Tag Archives: Mike O’Driscoll

My favourite books of 2012

sv4I have just sat in my thinking-dome and come up with my picks of books published in 2012 (in addition to THE LAST BALCONY and THE FIRST BOOK OF CLASSICAL HORROR STORIES and BUSY BLOOD!):

The Wind Through The Keyhole by Stephen King

Dadaoism – an anthology from Chômu Press

This Hermetic Legislature (an anthology from Ex Occidente Press)

The Ten Dictates of Alfred Tesseller by D.P. Watt

The Truth Spinner – Rhys Hughes

Celebrant – by Michael Cisco

Peel Back The Sky – Stephen Bacon

The Lighthouse – Alison Moore

Motherless Child – Glen Hirshberg

At Dusk – Mark Valentine

Numbered as Sand or the Stars – John Howard

Eyepennies – a novella by Mike O’Driscoll

The Aesthete Hagiographer – Derek John

The Screaming Book of Horror

PS: Two more in comment below.


Watch out for JANE by PF Jeffery in 2013 – that, as part of the ‘Warriors of Love’ series of twelve discrete novels, I predict will, sooner or later, become a best-seller of the highest objective quality, with definite cinematic potential.


Filed under Uncategorized

Eyepennies – a novella by Mike O’Driscoll

This is my seventh post-real-time review after recently announcing my retirement from real-time reviewing following four years doing it.

Publisher: TTA Press

These are all forms of mental slippage, visions he has conjured up to fill the void into which his real memories have fallen.”

This is a story of a musician who has tenuous dreams (almost like short-lived night blossoms, my expression, not the novella’s), dreams with which to infect the reader (real, head-on infections you will find hard to escape, take my warning seriously, please), infections between comic-strip, otherwise discrete, drawn-boxes of sheer dreamy beautiful prose, (deceptively easy, lazy prose as if this is the only way to conquer writer’s block as well as a musician’s) — a near-death  experience sired by hyperkalemia: the words themselves suffering a form of petechia. A moving, unlinear panoply of this musician’s life and his ‘fear’ or ‘dread’ of infecting others he loved or was related to, as perhaps finally conquered by grabbing some inevitable nettle…

Crisp winter light falls weightlessly through the window…”

The eyepennies like Quentin’s youth-pangs or one-balls are imbued by Barker’s Nicholas Parkes (cf Captain Howdy’s barking) and by O’Driscoll’s own Rediscovery of Death and Unbecoming.

This is major work of felt literature – that deserves the highest praise but only after the most careful approach as to how it is read and by whom. Either you need the thinnest petechia-prone reading-skin to absorb it fully or the thickest rind to protect you so that you can report back as I have done here. Being between these two extremes serves no purpose.  But perhaps you will never know till it is eventually too late.

A dog barks outside in the street, but a moment later it seems closer, inside the room. It sounds familiar, almost human.”


Filed under Uncategorized

WILD JUSTICE – Edited by Ellen Datlow

I’m due to start below another of my gradual real-time reviews, turning leitmotifs into a gestalt. All my other real-time reviews, during the last three and half years, are linked from here: http://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/

As is customary with my real-time reviews,  I shall not read any introductions, story-notes or any other ‘extraneity-creep’, until  after I have completed the review of all the fiction, i.e. in accordance with my guiding interest in ‘The Intentional Fallacy’ since first encountering it during the 1960s.

I recently purchased this anthology as a customer from Amazon UK and downloaded it in a Kindle format to my ipad.  (None of my real-time reviews have been based on review copies.)

Wild Justice – Edited by Ellen Datlow

Ash Tree Press : 2012

First published as ‘Lethal Kisses’ by Orion Paperbacks, 1996.

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.

Authors included: A. R. Morlan, Caitlín R. Kiernan, Thomas Tessier, Terry Lamsley, Joyce Carol Oates, Roberta Lannes, Pat Cadigan, Simon Ings, David J. Schow, Christopher Fowler, Douglas Clegg, Jonathan Lethem, Michael Marshall Smith, Michael Swanwick, Jack Dann, Pat Murphy, Michael Cadnum, Richard Christian Matheson, M. M. O’Driscoll,


…Warmer – A.R. Morlan

“(Edan detested the obvious, in all things.)”

Whether I shall ever get warm enough to locate this story’s core, I am wondering. I was borne along by the amazing style of its once pre-retrocausal ‘ruin porn’ (please forgive me if I get my terms wrong but I know deep in the heart when I enjoy a read whatever the niceties of describing it – and I sure enjoyeed this interconnected concertina of step-changes in an all-pervasive pent-up sememe fest) – and here a budding starlet fresh from tattoo-licking and nipple-ring ripping in a film of real-time agony is chosen / asked by a cancer-brinked, twit-anglicised, twat-filming impresario to lip-synch with some cyborg ligotti-dolls that have beautiful voices and things stashed away on their bodies fit to revive Ancient Rome or Greece as a new pawn of ruins without the necessity of the debt haircuts (I may have some of that wrong – I lost the connection between the dolls and the beautifully striking sing-voice). Pawn rather than porn because of this story’s quantitative-(dis)easing “Euro-market crotch-grinds“!  Phew, I am not sure I got all that was going on in that hair-raising read. But I was certainly taken along in a whirlwind of images and urgent motives, body-wise and blood-racing, “E“-book curdled, domino-rally story-driven.  I may need to re-read it after I have gone further into this book’s aspirational connect-bacchanale of a gestalt. Or so I suspect.  Keeping my head, I hope, walking “…a quarter mile of empty hallway carpeted in the sort of plushy beige carpeting that mats down if you sneeze at it,…” (11 Mar 12 – 7.35 pm gmt)

Anamorphosis – Caitlín R. Kiernan

“The carpet had ended at the threshold and the floor was just hardwood and something on it that looked like Karo syrup.”

The Morlan, I recall, talked about italics as a way of talking. This Kiernan has cutting italic asides among the other “words like fishhooks” and a repainted “Jackson Pollock” scatology of ripe pungencies that I feel, if this book were made of paper, it would actually smell for real.  It’s that strong. This story is about a laundromat-working ‘scryer’ helping the police unofficially by sniffing out synchronous, almost occult, connections, as I do with real-time reviews. But my office is thankfully nearer to a laundromat (I hear it churning suds and clothes even as I write this) than it is to the unspeakably awful crime scenes in this story!  When I worked in London in the 1970s, I visited the National Gallery quite regularly at lunchtime, and saw Holbein’s ‘The Ambassadors’.  I often read Yeats on the tube train commuting.  And Conan Doyle, too.  (I read the Afterword by accident!) — I’m just ringing this story round: hesitating to get to its nub. It’s most unsavoury, you see. But that’s because the prose is so effective.  And the idea of the gradual homing in towards the gestalt of crime-solving by Deacon the scryer – reaching out, much to his own hesitation of vulnerable self-sanity as part of his powers-to-see, like mine, thus only to graze against the mix of truth and fiction: the head-lease author’s skilful stretching in and out of the words themselves from different angles … like Deacon does similarly when viewing the Holbein.  I think I shall remember this story for a long time.  It even has a reference to “small-time porn” to resonate with the previous story.  Both have that slick stickiness of meaning.  Flensed but rich. From humanity’s ruins building a structured cartilage of  phonemes and sememes anew. “Deacon had done his hangover morning counting trick, backwards from twenty-five,…” (10 Mar 12 – two hours later)

A Grub Street Tale – Thomas Tessier

“They’re too sophisticated and good for the commercial market, category fiction, but they’re not quite brilliant enough for literary acceptance.”

The eternal conundrum of writing fiction, even if one doesn’t think about it too much, but just writes. A thought-provoking but workmanlike tale – I’d say about serious revenge – or it may have been about an elaborate joke of light-hearted revenge by one of the parties involved because the ending skilfully ends too soon to tell us. A story about an author whose life was not fulfilled for whatever reason. And a metaphor of someone who would have been better left adrift, I guess, off the coast of Whitby rather than taken ashore -assuming the power of fiction is real magic rather than make-believe. Just my extrapolation. In any event I imagine Deacon from the previous story being given the job of sniffing out what lies behind this story’s crime-of-passion. I enjoyed being taken through the story’s civilised conversation: a quiet relief from the manic driving of the previous two authors! (11 Mar 12 – 8.45 am gmt)

Back in the Dunes – Terry Lamsley

“He scraped away some of the ashes and realised there were concrete floors…”

I am taking for granted that there is a connecting ‘link’ with all these stories that I do not need to plumb: i.e. as connected by the original ‘Lethal Kisses’ title of this collection, and I am satisfied, so far, this is the case.  I am keeping my powder (or sand) dry, meanwhile, concerning the new title: ‘Wild Justice’. My job – as I perhaps presumptuously see it – is hopefully to dig in different directions – and here to dig, along with the main protagonist, beneath the beige carpet of sand: in a scrubby seaside area connected with holidays and caravans and arcaded amusements etc – which is very much like the area where I actually live on the NE Essex coast.  This story creates that ‘genius loci’ brilliantly. Including the textured litter or props or uncivilised signs of behaviour that the sand and dunes often conceal.  And the sense of timelessness as well as lost time, easy sex, serial relationships to mask loneliness, shapeless miscreants who are not a million miles from Deep Ones or from Aickman glimpses out of the corner of the eye or from, as here, ghosts of seaside tragedies and of uncaring care in the community … and I am not disappointed, further enriched as it is by an atmospheric sense of retrocausality.  I am only slightly disappointed by what is, for me, the stilted mechanics of dénouement through self-conscious dialogue. (11 Mar 12 – four hours later)




Filed under Uncategorized

Double Zero For Emptiness – by Mike O’Driscoll

Since having published the blog below elsewhere in March 2009, I have read Stephen King’s Dark Tower books ‘Song of Susannah’ and that part of ‘The Dark Tower’ (final volume) concerning his ‘famous’ real-life accident in 1999. In both books, Stephen King appears in person, by name, as a character, at one point mentioning his sons Joe and Owen, and wife Tabby – and this accident is grafted on to the reality of the fiction in a very interesting way. [This is my real-time review of King’s DT book, written over the last few days, where I discovered this potentially important comparison.]

Mike O’Driscoll’s story ‘Double Zero For Emptiness’ was first published in 2001 (long before ‘Song of Susannah’ and the last Dark Tower volume were published). This was within the literary journal NEMONYMOUS.  This Mike O’Driscoll story now bears, for me, striking comparison with my very first and recent reading of King’s DT books mentioned above – and it deserves critical scrutiny by someone currently more detached than myself from it.   Meanwhile, it has certainly enhanced, even shaken, my experience of the time conundrums (inter alia) that the King’s DT books portray.  [Merely as an aside: this is a quote from Stephen King’s DT book: “…; his [King’s] eyes were shocked zeroes.” ]


Double Zero For Emptiness

posted Friday, 20 March 2009

 Nemonymous's avatar

A story that is close to my heart as it was first published in the very first issue of ‘Nemonymous‘ in 2001.
I’m not sure if it has been published again since then.
It is entitled:-

Double Zero For Emptiness

by Mike O’Driscoll

This is a third-person singular ‘monologue’ as if by Stephen King upon reviewing his own ‘(un)becoming’ – his relationships public and private – his thoughts on writing – his ‘fame’ – his hopes and fears – leading up finally to that ‘famous’ road accident…
It serves for me (perhaps for me alone) as a poignant and thoughtful coda to O’Driscoll’s 2006 book ‘Unbecoming’ and it resonates with this quote from one of its stories ‘If I Should Wake Before I Die’:
“Its heart raced, a thousand beats a minute. As if trying to cram a whole lifetime into a few seconds.”

‘Double Zero For Emptiness’ was first published in 2001 and contains these words:
“…the bowel-clenching terror of knowing that tomorrow you could be shipped halfway round the world to kill or be killed by people you felt no enmity towards.”

comments (1)

1. Weirdmonger left…

My review of Mike O’Driscoll’s book UNBECOMING at link immediately above.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Occultation – by Laird Barron

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

And it is of the collection entitled ‘Occultation’ by Laird Barron (Night Shade Books 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/

The Forest

“The smell reminded him of hip waders, muddy clay banks and gnats in their biting millions among the reeds.”

It is as if we are here to gather, by the sometimes hard-reached tenacity of reading mature fiction, the occult motes – from Nodes and Nadines – yes, to gather the Snail Cone truths  that cohere from the backhead masks of this memorable story’s words themselves: the cosmic cancer of retrieval through memory or photographs or re-modelling, through a highly satisfying texture of prose and dialogue alchemically made to breathe real situations and filmic dramatis personae in exotic heat that wavers for me from the work of Mike O’Driscoll towards Graham Greene or Malcolm Lowry or Ian McEwan laced with Lovecraft or Henry S Whitehead….perhaps ending up with a Barronial style I have yet to fully explore and nail…. (26 Nov 10)



“– I think you might have an enlarged prostate.”

Almost can be seen as a continuation of the previous story (soaking up more styles), now by co-whoring rather than cohering, benchmarked by a psycho-delia-cooked Henry S Whitehead reading his own lips, with continentally punctuated dialogue as a couple in a Barton Fink room watch an <again dangerous visions ‘title’ is a black blob> grow inferentially into further cosmic cancers between the stars, except the claustrophobic ending is probably the most frightening I have recently met.  Only beds ride on the back of snail cones, not universes, but that may be irrelevant to the story.  A story I loved. (26 Nov 10 – three hours later)


The Lagerstätte

“The crimson seam dried black on the bedroom wall.”

A substantial story of a being haunted by a survivor’s guilt regarding two late loved ones, husband and son.  I am incredibly impressed by the traction of text that this book generally so far presents, with horror for horror’s sake, a bit like all our lives … yet with a meaningful undercurrent that horror thus transcended into an art form of character/plot machination makes one’s own life another satisfying, if painful, traction beyond the trivial it would otherwise be. That’s the only way I can explain it. However, there is almost a glut of horror images here, albeit horror images quite beyond the run-of-the-mill gore, skirting poignancy that has not quite yet brought tears to my eyes. Cf: the ‘external os’ and ‘worm-cored rod’ of the two previous stories respectively and here the lagerstätte… (26 Nov 10 – another 3 hours later)



1 & 2

“I sometimes wondered if it’d been accidental or closer to the protagonist’s opt-out in that famous little novel by Graham Greene.”

So far a more ‘compos mentis’ story than the previous three, one about two modern couples as a foursome of friends  – one of whom (the narrator) is dreamy while also naturally searching (as we do) the net as part of life’s own plot . They are presumably preparing to use their chance discovery in a shop of ‘The Black Guide’ book (aka ‘Moderor de Caliginis’ 1909) for an already planned trip…  [I idly speculate: a Strantzaic trip as in ‘Cold To the Touch’? – but my sleepiness intervenes as it does with the Narrator.] (26 Nov 10 – another 4 hours later)


3 & 4

“Every channel  was full of snow and shadow, except for the ones with the black bar saying NO SIGNAL.”

Fulsome sexual-laddish characterisation by protagonism and dialogue; premonitions of their trip-to-come, via the gavinostic Guide, possibly story-ripe with dolmens and occultation; eventually the  past backdropped and projected by the dialogue’s cleverly spawning the ghosts of people previously spoken of  … and protagonists as they may become one day, given the foresight that fiction, ‘in media res’, cannot fully achieve, except possibly in the head of the narrator or reader, if not officially in that of the author himself. (27 Nov 10) 

5, 6 & 7

“A city boy was always a stranger…”

I continue travelling story-pleasingly with the lads as they trace ley-line diagrams of outdoors plot-action along with our narrator’s more inward, arcane diagrams from the fatefully-owned Guide – and I wonder if the erstwhile <‘external os’ and ‘worm-cored rod’  […] the lagerstätte>  are here soon to fuse as a boner in unending circle? (27 Nov 10 – two hours later)

8, 9 & 10

“He recoiled like a worm zapped by an electrode.”

Powerful stuff that is blair-witching even me out.  Like its style. The brash encounters with gut fights, the spunky, spooky elements. The tooth wrenching out, the nose bone being put back into joint, nearly shooting oneself in  the foot. The nether-pit that seems somehow to be waiting for me to fall beneath the words into it, like the one old humpin’ Tom fell into before he became a ghost?  The ‘animal’ shapes that ‘drain’ away into that pit? Mighty stuff. No spoilers. Only wrenchers.

“From there the anonymous author claimed it to be an hour’s hike to the dolmen.” (27 Nov 10 – another two hours later)

11, 12, 13, 14 & 15

“‘This is weird,’ said Victor. ‘You guys think this is weird?'”

Journey’s end. But my ‘vanilla life’ does perhaps need to release its deadbolt and let the weirdnesses in, ever since nearly being enticed as a small child by an oldish person (or oldish to me, then) into a shrimp-hut on the quagmirish backwaters where I lived in the Fifties.

But that gives no clue to the ending of the happenings of this story. Its bottomless pits where lurk McMahonites and Strantzals and Cardinals and Gavinals and Unsworths and Gaffries and Duffies and Barronial Lairds: their faces in the the pit, enticing me towards darknesses I cannot credit.  Or, rather, me enticing them back out, but to what?

But that gives no clue as to the ending of the happenings in this story. Or the way its striking prose ignites its denizens and their musical ‘dying fall’, their symphonic coda’s endgame-expedition of lads-into-men. You will need to read it for that. Just be persuaded by an older person who has read it. Even if he hasn’t lived it for himself … yet.

[Writing a real-time review is a special reading-journey on the internet – a journey that takes place within a single reading mind, beset by all the foibles of the moment.  The question is: does this affect the journey itself, i.e knowing one is publicly describing that journey as it happens?] (27 Nov 10 – another hour’s hike later)


Catch Hell

“…priests walking with their heads on backwards…”

Much of Barron is generously sown with wonderful sentences that make you think that’s neat but then it expands in the mind and means even more. Also there is strong sense of ‘genius loci’ as there is in this story – a hybrid European /American lodge in America with statues, folklore-rich, run-ins with ruins, a place of a weekend-away feel where a child-haunted couple visit (difficult to summarise their abrasive relationship and past, their Satanic algorithms that develop with the plot exponentially) – a ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ and Paul Finch (eg ‘The Baleful Dead’) and Reggie Oliver (eg ‘You Have Nothing To Fear’) catch-hell-all, with nightmarish-mutant Romance Fiction elements…. “I’ve never seen so many weathervanes in one place” – “occasionally he meets up with a lost hiker” – “What the fuck do you know about academia, Cock-ring?” – “It wasn’t the end though. There’s no end to hell.” (28 Nov 10)



“A password!”

This is a story where the author’s skills truly come together. Literary prose style to die for. Horrors to work out.  Another ‘dying fall’.  Kenshi and Swayne’s sexual reunion in an Indian tourist resort. Characters not to die for exactly, but to keep in abeyance in case you need them in a lucid dream.   And a ‘dangerous’ art installation or happening, that the protagonists foolhardily approach with ‘Eyes Wide Shut’. I just wonder which colour-of-door reader I am of this whole book as it leads me further along its audit trail of leitmotifs….? (28 Nov 10 – two hours later)


The Broadsword

1 – 7

“…an old school radical who’d done too much Purple Haze in the ’60s…”

The Broadsword Hotel – a sort of ‘House of Leaves’ where Pershing lives with bugged paranoia and other buggage from his life – and the prose flows so sweetly (is it because I’ve been drinking wine this evening?) and there is Updike here, too, and Beat poets and more.  I think Barron is either the Nadal or Federer of Weird Literature. And I’m not sure which of these he is nor am I sure which writer is the other one? (28 Nov 10 – another 4 hours later)

8 – 16

“…spent months hiking the ass end of nowhere with a compass and an entrenchment spade.”

Pershing exchanges his House of Leaves for a House of Stars, amid his tangible-in-the form-of-his-guilt guilt as a previous trip’s dead friend speaks through vents — and his own age generation of once fearing ‘A bombs’ and green men from Mars – the darknesses or spaces between the strantzaic suns and the emotions as transparencies or palimpsests and a reprise of the Mysterium Tremendum trip as a trip indeed. They had trips in the 60s they never came back from, I guess. Maybe, I did. Maybe, I didn’t.  The choice of red or blue door notwithstanding. (28 Nov 10 – another 2 hours later)



“In the animal kingdom, paranoia equalled sanity.”

This is essential Barron, I guess. Substantial and very effective, a remote research station where, alone, another exponentially abrasive couple seek more from fleshy interstices than from corners of any loving affection, all mingled with lucid dreaming (I hope or fear this whole book is a lucid dream or at least a mutant Thing movie that will not take my eyes out one  by one but only if I am willing to believe in it or is that disbelieve in it?) with afForestation, coyotes, weird insects in potentially cosmic swarms, a lagerstätte os as trip-discovered horn, occultation…

He covered his good eye…” (29 Nov 10)


Six Six Six

Despite its title, I had a confident feeling this would be a gentlin’-out, a coda to this enormously impressive weird symphony of a book – and in many ways this haunted house story about a young couple, a house inherited after the husband’s father’s death, could easily have been a fulfilment, a rounding-out, a gestalt-confirmation. But instead I’m left shaking.  To the flickering of a Muybridge and a Reichian drumming.  It’s as if my lantern will be pushed out as a catharsis of impulsive ricochet between author and reader. To the sudden sound of a helicopter crashing…

[I shall now read for the first time Michael Shea’s introduction in the book, but I will not be back here again to say anything more.] (29 Nov 10 – two hours later)



Filed under Uncategorized

Elastic Press – My Real-Time Reviews

UNBECOMING And Other Tales Of Horror – by Mike O’Driscoll

The Ephemera – by Neil Williamson

Somnambulists – by Allen Ashley

Sleepwalkers – Marion Arnott

The English Soil Society – by Tim Nickels

The Cusp of Something – by Jai Clare

Visits To The Flea Circus – by Nick Jackson

The Alsiso Project

Extended Play (Editor: Gary Couzens)

The Sound of White Ants by Brian Howell

The Best of Elastic Press

Elastic Press (Proprietor: Andrew Hook)

There were many other Elastic Press books. R.I.P.


Filed under Uncategorized