Tag Archives: passport levant

‘The Exorcist’s Travelogue’ – by George Berguño

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

And it is of ‘The Exorcist’s Travelogue’ by George Berguño (Passport Levant MMXI). A book I purchased from the publisher.

There is no guarantee how long it will take to complete this review, whether days or years. Indeed, this is said with the knowledge that a busy Season is afoot and many people have calls upon my time. So I do not wish any of you interested in this review to keep returning to this page and finding nothing added. However, I do not know how to resolve this problem ….

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/

All my Ex Occidente Press (Passport Levant) real-time reviews here: https://nullimmortalis.wordpress.com/2010/09/24/ex-occidente-press-real-time-reviews/

Landscape format, sewn hardcover with dust-jacket printed on deluxe heavy paper, cloth boards, gold and silver folio, silk ribbon, end papers and full-color frontispiece.
There are 128 pages in total. The edition is limited to sixty copies of which this one is hand-numbered 20.

I am pleased to see this publisher (Dan Ghetu of Ex Occidente Press) is still prolific in publishing great books, contrary to what I was led to understand and as publicly anticipated by the publisher himself a few months ago. I hope the logistics of book delivery and authorial care have improved from what I was also led to believe publicly from various third parties some time ago. I’ve never needed to complain in respect of myself, I hasten to add.

===========================

The Son’s Crime

“There is something disconcerting about standing alone in a space that was built for a crowd.”

A moving story or fable or parable of a son walking with his father by the British Museum – and the loss or transience of relationships in Magritte-like suddenness of vision – or a star that tries to hide its transience from itself through becoming a red dwarf (for example) – the comfort of transience in its form of permanence as transience through repeated transfer between generations of loved ones – even between strangers masquerading as loved ones (or vice versa). Even the book itself – a truly heavy-duty artefact – seems intent on surviving the eventual destruction of our planet. (13 Jul 11)

Flaubert’s Alexandrine

“I remember well the first time I saw a corpse. My father’s body, yes, it was when my father died, only four years ago.  […] and I was amazed that his eyelids did not flicker.”

[Indeed, for me, fours years ago, almost exactly. A state in-between that still exists in memory even though the body’s now decomposed and eyelids peeled]. This story, meanwhile, following the previous one, in pre-Alexandrian Lawrence Durrell, and we are faced with neither transience or permanence but a state between them, where Flaubert’s fate is inadvertently determined towards writing a novel beyond the present’s scurrillity – a potentially second-rate novel that would create such a semi-immortality through a touch of greatness left unsullied by his own body’s carnal needs and his story’s listener’s typically male gaucheness. Yes, a story within a story, though. And so we wonder where the genius truly lies. In he who facilely writes the masterpiece? Or in the one who set up the synchronicities of a soundboard to allow it to be written? (13 Jul 11 – three hours later)

The Leviathan at Rifsker

“Perhaps the time had come for Icelanders to face the end of history.”

Charming – yet brutal – tale (presumably in an Edda mode) where a finback whale is stranded and men fight each other as well as strange weather in contiguity with the craggy land to create legends together with much-needed food. And, like all real legends, this one swims off to last forever in the trickles of time itself, I guess – ignited by a synergy of man and nature, eye to eye. Transience outstaring permanence and vice versa. Plus a prose style that utilises words like ‘horror’, ‘ridiculous’, ‘eerie’, ‘creepy’, ‘dreadful’ within a beautifully honed ‘fabulousness’ as if these words are being used for the first time (which then they perhaps were beyond any ability to disguise them by translation). (14 Jul 11)

A Chronicle of Repentance

“…, and disrobed me with invisible fingers.”

A chronicle can never begin or end, I sense, as someone needs to tell a chronicle, and its beginning and its end are only restricted by what that teller can tell by dint of knowledge or his/her own finite life being within rather than overlapping the period in question of which he tells. But can a chronicle fill in its own gaps (such gaps being at either end as well as partway through) by dint of parthenogenetic imagination. But to save one’s body from ultimate torture in Hell by giving it just a part of that ultimate torture in life is a fool’s errand, a misguided absolution by either one’s self or chronicle of self. And the carnal needs of one person are often simply satisfied by fulfilling the carnal needs of another.  But all humanity is connected by desire – for, without desire, they may not have existed in the first place. Eternity through desire, each of us passing the baton of life to another. But, one day, you may give birth to an invisible body on an empty stage rather than just a body, say, with its fingers invisible by having been burnt off in that partial attempt to avoid Hell’s torture.  That ultimate creation of invisibility in the guise of something that you deem as real: a creation by those creatures one hated in life, those Pigeons from Hell flying across your last balcony. This is not what I found in this story. This is what this story found in me. (14 Jul 11 – another ten hours later)

The Sad Eyes of the Lewis Chessmen

“…, I saw eyes, infinitely sad eyes, gazing back at me from across the centuries.”

With my name, it may not surprise you to learn I once visited (in the 1970s) the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides and to Uig itself.  This story intrigues me especially, then.  Starting from a cafe meeting so common in 20th century Mittel European literature towards an initially academic congeniality from MR_James-iana to a non-Euclidean Lovecraftianism – I travel with a knowing wink towards the sense of this ostensibly plain narrative (that enables me to relax from the intensities of review that I found myself experiencing with the previous stories) – yet there is an Edda feel here, too, a Flaubert’s Gambit, a transience-permanence parable and the ability to cheat logic for real through fiction, an invisible power that needs one to strip away bit by bit, move by move, sacrifice by sacrifice, one’s physical body to become a noumenon, nay, this story’s “No-Man” (Cf: ‘Norman’ at the tail end of this other review I completed yesterday!). (15 Jul 11)

The Loneliness of the One-Night Lamia

“And so our search for love is love itself.”

I don’t know if this relates to something I said earlier above: i.e. “And the carnal needs of one person are often simply satisfied by fulfilling the carnal needs of another.”  But there is more “ancient longing” in this story or parable and here, alongside resonance with the transience-permanence of such longing, the theme of Freudian ‘Transference-Love’, in fact a Freudian psychoanalyst protagonist with a MR_Jamesian friend whose staggering form of apparent conviviality leads to the bleakness of what I can only call the Loneliness of a Long-Distance Lover, i.e. the nightmare of a date with a Lamia. A Ligottian atmosphere in her venue or ‘trap’, and it is telling – in view of the foregoing context of this book – that her fingers are what end up on his neck … making us wonder whether this is a sign of hope or despair. (15 Jul 11 – an hour later)

The Farewell Letter

“Suddenly, I spied Joseph Stalin on the opposite balcony – and our eyes met.”

…with another ‘ancient longing’? Mikhail Bulgakov – being written about by his wife to his sister (if I’ve got that right!). — “…several years trickled by” and there is much to ponder here: things to dwell upon that should never really resolve this book’s coda. Accessible or esoteric history of our recent times, reincarnation (permanence?) by lycanthropy or anthropomorphism, the misanthropic transience of old fogies like me and Molière’s Alceste. The mating-dance of literature with literature. The eventual madreperl of regret.  It’s like listening to an unknown piece by Mahler as the last piece in the last concert. Tonight is the First Night of the Proms.  Gothic Symphony this Sunday. Another truly great book, I estimate, from the Magus, Dan Ghetu. [If they don’t know each other already, I humbly suggest this book’s author should become acquainted with the published fiction of a veteran Austrian/English lady by the name of Frances Oliver (with a Freudian background) – and, of course, vice versa. And I mean that in the nicest possible way or with the best of intentions.] (15 Jul 11 – another 3 hours later)

END

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The Bestiary of Communion – by Stephen J Clark

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

And it is of ‘The Bestiary of Communion’ by Stephen J. Clark (Passport Levant MMXI). A book I purchased from the publisher.

There is no guarantee how long it will take to complete this review, whether days or years. Indeed, this is said with the knowledge that a busy Season is afoot and many people have calls upon my time. So I do not wish any of you interested in this review to keep returning to this page and finding nothing added. However, I do not know how to resolve this problem ….

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/

All my Ex Occidente Press (Passport Levant) real-time reviews here: https://nullimmortalis.wordpress.com/2010/09/24/ex-occidente-press-real-time-reviews/

Landscape format, sewn hardcover with dust-jacket printed on heavy cardboard paper, cloth boards, gold folio, silk ribbon, end papers and full-color frontispiece (plus three further internal full-colour illustrations). There are 144 pages in total. The edition is limited to sixty copies of which this one is hand-numbered 20.

I am pleased to see this publisher (Dan Ghetu of Ex Occidente Press) is still prolific in publishing great books, contrary to what I was led to understand and as publicly anticipated by the publisher himself a few months ago. I hope the logistics of book delivery and authorial care have improved from what I was also led to believe publicly from various third parties some time ago. I’ve never needed to complain in respect of myself, I hasten to add.

===========================

THE HORNED TONGUE

I.

“…that particular night it took the shape of his pillow. No matter how he pummelled or kneaded its flesh it would not comply, it would not let him rest.”

You know, I feel an added frisson of claustrophobia and atmosphere reading such fiction in a  heavy-duty book (such as this) that I know will be owned by only 59 other people in the world. A secret written, a secret read. A secret told, a secret heard. A secret sparely shared. Here, (in 1960, in a city that has a Spui Square), a husband  – in a sort of retrocausal unrequited-love syndrome – seeks his missing wife in the way a famous detective may have done but, instead, heads (with his wife’s discovered diary in his hand) straight – via a sinister (spirtualist?) establishment and a meeting with a protagonist wielding more power over the story than perhaps Stephen J Clark himself wields – towards, I simply guess, a variety (as yet undetermined) of metafictional nightmare. (11 Jul 11)

II.

“…a samizdat version, a rough manuscript by an author called Mikhail Bulgakov,…”

Amid “junkyard effigies” or dummies or scarecrows (as markers), with shuddering Ligottian reminiscence, our wifeless protagonist is involved in some really insidious dealings and cross-commissions, and a book [that I’m sure Ex Occidente Press / Passport Levant itself could have published retrocausally for these truly haunting scenes (judging by that publisher’s erstwhile “Peacock Escritoire” &c. &c.)] leading to one of the most poignant moments I’ve encountered in weird literature featuring the statue of an urchin boy (in the hindsight of what had been said of it earlier). (11 Jul 11 – two and half hours later)

III.

“Be warned, he said, for when you speak the language of dreams others will distrust and shun you.”

This novella, I vouch, is a major work in weird literature.  It certainly does disturb and haunt in a very real way.  And if you felt the last section’s ending was poignant, the actual ending of the whole novella is even more so!  Almost unbearable.  But fulfilling for an oldening bookish man like me, in many ways — [Coupled with the intertextual horror of a book’s actual smothering grip of reality beyond its ‘book-ness’ that reminds me of many of the metafictional and non-metafictional stories in ‘The Horror Anthology of Horror Anthologies’ and, also, there is the stated context of a “small balcony“…]

“The words seemed to dance from the page into his mouth. He and the words became one.” (11 Jul 11 – another 90 minutes later)

THE LOST REACHES

I. “Its toy turrets, windows, balconies and roofs all contorted into perplexing angles,…”

A ‘pursued’ journey across the snow with wounded man – with deft hints of those in the party – towards a House [of Leaves??] wherein there is its own version of white-clad ‘snow’. An intriguing opening, absorbing a small band of readers, as if taking us into the house, too. (12 Jul 11) 

II. “…her face concealed by a mask and headdress that was a hybrid of peacock and owl…”

Exploring the isolated foundling house, amid grief about one of our number (and fresh-opened wine), and an oblique reference to a ‘Mr Schulz’ in our past, some of our group view paintings, one of which seems to be a vaguely retrocausal ‘mirror’ (my expression not the book’s, maybe not even the book’s concept at all). This writer certainly knows how to enthrall… (12 Jul 11 – seven hours later)

III & IV. “The artefacts seemed eager and restless they stirred in the shadows enticing her into making fresh correspondences, new memories from old,…”

Indeed, from two protagonal viewpoints, the foundling house either reflects our story already told or imposing a new story on us yet untold that we assume is an old story. There is some very fine prose of the weird literature school here, while the paintings themselves, their subject-matters etc, make their own correspondences. The house sits in my brain, almost. (12 Jul 11 – another 45 minutes later) 

V & VI. “This museum holds shadows of things that will be as well as shadows of things that once were.”

Intoxication by the house’s feral exterior interiorising – and by dint of vintage wine – and by urge of sensuality between man and woman – and by dint of pure literary intoxication – as I try to fathom the various forces of politics, land borders, wall trophies – and a didacticism or tradition of literature quite beyond me but now become part of me as something undidactic or untraditional, beyond me as well as within me.  Why has the word intoxication, I suddenly wonder, got ‘toxic’ built in?  Why slipper ‘slip’?  ‘Bruno’s Dream’. (12 Jul 11 – another 2 hours later)

VII & VIII. “There was another flash of light or skin through a break in the undergrowth,…”

This is rare or rarefied material that makes me think that real-time is not enough. I surely need to read this text again and again before committing ‘pen to paper’. Yet, I know I am riding this just once in a moment-of-now as if this is an inverse Proustian search for lost time, where lost time finds me rather than the other way about.   Doing a dervish dance through the corridors of Louvre paintings, with the frames and canvases coming off the walls into my my forcefield. Not sprinting, but spinning.  Except they’re the paintings I saw in St Petersburg last year, not those I saw in Paris in 1967.  The House of stiff Leaves thankfully embedded within hard board covers as a landscape of lost time rather than a portrait of now.  (12 Jul 11 – another hour later)

[Intermission: I have just learnt HERE that ‘The Horned Tongue’ is to be made available on-line. This is probably a good idea to obtain more readership for the author, but in many ways, for me, it’s the best of both worlds: because when I read it above (yesterday) I could genuinely say what I did say at that moment of now lost time and experience it then to the full accordingly! – (Meanwhile, I shall continue reading ‘The Lost Reaches’ another day.)] (12 Jul 11 – another 30 minutes later)

IX. “…the audience were the true source of the illusion.”

Forced to return tonight by the need to fulfil some renewed urge to read before going to bed – it is as if the foundling House has leaves of Vegetation towards a snowy Narnia – but here a filmic, painterly, weird, East European, self-contained, undidactic ambiance of fantasy not a Christian Allegory – a fantasy that reminds me of the day as a youth I always visited the cinema and they customarily had ‘continuous performances’, where the section of the film you watch after being shown to your seat by the usherette’s beaming torch is what you end watching just before you leave, say, from film’s midddle to middle, and you have had to work backwards to visualise the film in the correct order, by changing things, skipping motives, forgetting sadnesses, ditching happinesses, defragging politics and logic and history and desecration and holocaust … in some strange ritual of half-shafting screen-lit darkness, red embers and billowing cigarette smoke – and blindly snogging couples. (My erstwhile vision, not the book’s, but uncannily it is this book’s vision …later, perhaps. But tomorrow never has today’s vision.)  (12 Jul 11 – another 3 hours later)

X. “…it was crucial that they remained focussed on their knowledge of the borderland…”

This morning, back in the House proper, I seem to have woken from a remarkable dream (a dream mixed up with last night’s reading of this book – but was it the right book? Or is today’s the wrong one?) [Last night I had read but forgotten, it seems, by checking back today to the previous chapter: “…the audience had fallen asleep while watching the scene...”] Things today are no clearer to me, no less nightmarish (so, am I still dreaming that I have slept and awoken?), no less apolitical or undidactic, although I suspect the protagonists who have abandoned me in the House on this Borderland (couriers, debutantes, a bureaucrat etc) are highly political and didactic in their own terms of history, within their age, their reality. Many glass cases with curios in the darkness – some of which I burn to create a pattern or patterns with their residual power.  That I may not be there at all, but, instead, there is some  other ‘artist’ or ‘writer’ with a better (or at least better known) ‘reach’ than mine – or than yours (when or if you reach ‘The Lost Reaches’). (13 Jul 11)

XI & XII. “He dismissed the idea that he had been swallowed and slowly digested by the house.”

I submit myself further to this ‘insanely challenging’ reaching out toward the lost reaches of this quite amazing novella. ‘Self’ in jeopardy simply from reading another writer’s book?  Surely not. Guns, dogs, visions of giant birds, sprouting chandeliers, smashed balustrades, the destruction of fine art paintings, historical politics nobody has taught me, all to make me flounder further in this nightmare. [I do not intend ‘insanely challenging’ to be negative. Indeed, the very publisher of my recent first novel stated that novel to be ‘insanely challenging’ in a public blurb about it!] (13 Jul 11 – three hours later)

XIII & XIV. “Let us celebrate this last night. Tomorrow all this will be gone.”

All is as I wondered (even hoped) earlier, except please delete the word ‘almost’ from what I said yesterday and you will know to what I am referring if you re-read this review!  This novella I knew was rarefied stuff – and giant beetles may be only half of the story (as yet unmentioned!) – but it is so utterly rarefied and distilled from archetypes of nightmares nobody would wish to unearth, I feel unqualified (even fearful) to enhance or spoil it further. I shall read and review the third novella of this book in a few days’ time, assuming it will represent more such heady stuff that needs sipping rather than gorging upon.  “…black ink bubbling from their mouths.” —  “I remember all that is to come.” — “…stamped out under the heels of another history.” (13 Jul 11 – another 90 minutes later)

MY MISTRESS, THE MULTITUDE

I. “What will happen to me once I’ve said  all I have to say? And what will become of you?”

I sense I shall become part of a reflected bar scene from (or still within) an Auguste Renoir painting. Or I shall ever be exploring textured pages from Romania for clues as to why or how I “had forgotten how to live”?  This tale reminds me – a smidgeon – of the story “The Chymical Wedding of Des Esseintes” by Brendan Connell, where the protagonist is also led away from a bar or cafe by a stranger (as I recall) through a mazy city towards – perhaps to more than one place: an archetype of fetching through war machinations (as here) or through absurdity: a wild goose chase or the ultimate quest of how to start living again or simply to die in peace without the need to keep returning (as I have to this book today)?  I am feeling my way. Indeed, as in the previous novella, feeling my way (with a definite frisson) towards a House… (A House and a Countess?) [And Nemec – a form of Nemo?] (15 Jul 11)

II. “Who will paint my portrait? Am I to be forgotten?”

This is 1939 in Prague, I’m told. But it seems like today, the House again imprisoned inside my head – and, despite a different or subterfugic voice, there seems no escaping it by erstwhile delay, perhaps not even by permanent delay (a definition of eternity?). And the book’s overall title ‘The Bestiary of Communion’ crystallises…. (15 Jul 11 – two hours later)

III. “‘Something must be lost. That is the way with pacts. Something must be given. Something must be sacrificed,’…”

Like Ex Occidente Press itself?  Beautiful books and their reading legacy but also their potential mis-synergy with life entailed in their logistics of production, delivery and receipt – and their reflected authorship-by-abstemious-numbers?  Returning to the story itself – I recall the aforementioned Connell story was a fetching toward a marriage – and here there are echoes of that with the Countess who appears as a painting or, rather, a potential drawing of her by the protagonist. Indeed, there are four pieces of striking artwork in this book by the author. Meanwhile, with some fictionalised relief, I think at least the reader has escaped the House (or vice versa) if not, upon eventual re-reading, the protagonist himself by remaining imprisoned by crystallisation of the prose (always there to be re-read and lived through again, on these heavy-duty pages, within this stolid, stoical, eternal book). (15 Jul 11 – another 45 minutes later)

IV & V. “Only the devout are allowed into the castle on the hill to pay tribute to a man on a high balcony.”

Perhaps the best of all possible both worlds, being allowed to regularly visit the House and the Countess, without feeling imprisoned. Tempered (good-tempered as well as bad-tempered) by a ‘worsening’ of the nightmares … and by what I understand of the real history of the place-and-time being revisited upon us (so that we can exorcise it by communion with it?). [Compare the other book I’m simultaneously reviewing by inadvertence of randomness: “There is something disconcerting about standing alone in a space that was built for a crowd.” – from ‘The Exorcist’s Travelogue’ by George Berguño.] (15 Jul 11 – another hour later)

VI & VII. “The prisoner seems to have no recollection of the previous night.”

During an extended, powerful rite-of-passage – from continuous-performance cinema (a Full House), and almost literally with his (my) Eyes Wide Shut, and led by a Magus (as from John ‘Nemo’ Fowles: Otakar or even the publisher of these books himself?) – we enter a recurring deja-vu of the Bestiary of Communion and the destruction, then creation of Art – here (again? or deja-vu?) creating a portrait in this landscape book of the female in an (idealised?) frame or the female in ourselves-as-men: and I would be grateful for a female reader of this book to give their own take on this.  But, perhaps no need, as we all are upon a spectrum of gender. Just as there is a spectrum of cruelty in any war or unkind act. The same spectrum of cruelty, too, in any period of peace or in any kind act. (15 Jul 11 – another 90 minutes later)

VIII & IX. “Mr Nemec, soon we will disappear together, further and further into this house.”

Having now read this book’s final recurring sections [and please, one day, cf: my recent novel’s separate sections Nemonymous Navigation  and Nemonymous Night] I merely need to say, “I rest my case”.  From the Book-as-Horror-or-House in the Bestiary’s first novella, we now have the House of Houses, the Horror of Horrors, i.e. the horror owned or published recurringly by the intrinsic archetype nightmare: the noumenon of nightmare that this book attempts to nail (yes, attempts and it remains to be seen whether it may have succeeded).  To know the worst, however, is also to know the best. An important book to read before you die. (15 Jul 11 – another hour later)

END

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Old Albert: An Epilogue – by Brian J Showers

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

And it is of ‘Old Albert – An Epilogue’ by Brian J Showers (Passport Levant MMXI). A book I purchased from the publisher.

There is no guarantee how long it will take to complete this review, whether days or years. Indeed, this is said with the knowledge that a busy Season is afoot and many people have calls upon my time. So I do not wish any of you interested in this review to keep returning to this page and finding nothing added. However, I do not know how to resolve this problem ….

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/

All my Ex Occidente Press (Passport Levant) real-time reviews here: https://nullimmortalis.wordpress.com/2010/09/24/ex-occidente-press-real-time-reviews/

Landscape format, sewn hardcover with dust-jacket printed on textured cardboard paper, cloth boards, gold folio, silk ribbon, end papers and full-colour frontispiece. There are 55 pages excluding exterior pages that bear, inter alia, ‘A Note to the Reader’ by Jim Rockhill, End Notes and Bibliography, all three of which (in accordance with my normal practice) I shall not read until I’ve reviewed the fiction work itself.

The edition is limited to sixty copies of which this one is hand-numbered 20.

 I am pleased to see this publisher (Dan Ghetu of Ex Occidente Press) is still prolific in publishing great books, contrary to what I was led to understand a few months ago.  I hope the logistics of book delivery and authorial care have improved from what I was also led to believe some time ago.  I’ve never needed to complain in respect of myself, I hasten to add.

==========================

I. Prologue

“…you just may be able to make out the shape of a tower.”

Surrounded by words in workmanlike description of the history / buildings of the Dublin (Rathmines Road) locality is a schoolyard rhyme that itself surrounds ‘Old Albert’.  I am surrounded, too, by memories – somehow – of Elizabeth Bowen’s book Bowen’s Court that is workmanlike to create a distantly felt poetry from its Irish location and in its perceived nostalgia, too.  If I am not too much mistaken. (9 Jul 11)

II. Ellis Grimwood of Larkhill

“…he shifted his focus from Passeriformes (perching birds) to Charadriiformes (seabirds, generally).”

As emerging from the tail-end of the Prologue’s ‘surroundings’, an enthralling account of the house Larkhill in the 1840s and the ornithologist who took it over, followed by a visit to him from Sheridan Le Fanu narrated  by the visitor himself – and mysterious ‘end’-papers of the chapter vis a vis the ornithologist and his changing bird-habits and his death (the  pages are very stiff). I’ve delightfully no idea where this is taking me. Whether the chapters are separate incidents to be told in this book of the said locality or to be tied into a gestalt, that I was planning to do in any event? It is serendipitous that I have already decided not concurrently to consult the ‘End’-Notes (that are really distant Foot-Notes) because I can relish this, without them, as part of the Synchronised Shards of Random Truth & Fiction – not as either discrete Fiction or discrete Fact.  This may be the wisest thing I do today. And I’ve been doing a lot of unwise things lately. At the end of this chapter, I suspect, is a slippage into meta-fiction, if you can call cardboard boxes of books meta-fiction at all…? (9 Jul 11 – ninety minutes later)

III: This Terrible, This Unnatural Crime

“…it was not uncommon for hearsay to smoulder in Dublin’s drinking establishments.”

And I’ve poured out a glass of wine to ensure this book becomes a drinking establishment – quite aptly, in the light of that quote, it turns out.   A henry-fielding-esque intruded-upon visit to an island a distance from the book’s central locality – and a marital tragedy – and a possible hearsay connection of the wife’s death with our ornithologist. Hearsay without careful investigation of the truth behind the fiction can be cruelly unjust to the innocent, it turns out. The possible moral of this chapter, if not of my review. Enjoying it immensely, whatever the case. (9 Jul 11 – another 2 hours later)

IV. An Exaltation of Skylarks

“Walker was known in Dublin and the surrounding country estates for locating and importing the world’s finest wines.”

…which seems apt in view of what I mentioned imbibing earlier!  He even has a wine shop in Aungier Street.  But, seriously, this is a great chapter of happiness, less happiness, then conflict, finally horror, between a married couple with shadows of Mrs Rochester and shades of Yellow Wallpaper – in the Larkhill House of this book’s erstwhile threaded-through yore – a social society built on the wine trade, then the perfect trilling like birds by the wife’s admired singing, the husband’s jealousy and, eventually, Larkhill House threatened by Lovecraftianisation. Marital bliss does not seem to thrive in this book … so far. As overshadowed by locality, locality, locality. (9 Jul 11 – another 3 hours  later)

V. Thin and Brittle Bones

“In 1837 Rathmines was described in Samuel Lewis’s Topographical Dictionary of Ireland as ‘a considerable village and suburb of Dublin…'”

For a village to be part of city is like a phenomenon I can’t quite define in literature.  Author and readership? Perhaps others will suggest ideas to me.  In any event we now have location, location, location (an English (Irish?) expression for the crux of a property sale) – as we follow Larkhill House through the late 19th century to the early twentieth, involving a school, a ‘sexy’ theosophical society, a school again – and a discovery, hidden in this text’s reported intertext, that resonates, for me, like indefinable foreboding Aickmanery and the book’s erstwhile birds and their female bird-warbler. Meanwhile, I also sense an overweening force – that henry-fielding-esque intruder who may be the author or who may not be the author but masquerading as him. (9 Jul 11 – another hour later)

VI. Come Like Shadows, So Depart

“The contents of these boxes…”

I am the reader village in the city of patterns evolving, shaping, dawning towards dusk – and, despite an important withdrawal of omniscience by the narrator/author (about the whereabouts of one of the protagonists) – a fact that makes me shudder about whom I’m dealing with here, in this last chapter – I think I know how to cope with the ending. Just.

A perfect ending, very well-written, encapsulating all that I was trying – sometimes with blind readerly instinct – to trace above…  but I dare not hide spoilers too easy to seek out.  Just that it is as difficult to tell a story in the language of silent words as it is….  but that would be telling, indeed.  That schoolyard rhyme now flown home to roost.

‘Wine.’ I obliged him and poured him a glass,…” (9 Jul 11 – another two and half hours later)

[I think that is the first time I’ve completed a whole real-time review of a book in one day.]

END OF REVIEW (no more, villagers).

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The ‘Star’ Ushak – by Louis Marvick

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

And it is of ‘The ‘Star’ Ushak’ by Louis Marvick (Ex Occidente Press MMX). A book I purchased from the publisher.

There is no guarantee how long it will take to complete this review, whether days or years. Indeed, this is said with the knowledge that a busy Season is afoot and many people have calls upon my time. So I do not wish any of you interested in this review to keep returning to this page and finding nothing added. However, I do not know how to resolve this problem ….

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/

All my Ex Occidente Press (Passport Levant) real-time reviews here: https://nullimmortalis.wordpress.com/2010/09/24/ex-occidente-press-real-time-reviews/

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Chapter I: Ilona Golmassian

Did you notice the carpet?”

I am not an expert on whodunnits or detective fiction, but this novel starts brilliantly for me (and incredibly!) with a carpet.  A murder upon it, blood sucked out, an article previousy bought by the victim, strange paperwork connected with the article, investigations started with those who sold the article, and a romance in the offing?  Exotic and supernatural undercurrents and perhaps, to my naive eyes, Chandleresque, so far. The style is engagingly textured and I am involuntarily trapped, desirous to continue… (4 Jul 11)

Chapter II: Backstage at the Amphitryon 

“Was it possible that the carpet itself had somehow influenced us to ignore it?”

It has dawned on me that it is difficult to conduct  a real-time review of a (seeming) whodunnit novel, unsure as I am of the pitfalls of ‘spoiling’ it and inexperienced as I am in such plots’ mechanics. So I shall tread carefully.  Suffice to say, that this is plot is intensely fascinating. Particularly to one like me who has also fictionalised a carpet, i.e. in my only published novel. It is almost as if I am embroiled in the plot myself.  Indeed, there is a highly inscrutable I-narrator, involved up to the hilt in the plot’s action, who could well be me, for all I know. The characterisation of the investigators and of the people being investigated over the Professor’s murder, other than, of course, that I-narrator, is superbly conveyed, and draws the reader in. I’m not sure if it is Chandleresque, after all.  More Fu Man Chu?  I don’t know. Early days. But it is exotic and animistic, particulalrly about the carpet. And there is a theatrical scene towards the end of this chapter that is cinematic – with a glamour lady changing behind her dressing-room screen while talking to  the investigators. I’m loving this book, although, by rights, I shouldn’t be – based on my taste in fiction before reading this novel. (4 Jul 11 – another 4 hours later)

[The novelist’s photograph at the beginning of the book depicts a gentleman who looks like the exact blending of myself and my oldest friend whom I first met when we were both aged 11 in 1959 at Colchester Royal Grammar School.] (4 Jul 11 – another 10 minutes later)

Chapter III: I Do Not See Her Face

“The first would be that she had, as it were, two voices – one inside the other.”

I think I must wash my hands of some of what I’ve said already!  This is not a whodunnit, as such, but a what-is-it! Now, more a deeply startling treatment of social perspective in a restaurant, serious music appreciation through studious dialogue and images relating to what faces give off or not vis-a-vis ‘identity’, plus surreal/Magrittean perceptions that may be real, reminding me of Elizabeth Bowen fiction (and a story that was in the ‘Null Immortalis’ anthology: i.e.  ‘Violette Doranges’ by David V. Griffin) and much more. I think (yet again!) I’ve synchronously hit upon a very special book as part of my real-time reviewing regime. A where-doth-it-lead-me novel, rather than a what-I-first-thought. Given time, it may even turn its pages itself. (4 Jul 11 – another 2 hours later)

Chapter IV: The Gardens of Sargon

“We are merely playing with the facts of the case as we have them, to see how they might fit together.”

Eureka! This is Sherlock Holmes blended with ‘The Beetle’ by Richad Marsh!  Or is it? Is it the need to scry a  street-brawler’s encrypted shouting? There’s a lot of pleasant reading work afoot in this continuously fascinating enigma of a novel. (4 Jul 11 – another 3 hours later)

Chapter V: The Deserted Flat

“The stupid girl said she felt it shift beneath her feet.”

Investigation into the private diary (hinting of insidious doings) of the carpet’s previous owner – leads to a deserted flat with slanting light as if in a Vermeer painting – and a hidden cracked niche or loophole within Yellow Wallpaper or in Bergotte’s yellow patch on the Proustian wall … (all my meanderings, not the book’s) – or is that me here as reader, or me in the book?  Bear with me. This book does strange things. Meanwhile, behind the wall, something unutterably sad…? (4 Jul 11 – another 2 hours later)

Chapter VI: Encounter on the Embankment

Pages 68 – 74

“‘Seems to me you should make up a list of what you know and what you don’t know,’ she observed, when I had shared with her something of my perplexity in the Ushak case. ‘Mr Stout, God rest him, always said it helped to get things down on paper.'”

Indeed, and despite some accidents with time today, I’m still eager to get on with this book and fathom out the true nature of the carpet or rug and its connection with Marlowe’s Tamburlaine….  itemising options.

“At a way-station on his return from Agra hundreds of victims were put to death before him, their slaughtered bodies left to rot upon the rug…” (5 Jul 11 – 7 pm British Summer Time)

Pages 75 -87

“…how could I be sure that any of my thoughts were my own?”

This is certainly becoming – as I already suspected – a very high-class supernaturally-atmospheric detective-fiction novel of the old school, yet with an edge of mid to late 20th century European literature and other ever striking breaking-news of character (villain / hero), dream or vision, sexual jealousy, cinematic glamour / romance, synchronous confluxes of past and present eventualities etc. – and the imagined or real animism of objects.  The I-narrator is now full-fledged merely by my empathy with the things he says, describes and reports others saying  – and through what he imparts telepathically to me… (6 Jul 11)

Chapter VII: Timúr the Lame

“…this web of connections which we have been struggling to explain…”

Events reported and re-reported that seem to be forming a pattern – including a breaking news report, for me, straight out of Cern Zoo – keep this whole panoply of cohering events as a Bach partita but one constituted of tigers, tags, pieces, misunderstandings, ruggish rumours, scars … amid my Watsonish mistreads on a Holmes-ish carpet of intellect… and didn’t Tamburlaine keep his captives of war in cages (my question, not the book’s). (6 Jul 11 – four hours later)

Chapter VIII: Crime or Art?

“But an author whose characters were living human beings?”

…and whose readers are his characters, I wondered?  I confess I have not read the play – ‘Tamburlaine the Great’ by Christopher Marlowe. I know of it and feel I know what it’s like.  I was meant to study it once but it somehow slipped through my destiny and I studied something else instead.  Stylistics and Linguistics took over; words became living things, not characters.  But I know somehow that, throughout it all, it would subsist, over the years. Eventually for me to read this book, this chapter, tonight, this pivot of fiction, and Tamburlaine and the words that erected him on the page would begin to exercise their due influence – over forty years too late.  Another accident  with time?  Meanwhile, is it merely a coincidence that Marlowe and Marvick share Mar…? Apocalyptic Horrors hang on each word….(6 Jul 11 – another 2 hours later) 

Chapter IX: Margot Lavender

“Both portraits seemed perversely to thwart the purpose for which portraits are generally made, namely that of resembling their subjects and no one else.”

The opening and subsequently central carpet was one thing but now with characters as fluid forces, I feel a personal strong uncanny connection with this  novel via my own novel. Also, for me, Marvick’s novel seems to me to be a major crafted exhibition of the art of ‘Magic Fiction and Magic Reality within the Ominous Imagination’ as well as ‘The Synchronised Shards of Random Truth and Fiction’. Meanwhile, the plot increasingly concerns an arch-illusionist with the characters as extras in an ‘art happening’ who may turn out to be those who make extras of the main characters, if not spear-carriers!  Not forgetting the woven thrust of the Detective Fiction yarn itself and also without giving too much away as a plot-spoiler where the actual reviewer is a character in the plot itself. (7 Jul 11)

Chapter X: Discovery in the Reading Room

“I have felt that the fabric of the world around me was stretched very thin.”

Wasn’t Sherlock Holmes a dark force, I seem to recall. I’m not expert, but let that hang in the air in the light of this chapter. I wonder what his carpet was like in Baker Street?  I cannot say too much for fear of spoilers, but rest assured I am thoroughly admiring of this most absorbing plot whither I know not it goes….or where in its weave I shall end up. (7 Jul 11 – another 4 hours later)

Chapter XI: Emmerich Waldteufel

“We’ll find ‘im down by Wapping Old Stairs, I expect, this time o’ the evenin’.”

Wapping is involved with a major news item in the UK today. Also Wapping and Whitechapel were a stamping-ground of mine during the early seventies.  The book seems to have an involution for those who read it – as we also follow a protagonist tempted by the thought of beauty and glamour in the fair sex, and other concerns with the pattern of Literary Aesthetics that begins strait-carpet (as opposed to strait-jacket) the plot and counterplot, friend and counter-friend, of this atmospheric, sometimes reeking, story. (8 Jul 11)

Chapter XII: At The Hippodrome

“Notice how cleverly he dances on the line between truth and fiction.”

…and I don’t mean just the author, but the reader, too! The grand climax it seems – and wow! – without giving too much away – it’s a sort of Frankenstein ‘workshop of filthy creations’ vis a vis Aesthetics (Music, Literature, Theatre, Fine Art, ‘Carpetry’…) in a grand theatrical extravaganza full of light and dark serendipities of destiny, as characters continue their strobe of identity. And, unwittingly, I mentioned something earlier with regard to Tamburlaine that comes to within the fruition of bars here. [And the thematic cross-synchronicities with my own novel are staggering while the vast differences with it remain paramount. Just a symptom of this novel’s masterly involution of effect?] (8 Jul 11 – two hours later)

[Epilogue:“One grows tired of a narrator who unfailingly defers to other possibilities.” — “Is there not a deeper thrill to be had in meeting the glance of a woman one passes in the street and never sees again than in gazing for long minutes into one’s mistress’s eyes?” — “…’we’re Englishmen, remember. We prefer to pretend that there is no such thing as a “deep thrill”….'” — “That was necessary, I take it, to make the carpet grow. When we first saw it, the wool was plump, like tissue,…” — “…the old lady selling apples in Jermyn Street looked like Mrs Stout, and Mrs Stout like someone else.” — “…the reports that disappeared from the newspapers,…” — “Just leave the next page blank.”.  — “It sounds drearily Wagnerian, I know but I haven’t quite grown tired of it yet,…”]

“Let me begin by inviting you to consider what the words ‘text’ and ‘textile’ really mean.” END (8 Jul 11 – another 3 hours later)

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Allurements of Cabochon – by John Gale

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

And it is of ‘Allurements of Cabochon’ by John Gale (Passport Levant MMXI). A book I purchased from the publisher.

There is no guarantee how long it will take to complete this review, whether days or years. Indeed, this is said with the knowledge that a busy Season is afoot and many people have calls upon my time. So I do not wish any of you interested in this review to keep returning to this page and finding nothing added. However, I do not know how to resolve this problem ….

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/

All my Ex Occidente Press (Passport Levant) real-time reviews here: https://nullimmortalis.wordpress.com/2010/09/24/ex-occidente-press-real-time-reviews/

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Publisher’s on-line details about the book: “sewn hardcover with dust-jacket printed on deluxe heavy paper, cloth boards, gold and silver folio, silk ribbon, end papers and full-color frontispiece.”

It is landscape format, a heavy-duty page paper, dust-wrapper and board covers, highly aesthetic to my taste, 220 pages. Restricted to 60 copies, mine being hand-numbered 20 (nicely coincidental with the same handwritten number in my similar edition of Charles Schneider’s ‘The Mauve Embellishments’).

The Unpassing Sorrow of Lady Winter

“And I have watched her, Lady Winter, climb to the summit of a needle tower, the balustrade as delicate, as intricate as white lace…”

A fraternal survey of season’s circles – when grappling with Winter’s feminine entrapments – via an antique “pearlescent” prose seriously to die for … blending – unsubstantiatably from my own resources – wafts of Swinburne, a poetic Lovecraft, Dunsany, MP Shiel, Beddoes, blending them with a unique Wintry Gale. [On a completely personal note, the ‘balustrade’ reminds me of both Salustrade and my own last balcony.  Also the Crimson King on his Dark Tower balcony.] (1 Jul 11)

The House of Silent Ravens

“…worm-burrowed balconies of rosewood that are upheld upon the strong, carven shoulders of marmoreal satyrs.”

Please add Poe to that earlier list – and Clark Ashton Smith. I’m trying to home in on the essential Gale and both its visible and invisible currents … but I keep returning to some prose essence richer than I have ever experienced before and I have yet to decide whether too rich, seriously overdosing as I am on gorgeousness and corruption – and on words stranger than arcane neologisms, yet a strangeness retaining itself and an antique reality of actual dusted-off words with some form of dust still clinging.  No, not overdosing, simply pigging myself, to the lexic limits, upon guilty air-/ earth-borne mind-and body-felt literary pleasure.  This substantial story is involved with Gothic love and jealousy and a were-Raven … birdflesh in unholy hawly alliance with humanflesh.  Plus feline reincarnation.  And the ‘Synchronised Shards of Random Truth & Fiction’: “A  reconstructed reality: events that were shattered and their fragments pulled back together again to form a fallacy of horrible fantasy.” (1 Jul 11 – two hours later)

Ashghul

“The being, the thing so thin and pale, hueless as bloodless bone, reached Lord Kandar and he felt it like a cold wind resting on him.”

I’m still overdosing on synaesthetic antique prose, yet I feel this story is symbolic of inscrutable Ex Occidente Press. A slithy tove / an irresistible sexy androgyne – teasing me….. Indeed, without Dan’s many books in recent months, my life would have seemed impoverished, yet, equally, I feel the drawbacks (perceived or reported) have also given me needed perspective and a new backbone within my literary soul.  This particular story encapsulates all that — (whenever it was written – and I am not reading the story notes that I’ve already spotted at the end of the book until I’ve reviewed all the stories themselves).  It is as if retrocausality works boths ways, like the most efficient filters. Meantime, this particular story is a CASian gem. (1 Jul 11 – another 3 hours later)

A Rhapsody for the Goddess of Autumn

“And yes, I have tasted the rosehip wine of them, the blackberry syrup of them, those lips of soft rose petals, for I am the Princess of Autumn.”

A prose poem in the guise of a fictional performance, a refrain or incantation that, for me, is a vessel for the continuing synaesthetic glut of words turned into sapphic kisses via a threnody by Rutland Boughton accompanying words by Fiona Macleod. (1 Jul 11 – another 3 hours later)

In Autumn Sempiternal – A Triptych

“…gusting winter breezes driving along herds of sere autumn leaves still dreaming of their late fires of amber and gold, porphyry and orpiment,…”

This is an exquisite (I’m running out of words to describe the utter antique richness of this book’s prose), yes, an exquisite theme and variations on a triptych that I imagine having been painted by a painter-equivalent of Théophile Gautier – variations extrapolating upon the ‘story’ before, behind and beyond: touching on seasons, decay, death, sensuality, forbiddenness, precious or over-indulgent stones, cushions and desiccations, perfumes and dreams – for me, an atrophy and trophy of decadence alike…  [I was told, on the grapevine, to sip these stories slowly.  But if I have time to do so amid domestic matters, I do not intend equally to let time waste in case I die before finishing the book. In any case, I enjoy over-dosing on such prose as its plush layers carpet each other in the slowly forgetting mind of age.] (2 Jul 11)

Phulygia’s Song of Ebony

But now this prose poem majors upon telling me to “wait and dream“!  Too late, I have already embarked on this … (the word I’ve been searching for) … rapture. Ensorcelled rapture, perhaps.  And this rapturous song relays, inter alia, “…misty dawns of madreperl rich with the flautists of jewel-feathered birds.”  (2 Jul 11 – two hours later)

The Final Ward (with Margaret Russell)

“…hangings of white silk moved by soft-handed breezes.”

Judging by the seeming dual by-line above, the Gale has been soft-handed by the Breeze. But, no, this is the most frightening story so far, where the woman – seeking sorcerous tuition from the Lord Kandra in his fundamented halls – fails in her mission and is genied or geased within a vessel for seeming eternities … with anger growing as only a woman’s anger can grow. (By the way, I will not continue to mention the rapturous prose as it seems to weave through all the book’s plots and themes and poeticks like a loom of dark light. But, here, we have the epithet: “phantom-rich” – that both startles and unsettles and I don’t know why. Oh so wrong. Yet oh so right.) (2 Jul 11 – another 90 minutes later)

Fallen are the Domes of Green Amber

“…he came to the encircling balustrade at the tower’s apex.”

This story’s title seems to be a haunting refrain to remind us of unrequited love – nay, unrequited life – for evermore. But, then, a “sudden soft breeze” intervenes and we realise this story’s quincunx of movements is an exact companion piece for the previous story with retrocausality defeating itself via the easing of a two-way filter rather than by more stringent parthenogenetic mis-synergy – and, here, the genied or geased vessel is the loved woman’s own head!  A tale of “sweet anguish“. Regret and rumour.  Again I should not need to mention the attractive glut of antiqologisms within the resplendent prose – but here I was rattled by commoner words: “the caressing fingernails of ghosts”. (2 Jul 11 – another hour later)

The Moon of Obsession

“His imagination soared on wide pinions of fire, his soul flamed,…”

Not that it is appropriate to have favourite movements in this overall symphony of sublime decadent literature (sublime in the sense of awe-inspiring rather than the more modern term used by cinema-goers when they see a film that they liked) – and, indeed, this short piece probably benefits from the complex audit trail hencefar – so I won’t call it my favourite (however temporary), but, rather, a precious, susceptible-to-the-five-senses ambivalence of a (partially sensual) yearning for an impossible antiquity made actually possible by steeping oneself to an utterly extreme degree in that antiquity by means of a deep and textured fiction-prose, a yearning symbolised here by a desire to kiss the moon, underpinned or enclosed by fearful, fanciful, fantastical, often morbid, yet paradoxically truth-contextualising, vessels of entrapment in contiguity with the book’s soul. The art of fiction in extremis. The ominous imagination in positive overdrive. (2 Jul 11 – another 2 hours later)

Ashes of the Phoenix

“He groaned as the wind violently whipped the ancient stone of the castle.  The groan was repeated, and the castle seemed to bend, twist fluidly before the assault of the moaning wind and the hyaline rain.”

That quote seems to encapsulate the book so far.  Mineral – a word I inserted in the previous section of this review before I deleted it upon publication of that section – as the precious construction of reality by stones, precious or otherwise, the moon, the perfumes, oils, the chrysoberyls et al that make our world of soul with substance and vice versa, just by being words (and words have ink in antiquity) – and now the Phoenix turning to the mineral of ashes. This book itself – its board covers – have you seen them, they beggar belief! – and the dust-wrapper, chequered in textured black – all impervious to fire by the look of them. Impervious to Death itself. Impervious even to our Planet’s Fate. (2 Jul 11 – another 2 hours later)

I have only just started the next story in the book – it’s quite a long one so I may not finish it before going to bed – but, leading on from the previous story, I can’t resist referring you to this quote I made  a few years ago from ‘Martin Pippin in the Apple Orchard’ – HERE. (2 Jul 11 – another 45 minutes later)

Betrothed of Winter

I could not leave today until finishing this story.  It is worth buying the book if simply for this alone. A culmination, too, of everything that has gone before – telling of the return of a youthful haunting to the mature churchly man, the return as if from a feminine genie out of Winter’s frozen ‘vessel’ of snow and ice (prefigured in the very first story and elsewhere)  – then leading to the last six words of the story — “spoiler quote” (click this when you’ve finished the story) — that naturally lead from what precedes this story more immediately.  [It is the beginning of July as I write this review, (i.e still the long evenings of the year) and I have sat in the still sun-filled garden while I finished the story, feeling my brain actually bloom and burn in my skull at the high-gearing needed to absorb and appreciate this momentous story.  An experience similar to when I first read ‘Martin Pippin in the Apple Orchard’ all those years ago – and that’s a major compliment to this book but it is a book that needs my now maturer self to cope with, i.e. just before I start fading back to a second childhood on the brink of this Autumn of my days!  [This book with its own iconostasis  coming down like  a safety-curtain within Ombria’s church … till I pick this book up again, hopefully tomorrow].] (2 Jul 11 – another 2 hours later)

The Votaries of Autumn – A Portrait in Bronze and Vermilion

“…adyta of malachite that are filled with the friable debris of the ages and dusts that were laid down uncounted centuries ago,…”

Aptly, after my ‘Autumnal’ thoughts last night, this piece reveals itself as an ominously, yet inspirationally, theatrical prose-paean in Wagnerian-Parsifal-yet-more-feminine mode to the  Goddess of Autumn. [I feel cumulatively attuned – even affixed – to this book as if it is, even now, sinking its roots, from above, into the tangled branches of my brain amid the promise (or threat) of “gales that violently play the high limbs of the trees together like darkened old bone“.] (3 Jul 11)

Lord of the Porphyry Nenuphar – A Nocturne

This is no mere Chopin Nocturne, unless Chopin… Well, let’s not go there. Meanwhile, I sense that the book’s prose is becoming  even richer, if that were possible, as if I have needed to be tutored with the refrain or incantation of rare and beautiful antiqologisms time and time again – thus tutored by earlier stories to reach and properly experience this milestone of a story, one that is so utterly ominous, blushing with sexual ambivalence and jackdaw-retributional, amid “death-fragranced gardens“, near the Dark Tower type edifice that inspired Wagner, Browning, Orson Welles, Stephen King,  Mark Samuels, where – as in “Betrothed of Winter” – a curse or previous haunting  returns to the protagonist (here a Prince)…and the implications for us are diverted for a while by the sound of the “winds of autumn to blow over flotillas of amber,  cerise and aureate leaves and to send them scurrying and whispering strange and curious things along the elongated streets.” but only if you return to the beginning of the story to re-live it, something I shall resist. If I can. (3 Jul 11 – another 90 minutes later)

Aevernia, My Lady of Reflections

“This haunted mansion whose towers ascend into infinities of ancient twilights and cold oceans of sunfalls.”

The Galean refrains and incantations continue to grow like incessant music, not minimal music like Glass, but maximal music but still just as relentlessly repetitive (in a good way) and coming in waves upon waves of itself – becoming madder, or is it me merely becoming madder because of them, while they remain as sane as ever?  This is a dark paean to unrequited love.  Unutterably rich with words.  My journey with this physically impervious book – judging by the number of stiff pages remaining in it – is drawing to its conclusion with me eventually at my maddest point, I predict … if I can still predict for much longer! (3 Jul 11 – another 2 hours later)

Fires of Remembrance

“…all, even the slaves, wore silks,  furs, and jewels.” 

Even this book’s conjunctions, prepositions and pronouns.  Meanwhile, Lord Kandra again – a symbol for the author? obsessed with wandering realms of Decadence in search of Death where Death surely must lurk? – perhaps, but the seasoned literary theory of the Intentional Fallacy intervenes, of course.  I am clearer, however, that he is a symbol for the Reader who is caught in the web of this book, as I am.  And so will you be, if you’re not already.  The book itself is the geased and genied vessel, not the supposed vessels heretofore? (3 Jul 11 – another 45 minutes later)

Reverie at Twilight (From The Garden of Dreams by Peter Madley)

“…he instinctively knew that what he had lost would be found here;…”

This book is a pure Heaven of Literature, threaded with oxymoron emotions.  This story seems a relief somewhat that we are not truly trapped.  It is a masterpiece of release by close affinitisation.  The protagonist, I guess, finds Machen’s ‘Fragment of Life’. I, myself, find or re-find Elizabeth Bowen’s ‘Mysterious Kôr’ and Eleanor Farjeon’s ‘Martin Pippin in the Apple Orchard’. We shall all find what we individually seek in this story, as adumbrated (and this is the crucial bit) by the foregoing context within this book.  Meanwhile, the incantations or refrains persist, even throughout this ‘release’! (3 Jul 11 – another hour later.)

The Green Lady Pavilion

“…allured him with its emerald spell, for spell it turned out to be.”

Allured me too with its glinting polish set in gorgeous vintage intaglio.  Meanwhile, this is the crowning release from the book – the book’s coda – a charming, slightly self-mocking, traditional weird or ghost tale of a cricket pavilion – an English pastoral music upon banks of green willow – with moments of the Land of Faery at the edge of reality (there threaded with this book’s delightful dark-and-light-rapture plus those hallmark antiqologisms for the madreperl-count) – and a cloven-hoofed woman  both enticing and repelling by dint of her needs.  This book may have mixed feelings for an underlying eroticism but often drowned out by the resplendency of Death and its accoutrements.  I needed to pig myself on this book. It was a sort of a ‘dare’ to myself. I nearly didn’t survive. I also needed to drench myself in its music, finish it before I died. I’ve never had that degree of urgency before with any book. Either I feel I’m getting older and more vulnerable to sudden discoveries of the treasure that Death may bring with it – and this book was simply an advance part of that treasure — or the book itself had this inescapable urgency built into it.  Whatever the case, it has been a significant read, even given the burning in my brain.

“…like a well-aged and dusted bottle of wine: it needs to be savoured lingeringly.”

I shall now read the Story Notes for the first time but as I never review non-fiction, I will not be back here again to tell you what I thought about them. END (3 Jul 11 – another hour later)

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The Mauve Embellishments – by Charles Schneider

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

And it is of ‘The Mauve Embellishments’ by Charles Schneider (Passport Levant MMXI).  A book I purchased from the publisher.

There is no guarantee how long it will take to complete this review, whether days or years. Indeed, this is said with the knowledge that a busy Season is afoot and many people have calls upon my time. So I do not wish any of you interested in this review to keep returning to this page and finding nothing added. However, I do not know how to resolve this problem ….

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/

All my Ex Occidente Press (Passport Levant) real-time reviews here: https://nullimmortalis.wordpress.com/2010/09/24/ex-occidente-press-real-time-reviews/

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This is an exquisite landscape-configured artifact of the highest treebook standards of yore – complete with a beautiful dream-haunting illustration in colour for each of the many items or stories, as my quick breeze through its leaves has so far attested.

Bascade Bay – A Grotesque Confessional  Tale involving The Muslin Nonedscript by “Q”

“… paper machè clown-head.”

 I have been warned on the grapevine to sip these stories with the slow-savoured meticulousness that they deserve. And, indeed, whether by dint of my earlier waiting-room reading circumstances or through an intention within me that ignores such circumstances, I have only read the first story so far and then lived to  dwell on its discreteness – and it is one that prevails gem-like in the mind (helped by its illustration) regarding  a theatrical revenge and human-outsized puppetry that led me later to the sea near my home in hope of rescuing the plot’s worthy victim just to spite the happy-ending narrator! (22 Jun 11)

Osmiae Occularum: Field Notes

This story as brief journal notes makes me think that each artwork and item of text are mutually organic: and this particular symbiosis proves the meticulous care required to scry insect-scrobble for monstrousness as well as beauty: i.e. to establish the sip of reading … causing  the sentence – “It took me half a century to understand what he meant.” – to become retrocausal. (23 Jun 11)

In Situ

“The Bookbinder-Taxidermist sets about preserving your  face. Your head.”

I am sort of speechless at this incredible prose poem. It’s so personal to me, synchronous, serendipitous….  Vis-a-vis the multi-authored book I’m about to publish next month (the HA of HA) and its already decided-upon cover image of a human head of print emerging from a book!! And vis-a-vis ‘The Last Balcony’: “the finishing of your ultimate artistic statement”. I simply can’t write a neutral review of ‘In Situ’ and its bespoke artwork. (23 Jun 11 – four hours later)

Hybrid Revel

“Heard whispers of the growling Garbrilathes.”

A line from this poem that will at least give Google its first Garbrilathe meat of meaning to chew on.  A Poem and its Picture – a hybrid Uccello. (23 Jun 11 – another 2 hours later)

The Map

“You sure he said it was here? All I see is a buncha spooky paintings,”

Another piece that much touches me personally, spookily as if intended to do so.  In my novel – just published – there is a special ‘hawling’ within a mine: I see this as hawling that mine in the same sense. And mines are called that for good reason, i.e. a mine that is ‘mine’.  Conrad’s chance physiognomy of the human mind as both a map and (actual) painting  – a mind that is also mine: all up front as well as deeply to be mined. (24 Jun 11)

Grey Man’s Journal

“He had the most beautiful shadow I have ever seen, walking gracefully beside him.”

Not the grey man’s shadow but what the grey man wrote he saw and yearned to inveigle or exchange… [You know, seriously, I cannot really do justice to this  book’s  prose symbiosis with each of its pictorial shadows and/or each picture with each of its textual shadows. You must see for yourself.] (24 Jun 11 – three hours later)

Croppingham Fair (an old ballad)

“…the wreaths, the weeds…”

This short poem (if new, should be old) – one that I feel like learning by heart for recitation purposes – has, for me at least, a supernatural dalliance with ‘going to St Ives’. (25 Jun 11)

The Brood Pouches of Theron de Casse

“Words resembling winged segmented things…”

A difficult claim to make, but this is the best symbiosis so far. With due modesty, it reminds me of my own attempts during the 1990s (around 1,500 of them printed in that decade in obscure and less obscure publications) to create ‘magic fiction’ as opposed to ‘magic realism’.  But none as successful as this.  The parthenogenetic-sea-horse ending is so incredible, you must read it. Pity there are only sixty copies of this book, I believe. Mine is hand-numbered 20. (25 Jun 11 – another 2 hours later)

The Temple in Ruins

“There are stones within stones…”

Yes, only sixty copies and plenty of white space to protect the multifarious artwork items. A chunky aesthetic book to cherish and, depending on your purse, to treasure. This is a very short prose piece, with its own white space built in.  It is again an attempt at magic-fixing (fictioning) the soul as body, and the body as soul, its own symbiosis with itself and – at the end – a startling John-Donnean metaphysicality of a ‘conceit’. It would spoil it to tell you what it is. But it does jump out at you rather than creep up.  (25 Jun 11 – another 45 minutes later)

The Starving Spectre

“…watching the pallid wisp descend deep into the throat of these brittle woods.”

An effective ghost-story vignette using this book’s hallmark dense textured prose, but a prose loose-limbed enough for relative ease of accessibility.  Again reminded of the ‘going to St Ives’ conundrum… (26 Jun 11)

Shadow Barge of the Khalifehs: A 19th century translation of An Eastern Fragment by Anonymous

“…a mad poet’s hell.”

Three fragments, in fact, where a named reviewer is absorbed by the anonymity and parthenogenicity of a sea-horse prow tussling with Ghouls and an “amethyst-caked leviathon“.  I am the first to admit one would probably need to drown in the words of this story before fully understanding it, but having drowned, one wonders if that would serve me any purpose. Not knowing is sometimes half the battle won at least. And I just stare gurgling at the story’s blotchy painting. [By the way, the previous story (‘The Starving Spectre’) wields a painting that alone makes the book worth owning.] (26 Jun 11 – three hours later)

Draugr

I am quoting the first short sentence of this prose poem, but hiding it at one remove here in case it is a spoiler.  I quote it as it seems central to my review so far. And if a parthenogenetic birth is possible on a bigger scale of creature, then I imagine the process would involve at least some form of “Caesarean pact”.  [The painting here is both vulpine and Lovecraftian, to my eye.] (26 Jun 11 – another 2 hours later)

The Stereograph

“Yes. He had heard a fragment of a rumour many years ago at a slide collectors convention in Blackpool.”

Blackpool, or Menton? Seriously, I’m sure I’ve now reached a genuine Weird fiction classic, as if I’ve been led craftily towards this story by the previous ones so the shock is processed to the fullest.  The obsession of collecting, to the point of not even sharing the primest item in the collection with oneself!  Collecting and death in symbiosis.  The secret of parthenogenesis reached but only for those of us who can ‘gestalt’ the twin paintings or illustrative leitmotifs affixed-within-white-space to this text.  A rorschach of extreme identical opposites.  Clark Ashton Smith eat your heart out. (27 Jun 11)

The March of the Greater Abominations

“A vast natural bridge was found, graven by the God of Frail Winds.”

Well, I didn’t think it could get any better. I assumed I could now travel downhill with my memories being safely packaged by the remaining stories. But no, I need to cross that bridge (via the provided painting) into the most dense and effective weird description of even weirder fabrictions brought to life beyond their own description: a meal you can only experience once: a meal with if not of Centipaux: sustenance for future travel within this book? (27 Jun 11 – two hours later)

Poe’s Inkwell

by Jeremy Lassen, 1987

I’m not sure what to think of this tale of a “kleptomaniac” or “petty criminal” who used Poe’s Inkwell from the Poe museum to try enhance his own weird writing. Perhaps the tale itself is petty, too?  The ink itself turns watery, in an attempt at distillation. I imagine Poe’s ink was mauve? I wonder if retrocausality will eventually give me a clue as to the contribution to this book’s gestalt of this story. The story’s painting (or atmospherically blurred photo) depicts a striking trilby (?) hatted face staring out at me with startling or startled eyes from between facial shadows – making me feel decidedly uncomfortable now that night is coming on. (27 Jun 11- another 5 hours later)

Night Visitation

A short rhyming poem about a sanity-threatening item of femality – one that I can imagine Poe writing in an off moment.  The painting pointedly depicts the creature’s pouting or tongue-poking head and “elastic tail“. (27 Jun 11 – another 15 minutes later)

Slith Gibbelin

Unwritable here, unreadable there / Unthinkable anywhere

An excellent extended Nursery Rhyme. If I’d been exposed to this (with its picture) as a child – whispered into my ear by my own dear mother – I wouldn’t be here today to read it, I’m sure. [The title is as I have it above, while in the textual refrain it ‘s “Slith Gibbilin”.] (28 Jun 11)

The Tuurngait: An Invocation

“…destructive and monstrous forces, hoping to leech upon a living form…”

Like picture with text, wolf and demon grapple with each other as well as with feral, fetid existence.  I intuit this is a sort of inverse parthenogenesis… Wow! (28 Jun 11 – three hours later).

Aside: like any special ink and the writer who uses it? (2 minutes later)

La Society Lumineuse du Masque Noir

“His hours consisted of mail-ordering, and then receiving, very expensive books detailing esoteric subjects…”

I shall need to sip this story again but, intially, I get the feeling that if I formed a group with the other 59 owners of this book – ‘The Mauve Embellishments’ by Charles Schneider – together with Mr Schneider himself and young Dan Ghetu and, perhaps, inscrutable collaborator, Jeremy Lassen – we’d be a uniquely artistic driving-force with which to reckon, i.e. in the sense of easing Caesarean birth to things that must exist but cannot. [You can see some of us depicted – in bandit (or, more tellingly, ‘lone ranger’) masks – by this story’s picture.]

“I hate being compared to people similar to myself.” (28 Jun 11 – another 2 hours later)

Night Shackles

“A span of wounded moons cruelly unfurled,”

… is one line from this short poem that I feel should be sung like Parry’s rendition of Blake’s Jerusalem – and, suddenly, completely unpremeditated, the crowd in the Elias Canetti painting lurched forward, in unison, and sang of Bosch and Grosz instead. (28 Jun 11 – another hour later)

The Street of the Waking Dream

“It has been said that if we do not dream, we will die.”

An exquisite piece that deals with dreams in evocatively redolent prose – reminding me (immodestly?) of some of the themes of my recently published novel (the only novel of mine to have been published so you can’t mistake it). The only difference is there we vary upon a theme of ‘dream sickness’ – here, in Schneider, the oppposite. But ending, in my 1/60th share of the reader’s mind, with a symbiosis – enhanced by the painting’s Escher, Wyndham Lewis, vorticism of Lovecraftian bending of dreams … or did I mean blending?  (28 Jun 11 – another hour later)

The Tricycle Rider

“His desire to protect the Things of Long Ago…”

A charming, truly haunting vignette of the world of childhood toys in retrocausal nostalgia – in face of our modernity today staring (like the image attached to ‘Poe’s Inkwell’ ) at the inside of the secret room where the toys are housed, as guarded by the Otto Dix-esque tricycle performer with his nurturing of the parthenogenetic past.  Claustrophobia is even welcome in such circumstances.  The art of this work to convey. (29 Jun 11)

The Mauve Embellishments – as lasst sich nicht lessen

“The Dreaded Bookmen have come! They have brought boxes with them, which they anticipate filling with your books.”

Which is very telling with treebooks vanishing into eeeeeebooks…  This is a substantial masterpiece of arcane book-collecting and – the ultimate parthenogenesis of this very book: i.e. itself. It seems the inevitable culmination. I sense the mauve ink flowing like blood round my body. A meticulous examination of dusty aesoterica as well as of love!  I too have a first edition of ‘The King in Yellow’. This new colour – in the context – gives me the willies.  And I now begin to dwell further on the various symbioses of text and picture through which I’ve travelled above.  Sin-ergies.  Gas salt. Litemauveteeth. Book as Ha of Ha. Self as enemy, and friend. Parfait.

PS: Some images of the book here:http://www.ligotti.net/showpost.php?p=65875&postcount=926  i.e. 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th images (running horizontally). END: (29 Jun 11 – two hours later)

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Amerika – by Karim Ghahwagi

‘Amerika’ by Karim Ghahwagi (Passport Levant MMXI).

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/

All my Ex Occidente Press (Passport Levant) real-time reviews here: https://nullimmortalis.wordpress.com/2010/09/24/ex-occidente-press-real-time-reviews/ 

AMERIKA is a beautiful sewn hardcover book of 64 pages with stiff red dust-jacket bearing an outline of a cat, silk ribbon, endpapers and a full-colour frontispiece by Armand Henrion (Self Portrait, Clown with Monocle). The edition limited to 100 hand numbered copies. My copy is numbered 50 and possesses exceptionally aesthetic yet heavy-duty page paper. The red board covers beneath the dust jacket bear the word ‘Meow!’ on the front, and nothing else anywhere.

Pages 9 – 38

“You cannot write a sequel of The Master and Margarita! You were supposed to write a travel book about Malta!”

Two parallel scenes in an effective Absurdist mode, with some character names as names of countries leading to a Bulgakovian*-Swiftian tendency towards the Land of Lacuna (my words, not the book’s) – concerning much that is obstreperous as well as geographically laconic.  I can imagine it, so far, as a stage play where I’m watching from the wings rather than the auditorium.  (*I am cheating there a bit as the quote at the start of the book is from Bulgakov). (8 Mar 11)

[The scenes take place in Copenhagen, and the photograph at the head of my overall Real-Time Reviews website was taken by me there.] (8 Mar 11 – two hours later)

Pages 38 – 63

Obstreperous, maybe, but in this section, “this is preposterous!”

,,,”A cartography of bewilderment”.

For me, this ends on a very personal note, and those in the know will know why (and this, rest assured, is not a spoiler for ‘Amerika’, and indeed nothing can spoil it): “How can there be a room there? It appears to be suspended beyond the outer wall of the building.”

There are anthropomorphic matters, also, that remind me of incidents in the Cern Zoo.

Above all, it is something you will either love or hate. I loved it. Its satiric-absurdism is spot on. I dare not tell you more about it, because then I would be creating spoilers. Especially about the cat. And a door like a door from King’s ‘The Dark Tower’ (something I’m coincidentally real-time reviewing at the moment).

If you want to live in a Magritte painting and its hinterland, then you will love this novellarette. (8 Mar 11 – another 3 hours later)

END

BTW, the word ‘novellarette’ has never been used before, according to Google.

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