Tag Archives: Joel Lane

Two recent remarkable preoccupations

My brief review of the world’s newly discovered classic 1965 novel by John Williams HERE


Completion of my personal Joel Lane memorabilia HERE following the worldwide upsurge in emotion at the sudden death of this fiction writer, poet, political activist, critic and visionary.


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The witness has gone. Or he has stayed and we have gone.


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November 29, 2013 · 9:43 am

Joel Lane

I am shocked and very saddened by the sudden death of Joel Lane as reported yesterday. I knew him face to face intermittently since the late 1980s and frequently on-line. He will be remembered as a great fiction and poetry writer, a righter of wrongs, a wry humourist, a dark visionary, an astute commentator on literature and worldly affairs, and someone who, one senses, sometimes found life difficult yet fulfilling, thus helping others to fulfil themselves and overcome their own difficulties. I shall miss him much. He won the World Fantasy Award for best author’s collection only a few weeks before his death.  Condolences to his family and friends. RIP Joel.
(My direct review and publication connections with Joel. Very proud to have such connections as well as the less formal ones).


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Instinct – ‘poems of desire’ by Joel Lane

Flarestack Poets 2012

23 poems by Joel Lane

I miss the loneliness that was ours
to share, when we walked in the city
and explored its waste ground. …”

A rarified experience in poem-absorption for me, as we cross serial frontiers of blank album tracks and pinned shadows and other stubs of things: a sense of love in often unnatural enjambment, while paradoxically the poems themselves seem somehow artfully to have a natural enjambment.  Tomorrow, when I re-read the poems – as I must – such (un)naturalness will become vice versa, I predict, with each reading changing, if only a bit, the meaning of the previous reading … forever?  The unfree buildings of emotional relationship as free verse. Then vice versa again? It is impossible of course to do justice to these dark panoplies as we scale the poems from story to story within their inferred brutalist architecture.  A constructed, constructive sadness and pent up eroticism although ‘eroticism’ is not the right word and I can’t think of the right word. Perhaps tomorrow. Perfect notes of memory sweeping back and forth.

[My previous takes on Joel Lane work: here here here]


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Black Static #28

I’m starting below another of my gradual real-time reviews. This time it is of the fiction stories in TTA Press’s ‘BLACK STATIC’Issue 28 (Apr 2012 – May 2012). Received as part of my subscription to this magazine. As before, I shall attempt to draw out all the fiction’s leitmotifs and mould them into a gestalt.

CAVEAT: Spoilers are not intended but there may be inadvertent ones. You may wish (i) to take that risk and read my review before or during your own reading of the stories, or (ii) to wait until you have finished reading them. In either case, I hope it gives a useful or interesting perspective.

All my previous TTA Press reviews are linked from here: https://nullimmortalis.wordpress.com/2010/09/25/tta-press-my-real-time-reviews/

All my real-time reviews are linked from here: http://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/

Item image: Black Static 28 Cover

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

 The stories to be reviewed have been written by Carole Johnstone, Jon Ingold, Priya Sharma, Daniel Kaysen, Joel Lane.

NB: There is much else of value for the Horror reader within ‘Black Static’ in addition to its fiction: – www.ttapress.com


The Pest House – Carole Johnstone

“A very nasty thought followed fast on the heels of that nasty enough discovery, and she hauled hard on his hand.”

A substantive work: at one level a forensic attempt to create horror in words by painfully hauling out roots, irrespective of the story being told and its difficult suspension of disbelievability. At another level, a compelling, mock-amateurish, story in itself of an ill-suited couple Gregor and Mary, centred on a common trope of many authorial first attempts at writing fiction for commercial readability: i.e. an inheritance and its repercussions. All with an evocatively sick condition of Caithness.  Those two levels blend skilfully: making me want to both groan and cheer with a single guttural sound of readerly absorption.  The larger-than-life ‘roots’ of bottom-fishing, including an almost autonomous phallus, a suppurating cold sore, a planted plague-residue, a paternal dislodged daughter-root, a tortured past, a tortured future, and a present wherein we readers all track the stylised horror-experiment-in-words by exploring a once ‘religious’ building now inherited yet still here rooted within the ancient past, a past as pest, the pest of all possible worlds, one that housed plague victims… As ever with this author’s work, loved it. (24 Apr 12 – 3.40 pm bst)

Cracks – Jon Ingold

“I squeezed her free hand. ‘It can’t be long.'”

This is probably the funniest horror story I’ve ever read.  I spurn the need to connect leitmotifs between this story and the previous one as that would insult your intelligence  steeped as you are in all my earlier real-time reviews: ‘the synchronised shards of random truth and fiction’. Here the shards have cracks and infestation. A symphony in amnesic athanasy. Priestian (Christopher) as well as Proustian (Marcel). An ill-fitting, ring-loose, orange-smelling honeymoon couple in an Absurdist Avant Garde Southend-Kursaal happening-in-words: with Magritte figures shading in and out of existence, including an athanasic Ingmar Bergman Knight-in-armour haunting the couple’s house: a cross between St George (note yesterday’s date) and the Man of the Mancha.  Funny, yes, but Horror, too, as I felt myself slowly going mad as I read it.  It’s as if my brain got infested via the words. Possibly still is. Always was? “Nothing in this world fits together quite right.” (24 Apr 12 – 8.25 pm bst) 

The Ballad of Boomtown – Priya Sharma

“I stand on the threshold of the past.”

On this very day, the UK has officially entered a double-dip recession: and Adam Smith (once author of ‘The Wealth of Nations’) resigns his position so as to create a political firebreak. And this story is a symptom of our era’s enduring financial  f**kbubble: here now taken literally as a bubble crime of both passion and omission, a crime that brings down retribution upon  the story’s female protagonist even from those mythic beings (The Three Sisters) who should support her.  With which I feel emotional empathy.  Like the first story, we have roots to and as well as from the past, turning ‘pastilential’ just as human motives and yearnings are subsumed by entropy. But where does entropy start, when does it end? Towards another ‘cold sore’-type of facial condition from the first story, & we are stirred by the effective prose that has its own roots in the paper on which the text is stained like tiny articulate shadows.  Here we truly inhale shadows. In the previous two stories, shadows inhaled shadows, perhaps. Then a bird, now an owl or horse.  Although humanity always reaches the ultimate endgame of encroaching amnesia, myths exploit a special athanasy. The Three Sisters. And tantamount to a type of Lady Macbeth, our heroine inhales the sorrow that always follows a false certainty. A debt crisis of the soul. Like starting to build a housing estate in the more positive sectors of a cycle only to be aborted by the boom’s busting…here evocatively conveyed.  And she will herself be turned to stone, no doubt, rooted to the earth’s core: potentially  becoming her own myth: a myth towards which future women  might return or seek out again and again through each feminine cycle of existence, an existence that is actually created by means of the thing that such existences originally  incubated (a thing that in this story is also seen to be unwelcome and invasive depending on context or consent), a thing that the woman here also brings into being by desperately (mindlessly?) unravelling a man’s belt (compare and contrast the almost  autonomous phallus in the first story). Just inferring. A great story, even without  such inferences.  Cycles of passion, as well as cycles of finance, set against the eternity of myth. Boom and big bang. (25 Apr 12 – 2.35 pm bst)

Pale Limbs – Daniel Kaysen

She would have wept at Wootton Bassett.”

Another treatment of a nagging amnesia, and an athanasy, this time followed by several layers of doubt in the self and what had caused the self’s near death experience and what he is now remembering, suspecting, imagining, feeling, fearing… The text itself has pale limbs. Plenty of white spaces, lean curtness, shortness of concentration, staccato sentences, tacit meanings.  It haunts like a picture of a text rather than a reading of the text itself. I glance to the side to check it out as I write this on my screen. Looking away from the page, it’s as if it was never seen. Looking back, it’s been already seen. Time and time again. I distrust it. A death that fails to cling. Meanwhile, the story’s pleasing other readers.  Daring not to please me.  But it really wants me to like it. Make it whole. Make me whole. As if I am its only reader after all. And without a reader, it will likely cause me to vanish into its widening margins or increasingly truncated text-lines. But… “There is a plot, as I first thought.” (25 Apr 12 – 8.30 pm bst)

The Messenger – Joel Lane

“…the only light came from faintly glowing figures half-embedded in a wall of packed earth.”

Here, now, the text is denser, heavier, but with Lane’s instinctual disarmingly limpid touch of clarity: i.e. fewer white spaces, no signs of attenuating memory: supplying a hindsight-considered coda to this whole set of wonderful fictions: the roots renew, the disease (here earth-rooted, Sharma’s stone myths and boomtown entropy (chemical industrial contagion) creating a “cancer cluster”  as if replacing the earlier larger-than-life ‘cold sore’), ‘pale limbs’ here becoming ‘pale mesh’ and ‘white cobwebs’ – all radiating from a splendidly Lane-like nugget of his own trademark boomtown to urban decay trope, of regret, and the “clumsy” but hopefully base-line effective messages of this story’s ‘messenger’ as symbolised by a rock group with the (ironic?) name of communicative, quicksilver ‘Mercury’. And the desperate yearning attempts at cultivating a curative amnesia paradoxically by means of the athanasy of fiction-literature itself (represented here by this Lane nugget of close-ordered text) — i.e. the attempts of a female protagonist’s first-person narrative in tantalisingly ‘heavier’-than-Mercury prose — are threaded through by Kaysen’s deja-vu or jamais-vu, and by the tenor of Sharma’s female protagonist, too.  Finally, by inference, from Beneath the Ground, the worm-embraced roots still fructify (or otherwise) humanity and its accoutrements above… “…things living under the wasteground:” (26 Apr 12 – 11.25 am bst)


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My reading-lifetime’s Hall of Fame

Image by Tony Lovell (2011)

My reading-lifetime’s Hall of Fame in no particular order:

Charles Dickens, Christopher Priest, AS Byatt, Enid Blyton, May Sinclair, HP Lovecraft, Barbara Vine, Reggie Oliver, Anita Brookner, WG Sebald, Jeremy Reed, Ian McEwan, Elizabeth Bowen, Stephen King, Oliver Onions, Marcel Proust, Salman Rushdie, Glen Hirshberg, Paul Auster, Mark Valentine, John Fowles, Edgar Allan Poe, John Cowper Powys, Lord Dunsany, Algernon Blackwood, Jack Vance, Philip K Dick, Jeff VanderMeer, Samuel R Delany, Anthony Burgess, Susanna Clarke, Rhys Hughes, Lawrence Durrell, MR James, Robert Aickman, Sarban, Ramsey Campbell, Thomas Ligotti, Tommaso Landolfi, Kazuo Ishiguro, Quentin S. Crisp.

This is a list including writers I once considered in my Hall of Fame but now rarely read, and new writers whose works I read quite a lot and have included in my Hall of Fame fairly recently and variations upon that, but all have been major reading experiences some time in my life.  Apologies to those I’ve inadvertently omitted because of my semi-Proustian memory.


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Real-Time Reviews – Touching Base

These days, I seem to be spending most of my writing time on real-time reviews of other authors’ books I’ve purchased.
I actually get a lot of satisfaction from real-time reviewing.

I think my early ‘gestalt’ watershed was Joel Lane’s BENEATH THE GROUND as far as a multi-authored anthology was concerned. But two other important watersheds were the very first real-time review I did in 2008 (almost accidentally): GLYPHOTECH by Mark Samuels and THE IMPELLED by Gary Fry, particularly the latter where I fully found my feet in tracking audit-trails…

I’m particularly proud of some of the most recent author reactions shown at the top of the page here: http://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/the-authors-reactions/

The whole list of links is here: http://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/

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Midnight Flight / All His Worldly Goods

Reviews so far of these two stories:



Paul Cooksey, a man in his twilight years, is feeling lost in the noise of the modern world, estranged by the fast moving flurry of chattering cell phones and the constant hubbub of electronic devices. One twilight evening, whilst riding the bus near the Hockney Flyover, he suddenly recalls reading a collection of stories about ‘winged nocturnal creatures’ in his youth in 1956. These stories, his ailing memory recalls, had a profound effect on the imagination of his twelve year old self, and he decides therefore to track down first the book, then its editor Thom Parr in the hope of relieving his intense feelings of loss and loneliness. You have to read this atmospheric and painful story to find out what happens to Paul and his quest. The tale is filled with a beautiful and melancholy palette of dark blues, blacks and purples, and the whispery sound of wings in the night.


“…movingly captures the onset of senile dementia and accompanying memory loss,…” (Black Static # 25 – TTA Press)


In “Horror Stories for Boys” Rachel Kendall presents a powerful story of a man suffering from migraines who must visit his dying father and face an abusive past. The author managed to make me feel that bitter-sweetness of nostalgia – even though the past evoked isn’t mine – and although light on plot, this is mature and emotional writing. Of a similar calibre is “Midnight Flight” by Joel Lane about an old man losing his memory, searching for a book he recalls from childhood. Both these tales satisfy with very brittle emotions and atmopshere.


Joel Lane’s gift for the evocation of contemporary urban despair and the darkly redemptive promise of the uncanny makes the remembered anthology Midnight Flight powerfully symbolic in a story of the same name.


Midnight Flight by Joel Lane also focuses on the moving quest for lost youth as an old man tries to track down a long lost anthology 


In the best pieces the device of the horror anthology is integral to the story. Joel Lane’s beautiful meditation “Midnight Flight” treats its themes – the elusive fictional anthology at its center, urban alienation, aging, regret – with deceptive delicacy and control. Some of these elements, especially the urban grayness and decay seen through the eyes of an outsider narrator, have been worn thin by the heavy tread of decades of urban horrorists, but Lane folds his story inward to its conclusion with a convincing feel for the workings of fate and, in the process, strikes unsettling notes that carry after the last page is turned.


Midnight Flight by Joel Lane. Is a brilliantly moving tale of an old man loosing his mememory who feels completely out of touch with a modern world.  He begins a quest to track down a book and its edititor , that he remembers reading from his youth.  This is at times a hard and painfull tale to read, not because of bad writing, but due to the intense emotional imagary of the story.


Joel Lane provides “Midnight Flight”, an excellent, melancholy  story ostensibly about a man trying to retrieve an elusive horror anthology read in his childhood, actually a story  about loneliness, ageing and the endless quest for the meaning of life.


A story about one of the things we fear most in real life. The supernatural elements serve largely as metaphors for real-world terrors, and it’s all the more effective for that.


In Joel Lane’s “Midnight Flight” an elderly man, in the grip of dementia, seems only half aware that he is out of kilter with the modern world but forms a fierce determination to track down a half-remembered book of horror stories from his childhood.  As he searches, his childhood memories surge up to obliterate the present.  The quest for the book becomes a quest for the book’s author and ultimately for the remaining shreds of his own identity.  The story gives us an exquisitely detailed description of the process of amnesia and the stories, the memories of stories, that we cling to when we are out of touch with all else in this fast-disintegrating world.




After taking care of his mother Susan who has passed away after battling a prolonged illness a few month’s prior to the beginning of the story, Alan now spends his days working in a charity bookshop. He lives just a few miles away in his mother’s empty house on the top of a nearby hill. Liz, the store’s proprietor, seems to be fixed on modernizing her shop and she has therefore hired a new helping hand, David, a university student, to bring things up to date. One day a man called Eli Webb comes into the store with the intention of donating a box of books to the store. One volume in particular, a collection of horror stories which is presented equally as an occult work and a grimoire called ‘The Supernatural Omnibus’, catches Alan’s attention. D.P. Watt manages to infuse a sense of melancholy and nostalgia with a skillfully controlled mounting sense of dread, and finally, a hard earned sense of revelation which also serves as a pitch perfect conclusion to this skillfully assembled anthology of horror stories. A sentence on the volume’s last page underneath another of Tony Lovell’s effective black and white images very appropriately reads: ‘A treebook beats an ebook, by dint of ditch or haha.


“…a story of loneliness and alienation,…” (Black Static #n25 – TTA Press)


The book ends on a high note with “All His Wordly Goods” by D.P. Watt, the ghostly tale of a man who works in a charity shop and discovers that a donated volume – the Supernatural Omnibus – refuses to leave him alone. Well written, and suffused with a creepy, small town claustrophobia, this tale also nails that fragility of lost childhood.


All His Worldly Goods by D.P. Watt  The anthology is rounded of in great fashion with rather sad tale that builds with a great sense of menace and dread, this is the perfect story to finish off this anthology.


Watt’s “All His Worldly Goods” is an excellent, solid piece of fiction where a copy of Montague Summers’ “The Supernatural Omnibus” ( that anthology really exists! I got a copy on my shelves…) keeps haunting a lonelybookshop clerk.  A great mix of horror and nostalgia.


While most writers make an effort to make characters engaging, quirky or interesting, Mr. Watt has deliberately given us a horrifically dull individual, who apparently has no interests, hobbies, friends, or discernible personality. As the character says himself, he may as well be dead, and in the end, death is the most interesting thing that happens. Yet the story is gripping – an excellent coda for a wonderful book.


In D.P. Watt’s story, “All Your Worldly Goods”, we are introduced to the deceptively cosy world of a charity shop volunteer.  His carefully regulated life is gradually undermined when a mysterious man brings a fateful book into the shop.  The very ordinariness of the man’s life, its petty jealousies and creeping sense of worthlessness creates a profoundly moving setting.


“The quiet ‘effectiveness’ of ‘All His Worldly Goods'”


Any further reviews after 20 Jan 12 will appear in the comments below.
My own views: http://horroranthology.wordpress.com/editors-story-by-story-commentary/


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Two Horrasy Limericks

Shown in public here: http://www.knibbworld.com/campbell-cgi/discus/show.cgi?tpc=1&post=84276#POST84276

Horrasy: a personal view by Joel Lane

There once was a genre called horrasy
That was twice as disturbing as Morrissey
I thought it was cool
In that gap between school
And getting a letter from Dorothy

My reply:

Hip Hip Horrasy, Hip Hip Horrasy
Joel’s verse makes me feel chorussy
Horrastic or heuristic
Never be less than puristic
With ‘Songs of a Worker’ by O’Shaughnessy

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Do Not Pass Go – by Joel Lane

A never-ending real-time review.  But in view of the title, a never-starting real-time review, may be better.  You harmed me from shelter.

All my real-time reviews are linked from here: http://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/

Hotwire 2011

An aesthetically tough red pamphlet with quality white page-paper to die for. And black end-papers.

This Night Last Woman

“I always like to finish the drink before the ice is melted.”

Normally when I read the first story in a collection while in real-time reviewing mode, I know what to say. Here the sad atmospheric night-life of Birmingham in days when LPs are to be riffled through in someone’s flat – albeit dusty LPs – makes me think I am mouthing someone else’s song. This is a dark conundrum of a mood-piece where the mood is one of action when two self-attenuated paper-printed figures (one of which is shown in detailed silhouette miming the story on the front cover) come to life for the nonce and touch base – not a whodunnit so much as a whosaid itwasneverdoneanyway? (28 Jul 11)

[Cf: cover with that of the HA of HA]. (29 Jul 11)

No More the Blues

“They’ve seen it all and they still feel something. Maybe I do too.”

Over-dosing on under-dosing. This is life, partly in a latrinal China whitediamond cushion of anti-synaesthesia: a brilliantly evoked band in a (keep quiet for the) music club of forty-something “Brummies”  and a weknewwhoditbecausewebelievtheauthorifnotthe narrator. This is the stuff of dreams that poke their lasting reality into life. (29 Jul 11 – 45 minutes later)

The Black Dog

“…distorting the neat pattern…”

An ostensibly initial forensic, clinical account in and around a genuine whodunnit – not Churchill’s Black Dog or something far more intangibly fluid? – whereby the true narrative author’s narrator eventually reveals a steady “I” upon events / clues / mis-intentions / motives after emerging black-shaped from the tar-thickened ink or ink-thinned tar of the page-print at the end. (29 Jul 11 – another 4 hours later)

Blue Mirror

“…said through a mouthful of blotting-paper…”

A towhomwasittobedone with the lateral ambiance of this gorgeous pamphlet’s first story – plus the latrinal one from  the second – transfixed by the theme of exploitation (artistically, sexually, or with mind-tar substances (my expression, not the story’s)) concerning, just as one example, the lyrics of songs for the group Blue Mirror. And the singular third-person point-of view ‘Narrator’ abandons his own version of ‘omniscience’ to  the author at the end half way between new-build and dereliction  – obviously so … by dint of where and how we readers lose him. Or perhaps the only other way this swooping prestidigitation of resisted loss could be achieved was by use of a mirror or as a dark city’s mock super-hero? “…taken his words and turned them to shit.” — “…picked himself up from the tarmac…” (29 Jul 11 – another 90 minutes later)


“The unlit doorway beside the bar was curtained with black crêpe paper.”

A powerful tale of boy-slaughter – that resonates with the city – soon to become a cathedral window of light around New Street Station – has hair-trigger guns cocked …………. whereby – as I said earlier with some premonition? – ‘the stuff of dreams that poke their lasting reality into life’ – o too easily poke. Here, there is a sign of shame or compunction – yet all is subsumed somehow. Yet we sense, too, that the head-lease narrator is sadly methodical in making a snuff movie by means of print stains as text – because of simply needing to. 

The rhythms or rituals of an existential Birmingham ‘in camera’. 

NB: Any head-lease narrator is not necessarily the text’s author-‘god’, although it’s possible they are identical, given the ungluing of narrative layers one by one, peeling them back till one reaches the inevitably black-molten gestalt of stained-glass leitmotifs. Gestalt or guilt. (29 Jul 11 – another hour later)



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The Peacock Escritoire – by Mark Valentine

FA33BCED-909B-4F11-A24D-385DFA3FA590I’m due to start below another of my gradual real-time reviews, turning leitmotifs into a gestalt. A book I recently purchased entitled:

THE PEACOCK ESCRITOIRE – by Mark Valentine (Passport Levant 2011).

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

CAVEAT: Spoilers are not intended but there may be inadvertent ones. You may wish (i) to take that risk and read my review before or during your own reading of the book, or (ii) to wait until you have finished reading it. In either case, I hope it gives a useful or interesting perspective.

All my real-time reviews are linked from here: http://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/

In common with my normal practice, I shall be giving the real-time impressions of my reading journey, knowing as little as possible in advance about the book.

Subsequent to eventually completing this real-time review, i.e. both the book and the loose papers within the overall container, I shall pay attention, on your behalf, to the physical format…and the pecock fether.


The Ka of Astarakhan

“…as if my arithmetic and this apocalypse were pitching against each other in a mad mazurka.”

A memorable story of scrying, one that is poetically textured, where words are more powerful even than their own meanings and forms…casting spells, even mis-spells, upon the Russian soul I absorbed when in Russia a short while ago – and I the reader now cast them back at it and make the plot bend to my whim not its.  This day our crow-daark world meets the Arab Spring along the “Persian sands”…. (19 Feb 11)

The Amber Cigarette

“…those delicate tapers of amber paper made only by Desmay.”

One often wonders why and how a certain day (today: 20 Feb 11) holds a truly special experience and why not another day, with this Egyptian word-aesthetic story during an Alexandrian Spring? This strikes me as a perfect blend of numinousness, immanence, imminence, flowing from objects to souls to things that are neither… combining a style that I have earlier learnt to be essentially Valentinian but here suffused with elements of Clark Ashton Smith and Lawrence Durrell in equal measures … and Tobias Crisp, the works of whom are actually name-checked in the story itself. The text also radiates in part towards this whole book’s title as well as to the presumably intended joy of unwrapping it when it arrives from the East, complete with disinfected peacock feather…or with the breath-infused aromatics that transcend smoke. (20 Feb 11)

A Revelation of Cormorants

“…perhaps the script might be deciphered and the pale pages of the sands yield up their secrets.”

Language continues to be writ everywhere, if one can but translate it.  This story contains, in part at least, a neat reminder of the type of protagonist in “Oh, Whistle…” who, now, I feel, is beautifully etched into his quest for nailing (not literally) various birds for his bird-book, by observation and past quotation. I might mention my own ‘The Mentioning’ but Tim Nickels’ substantial masterpiece of the Cormorant (‘Supermarine’) is a better continuo for this song-cycle of divining crows (cf: the first story in this book) as well as of cormorants. The predicament of Valentine’s protagonist reaches a brilliant cliffhanger…and to tell you more of this exquisite story would foul its effect. (20 Feb 11 – four hours later)

A Certain Power

” ‘…Which power do you think he serves?’ / ‘Oh, who knows, dear. So many armies here, we ought to feel quite safe.’ “

This is a long, organic-from-piecemeal, enchantment of a ‘fiction’ (combining real history that you can discover by reading it with direct and subtle spiritualities and conspiracies) – both religious and counter-religious-by-other-religions as if (for me) Satanism versus Christianity is the same as other forces versus other ‘certain powers’ or forces within various religions – a truly haunting expression of what I have always called ‘the synchronised shards of random truth and fiction’ (here accomplished literally by use of the words ‘shards’ and ‘splinters’ as well as utilising visionary, even sinister, shadow(y)(less), powers – where, appropriately, within the convulsive times we live through this very day (21 Feb 11) when reading this story, such forces and powers are, paradoxically, even now, being both iconoclastic and synthesising of icons toward the tipping-point or metaphorical ‘iconostasis’. [In this piece, there are also crows, peacocks and an amber taper — and holy relics reconstituted ‘for real’ from symbols of those relics rather than from the relics themselves….] [As a further aside, when I recently real-time reviewed the Horror anthology ‘NEVER AGAIN’ edited by Allyson Bird and Joel Lane, I extrapolated upon my then concurrent visit to Russia and this is, I hope a relevant excerpt from what I wrote there: “…seeing the ‘blind faith’ within Russian Orthodox Churches with the altar ‘walled’ away by the iconostasis, seeing the double headed picture of a Russian and American soldier at Berlin’s Checkpoint Charlie, hearing ad hoc crowds praying at night in a Warsaw street, Moscow’s Red Square, the history in the museums and galleries &c &c  More to remember, perhaps, later.”] (21 Feb 11)

Sime in Samarkand

“The coal-hauler and the lord, eh? […] I think he wrote more than he knew.”

Oh, bliss! This, for me, is the perfect Short Weird Fiction – carved from a gestalt represented by Machen, Dunsany, Hodgson, Poe, Flecker, Samuels etc – and a fiction by Vance I’ve forgotten the title of that plays with those ‘shadows’ from the previous story in this book and extends them to things that are witnessed in the street by the narrator as controlling people (otherwise invisibly) like auras or demons…?  Anyone know that fiction by Vance?  This Valentine story – this VA author with quiet, imputedly gentlemanly, cosmic OOF! – is a true gem: conveying a feeling of truth when following an artist inspired by a poet’s work and then whose resultant artwork is thankfuly lost (or is it?) for fear of its certain power. But that description does no justice to this story. It has to be read. It has to be reprinted and anthologised forever – or, on second thoughts, like Sime’s artwork, it’s perhaps safer that it resides solely in this beautiful stiff-leaved, hard-boarded, smoothbark-jacketed  treasure of a book for we few, we select few readers to read only.  Seriously. [As an aside, there is also a most beautiful ‘dying fall’ that enhances the end of this story, one that involves the onset of the First World War, another of those concatenations of ‘certain powers’ in conflict, so resonant with today.] (21 Feb 11 – three hours later)

Morpheus House

“…some intuitive leap of recognition, some creative making of connections between images that might otherwise seem disparate.”

This is a charming, provocative but subtly humorous, tale of a cataloguing-house of dreams using record cards, i.e. dreams from Edwardian times to the present – of the house’s keepers and investigators, their foibles, whims and their own dreams and playful randomising of the cards. It also reminded me of the bird-cataloguing in this book’s third story – which is perhaps relevant in the light of the wonderful ending scene of ‘Morpheus House’…. [And it personally reminds me, too, if not directly or qualitatively, of my own treatment of ‘dreams’ and ‘dream sickness’ and the real/unreal coordinates of ‘dream places’ in my forthcoming novel ‘Nemonymous Night’ due to be published in June.]

“He always used the word “Sign” with an audible capital letter.” (21 Feb 11 – another 2 hours later)

The Antioch Imperial

A saltmarshy, atmospheric tale of a lonely, hard-kept church, its visitors, its keepers, its numismatic numinousness, its inducement of “contented, contemplative fog of thought.”  (SPOILER: an ingenious anecdote not of the Wandering Jew but of the Wandering Judas.) (21 Feb 11 – another 3 hours later)

The Tontine of Thirteen

A severe sect, then, not given to images.”

A frisson of absurdity as well as of wry common sense. Another ‘Oh, Whistle…’ type protagonist-cataloguer senses, in the seemingly empty landscape, a rippling tocsin of secular iconoclasm (compare and contrast: ‘A Certain Power‘) – depicting the backstory of a “cenacle” of depleting sharers in a word’s-meaning-is-its-use as well as in death’s.   An ironically invested shilling of “shockers”. You should not be put off by false leads or by inferences I do not intend, as this story of an eventual burial scene is one of the most haunting it has been my pleasure to be haunted by.  One that supplies to each of us our own singular plot that certainly will content we tontine of readers – one by one.  (22 Feb 11)

The Second Master

“At first, the title of Master was somewhat light-hearted and purely informal; and of course it was held for many years by Lord Lytton; for who other than the author of ‘The Haunter & The Haunted’ could have been summoned to receive such an honour?” 

The author of ‘The House and the Brain’, I ask?

A Royal position – a civilised and thoughtful and genuinely enjoyable account of which this is – as Master of Mysteries (e.g. telling ghost stories at Christmas to the Monarch from Victoria onward), in parallel – or in conjunction as it was on one occasion – with the position of Poet Laureate: and the list of those fulfilling this position (which list weirdists among this book’s readers will particularly relish seeing) ended with a death in 1984, and so I sincerely feel that the author of this very book (The Peacock Escritoire) would have been [and perhaps is (in a fantasy falling short of or exceeding ‘The Second Master’)] a worthy aspirant to – or, even, actual current exponent of – the position in question. (22 Feb 11 – three hours later)

The Autumn Keeper

“Dark birds wheeled overhead, cawing.”

Not so much a Pilgrim’s Progress of Prague encounters but a Lantern-Dreamer’s Duress bracketed by a catalogue of scrying within the observation of someone high up the chain of narration (someone like the Second Master but one in adjunct to more fabulous monarchs than those who have mere prince consorts and hide parks) – leading to a sewn-book not as I said earlier in this review of [‘stiff-leaved’ within ‘smoothbark’] duressless durability like this boxed ‘book’ in which this autumn book is told of – but one that I imagine might fly off like air-shuffled dream cards or parchmenty flakes or singed amber cigarette-papers or iconostasis shards or cockcrows… (22 Feb 11 – another 3 hours later)

The Days on Castel Rosso

“But he, who was no fool and had kept the books for a firewood merchant…”

For me, a poignant tale of a widower’s intuition – during a necessary calendar-adjustment at “the very cusp of west and east” – of the earlier triskaideka-tontine. With leaved book references still resonating … and caskets and wood-carving – as if this book (and its accoutrements of which more later) is itself attempting to become a holy relic in literary form. Written in a language throughout so utterly exquisite it genuinely leaves me breathless.

“…he might write a book that would be a lantern to its forgotten shores.” (22 Feb 11 – another 3 hours later)

The Late Post

“…lighthouses, parcel tickets, imperial exhibitions, matchbox labels, the byways of literature, yew trees or the feeding of peacocks, all of which had interested him,”

A brilliantly witty, Coren-like, take on the eclectic collector, the gentlemanly eagerness with which one awaits the postman’s delivery for the latest item, the latest exploitation of the art of creative catalogue-searching … books and valuables amid the motley artefacts of abstruse and even popularist potentialities of object…  Variations on a theme of W.F. Harvey by a classical composer with words.  I loved every anti-social minute of it.  [There is an absurdist angle, too, an avant garde gulp that transcends the gentlemanly. And I wondered whether, initially, one item that had (not) arrived in the post was an e-book but then I scolded myself for such iconoclasm and restored my constitution by gazing at this book and its container and other accoutrements, re-assuring me that all was still well with the world, save for the odd annoying telephone call and my pondering the remarkable lack of emails in my in-box or spaces between the notes that otherwise make the music what it is.] (23 Feb 11)

Echoes of Saumur

Remarkably, for me, that last ‘dying fall’ in my review of the previous story is echoed here, here more serious than witty, more Proustian than Alan-Corenish, a Debussyan ‘submerged cathedral’ as if by Duruflé adumbrated in actual words that take on the sense of the music by a great organ composer, Jehan Alain, someone as a person I previously knew nothing about  but whose music is indeed very familiar to me simply as music.  So unbelievably beautiful both in itself as well as in the conjuration of the music in question, this section of ‘The Peacock Escritoire’ soars beyond where the lark ascends or out-curlews Warlock’s curlew of heavenly pain, and descends with “the crows returning to caw” in dark obeisance to the self that is changed or enhanced or Proustianised or Valen-tined by reading it.

“…the organist was at practice, so naturally kept returning to fragments of the work: it was as if I was getting it in huge torn shards.” (23 Feb 11 – two hours later)

The Return to Trebizond

“Below, he saw silver cupolas and arrowhead towers, high round-arched windows with glinting glass, slim finials like lances, red roofs and fragile balconies,”

This is a substantial feat of reading, the one item I’ve reached in this ‘book’ that I feel the need (rather than simply desire) to re-read, because not only of my relative ignorance of some of the history that appears to underlie it but also of my urge to ‘catalogue’ all the resonances with previous themes and tropes that I’ve found so far in this book’s rich texture of fiction – and there are many such resonances.  However, a real-time review has, for me, always been my first impressions on reading a book. And, for once, I shall draw back with great will-power from this story’s complex panoply of religions and history and their interconnections, intra-conspiracies and overt conflicts, and its artful momentary voluntary (or involuntary?) withdrawals of authorial omniscience from its ‘shardish’ audit-trail of narration or from behind the story’s iconostases – and mention something I said about a story above: “…both religious and counter-religious-by-other-religions as if (for me) Satanism versus Christianity is the same as other forces versus other ‘certain powers’ or forces within various religions.”  Here, with the “Yet all had been blotted out by the image-hating Saracen, ransacked where it could be moved, covered with whitewash where it could not.” compared, if only in my own mind, with Henry VIII’s actions within, for and against Christianity itself. And, yes, the shimmery shadows of holier-relics-than-thou floating in the incensed air…  [And the eclectic collection of the gentleman now grown old on page 222. But – oh! – now I’ve started cataloguing this story beyond my intention, whistle as I might with the harveyesque hand-fingerings on the sinister flute-holes, a whistling that is submerged by a cathedral’s silence.] (23 Feb 11 – another 3 hours later)

The Old Light

…a sloping, tumbledown congregation of books,”

A coda – a vignette about the perfect ambiance for a ghost story that treats provokingly of what I shall now call (as a result of this book) the ‘iconostasis’ between fiction and reality – a piece that (how could it be otherwise?) is in itself the perfect ‘dying fall’ of this discrete book within ‘smoothbark’ and ‘hard-boards’ on ‘stiff leaves’.  A dying fall, that is more the lark ascending than the lurk descending, in perpetuo moto.

And that brings me to the accoutrements of the discrete book as well as the book itself (all designed, I think, from ‘mentionings’, by one called Santiago Caruso).  This is how I expressed my feelings a few days ago on an internet discussion forum when I first received in the UK these intricate devices of a publication from Romania:

“In the spirit of real-time reviewing, I shall give my first impressions, without knowing anything other than those first impressions.
I make no other comment (of liking or disliking) – so far, without reading anything inside – other than describing that it is designed like a plush decorated sizeable purple escritoire which folds open to reveal a luxury book of stories (?) in an enlarged version of the previous Passport Levant formats on one side of the escritoire and, on the other side, a bundle of loose leaves (like luxury letter paper?) which I have not yet unribboned but I can see they contain text and pictures. There is a seemingly real peacock feather decking this bundle.”

I did have a feeling then, I recall, that the whole design, however interesting or partially pleasing, ‘went over the top’. I am still making my mind up on that score but, meanwhile, I shall shortly be unribboning that aforementioned bundle…. (23 Feb 11 – another half-hour later).


I have been out for a walk along the grey, choppy strand near where I live, the heavy rain having just abated. I have now returned to my desk and completed the unribboning ceremony. And I am bemused how I earlier missed that this bundle of numerous quite stiff loose-leaves (all creamy-coloured, and with deliciously multi dint-textured surfaces) is top-leaved with one headed in large red manu-script: now decipherable as ‘Shards’ – with ‘Journal Notes’ in smaller, clearer print beneath it.  There is much text here throughout these leaves – for me yet to read – and ending with, on first glance, several astonishing artwork leaves (of which, no doubt, more later).

The Danubian Order – “coaling-stations and citadels”the first essay, vignette, prose poem, journal note? – and reminds me of my first holiday abroad some years ago when we went on a Danube cruise from Linz to Vienna and back again. This cruise for the bird-cataloguer in the third story of the book? I keep my powder dry, about these ‘Journal Notes’.  I am utterly intrigued…. (23 Feb 11 – another 2 hours later)

Notes on Jünger – but it is in fact dark red ink” – two diary notes playing with Stendhal’s Le Rouge et Le Noir.

I shall list the titles and one short single impression among all the impressions I receive from each Journal Note but they need to be read in the context of the whole ‘publication’ I’ve described above. Nothing I can say here will give you the right impression of this intriguing reading-experience, I guess.  Other than the fact that they exist. (23 Feb 11 – another 30 Minutes later) —>

The Ceremony of Arnsburg – Regarding, inter alia, Hesse’s Glass Bead Game and one remarkable child-like conceit regarding it. On a Black Sea Boat – For me, a coda upon the Old Light coda.  A Dark Indulgence – And now I stumble on a longer Journal Note, almost perhaps a bonus story in itself that seems to be interleaved with – yet separated from – the flow of tontine plots … considerations regarding types of paper thickness, and inks (one like blood), another “Avant garde” gulp – and as in The Late Post: a hand toward Heaven*. Shadow Work – “A gentleman embroiderer…” (23 Feb 11 – another hour later)

*or Hell? House of Aeolus – As with the crows (?), scrying by wind. The Postmaster of Everest – a mountaineer’s cards in the late post. [These notes represent fulsome dream cards, really.  I shall throw them up in the air, perhaps, later, rather than re-ribbon?] The Golden Hollow – a half-lengthy disquisition on a real place called Nobottle. Delightful. I just feel the gratuitous urge to add two letters to its name: Noahbottle.  You will feel a different urge, no doubt, when you read it. The Reader of the Sands – this is a substantial story with all the marked delight of the fiction in this book, here cross-fertilising, inter alia, the writ sands of the book’s Cormorant story with the scrying-sand skills of the guide who once took me walking  – without drowning – across the shifting waters of Morecambe Bay. (23 Feb 11 – another hour later)

Trespassers – more glorious prose to die for, including this sentence that seems to encapsulate the whole publication, so please allow me to quote it in full: “It is a day for melancholy, for music in the minor key, for books whose words convey more than they say, for the incense of bark and berries.” (23 Feb 11 – another hour later)

Well, not really the whole publication, as that sentence ignores the humour and wit, the conspiratorial gentlemanliness, the historical / religious resonances with the past crossing the shifting waters of the present – and the avant garde gulps! Ming and Incense – I trust the artist adumbrated in this Journal Note, one who has connections with Walberswick (a place I’ve visited several times), does (not) receive the same fate as the artist of ‘The Peacock Escritoire’ – as I sense, when I finish this review later tonight (I hope), the Peacock feather will take centre stage. As pinion or pivot of the artwork yet to be studied. The Tenacity of Feathers.  (23 Feb 11 – another hour later)

Mnemotechnik – a substantial vision – over several double-sided Journal Note cards – of the nemo within the title – or, rather, I can’t believe the ‘intentional’ author of this publication otherwise uttered this avant garde gulp. A 10984 version of 1984 – with on-line nicknames written in the sand and memories or backstories akin to the LOST TV series or ‘The Dark Tower’ books (by Stephen King): books that I’m concurrently real-time reviewing elsewhere. Gobsmacked.  Masonic, catatonic. The Chart in the Portico – “a stone map“. Hugo Schumpeter – I’d like to communicate face to face with anyone who once wrote this book. The Last Thinkers – Heidegger would be a good title or author of that title. The Scarlet Funeral Company – this is a lesson for someone like me who is attending a funeral this coming Friday, a funeral of someone I’ve known since 1968. The House of a Hundred Libraries – A borgesian carrel. Cloven-Footed Angels, Or, The Fifth Kingdom Now Fully Reveal’d – Gaddafi? (23 Feb 11 – another 2 hours later)

W. Compton Leith – another Machen-find from the Undergrowth. A Fondness for Villains – The Man Who Was The Missing Thirteen Thursdays. The Lost Chronicler Leslie Barringer – I am the lost DF Lewis who wrote better than he is remembered writing.

The set of creamy-yellow cards continue, luxury parchments – ‘Santiago Caruso’ (in large red manu-script like the word ‘Shards’ earlier) – ‘Portfolio’ (in smaller, clearer print). Then a set of (for me) umber-to-subtly-dark-bloodstained artworks that are simply stunning and completely in tune with my mood as I finish this important Mark Valentine journey through a finery of words and words’ music.

The portfolio contains artworks entitled ‘The Final Gate’, ‘Around the Dutch Stove’, ‘The Ritual’, ‘The Workers’, ‘The Black Lion’, ‘Broken Icons’ (NOTE THIS TITLE), ‘The Strangers’, ‘The Amber Cigarette’ (double-sized), ‘Dualism’ (double-sized), ‘The Ka of Astarakhan’ (double-sized),  and two unnamed miniatures.  And the frontispiece in the discrete book itself: ‘A Heathen God’.

Up in the air they go. I shall re-shuffle them (a la Dark Tower), hand-edged to tidy them into a new neat pack and re-ribbon them later for restoring to the Peacock Escritoire.

Dan Ghetu has emailed me in the last few hours as a result of my earlier comment above (“I did have a feeling then, I recall, that the whole design, however interesting or partially pleasing, ‘went over the top’.”) and I can quote what he said to me (with his permission), viz: “Precisely. Not the First War World trench “over the top” but love. Love is to go “over the top”. It is about love. We should not be afraid or ashamed to be pathetic. There is still much light in that.

Like Jehan Alain – and Cecil Coles.  Indeed.

And the bird that is just a bird is not a bird at all. It needs a peacock feather or other plumage or tufted tenacity – just for their own sake. Others will judge, when we’ve all fallen from our last “fragile balconies” and only the e-books will remain or books with stiff pages and smoothbark jackets and hard-boarders playing at prayers.

END.  (23 Feb 11 – another two hours later)


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BFS Journal (Winter 2010) – My Real-Time Review

I’m due to start below another of my gradual real-time reviews, turning leitmotifs into a gestalt.

And it is of  a hardback book entitled the BFS Journal (Winter 2010) published by the British Fantasy Society. I shall only be real-time reviewing, in the order they are printed, the book’s stories and poems (although there are also contained within the book many reviews, articles, interviews etc).  

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

CAVEAT: Spoilers are not intended but there may be inadvertent ones. You may wish (i) to take that risk and read my review before or during your own reading of the book, or (ii) to wait until you have finished reading it. In either case, I hope it gives a useful or interesting perspective.

All my real-time reviews are linked from here: http://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/

The stories and poems are in two sections: NEW HORIZONS Issue 6 (edited by Andrew Hook): here stories written by Adrian Faulkner, Erik T Johnson, Lori Barrett, Ian Sales, Joel Lane, Marc-Anthony Taylor, Visha N Sukdeo, John Tait, Travis Heerman, Robin Tompkins plus DARK HORIZONS Issue 57 (Editor: Sam Stone; Poetry Editor: Ian Hunter): here stories and poems written by Charles Christian, Robert Mammone, Len Saculla, Ed Shacklee, Carl Barker, Gary Kuyper, Sarah Dalton, Thomas Williams, Nadia Mook, ‘Mighty’ Joe Young.


Jetsam by Adrian Faulkner
“There was no time for any final words.”
An effectively written and poignant variation on the theme of dying as paralleled by a visit of a family to the seaside.  Its skill is such that it positively affected me today as my wife and I are currently involved with periodically visiting an elderly relative in her last days or weeks….  Thanks. (21 Jan 11)


Water Buried by Erik T Johnson

“From those windows he could catch the first raindrop of a storm in a spoon, and snowflakes with almost anything.”

A perfect story, in my eyes. Continuing tellingly the variation on death theme of ‘Jetsam‘, here we have the flotsam from an initial intense claustrophobic vision radiating outwards to woods and clock-tower … a vision that one needs to piece together – and the prose begs out for several readings – each time harvesting more upon its tides of attic smells and the autonomous feedback of the text’s own props and a genuine sense of nothingness as somethingness (and vice versa).   “boxes of not sure what that is” – “bottles of traces of nothing” – “sandalwood scent of not-the-attic.” Poignant and haunting. A privilege to read. (21 Jan 11 – another two hours later)


The Smell of Milk in the Morning by Lori Barrett

“The smell once again reminded her of the strange dream.”

I sense her name is an author to watch.  I really do. This is very creepy. Very feminine horror, if that’s not a sexist thing to say. Picking up on the redolent smells and scents of the previous story, a wife who moves with her husband’s job, meticulously met by a ghost-real thing in the bath, is accosted by a story-ending here that is both shocking and surprising. I hope that is not a spoiler in itself to reveal that the ending is shocking and surprising. Or that ordinary things like supermarkets disguise the next set of initial letters we need to spin out time.

“‘I don’t think they use the the,’ she said.” (21 Jan 11 – another 3 hours later)


Barker by Ian Sales

“He’s good at not thinking,”

A change in gear – a speculative SF story taking place in, I guess, the new horizons of 1960s USA. Another variation on the dying process. A boxer is chosen to be launched into space as part of the race to beat the Russians for cosmic power….  A claustrophobic vision, this time in a punch-drunk comic-strip rocket. Real history and real names in retrocausality. To my hindsight surprise, I enjoyed it thoroughly as a lighter part of these movements in a dark symphony.

“Time’s been elastic…” (21 Jan 11 – another 2 hours later)


Incry by Joel Lane

“But echoes of the toilet box death kept recurring for me.”

In only 4 pages, this genuine Lane-like gem helps me piece together the book’s gestalt (in a similar way as I earlier pieced together ‘Water Buried’).  The dark “atonal” symphony with pent-up screams released as a chorus. Boxes (even an earlier character called Box and, elsewhere, even a Boxer!). Attic or celllar or rocket or within-own-body claustrophobia. Things being “trapped“, waiting for release. So perfect genius to say ‘incry’ not ‘outcry’… We don’t want this book to create an outcry, so much as a thoughtful Horror vision that really stings us into some sort of consciousness of the trapped self, perhaps? A sadness that prepares us for happy release? Or any other expression one can think of to describe these elements in one’s own personality.  However, this story may only be a way-station for a different gestalt to emerge when I read on in this book. I do not know as yet. (22 Jan 11)


Boxed In by Marc-Anthony Taylor

“It was another boy about the same age as me, I felt him settle into the back of my head.”

In this well-written, -characterised, -conceived and substantial SFtopia, we have a pimping trade in empathy-provision (my expression, not the story’s). A provision by bodily-occupation or mind-sharing, plus all the subtle synergies between.  Empathy by ‘boxing’ that also, serendipitously, synergises with the previous ‘incry’ boxing described above.  Giving a thrill for OCD dwellers as a rollercoaster in a non-OCD world. And it’s far more than that. Bravo! for this story. And Bravo! for the editorial gestalting so far (whether intentional or not) in the NEW HORIZONS section of this book.

[As an aside, and as some of you may know, I keep seeking a gestalt within all my real-time reviews. And HERE is a story I wrote many years ago entitled Gestalt – one that I hope is relevant in this context of Marc’s wonderful story. It was once published in a small press mag (perhaps with a different title) in the 90s, but I’ve lost trace of it. Anyone help?] (22 Jan 11 – seven hours later)

[My use of the expression above, SFtopia, about Marc’ s story seems to be a neologistic one. It seems to cover what I understand this story to be. …. Today, I think of the ghost-real visitor in Lori Barrett’s story as a form of Marc’s empathy-sharer – as I do thinking of the millions on Earth waiting for their voicemail representative from space who subsequently sizzles to death within their rocket-brains? – and the NEW HORIZONS Editor’s own story ‘Love is the Drug’ published elsewhere (“What has to happen for perfection to no longer be enough?”) in relation to Marc’s ‘safe’ non-OCD rollercoaster ride for those bored with being OCDs?] (23 Jan 11)


The Last Resort by Visha N. Sukdeo

“The world was suffocatingly close yet too far away to touch. It was like living under a plastic wrap.”

A well-crafted suspenseful story as the female protagonist revisits the wild volcanic scene where her loved ones were once lost. This fits so neatly into the rest of the book so far, I am taken aback, but, equally, like the other stories, it stands on its own. Here the boxed or trapped ‘incry’ is within a ‘box’ about which I will not divulge the nature for fear of spoilers.  And its sense of a rollercoaster ride away from boring ‘safeness’ as both a mixed pleasure and a grim regression towards pain as well as towards a similar sort of fulfilment presented in ‘Jetsam’.  (23 Jan 11 – two hours later)


THE BRAVE MOLE and the Snake by John Tait

“Come outside,”

My interpolation from Mike Sarne: Come outside, come outside / There’s a lovely moon out there / Come outside, come outside /While we got time to spare / […] / Come outside,(lay off) come outside (shove it) / There’s a lovely moon out there (you are a one) …

This is a two page Aesop-like fable with an oblique moral I’m still fathoming – the ultimate boxing – by oneself? It does contribute to the gestalt, I feel – see here (Wikipedic link) but don’t if you don’t want a spoiler! (23 Jan 11 – another 2 hours later)


BBC News Item: (24 January 2011 – last updated 1.02): http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-12253228 (24 Jan 11)


The Song by Travis Heermann – BFS Short Story Competition 2010 Runner-Up

“It went beyond despair to something else, somewhere else, where despair no longer mattered…”

An ostensibly straightforward story effectively conveying and culturally contextualising the rumbustious heroism and cut-throat wildness of samurai warfare – suddenly … cut-through – by a woman’s song, exquisitely threaded with her past – and the consequent softening of a samurai captain by such song’s hearing…. paralleling the rite-of-passage in “Jetsam“, the femininity of “The Smell of Milk in the Morning” as perceived via a man’s pent-up or trapped cruelty, enabling release? You will need to see.

The woman’s interpretable ‘box’ sent through space, as it were, like an ineffable human-projectile, towards “the arms of the gods and Buddhas.”  The song was the essence of how I see the human ‘incry’, as tutored so far by the fiction in this book.  And, thus, this story is potentially not straightforward at all, but supplied with depths that any depth-charged reader may fall into without warning.  But also an enjoyably compulsive read, too, for those who keep themselves safe upon its surface. (24 Jan 11 – two hours later)


Omar, The Teller of Tales by Robin Tompkins – BFS Short Story Competition 2010 Winner

“She sang a wonderful song in the language of the birds.”

A beautiful Arabian Nights vision, stories within stories, even within a magic/fiction-proof iron cage tantamount to a ‘box’ … concupiscent, cannibalistic, potentially as well as actually cruel, hubris-nemesis of the Devs, and turning, as an audit trail of exquisite story-into-story events, towards the type of conceptual snake-image pre-figured in John Tait’s fable which in turn, almost as an earlier thematic pivot, now underpins the discovered gestalt of this NEW HORIZONS section, remaining to be seen whether it blends or competes with the DARK HORIZONS section’s gestalt yet to be read within what I anticipate becoming this book’s overall dark symphony of fictional and poetic movements. Meanwhile, this telling tale of Omar resonates in my mind with phrases such as “Free we are infinite, bound in glass we are time” and “the silence between words, more power than the words themselves.” (24 Jan 11 – another 5 hours later)



The Thirteen Days of Christmas – a poem by Charles Christian

I suspect I was meant to read this at Christmas, since the BFS Journal book, I believe, was intended for distribution at that time.  This makes a real-time review more dangerous when it is reviewing what seems to be a real-time book!  It is a mildly provocative skit upon the tradition of the 12 Days of Christmas with Horror images instead of a partridge etc.  Fitting for the start of the DARK HORIZONS section with the Christmas star still invisibly hanging above such horizons everywhere  in the firmament, perhaps, but now with a forgotten joy for the scratchers-at-the-edges-of-life that January brings into our souls. I keep my powder dry, in case this poem fits into some pattern or gestalt. At the moment, all I can imagine is the boxer in Ian Sales’ rocket attempting to sing Christmas Carols from a space that Einsteinian relativity bends out of kilter. (24 Jan 11 – another 4 hours later)


The Well by Robert Mammone

Depth of our Winter but hot because we’re here in Australia. Despite, for me, some clumsy expressions of language and some horror cliches and one or two typos, this enjoyable enough Pan Horror-type plot supplies a provocative ending where the well of nightmarish guilt and crime that I also recall from Stephen King’s ‘1922’ has its Australian waters muddied by a disturbing ending that still resonates in my mind and tantalises my understanding of it. Plus a fox in a hole. (24 Jan 11 – another 2 hours later)


Do You Believe a poem by Len Saculla

“Great Old Ones with pickled egg eyes,”

That’s just one line from this entrancing poem with that refrain expressed in its title – with, for me, its narrator-protagonist’s  identity in the poem’s overall audit-trail deriving from that conceptual snake-image in ‘New Horizons’.  A satisfying ending and generally a good egg, I’d say. As a wild aside, there was a mobile phone in Robert Mammone’s story and do you believe I’m listening to this poetic voice upon one, having woken me up with its trilling. (25 Jan 11)


Prey of the Lamia a poem by Ed Shacklee

“the Lamia, partly goddess, partly snake,”

The physical enjambement of this poem is like a snake, too!  Its sssssemantics, too. And it echoes the ouroboros shape of the Saculla (plus poet as ‘you’ as potential victim)… Love it. (25 Jan 11 – an hour later)


Unexploded Girlfriends by Carl Barker

“…with my hands and legs shackled to the woodwork…”

This is a remarkable and substantial story. Well-written, sometimes in an accomplished, but pedestrian, prose (in a good way when describing unpedestrian events), sometimes melodramatic, sometimes absurd – neatly absurd particularly in its very satisfying ending. A story of torture, madness, Poe-like devices, a pier, and coming back ouroboros-like to where you began, via a version of King’s Misery. If you don’t like torture, you won’t like this.  But, again, when you’ve read it all, I’m sure you will like it. A Fable with a Moral, like John Tait’s Mole and Snake: “I feel like a hapless mouse tied to the bottom of a grandfather clock, lured by the luxurious promise of cheese.” And it all takes place in Black-pool. And what is Mammone’s Well? Well, I leave you to read this remarkable, yet strangely pedestrian, strangely absurd, work.  And God is there somewhere, too, and Satan… (25 Jan 11 – another 2 hours later)


Plight of Ray a poem by Gary Kuyper

Terror forming terra forming

A thoughtful, Bradburyesque SFpome – paralleling the catharsis in ‘Unexploded Girlfriends’ from “unspeakable acts” … up to a point. (25 Jan 11 – another 30 minutes later)


The Reluctant Dragon-Slayer by Sarah Dalton

An engaging story in itself – humorous, poignant, yet serious about human nature and the Beauty-and-the-Beast theme.  Incredibly, for me, this serendipitously fits a current personal gestalt of mine more than the book’s. As if it were placed here just for me! I  am still real-time reviewing at the moment ‘War With The Newts’ a SFtopia novel from 1936 by Karel Capek, one that also touches on the King Kong theme and a giant lizard…   The accidental resonance is amazing. Thanks. (25 Jan 11 – another 2 hours later)


A Darkened Shade of Moonlight a poem by Thomas Williams

“Shadows writhe like coiled snakes”

I relished this antiquity-like verse, one including “gleaming scales” – incredibly tantamount to another Beauty and the Beast.  Yet one more poem addressed to ‘you’ (here as ‘my child’) as the potential victim… (25 Jan 11 – another 30 minutes later)


Alone with the Dead a poem by Nadia Mook

A poem of despair, yet a subtle satisfaction (for me) that screaming is a necessary role in life to fulfil: neutralising death in some way. Or scaring death’s denizens away. Seems to fit in with various themes of the fiction and other poems in this book. Just a small cameo in its dark (sometimes light-filtered) symphony of words and images and narratives. (25 Jan 11 – another 20 minutes later)


An Interview with Rondoli  by ‘Mighty’ Joe Young

“Days can sometimes snake in on you. All seems quiet at first, just like any other day until the coiling hissing son of a bitch wraps around you, crushing until the life is squeezed out of you…”

And that seems to contain more wisdom than a shelf-ful of philosophy books.  A story of a serial-killer clown named Boingo – with absurd elements of Welsh placenames – and I suspect that the ‘you’ being addressed is another potential victim case that darkens each horizon of ‘you’….

I have a sort of evil clown in my novella ‘Weirdtongue’; I think it is the same one by another name. Sssssseriously, this entertaining story is yet one more standalone piece in a jigsaw, one that rounds off this book’s arresting fiction and poems in suitable style. Boingo – Box-in-you-go!  Life as a  snake.  And circuses no doubt have iron cages… (25 Jan 11 – another hour later)



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GHOSTS (Crimewave Eleven)

I’m due to start below another of my gradual real-time reviews, turning leitmotifs into a gestalt.

And it is of the 240 page paperback book entitled Crimewave Eleven: ‘GHOSTS’ : TTA Press 2010.

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

CAVEAT: Spoilers are not intended but there may be inadvertent ones. You may wish (i) to take that risk and read my review before or during your own reading of the book, or (ii) to wait until you have finished reading it. In either case, I hope it gives a useful or interesting perspective.

All my real-time reviews are linked from here: https://nullimmortalis.wordpress.com/2010/09/07/df-lewis-real-time-reviews/

All my TTA Press real-time reviews here: https://nullimmortalis.wordpress.com/2010/09/25/tta-press-my-real-time-reviews/ (22 Dec 10)

Authors included: Dave Hoing, Nina Allan, Christopher Fowler, Mikal Trimm, Richard Butner, Cheryl Wood Ruggiero, Ilsa J. Bick, Cody Goodfellow, O’Neil De Noux, Steve Rasnic Tem, Alison Littlewood, Joel Lane, Luke Sholer.

This is the first time I’ve reviewed Crime Fiction, if that is what this book contains. And, if so, I must be very careful about spoilers. For my own benefit, I am not reading the Contributors’ notes until I’ve read and reviewed all the fiction. It’s a crime to know anything about a work of fiction other than the act of reading it.

I have glanced at the contents list, however, and I see the first fiction is split between being the first and last. A crime in the making?

Plainview: Part One: The Shoe Store by Dave Hoing

“…but the rest moved in circles her circles never touched.”

Drawn straight – by accomplished prose and dialogue – into this (I opine) Twin Peaks type scenario of a missing 19 year-old girl, her family, the police, suspicions set up, an e. e. cummings line of poetry intriguingly set to resonate (like the owls in TP?), a neat circular plot-line to Part One as a whole – and the exact time of year and weather serendipitously equalising what I’m experiencing myself today.  A neat searching for how the fiction shoe will fit?  And who will help me horn it on? (22 Dec 10)


Wilkolak by Nina Allan

“He loved the cleanness of digital…”

A substantial, compelling, skilfully written story about a youth and his camera, his ambitions as a forensic photographer, the still lifes (both animate and inanimate), the girl friend, the parents – in a guessing game (a mystery not completely detached from (or attached to) headlines yesterday about the Crossbow Cannibal)… where digital photography … and old-fashioned ‘waiting to see’ photography (with which I grew up and also appreciate more than the immediacy of digital) … paralleled by as well as parallelling the events here – giving a sense of the narrator empathising with the youthful protagonist who is also ‘waiting to see’ what happens. And not only the narrator, the head-lease author, too, genuinely ‘waiting to see’ and we readers, too, ’wait to see’ with our own ‘takes’ on the unfolding events. Not to make ‘snap’ judgements, as we may well have done already with the previous yet ‘unfolded’ ‘Plainview‘ story. 

Wilkolak’ is a genuine masterpiece of something. With its hints of the legend behind the story’s title, it may not be crime fiction for the purist (I wouldn’t know) but it certainly is fiction that will stay with you, whatever its genre. (23 Dec 10)


The Conspirators by Christopher Fowler

” ‘Then why not sell to me?’ Court walked over to the balcony…”

An interesting moebius scarf of a story … long-term business colleagues, the one who was the original mentor of the other looking “…like a game show host” … meeting in one of their plush hotels, and a call-girl called Vienna (“…like a character from a video game“) , and icecube-clunky bars – and the plot travelling from the heat of the Middle-East to St Petersburg – a Russian city I visited only a few weeks ago and where one would need the scarf, presumably… A neat story of high finance and high stakes. Don’t forget the red herring, if not in the story, certainly in this review.  Waiting for the end. In plain view? Or purl? (23 Dec 10 – three hours later)


INTERMISSION: One of the crimes upon fiction for which I have been accused is being more text-based than plot-based in my real-time reviews. So be it. What have these words in common: timely, lonely, allusively, sparely, rely, rarely, diffusely, lovely, comely, recessively…? (23 Dec 10 – another 2 hours later)


Who’s gonna miss you when you’re gone? by Mikal Trimm

” ‘You’re a good guy, Des.’ “

Another unforgiveable moebius series of eely crimes forgiven by the family that is us, having, as readers (sharers?), been brought into the family proper of the one committing such crimes. Lived through, haunted, visionary, purged, trimmed, untrimmed, zipped, snagged and unzipped and rezipped and scrapbooked. Powerful rite of passage, where the device I’ve noticed in recent decades (since King?) of a protagonist’s internal thoughts italicized beyond the effective reach of even the head-lease author to control…. Here this device has been used to its maximum, better than I’ve ever seen it used.  (23 Dec 10 – another 3 hours later)


Holderhaven by Richard Butner

“Rudy imagines all these objects, all this text, laid out in a giant matrix.”

A country house matrix, another ‘waiting to see’ journey as we take snapshots of past events, but where, in real time, Rudy investigates the marks in a secret passage, all conveying a sort of McEwanesque Atonement, a Reggie Oliver-type ambiance and haunting, or a Murder weekend in Cluedo as a cross-section of a house’s history, plus a neat echo of the previous story’s (un)zipping and a similar aberration if with a different gender… (23 Dec 10 – another 2 hours later)


Eleven Eleven by Cheryl Wood Ruggiero

“How often do numbers stand in line like that?”

Children are often victims (in tune with the previous two stories). This, meanwhile, as a short backdrop, by retrocausality, to the earlier longer fictions in this book, is a magical tale of real events as filtered through the consciousness of a girl who is 12 years old today.  If we had experienced these real events in the same way as she did, we would have expected to wake from a dream or nightmare. But this is reality for the girl, a ‘waiting to see’ and never reaching the end of the queue (or audit trail) of events …. but we readers reason for ourselves in this crime fiction which was crime and which was fiction. The blend of the two here being religion. Or God? Or truth itself. Very clever tale. (24 Dec 10)

Zipped up in an itchy bag? Ready to zap? (24 Dec 10 – two hours later).

(review to be continued here in due course after Christmas)

Where the Bodies Are by Ilsa J. Bick

“…a featureless rectangle studded with graves and a single whitewashed, tumbledown mausoleum – a genizah – “

An itchy bag? I am amazed at some of the telling connections and coincidences serendipity can find.  Here between two separate publications. Please compare another story I’ve read today – ’The Covered Doll’ in Black Static #20 – with the previous story in this book and with this story: a story of child abuse in its most mysterious and motive-confused (Mother and new born baby). And the connections and coincidences between those investigating the potential crime and its safeguards for both parties in the crime, and the ‘waiting to see’ watcher of the graveyard, this story’s protagonist – all those interconnecting ways of ‘containing’ death and birth in containers. I also recognise this is a very well-written and thought-provoking story in itself, disregarding my personal real-time context of experience reading it. (26 Dec 10)


Neighborhood Watch by Cody Goodfellow

If this is a Neighborhood Watch badfellow, I don’t want to meet a good one!  Means justifying the ends with all the new surveillance gear. Another parent with its child-prey punished even before getting an end away. Getting a death away. This book its cuboid container-box on boxing day. Each story an end in itself, but feeding a gestalt that’s getting off on the biggest crime of all. Waiting to watch. Waiting to see. (26 Dec 10 – another 8 hours later)


 K Love by O’Neil De Noux

“…found the suicide note in a clear, plastic sandwich bag…”

A truly effective ‘waiting to see’, in post-Katrina New Orleans during that period when the inhabitants believed the approaching Rita would be even worse than Katrina.  And to this ironic background an investigation by a female detective into a gory crime – and despite or because of the story’s humorous-human ending (reflecting the sense of characterisation built up), is that more powerful as a result.

[And mention of a body bag and a realisation on my part that when storms attack a building the most vulnerable parts are the balconies.] (27 Dec 10)


Living Arrangement by Steve Rasnic Tem

“Old age was full of surprises.”

And I’m personally waiting to see what those surprises are, I thought, upon reading that at the start of the story. An old man in diminishing health (but with a well-conveyed hinterland of youth) lives with his daughter and grandson.  And the daughter’s latest rough-edged boy friend. This is a very clever crime story, I feel, in my relative innocence of this genre. A story with motivations I can truly understand but with some sense of surprise as it developed. If I told you how clever, I’d spoil it for you. Let me, instead, speculate on why this anthology of crime fiction has the overall ‘Ghosts’ heading. Or is it too early to tell, with three and half stories left to read and review?  I have wondered if it is to do with motives themselves being forms of ghosts that transcend the intentional fallacy…? Clues from victims as well as from the criminals that created those victims – now, in the future, in the past, clues imparted to the reader collusively by those victims and criminals themselves, accreting clues-to-selves that are the essence of ghosts haunting…? Waiting to see if I’m right. (27 Dec 10 – another 4 hours later)


4 A.M., When The Walls Are Thinnest by Alison J. Littlewood

“Waiting: I was good at waiting.”

This story from within prison is probably the best example so far of contained motives, contained and shared by the inmates, promises within, threats unfulfilled outside, even a librarian to keep the words contained. I found this story absolutely inspiring. Also, before reading this story, I probably was premature about speculating why this book is called ‘Ghosts’. I think I now know at least one reason, and not just because of its ‘phantom limb’ of a thumb-tip! Something far more intrinsic yet subtle. Bravo! This story ought to win awards.  And if so, it’ll be up against one or two others from this book, I guess. (27 Dec 10 – another 2 hours later)


The Hostess by Joel Lane

But the victims weren’t talking even when their mouths healed.”

A short Lane-like piece that if I retold it my mouth would never heal! Suffice to say it’s atmospheric and about a crime in Birmingham and the contained community of criminals that incubate victims as well as themselves as criminals, and any purging needs to be broadly aimed rather than focussed to allow optimum resolution to pan out serendiptously … and for some of the earlier child victims in this book also to find voice as emblemised by the child here …. and its last line of text is genius and makes the whole story work. It somehow makes my whole ‘waiting to see’ theory on this book work, too, or simply click into its rightful context. So, if push comes to shove, this brief story was worth its presence here if only for that… (27 Dec 10 – another hour later)


We Are Two Lions by Luke Sholer

“Motive’s only important if it can affect the outcome.”

Like paid gigolos who meticulously plan to treat each matured woman as a special, never-the-same musical instument to play loud or subtly or whatever – hitmen, too, with their ‘victims’. There are other hitmen in this book (in the Fowler, in the Tem? etc.) – and this substantial, compellingly told, cool narrative seems to pepper itself with every ‘musical instrument’ of fiction in this book we’ve ‘played’ heretofore. Even the camera-bag container for a gun. Narrative snapshots of the protagonist hitman and the ‘you’ he meets and then actually becomes in a very special blending – first as a loving couple (so believably conveyed in the scenes of encounter between him and you), next where ‘you’ want to emulate him – later in a far more violent blending of self with self in rivalry. The hitmen’s Godfather – named Singer – treadles away as the stitches jab like bullets into the texture of the text.  And the waiting-to-see has become the tree rotting, and the “time wrapped in flesh“….  And, of course, all the recurrent balconies, where teetering vulnerability shows itself as all hitmen know…. (27 Dec 10 – another 2 hours later)


Plainview: Part Two: The Blood Cools by Dave Hoing

“Take away the new cars and modern fashions, and Plainview could be a Polaroid of 1962.”

Whether it was the author’s or this book’s editor’s idea to split this story into two, bracketing the unfolding plain-views of fiction (tantamount to photographs with no filters other than the chosen frame or direction of shot) that now start, even as I speak, to grow into huge cross-sectioning memory-bases of cruel truth and mystery: and whether it was intended – at the point of writing – that it would always be thus divided into two … well, I shall never know by dint of ‘the intentional fallacy’, but, whatever the case, for me, it works perfectly. It makes it seem as if it were never written at all but simply happened. A rotting tree in fast frame here slowed down to match our cool pace of reading – and of living. Making us wait to see that we shall never know the ultimate truth only enjoy truth in media res … forever.  Merely left happy that I’ve managed to read and real-time review another book before my own slow never-endingness of death started. Whodunnit? Not me.  I wasn’t there.  Not my shoe. Ghosts don’t have shoes. Or the itchy body-bags of the past. (27 Dec 10 – another 3 hours later)


Eleven Eleven: standing upright until a crowd-wave of fiction rolls through us…

Death is the crime of those who abort it?

All in all a stunning book. One I am pleased I bravely reviewed without really knowing what to expect . (27 Dec 10 – another 4 hours later)


NB: Any writer whose single story or novel or collection is real-time reviewed on this site before 30 April 2011 is – inter alios – eligible to submit a story to ‘The Horror Anthology of Horror Anthologies.


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The whole of my lifetime work with Elizabeth Bowen Quotes is now in a book

The Megazanthus Press Book: Real-Time Reviews Vol 3 is now out and in my hands. It looks wonderful. And there is a real treat within. Please see the end of the contents list below.

As is common with this series, it is a direct imprint from the internet and contains no contents lists. The list is therefore below.

This contains RTRs for:

LOST PLACES by Simon Kurt Unsworth….3

THE WOUNDS OF EXILE by Reggie Oliver ….22


XARGOS by Frances Oliver….40

OBLIVION’S POPPY by Colin Insole….42

OCCULTATION by Laird Barron…57

THE SATYR by Stephen J Clark….70

THE AUTUMN MYTH by Joel Lane…..79

THE COANDA EFFECT by Rhys Hughes….83

MAD MATINEE IN BAKU by Albert Power….98

NORTHWEST PASSAGES by Barbara Roden….107

THE SONS OF ISHMAEL by George Berguno….121

THE GHOSTS OF SUMMER by Frances Oliver….132

THE DEFEAT OF GRIEF by John Howard….148

My very popular, many years’ worth on-line work at quoting from Elizabeth Bowen’s fiction. You will not quite believe the power of these extracts from every novel chapter and every story…… Pages 158 – 415 inclusive


This is the book and further details by clicking on it:


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The AUTUMN MYTH – by Joel Lane

I’m due to start below another of my gradual real-time reviews, turning leitmotifs into a gestalt.

And it is of ‘The Autumn Myth’ by Joel Lane (Arc Publications 2010). This is a book of poems – and I’m reasonably sure this is the first time I’ve real-time reviewed poems, as opposed to fiction works.

This poetry book appears to be divided into three numbered sections. I am not clear about the purpose of the sections. Perhaps I shall discover any purpose on the way, without breaking the rules of The Intentional Fallacy. (2 Dec 10)

Caveat: Beware spoilers, but can you have spoilers when reviewing poems? And there is one poem dedicated to and entitled ‘Nemonymous’ in the second section as I discovered on inquisitively riffling through the book prior to reading it.


“impossible to evict or live with.”

I have now read the whole of this section. Today I am sitting snow-wrecked in my chalet bungalow by the North Sea during a new late Autumn myth that Winter never comes this early. These poems take me into a different bleakness, a different society and its unfairness and cruel ironies, different from the place I live – yet I feel what the poems say for real, in my different bones – snaking (almost DH Lawrence-like) from inferred prose along its Lanes of enjambment towards an essential poetry that is both comforting to me (through my coddled human nature that I am not truly engaged with or physically affected by the iron soul of this poetry and its meaning) and distressing (because it gives me the uncoddled human nature to become thus engaged as well as spiritually affected). I’ve not known poetry do this to me before so markedly.  I am perhaps the reader who is represented by the Leopard in one of these poems. Or a representative of those who deny fairness to those who walk (as I know) the prose fiction as well as (as I am learning here to know) the poetry of this author. There is also a sense of retrocausality (“What did you do / when the future was dying?”) in some of these poems, a sense of positive regression that allows me to shake off any sense of didacticism or politics in these poems – during this exercise of communion with the poems as part of a ‘live’ reportage to anyone reading this review in real-time. There is also a sense of impossibility diminished.  A sense of hope that only an expression of despair together with poetic irony can create. Like how can there be hope, without the contrast of despair?  Hope increased by its dark backdrop, like a Van Gogh painting that brings forth a Whovian catharsis, as the soul-embodied hold each other’s hands “among rocks and stars“? (2 Dec 10 – two hours later)


“…and the man looked out the window / to see the snow dissolving the glass.”

From what I feel are the urban landscape and unfairnesses expressed by the first section of poems to the more physically or mentally personal (person-to-person, person-to-self, person-to-music, person-to-Godness?Death?). A sense of unfairness here, too, but without that unfairness, where would the music come from or go to?  I feel I am being talked to direct, but how can the poet know I am looking out of the window at “drifting” snow as I actually am while I read this book?  Only because the glass between us dissolves, not the snow?  The enjambment of these Lanes runs through the deepest synchronicities, I sense. The most poetic retrocausalities.  “I didn’t know his name until afterwards.”  (2 Dec 10 – another two hours later)


A music mix of ONE and TWO as this lexophony reaches its heart-breaking and heart-mending, hearts-blending CODA.  At first a form of ‘Birthday Letters’  (“the hallway is choked with letters / you’re unable to stop writing”), a poetical conversation with ‘you’ (but “no crows in the branches” while ‘Crows’ nests have ruined the trees’), backdropped by a struggle with urban ‘nature’ and its abodes of living and unfairnesses fit to start revolutions.  The ‘you’ becomes ‘we’ towards the end and the earlier snow becomes “…grey walls / heavy with stored rain”.  Whatever the righteous or lefteous cause, these poetic ‘branch’-lanes make it a good one. You can’t argue with poetry like you can with real life. Meanwhile, this Coda has for me “the flawless / drift of pure white snow / to hold the print or the bloodstain.” (2 Dec 10 – another 3 hours later)


All my real-time reviews are linked from here: https://nullimmortalis.wordpress.com/2010/09/07/df-lewis-real-time-reviews/


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