press publication I have read in three years that lacks a story by DF Lewis. Go after them, Des—Karl Edward Wagner
# …a hit and run ending that numbs the senses for minutes after you read it. It’s one of Lewis’ onion skin poems—the outer layer slowly peeling back to reveal a hardened core impossible to chew in one only sitting. Not unusual for this Brit, but terribly stylish just the same—Richard Levesque (CONVOLUTED INCISIONS in Scavenger’s #156)
# …lightweight and clumsily written, and like most of the author’s work I’ve seen, in need of editorial guidance—Kev McVeigh in BBR #19 re ‘Madge’ by DF Lewis. [But: ‘Madge’ later chosen for BEST NEW HORROR 2]
# Reaction to his work tends to be extreme, whether it’s praise or condemnation; curiously it is often possible to agree with both points of view—from Paul Beardsley’s ‘Introduction to DF Lewis’ in SUBSTANCE #1
# ‘Priscilla’ [by DFL] went down like a lead balloon, with a hole in it … One bloke even went so far as pointing out the spelling mistake in the first line… ‘This story’s a rap’ should have read ‘This story’s Crap!’—INVASION OF THE SAD MAN-EATING MUSHROOMS.
# You know all those boxes of Cheerios that were recalled a while back for having been tainted with some insecticide? Don’t believe it: DF Lewis had a story on the back of the box—DEATHREALM
# Okay, let’s get straight to it. This collection of short stories is unbelievable. No, really, it’s that unique. I’m pretty certain that never before have so many non-sequiturs, cliches, bathetic howlers and just plain inept grand guignols been gathered together in the one place. It is astonishing. Pages of incomprehensible prose studded with ridiculous imagery and buffoonesque phrasing. Just awesome—SCIENCE FICTION EYE on BEST OF DFL chapbook. [But: DFL is terribly underappreciated—MAGIC REALISM + All in all, a well-spent half a hundred pages—LOCUS = just 2 of many good reviews of BEST OF DFL]
# I have a paranoid sensation that I’m always being followed by DF Lewis … he’s always there to torment me … I can’t get away from him even if I switch genres… Is he for real or did somebody invent him purely to annoy me?—Problem page of OVERSPACE #13.
# …the Picasso of the small press. This is an author whose bravery (in non-committance to normalcy) and brevity transcends any genre—Re DF Lewis in NEOPHYTE #13
# He’s unique all right, but the same way the Elephant Man was, a freak who becomes a fad —Darrell Schweitzer re DFL in CRYPT OF CTHULHU
# The highlight of the issue was undeniably Des Lewis’ beautiful little story, ‘The Tallest King’. A wonderful faerie-tale told in perfectly child-like manner, and singing with the glory of descriptive prose. Really delightful. What a talent this fellow is—Mark Samuels in CEREBRETRON #7
# But possibly the best fiction is contributed by British stylist DF Lewis. His ‘Entries’ is subtle dynamite, gross and disturbing. A real source of quality shivers!—Review in SCAVENGERS NEWSLETTER #95
# In the same way as Lovecraft, Lewis is creating his very own mythos; a large and chaotic land where normal, run-of-the-mill events are underlined with that feeling that something horribly evil is sleeping nearby…—Dave W Hughes in article in REM #1
#[DFL] is undoubtedly one of the finest horror writers in this, or any other country, and we’re lucky to have him for this issue —BONE MARROW REVIEW
# Lewis is either a genius graced with madness, a madman cursed with genius, both, or neither … But there is more to Lewis than that. Believe you me, my pretties. Oh yes, much more. Because every so often you catch sight of something stirring beneath the frosted surfaces of his dreamy prose, something brilliant yet dark and brooding, something revelatory, something true, something that were you to see it all in a single glance would burn you to a cinder; but you still want to see; it speaks to you. In sibilant whispers. It tells you something you’ve been waiting to hear—SAMHAIN review of BEST OF DF LEWIS
# Then I turned over the page and AAARGH! DF f**king Lewis again!—from THE SCANNER #11
# Some of his shortest stories are as clear as dense woodland. At night. In thick fog. But many shine like polished gems. In some his style and world are reminiscent of Lovecraft, in others he spins off into a universe that is pure DF Lewis. My own favourite was ‘Tom Rose’ in Alan Ross’s ‘Signals’ anthology to mark 30 years of ‘London Magazine’. And at seven pages that was practically a novella—Nicholas Royle
# …the ever-imaginative DF Lewis (the Lovecraft of our time) — NIGHTSIDE vol.2 Issue 5
#His column is always the first thing I read in any new issue of DEATHREALM. He introduced me to Napalm Death. Gotta love that guy!—Gabriele A Rollé to FRISSON
# DF LEWIS: THE WEIRDMONGER’S TALES. Does Des deserve name-above-title status? U betcha! This all new coll adds 10 more pieces to daydream believer’s oeuvre + illos by Camille Gabrielle. Master of extraneous quip DFL is ambiguous 2 a fault; a genre-literate soothsayer, the sphinx of syntax & bingo brainstorms of corkscrew candour & lottery logic. Des is a demon spin-bowler of laser-guided precision, bull-in-china-shop charging in for legbreak attack on sticky wicket of conventional storytelling. Critics R stumped out 4 a duck; all card-carry’g tarot turncoats a la mort. Ya can’t read small press & avoid ubiq DFL…—DRAGON’S BREATH
# “At the risk of being labeled a jealous, illiterate, drooling cretin, may I ask whether the sole reason you ran this boring blather was because it was submitted by the the ubiquitous DF Lewis & Co? … I think Quentin [of Reservoir Dogs] would like my work—if only DF Lewis, et al, would get out of the way!”—from Pat Victor’s letter to SCAVENGER’S NEWSLETTER #151 the editor of which replied therein: “… I suspect DF Lewis’ day is also made now that you have proclaimed him a “name” writer. Des Lewis has earned every appearance in every magazine by writing and submitting work. Go thou and do likewise.” Then: “The very worst Lewis piece is always crammed with imagery, creepy and well plotted. I, for one, have enjoyed at least 99% of his work. I only wish I had half his talent”—Karen Blicker to SCAVENGER’S NEWSLETTER #152. Then: “His (DFL’s) work is imaginative, original and beautifully written; so good that the editors dare to be different by printing it. DFL has invigorated the genre, and he does not deserve to be attacked by embittered writers”—Milton E Wheeler jr to SCAVENGER’S NEWSLETTER #155. Then: “I even beat out DF Lewis. This was to me high praise … in trashing DF lewis and others, you lose sight of something important. They’re getting published and you’re not”—Brian Keene in SCAVENGER’S NEWSLETTER #158. Then: “I don’t understand this DF Lewis business anyway. If you don’t like someone’s work, don’t read it or waste time fussing about it. Some of his stories haven’t been clear to me, but I did read a wonderful piece he wrote on Dickens and another on religion.”—Lida Broadhurst in SCAVENGER’S NEWSLETTER #161. Then: “Thank you for forwarding the letter from Mr Lewis – it actually was quite a nice letter, considering how uncomplimentary I was of his writing. It didn’t change my opinion about his writing, but my opinion about him as a person is now quite high.”—Pat Victor in SCAVENGER’S NEWSLETTER #164.
# At first I was unsettled, unsure and unsatisfied. I read it three more times and with each successive passage it bloomed. It’s like that song that won’t leave your head…—DEATHREALM
# From out the realms of darkness … The Master of the Literary Nightmare Story —BUTTERFLY & BLOOMER!
# Quite simply, one of the premier writers of contemporary short fiction—CHRONICLES OF DISORDER
# I found this piece to be thoroughly compelling, even by your reliably high standards. This intriguing tale oozed psychological turmoil and tragedy, and literally demanded the reader’s attention. The descriptive imagery throughout verges on perfection – vividly, unnervingly, provokingly written. …remained with me long after I’d read and re-read it. …it truly affected me. I like it, can you tell?—SACKCLOTH & ASHES
# …the ridiculously prolific DF Lewis—Paul McDonald in ZENE
# When The Dream Zone arrived I had just finished reading Des Lewis’ weird and wonderful novella Agra Aska but I wasn’t too overfed on his style to enjoy the bizarre word-play in Alternate Worlds, the first Padgett Weggs story of his I have read. I still need to be assured of Mr Lewis’ complete sanity…—Dave Price in THE DREAM REVIEW
# There wasn’t one story in it that I really disliked, but my favourite was the incredibly funny Alternate Worlds by DF Lewis. I just find the characters and Des’ use of the old fashioned language hilarious, I hope he does more stories in this mode!—John B Ford in THE DREAM REVIEW
# High points include … DF Lewis’ time release capsule of concentrated eeriness, Mort Au Monde—Edward Bryant’s review in LOCUS of BEST NEW HORROR anthology
# …the disconnected, rambling, plotless, pointless, babbling monologues of free association and non sequiturs that DF Lewis blasphemously calls fiction—Charles S Fallis in SCAVENGER’S NEWSLETTER
# …everyone cannot help but love and admire the chap, and I understand he is one of the most pleasant and friendly blokes one could know—from Letter to PEEPING TOM #30 re DFL
# DF Lewis is a legend. As simple as that.—SIMON CLARK
” Keep Weirdmonger by your bed, and when you wake up, you won’t be sure if what’s running through your head are the remains of your dreams or fragmented memories of the story you read before drifting off to sleep.”
– Nicholas Royle (author of the acclaimed ‘First Novel’) quoted from HERE.
April 29 2012: ‘One can generally say, “This writer reminds me of that writer,” but I cannot think of another writer like D.F. Lewis.’ Stated here in an interview about Chômu Press.
Quote: “After completing ten volumes of his famous Nemonymous series, Des Lewis continues his activity as a brilliant anthology editor with a new enterprise entitled “The Horror Anthology of Horror Anthologies”
September 2011: From here: http://thegingernutcase.blogspot.com/2011/09/horror-anthology-of-horror-anthologies.html
“D.F. Lewis, for those of you who know him is a genre heavyweight. One of those people who for no other reason than there sheer knowledge of the genre, kind of intimidate. I’m a fan, a big dumb fan, where as to me D.F. Lewis comes across as the extremely intelligent professor. Just search on the internet for intelligent discussions of the genre and you’ll find him there throwing intellectual right hooks like Mike Tyson after a few beers.”
Comment: “Wow… I used to publish D.F. Lewis short stories back in the 90′s in Black Moon Magazine… D.F. was amazing, churning out wild tales at will and sending them typed on this weird, thin paper, lol… wish I still had the originals… once sent us like 25 stories in one mailed package (before the internet)… just reminiscing, lol…”
Incidentally, Weirdmonger is a really delightful collection that I still find myself returning to from time to time. Anyone on the fence should consider getting a second hand copy while it’s still possible. I would not be surprised to see it undergo the fate of other books soon, which suddenly disappear from the market altogether – only to resurface once in a great while at four times the price.”
Someone said this about DFL today ( 6 Jun 2011) in a public forum.
“It’s like turning a dial on an old radio, knowing when the hiss has gone.”
I’m genuinely very proud of this.
I hope it was bakelite.
16 Mar 11: Mr. Lewis is a noted author, original thinker, anthologist and synchronist who has posted many fascinating real-time reviews on his site, including several of Ex Occidente / Passport Levant titles. And he’s a Webern enthusiast who claims “I need my ‘fix’ of Webern each day in order to exist.” — From HERE
Grim Blogger (11/11/10) HERE: Thomas Ligotti, Robert Aickman, D.F. Lewis, and other ultra-modern innovators would not have emerged without studying the direction Western literature stomped off in after the dust settled.
Latest from a reader in a private email (verifiable upon enquiry to DFL) quoted with permission (19 Oct 2010): i am incredibly excited to have found your work, and am very hungry for more. i burned through ‘best of’ in a few fevered hours, and was terribly frustrated not to be able to jump right into a second volume…preferably a magically inexhaustible one! i love the tantalizing briefness of the stories, the shockingly authentic dreaminess (i feel like ‘nightmarishness’ is too obvious a word when describing a horror story)…there is a quality to them that makes me imagine that they must just pour out of you like water…no trace of forcedly clever invention or pretense. i feel like the stories somehow unfold further inside me afterwards, as if i dreamed them myself. there will be many re-readings, i can assure you…
May 31 2010: Rog Pile here: http://www.ligotti.net/showthread.php?p=46303#post46303 “I must admit that I’ll miss the Wheel, Des. It always struck me as a fabulous creation, and I was delighted to have found another story there for Filthy Creations. But I suppose destruction is sometimes part of the creative process. I’m glad you’re giving more time to your own writing and getting it into print
I do agree with those who say that your fiction is an acquired taste. I picked up Weirdmonger again the night before last, and with more time now to read I enjoyed picking several stories at random and today wrote up two of them. I’m looking forward to reading more. But it’s a slow process. Your writing can be a speed-reader’s nightmare and the acquisition of that taste doesn’t come easy. The good part is that once got, it gets easier, and it’s sort of addictive.”
(June 2010) HERE: I’m now seven chapters into D F Lewis’s novella Agra Aska, and enjoying it. Reading Lewis is a bit like exploring an undiscovered country. There’s no map and the terrain can be difficult at times. Then you reach the top of a hill and the view’s fantastic, or you explore a cave and find gold.
July 2010: Craig Herbertson: HERE: “D F Lewis has two short tales Rage and The Fat Shrike in here. Both betray the unmistakable marks of genius. Rage deals with the solution to a macabre jigsaw puzzle and the The Fat Shrike simply abounds with unforgettable lines some beginning in mildly prosaic observation before ending in a word feast carnival ‘Maternity in the old days, was a combination of mutual back-slapping and career gossiping: starting as soon as the womb could warm sufficient spaghetti connections into autonomous life and continuing until it was cold enough to keep plasma as well as pasta indefinitely.’ I ask myself who else could have written that?”
November 2009: Comments on Interview HERE: Oyez! Oyez! Unique and consistently challenging, there is and ever will be but one omnipresent D.F. Lewis, think I, for back in the nineties, the Golden Age of the Amateur Press, he appeared literally, in one guise or another, in just about every issue of every single ‘zine advertised through Janet Fox’s Scavenger’s Newsletter here in the colonies. HIGHEST OF THE WEIRD AND STRANGEST OF THE STRANGE, I always look forward to the invigorating rewards of consciousness and lucidity after reading Des and deciphering his baffling tales. Broadcast through tentacles across the Atlantic, I am currently enjoying much his ethereal audios because of the variety of intonations and humors in his voices. I have the happy-feel that we’ll all be hearing from the Weirdmonger for ever-now and even beyond the very Threshold of Time.
I remember buying or being sent contributor’s copies of ‘zines and anthologies in the ’90s and always being thrilled to see the name D.F. Lewis in the Table of Contents.
I discovered Des through his “Tentacles Across the Atlantic” column in “Deathrealm” and have been a staunch supporter of his work ever since.
Des’s fiction taught me that an author can be incredibly diverse and prolific without sacrificing quality. There is also a holistically weird worldview that runs like a vein of gold through all his stories.
30 December 2009: http://www.ligotti.net/showthread.php?t=3754
3 Sep 2010: HERE: I only read one of D.F. Lewis’s stories awhile back and at the time just didn’t ‘get it’ or understand it and didn’t bother reading any other stories. The other day by chance I read ‘The Water Boatman’ on this website and was blown away. Loved it! I just managed to buy an unread copy of Weirdmonger for $19 plus $20 postage to the UK. Am looking forward to diving in….
Des is the Word Daddy; the Pimp of Palimpsest. — Bookhoard (6 March 2009)
…we all know the Weirdmonger exists outside of space and time. – Richard Gavin (19 January 2010)
Des, you are a star, my friend. The world’s a better place for having you in it. – Gary McMahon (18 January 2010)
Des, mate, your mind is a rare and precious thing. — Steven Savile (19 Januray 2010)
In this era of blog-driven micro-fame flame chancers, Nemonymous is a hymn to self-effacement; a twinkling limerick to the diffident. As you’ll realise, the simple fact of Des’s existence has an effect on one’s word use. Light bends differently in the Lewisverse. – Tim Nickels (30 April 09)
There’s A Cactus In The Ocean (2008): HERE: “in the vast (and often vastly misunderstood) realm(s) of speculative fiction, there occasionally appear writers gifted with such monumental talent and difference of vision that the word genius can honestly be applied with glee. it is my opinion that d.f. lewis is one of these people. his unique aesthetics combine with a monumentally bleak vision, that exists somewhere sideways of actual nihilism, and what may be one of the driest humours I’ve seen to create a body of work that stands truly outside of most attempts to define it. it also consists of somewhere close to two-thousand works in the short form, long form, points in between, and a staggering array of collaborative works.”
HERE: “(Also, I seem to be about the only person who likes “Watch the Whiskers Sprout”, by D. F. Lewis, which I found to be, upon completing it, a very strange, bizarre, surrealistic, and quite fascinating — if nightmarishly so — piece, a very unique take on the whole Mythos idea. A word of warning about that one, though… the first time around, until I got close to the end, I really was getting impatient with the thing and feeling that I’d wandered into an utterly nonsensical piece of self-indulgence. It all came together toward the end, and then it clicked for me. It may or may not have the same effect for you.)”
Richard Gavin (January 2009): http://www.knibbworld.com/campbell-cgi/discus/show.cgi?tpc=1&post=21068#POST21068: It’s high time that the fiction of Des Lewis is shown some love, since not only has he been extremely generous with his thoughts on other people’s work (mine included), but he is also an unequalled writer.
I have read WEIRDMONGER as well as “Agra Aska”, and dozens of old ‘zines from the extraordinarily obscure, Canadian ‘zine “Lost” to “The Book of Dark Wisdom”. I’ve been a huge fan of Des’s for many years, ever since I discoverd “Splints” in Peter Crowther’s TOUCH WOOD anthology. Des is also one of the few authors I wrote a fan email to back in the ’90s.
When Colin Wilson described the stories of Guy de Maupassant, he said they were like oysters, meant to be devoured in great amounts. Des is like that for me. His stories are dense seeds which we take in and tend by our reading of them. Inside us they hatch and we realize just how potent that little two-page tale really was.
Des’s sentences come at you like spears flung from obscure peripheries. He is the architect of tiny stories that house massive ideas and massive chills.
Long live the Weirdmonger!!!
Joel Lane (January 2009): http://www.knibbworld.com/campbell-cgi/discus/show.cgi?tpc=1&post=21051#POST21051: WEIRDMONGER rules. It’s best read in smallish doses (otherwise you get punch-drunk), but the structure (many short-short stories) makes that easy. It’s a measure of the DFL talent that even in this omnibus there are notable omissions, and choices among versions with which one might disagree. The only thing it lacks is illustrations, but your dreams after reading the stories will compensate for that.
Steve Bacon (January 2009): http://www.knibbworld.com/campbell-cgi/discus/show.cgi?tpc=1&post=21056#POST21056 : I’ve had ‘Weirdmonger’ for years. I have to say that I found it quite the opposite; the dreamlike quality of the prose tends to add to the overall sense of unreality. Due to the short length of the stories, I kept thinking, ‘just one more’, and I read it fairly quickly.
The gestalt of the book is like a warped dream, and you’ll return to the imagery long after you finish the stories.
This review website says:
“…such greats as Lovecraft, Aickman, Matheson and D.F. Lewis.”
25 June 2009: “Des Lewis is one of the most underrated writers in the history of the horror genre, and an absolute master of the short story. His fiction is labyrinthian– there’s no such thing as “a” D.F. Lewis story, because his prose is so gorged full of original ideas; ornate crawlings.
Do I sound passionate on the subject of D.F. Lewis’s fiction? That’s because his work is an inspiration. His work transcends the borders between poetry and prose, horror and mainstream, philosophy and psychosis.
If you want to go to places no author has ever taken you, read D.F. Lewis. He’ll take you on an elegant dreamride. If you want to have your imagination woven into bizarre new shapes then D.F. Lewis is your spider.”
Above from ‘Weirdmonger’ on Ebay – do you think the seller is simply saying above on HERE because he or she genuinely believes it? A joke. Course he or she believes it! Good luck to them.
But they’re not even my best stories! imo
“Who are some of the British writers you admire?
M.R. James and E.F. Benson, notably for their classic horror tales. Of contemporary writers, A.S. Byatt and D.F. Lewis – I guess if they use two initials to begin their name, they’re okay in my book. Clive Barker, Ramsey Campbell, China Miéville, Patrick McGrath, Dickens, Orwell, Anthony Burgess. My favourite British author is Thomas Hardy…”
If a kid walked up to me and told me “I wanna be a writer!” and begged me to make a list of authors who MUST be read, I think I’d list Ray Bradbury first, and D.F. Lewis last. Not because I think that Ray Bradbury is necessarily a better writer than D.F. Lewis (I don’t), but because Ray Bradbury is the ideal author for a reader to use as an embarking point for a lifetime of quality reading. He’s simple, he’s exciting, and he’s good. Ray Bradbury should be every reader’s first writer. Similarly, D.F. Lewis should be every reader’s LAST writer.
Because where Ray Bradbury is simple, D.F. Lewis is sophisticated. More than any other writer I’ve ever come across, D.F. Lewis panders to the intelligent. He refuses to appeal to the lowest common denominator, like 95% of the authors out there. Hell– he doesn’t even know that the lowest common denominator exists. Des puts considerable demands on his readers. That isn’t because his fiction is illogical– it isn’t. But you need a brain to read D.F. Lewis stories. You need an appreciation for subtlety. And you need a sense of dedication. It isn’t easy to navigate the thematic mazes which he lays out.
His stories ARE logical, and original, and poetic. In fact, his work often has more in common with poetry than prose.
So, kid, start early with Bradbury, and read everything he ever read by the time you’re twelve. But read D.F. Lewis and everything he ever wrote before you die.
You might want to wait until you’re 40 to start, though. Meanwhile read scores of other authors. While you’re at it, read Poe, Shakespeare, Blake.
Just make sure that in the end, you get to D.F. Lewis. And read every damned thing he ever wrote BEFORE you die.” 8 May 05 entry
AMAZON REVIEW 2005:
“this book is a modern dark fantasy classic, and a must-read…one of the most underrated writers in the history of the horror genre, and an absolute master of the short story…”
HERE: “…was disc golfing down in Roanoke with a friend I hadn’t seen in over a couple years… And he told me that the writer DF Lewis (over in England) had put the cover of our premier issue of Gothic Light up on a website. Jeff & I published a magazine in the early 90s, with the premier issue coming out … (1991). So that was really strange to come up all of the sudden. But not just that, DF Lewis has had thousands of stories published. He’s got a huge cult following on both sides of the ocean. He’s one of my favorite writers. As good as HP Lovecraft, Lord Dunsany, and Tolkien (and I’ve read most everything by and about Tolkien). I should add that DF Lewis is also better than Stephen King or Clive Barker, in my opinion. Both of who I like, especially Clive Barker’s Books Of Blood, Imagica, The Thief Of Always, etc.. (This is just to give a frame of reference for DF Lewis’ work.)”
March 2009: Des, you are a fascinating man. And I mean that seriously. (Gary McMahon)
August 2008: Ligotti aside, what are some of your other favorite authors in this genre? — Without hesitation, Fritz Leiber and H. P. Lovecraft. Other writers I greatly enjoy are Robert Bloch, Clark Ashton Smith, and some guy named D. F. Lewis
A: […] Later: Voice in the Night by William Hope Hodgson, Oke of Okehurst by Vernon Lee, countless stories by D. F. Lewis, The City of the Singing Flame by Clark Ashton Smith, Podolo by L. P. Hartley, Wood by Robert Aickman…
October 2008: The nearest writing I can compare it to (and now I know I’m going to embarrass someone who is definitely on this board!) is DF Lewis. I honestly didn’t think anyone else could write like you, Des – but this guy can!
1st February 2009: Below is from here: http://grimreviews.blogspot.com/2009/02/df-lewis-on-thomas-ligotti.html
The ubiquitous (and Nemonymous) writer of weird fiction, D.F. Lewis, has published an intriguing series of impressions taken from Thomas Ligotti’s Teatro Grottesco. Lewis, a prodigious maker of weird tales that are often short but incredibly rich, provides a unique perspective on Ligotti’s work. The sort of view that you can really only glean from one weird writer observing a contemporary.
If you’re looking for a brief romp through weird literature and the banker Meltdown, or have wondered what one weirdmonger on the fringe thinks of another wordsmith of the high weird, then you have found your destination. And if it stirs your fancy as much as it did mine, there’s no reason to stop at this page. D.F. Lewis’ “Weirdmonger” blog is a deformed palace of exotic delights. His website has grown so fat and voracious that one can literally spend hours exploring the many story wheels, reviews, and other curious observations comprising this unlikely library of the mad.
Grim Blogger has also written about DFL reading aloud: http://grimreviews.blogspot.com/2009/03/df-lewis-readings.html – “However, know that you, too, will likely be trapped in the weirdmonger’s nefarious wheel. Each recording is like one more spider marching into one’s ear–a ticklish delight and a horror.”
It’s just that you never heard that there’s a diference between poetry and prose, genre and literary — or if you did you didn’t believe it — so in both your reading and fiction you just take the best of all worlds and throw it all together like the grandmother in “Dandelion Wine” and somehow it always works out, like a crazy Charlie Parker solo breaking out of a brass cage. – Bookhoard (March 2009)
Wroclaw wrote the passage below here on 6 March 2010:
<< DF Lewis’s Nemonymous anthologies have been a phenomenon running almost diametrically opposite to every major current in our diseased zeitgeist. In a society crazed to the point of hysteria at the slightest prospect of fame, for him to have made people queue up and long for: anonymity, has been a unique and perverse achievement. One is reminded of the Australian Aboriginal’s ultimate and most noble goal: to leave the earth entirely without mark or record of one’s passing. DF Lewis is a messiah of negation, offering each of us a seductive portal to non-entity. Something in each of us urgently longs to be erased by this man. >>
http://punktalk.punktowner.com/?p=1249: Jeffrey Thomas (May 2011): “It should be noted that at the time I wrote this story, I was very much impressed with — and thus influenced by — the powerful poetic vignettes of such writers as W. H. Pugmire and D. F. Lewis. Thanks, Wilum, and Des.”
WEIRDTONGUE: (April 2011) From the independent review here; http://matthewfryer.com/2011/04/13/weirdtongue-a-glistenberry-romance-by-d-f-lewis/
Reading this book made me feel tired but refreshed, almost like the endorphin rush of a work-out, which is probably because that’s exactly what it is. Weirdtongue certainly demands patience and effort from the reader, but plenty of realistic and sometimes amusing dialogue balances the semantic exuberance. D.F. Lewis is an extraordinary narrator and storyteller, and one is swept away by the feast of words, or weirds as the Weirdmonger itself would call them: the nemophile wordsmith who ties the chapters together.
At times I felt frustrated, and found myself becoming lost in the ever-changing textures, not to mention needing to reach for a dictionary. This author doesn’t pause to let the stragglers catch up. But I pressed on and found that such moments just heightened the rewards, and the whole experience just left me wanting more. I intend to read it again as I suspect there are hidden delights of fantasy and humour that were missed (or misunderstood) the first time around.
It is quite short in length, but still good value for money in the time it takes to savour it. After all, you don’t sprint through the Louvre. You amble, pausing to reflect and analyse the layers, and should you find yourself confused or lost, you can just shrug, sit back and bask in the deeply colourful wonderland of language that D.F. Lewis has presented.
Weirdtongue is very immersive and subjective: I don’t believe that any two people would read it and have the same experience. It’s certainly not for everyone, but if my attempt to review it has piqued your interest, then definitely give it a shot. This peculiar and elusively satisfying book deserves it, and so do you.
http://www.knibbworld.com/campbelldiscuss/messages/1/3859.html?1302946467 = My brain rumbles like an empty stomach in anticipation of “Nemonymous Night”.
11 June 11: The Stars at Noonday site has been conducting a real-time review of the just released novel: ‘Nemonymous Night’.
“The sense of plot grows greater with every passing page, even as new elements
are introduced and the playfulness continues…”
“Mutation, evolution, degeneration lead to disturbingly vivid hybrid-visions. A
subterranean journey leads to revelations, one of which has all the force of a
plot twist in a thriller.”
“Nemonymous Night positively flaunts its constructed nature, is almost
arrogant in its indifference to coherence and structure, and yet, somehow, Lewis
ties it all together.”
“Hostile readers who have been sticking with the book despite frustration will
likely choose this moment to toss it across the room.”
“I think readers will understand that a bizarre, associative novel of the weird
whose plot wanders and recirculates like Moses in the desert can nonetheless be
rendered fascinating, but I don’t think that general understanding does justice
to this particular instance. Part of it, perhaps, is that the recurring images are somehow resonant…”
“I have now finished Nemonymous Night. And, on another level, have come to
terms with the fact that I have scarcely read it at all.”
“The substance of the novel is retained, but the grace of individual passages
must wait for slower, contemplative rereading, once the mind has been able to
prepare itself for such a thing.”
But the above extracts do not do justice to this long review (linked above).
”D.F. Lewis captures the same uncertainty principle wielded by weird fiction masters like Robert Aickman, and uncanny media personalities such as Rod Serling. Yet, it isn’t really fair to liken his work to either gentleman, since Lewis arguably outdoes both in stacking weird layer upon layer,…” Grim Blogger re: WEIRDTONGUE (August 2011)
BLACK STATIC (Oct 2011): There is, as one would expect of Lewis, evidence of a keen mind at work, and one that delights in finding oblique angles and perspectives from which to view this thing called life/literature, seen in such throwaway ideas as immortality achieved through celebrity and humanity ‘strobing’ in and out of existence. Evidence also of his distinctive prose style, with phrases that delight for their elegance and perverse intimations of beauty, with inventive wordplay and striking imagery. And, by virtue of the references to Big Brother, avian flu and other matters, there’s a strong hint of contemporary relevance, or some attempt at such.
6 April 2012: “The Last Balcony is one of the best author’s anthology ever. […] In the end, I can only be gratified to see this superlative collection appearing under the wings of the Inkermen.” – Dan Ghetu of Ex Occidente Press (quoted from here)
D.F. Lewis is one of the finest editors working in the independent publishing world at the moment and he picked a great theme for this anthology. He has vision, ideas and the gumption to carry his projects through to the end. He pays well and always punctually. But at the end of the day he will be primarily remembered as a writer. At this particular moment in time his work isn’t fashionable. The same is true for any writer who likes language for its own sake, who prefers richness to sparsity, who isn’t a devotee of the ‘synthetic emo’ (the style that is currently fashionable). (July 2012, Rhys Hughes)
Quentin S. Crisp (printed inside my first novel (Chômu Press) that was published when I was 63): “There is certainly a spiralling ominous weirdness here, a sense of shifting scales such as reveal to us the bizarre denizens of the world beneath a microscope, so much a part of our mundane existence but usually invisible to us (not to mention the possibly more bizarre world we would see through a macroscope), but the psychedelia of Nemonymous Night perhaps owes less to the sixties than it does to the lucid and lyrical ostranenie of writers such as Denton Welch. There is an understanding here of the piquant craft of strangeness that is the basis of all lasting fiction. The inside-out logic is Carrollian. The word-play, dare I say it, is Jungian; it is the wordplay of dreams.”
Feb 29 2012: Simon Strantzas HERE: The term “real-time review” if not the concept itself has been enjoying a healthy life on the internet, and it all traces back to the incomparable Des “D. F.” Lewis […] with a dazzlingly trippy review. Des attempts to find gestalts and underlying themes of collections as he reads them, which often makes for an intriguing read.
“Lewis does crepuscular decay better than almost anyone. […] ‘Tugging the Heartstrings’ – a gem, a minor masterpiece, a beautiful story that I found uplifting. […] I always thought that clarity was his weak point, but the prose in the vast majority of the stories in this collection is beautifully clear and sometimes highly lyrical. […] ‘The Mentioning‘ — this book seems designed to disprove every assertion I make. No sooner do I make a claim that Des is at his best in ‘inner city’ or ‘isolated rural’ (specifically I meant marsh and fenland) locations than he writes a superb piece set on the coast among the cliffs of a wild beach. This story is a meditation, on death, loss and fate, and is utterly infused with the authentic ambience of that margin where land meets sea. […] A Hairshirt Called Husband — Des is able to make a simple game of clock patience seem sinister, to imbue it with a seepiness, for want of a better word, that is even more sinister than plain old-fashioned creepiness. […] ‘Gates’ – brilliant. A classic. One of my favourites so far. One of the best Des Lewis stories I’ve ever read…[…] [re: Cloysters] I have often said that Des Lewis doesn’t use algorithms in his writing, but this story is as algorthmical as a Roald Dahl or May Sinclair tale; but it’s far denser and stranger than anything by those (very good) writers. The writing, the prose, is just excellent. […] ‘The Horn of Europe’ – great title for a story! I wish I had come up with this title. Brilliant. This is a great little philosophical tale, the sort of tale I wish more writers would write more often. It wears the cloak of a horror story, but it’s not really; the possible horror is only incidental. Maybe a maniac attacked a little girl. That’s not what the story is really about. It’s about time and change and that curiously intense bittersweet feeling that comes when we truly think about the state of the universe, about entropy, about everything being in flux. It’s a Heraclitian story. A time travel story without a time machine; a story about memory and supposition. One of the most important stories in the book so far… […] ‘Glimpse’ — a classic sudden fiction. Less than a page long, it packs a punch; it’s a brief philosophical fable (or disquisition). Des does these short pieces brilliantly. This could almost be a Pu Songling tale in terms of brevity, conciseness and punch of theme, although the incidental mechanics are completely different, of course. Superb. […] …in ‘The Apocryphan’, Bonnyville seems like a place one could genuinely stroll around, dig behind, poke around in; there’s an authentic sense of place. And the characters that inhabit this novella are three-dimensional too. The fact that the story is told in many interrelated brief sections, rather than as a single clump, also helps to open out the piece still further and lighten it more; or perhaps the structure was necessitated by the spry content (the tone is spry, but it is dark sprightliness.) And yes, the mode is melancholy despite the briskness; and the briskness is luxurious, not hectic; and this peculiar mix of rates of flow and density of detail is handled with supreme skill. […] (re ‘Yesterfang‘) It’s sort of halfway between the open prose of ‘The Apocryphan’ and the dense closed prose of Des’ short stories… The main thing being that it works. It works marvellously. […] The first part, ‘In All Dreams But Yours’, is dark and groping in comparison with the second part, ‘The Pest of All Worlds’, which is almost sprightly. The range of scholarly and pulp influences is staggering, and they come from everywhere, and the novella itself picks a path between them, like a man exploring a chasm. It’s all rather enthralling. […] I already know that I’ll be recommending it most highly to any and all readers who love original weird fiction…”
– RHYS HUGHES, from HERE about ‘THE LAST BALCONY’ hardback book published by The InkerMen Press in 2012. There are also more negative comments including reference to: “The pretentious flimflam that was characteristic of Lewis at his lowest period (in the mid noughties) […] serependipity of the nemonymous noumena is doodah retrocausal or any of that meaningless artschool bollocks…”
None among the above moving feast of quotes good or bad or ludicrous means anything.
Judge me on my works, not on my request thus to judge me. 🙂
SOME REACTIONS TO MY REAL-TIME REVIEWING ARE SHOWN HERE
AND ANY NEW COMMENTS ABOUT DFL FROM AUGUST 2013 WILL ALSO BE SHOWN IN THE COMMENT STREAM BELOW…