Tag Archives: ‘Mighty’ Joe Young

I Wonder What Human Flesh Tastes Like

I’m due to start below another of my gradual real-time reviews, turning leitmotifs into a gestalt. A book I recently purchased from Amazon. And it is entitled:-

I Wonder What Human Flesh Tastes Like – by Justin Isis (Chômu Press 2011).

I Wonder What Human Flesh Tastes Like by Justin Isis

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/


I Wonder What Human Flesh Tastes Like / Unauthorized Egg Model Book Cover

“He started changing history.”

A story (?) of three pages. Memory loss through a grandmother’s old age or memory loss leading to onanism with one’s own sister makes this early days for any real-time review of this book of 335 pages. Licked its face, as they say on Bargain Hunt. (25 Jan 11)


The book I finished real-time reviewing yesterday ended with a story of a clown that (by my interpretation) licked faces clean after (or while?) killing their owners, and this new book’s first substantial story below has a Japanese woman’s smile like two clowns kissing:


“…because Nanako had no opinions…”

I am not reading anything about this book (such as its introduction) until I’ve read and reviewed it. The ambiance so far seems Japanese. The style’s exquisite, flowing through my tired and sore early-morning vision like the purest dream-ointment.  It seems to convey, inter alios, a Lawrence Durrell laced with some form of minimalist music, even though the syntax has satisfying traction that would belie the second analogy.  It also reminds me obliquely of two stories called Violette Doranges and Even The Mirror (by two different authors) that reside side by side elsewhere, only mentioned on be-half of those deliciously lazy enough not to want to know why or wherefore.  Nanako, seen by the male protagonist, is a woman who grows in two fields of vision, the apparent real and unreal, but we are not properly told which is the most whimsical and why one field outfaces the other.  We just sense that the real woman first met is retrocaused by (and despite) what she later became.  A late-night visionary sadness, with even later slicking rather than licking of faces, laced with odd analogous scrotums, semen … and onanism.  But do we ever know when we are alone? (26 Jan 11)


Manami’s Hair

“There was a faint pain, and she could feel something cracked and rough like a lizard’s skin.”

[The tooth-brushing type of obsession (within the story’s main character or within the author himself?) reminds me of certain facets of Robbe-Grillet.]

If the previous story was one woman in mis-synergy with herself over time, this story is about two women – sisters – living together within a single point in time, one a drain on the other.  The draining one, as opposed to the drained, seems obsessed with TV drama and indeed much of the plot could be part of a ‘Neighbours’ episode, e.g. dates and mis-acting.  Star-spaced, if not star-broken, by both enrichening colours and skin-diseasing static, the delight in imagining death to others as a fiction, wanting to write an autobiography although she is only 20, I think, and been housebound through (delicious?) laziness for 6 months… 

The story’s ending of faltering steps is another ellipse… or series of ellipses … … … (pores where hairs now grow). (pores or prose?)

[The story-breaks, textually throughout this book, all have a simply-drawn symbol (one that I think I happen to recognise) as a divider between them…. You will possibly recognise it, too, but, so far, I have drawn a meaning-blank.] (26 Jan 11 – five hours later)


The Garden of Sleep

“If you have a garden inside yourself to tend,”

…then you will need to read this story so as to find what comes after the comma.

The discovered lover of this story’s narrator – discovered while ‘I’ am still within the story telling it to ‘you’ – is contrasted by the mis-synergies with various people in the narrator’s family. The lover is a chameleon, an almost genderless, precious waif, called ‘you’.  Earlier in this book, two women within one woman through time, then two women together as sisters … and, now, here, an ‘I’ with a ‘you’ both in and out of time. And I see this story, if not the whole book, as a fascination akin to the ‘you’ of the story itself. I, of course, can’t tell yet after only 84 pages what other garments the book shall wear amid an imputed ‘genius loci’ (Japan?) that has not grown as clear as it may do after reaching page 335.

When I read this story tonight, it seemed to take less time than it should. A plain, easily consumed style, but tantalisingly beautiful in its plainness, with moments of a chance section of purple prose here and there that sets off its blushes. I shall keep watch to see who else reads it… 

[Meanwhile, a very short extract from elsewhere and elseother seems to comfort me at the thought of any unrequital that may ensue upon leaving this story, and eventually this book: “The paradise garden is a magical place. We can only dream when there, but we cannot dream of it.”] (26 Jan 11 – another 5 hours later)


I Wonder What Human Flesh Tastes Like

“That’s part of my strategy, to force the reader to make connections between things they wouldn’t normally connect.”

A core statement for my own real-time reviews in general – as well as for this book?  I feel as if I’ve travelled ‘fictionally-religionally’ for most of my life till I reached this point of possible crystallisation. 

This story – let’s be bold – connects with this book’s first ‘story’ of a similar title:

IWWHFTL / UEMBC: “When she smiled he saw the chipped edges of her teeth;”

IWWHFTL: “She smiled but her lips curled strangely and he could see too much of her teeth. They were unevenly placed.”

This eponymous story is about gratuitousness, heterosexual park-cottaging leading to talk of cannibalism, but direct participation in sudden concupiscence and pet-dog toilet-drowning; meticulous cartographic spotting of life’s reality-stains with undercurrents of burning it all up as a first best to the second best of curing these ills. I am aghast, sickened – but conceptually exhilarated. I’m not proud of this exhilaration, though. I’ll flag-mast myself clean, I guess. (27 Jan 11)


The Quest for Chinese People

Pages 103 – 121

“…everyone on Earth is descended from the same woman in Africa millions of years ago and there used to be these other people that weren’t really human but we killed them all,”

Amid the protagonist’s ordinary workaday life, his hidden desires, sleeping, brushing teeth, the people he knows, his wife, his brother – the first half of this story is a revery upon his self-discovered obsessing about the enormous size of the Earth’s Chinese population and his ‘guilt’ at his lack of knowledge of these Chinese people.

I know the feeling – a niggly worry that expands … and expands … in the dark watches of the night particularly.  Towards an epiphany, as the story describes it.  Maybe this is another example of gratuitousness…coupled with a darkly fine-print  ‘pointillism’ of aesthetics concerned with this book’s ‘genius loci’, one which I may still not have grasped other than the name ‘Japan’ and the Japanese sounding names of the characters.  Meanwhile this story flows nicely : while also possibly being a “camouflage” like one of the character’s shirts.

I watched as she cleaned her teeth.”

[I’m beginning to think this book may be the primest example of a literary theory of mine that I’ve explored for many years, i.e. on record as “The Synchronised Shards of Random Truth and Fiction”. I’m now beginning to wonder, too, that the ‘shards’ may here be symbolised by teeth, chipped or unchipped, false or deeply rooted,  i.e. those implements that one would need, presumably, to consume human flesh. (Thinking aloud.)] (28 Jan 11)

Pages 121 – 139

“…I had assumed that it would not be possible for me to act without some definite intended aim.”

Now reading on, I sense this story somehow expresses the horror of the syllogism argument as an existential angst.  The Intentional Fallacy (another bee in my ancient bonnet) expressed as demographic history’s flabbiness or laziness or inert immanence  (expressed in part by culinary un-inquisitiveness), i.e. in contrast to a more focussed aesthetic acting as an assumed (Asian-pointilliste?) backdrop that readers who already know about the Japanese ambiance may take for granted.  The story’s protagonist, meanwhile, oblivious of this complex audit trail he treads, fulfils (disintentionally?) what I earlier called his hidden desires – but is foiled by two women who are this time in pure synergy, unlike the mis-synergy of earlier pairs in this book.  And a final-catalyst force that possibly is the story’s inner ‘tabula rasa’ disguised as the story’s own protagonist’s brother.

“Her mouth cracked, but she never quite smiled.” (28 Jan 11 – two hours later)


A Design for Life

“His teeth pressed against her lips. / — I love you, I love you, she said in English.”

Another “Neighbours”-type soap-opera plot, yet one subsumed by an ambiance of pretentious art and music, and the artistic and sexual politics of furthering one’s career in that field.  I saw myself as the amenable (affable, passive, inert, immanent, flabby?) older man, Takeshi … until, out of character or as spear-carrier, he managed to score!  

Indeed, in more ways than one, this is a story of passively inert and flabby immanence – and an existential angst ignored by the story’s characters while sublimating their so-called Artform of becoming Andy Warhol.  In tune with the ‘connections’ theme I mentioned earlier with that seminal quote from IWWHFTL – I suddenly discovered here a sensibility that I’ve been trying to identify as permeating this book so far. A sensibility conveyed by, inter alia, the paintings of Magritte.

“…a garbage truck emerging from the back of an enormous human skull,”

belonging no doubt to the out-face in Nanako. [Or a Cronenberg / Carpenter burrowing backward from the jaw as a ratcheting teeth-monster?] (28 Jan 11 – another 4 hours later)


I Wonder What Human Flesh Tastes Like Etc.

Pages 171 – 187

“The feel of the raw meat in her hands was unpleasant; it reminded her of other soft, wet things she hated: slugs, perhaps, or rain-drenched socks.”

Another soap-opera bubble, this one of ‘Home and Away’ schoolgirl crushes and relationships (two sisters again, both vegetarians, one whose teeth have braces), quirks of their  thought captured as part of routine reality, particularly one of them who has an unrequited crush on a boy in the class – but threaded through with aberrant (gratuitous) thoughts that she should break her vegetarian fast, with sinews and redolences artfully conveyed to the reader, as part of a matter-of-fact, but haunting description that also dwells on comparing the thought of an actual slaughter of a cow for meat with an imaginary slaughter of a human being for the same purpose.  There is something fundamental about the synergy or mis-synergy of these aspects of the story: the meticulous matter-of-fact-in-trivia and the gratuitous motivations incubating within. [Tonight, I shall allow this story similarly to incubate within my body’s sleep and see how things develop when I pick up this book again and finish the story. Good night. [Btw, news just in, Isis = is is]] (28 Jan 11 – another 3 hours later)

Pages 187 – 203

“Lying on her bed at night, before she fell asleep, Ayano had vague dreams of all the different kinds of meat she had yet to try.”

I’ve rejoined the two plain sisters along their continuum of exploratory fiction.  It may be because it’s so early in the morning, but I now feel decidedly queasy, if not shocked, having completed this story’s inner journey of self-tasting.  We have an astonishing description of the meats, their various timings of cooking (rare or not), speculation as to human meat, bodily oils, face-carving (cf ‘Nanako), &c – leading to quite ground-shaking passages I dare not divulge. Teeth are part of the process.  What has gone before makes this story even more powerful. The synergies, the mis-synergies, the eschatology, the scatology, the syllogism of ‘the Chinese and the rest of us’ … the meat that is the all of us…

[Before completing this story, I wrote, this morning, on a discussion forum elsewhere, about this book: “For me, this book is in uncharted waters or waters that the ship ‘nouveau roman’ once explored so as to allow other ships like this one to pass through on the way to an as yet undiscovered el dorado.”  Hence, the divider-symbols between story sections? And will we reach that el dorado with this book, or will it feel its job is done by showing us first sight of it on the horizon?] (29 Jan 11)


The Eye of the Living Is No Warmth

Pages 205 – 230

“Instead of analyzing lyrics or predicting future lineups, he recorded his sweat, erections and breathing changes;”

…a far-fetched description of an internet reviewer!

This story is of a pair of two late-twenties men who are fans of music girl groups and are active on internet forums about this world … and one star girl is arrested for smoking at the age of 17. Breaking Japanese Law and her contract or generally contravening this book’s ‘genius loci’.  The two men – amid a flabby or Magritte-like detachment I note and feel in myself quite often – pursue the photographer who took the photo of her smoking.  They meet the photographer’s mis-synergous girlfriend who has “a redness at the tips of her teeth.”  And I await, detachedly, the outcome. Meanwhile, regarding an as yet assumed aside, but one significant for me, the main male protagonist here is known to be writing a pessimistic philosophical tract entitled “The Book Against the Human Race” (Cf: “The Conspiracy Against The Human Race” by Thomas Ligotti). (29 Jan 11 – another 4 hours later)

Pages 230 – 249

A Karaoke session for our two men and the girl, followed by a Ferris Wheel ride, all of which actually starts to fill in for me this book’s  Japanese ‘Genius Loci’ more trenchantly than the previous anticipatory imminence (sic) of one. The philosophical tract against the human race (not just against the Chinese one) together with the amorphous ambiance of characterisation make this possibly the first classic work about the Detached and the Internetted creatures that are begininning to populate the world (or my head that is my world). The closing scenes of the transferred ‘handshake’ (cf: My “But do we ever know when we are alone?” question earlier in this review) is a ‘deliciously lazy’ but perfect ending to this story. Bravo!

“He’d eaten a lot at the Chinese restaurant,” (29 Jan 11 – another 90 minutes later)


A Thread From Heaven

Pages 251 – 271

“In that ruined city foxes nested in sunken basements;”

A pair of adolescent males – part of another student soap-bubble scenario – start a friendship on the school train-commute but are immediately bullied by an actorly or inscrutably or detachedly leadered group of cruising men, with our main protagonist Park (whose dreams, we were earlier told, include airships) then giving his stomach up as part of a voluntary punch-bag puppet (that fits so neatly with earlier ‘flabby’ feelings in this book) – and he has his teeth actually or almost cracked.

A reality-stain of rust iconising a simple daily object. A trainload of human meat ready to be fused by a chance crash: Park’s speculations that float here as cousin threads from the rest of the book’s own world of the human race laid-back for us to pick over literarily, if not literally. (29 Jan 11 – another 90 minutes later)

Pages 271 – 290

“Time is the same as language.”

The threads (including the starkest or cruellest from the rest of the book) continue piecemeal to pour through Park’s thought-pores as if this book is a sort of Bible or actually Park’s own Christian Bible, then creating a ‘paradise garden’ of reality (my laid-back expression, not the story’s) that is cultivated not by awareness itself but by the awareness of that awareness by others.  All within that soap-bubble. (29 Jan 11 – another hour later)

Pages 290 – 306

“Gradually, the past was slipping into fiction,”

At the end of this section, my premonition of the ‘garden’ comes to stunning, undivulgeable fruition, as Park, having sealed up the surface of Gods, watches dead human meat – what shall we say? – succulate…  [At least we have the continuing thread or anchor or fishing-line (or noose?) – of another Karaoke session to give local colour and therapeutic self-miming /mining.] (29 Jan 11 – another hour later)

Pages 306 – 335

“Artists are also wind-up toys that have been set in motion. If they weren’t artists, they’d be politicians or comedians or something else. The shape of the mind determines the role. Everyone is given a role at birth and that role is their mind.”

I dare not impart the powerful climax of this book, the ultimate tracing or karaoke or palimpsest.  And I would be here all day imparting Park’s ‘waking dreams’ as a completist task or the way they interweave the threads. This is probably the most positively shocking book I have ever read, and this last section seals that contention beyond ‘probably’… probably. It is extremely well-written …and builds as the reader progresses through the stories. Don’t take any one shock as something that should turn you away from this book.  In symphonic music, a sudden atonal blast is no reason to walk out from the rest of it.  The rest could be as spiritually beautiful as the Lark Ascending or as spiritually darkening as the Lurk Descending.  All done without touching the sides. Laid-back. A new gear in literature now clinching….

 But what were those divider-symbols?

If I think of more to say, I shall used the ‘comment’ facility below, as I hope some others will do, too.

“…exist, exist,”

(29 Jan 11 – another 90 minutes 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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