Tag Archives: quentin s crisp

‘Nemonymous Night’ and Clacton-on-Sea

This novel by DF Lewis was published by the acclaimed Chomu Press in 2011. It has something to do with Clacton-on-Sea in Essex, where the author has lived for 20 years.
Now Clacton is about to go BIG. Possibly not as big as the novel itself, though.

The text on the original back cover of the book:

You have been suffering with dream sickness, and a Hawler has suggested you take the sea air for a rest cure. Perhaps you have been strolling along the promenade by the sands of Clacton-on-Sea, wondering whether your life is a dream, and if so, whether it is a real dream, or merely a dream of a dream. You put your face in the space of a seaside cut-out board and on the other side you see… a giant carpet in the wild spiral of a tornado burrowing into the earth, the weave of its multidimensional design revealing the capering of carpet apes, the things that haunt ceilings, the places where poultry becomes meat… You remove your face and find yourself back in the same day as before, with both sides of the cut-out board the same dream or unimaginable reality. But now you and everything else have together become completely nemonymous.
For the full treatment, insert your face in the space of Nemonymous Night by veteran Weirdmonger D. F. Lewis. Let the captain of this earthcraft take you from the left foot of man-city to the nemo of the ‘no me’. On a guided tour of the under-carpet of Inner Earth, decide for yourself if Greg is Greg or really Mike, if Beth is actually Susan, what it is the Hawler does to cure the dream sickness, and whether Mike or Susan might, in fact (or fiction), be you.

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Rustblind and Silverbright – Cover and a Launch Event that Must Not be Missed

I am planning to attend this event on 4th July – a rare occasion when I am to be allowed out by Tarr and Fether to meet some of my favourite authors…

Rustblind and Silverbright – Cover and a Launch Event that Must Not be Missed.

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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.”

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Three BFS Award Winners 2012

All my real-time reviews for CHOMU PRESS books ab initio: https://nullimmortalis.wordpress.com/2011/02/17/my-chomu-press-real-time-reviews/

All my real-time reviews for BLACK STATIC issues: https://nullimmortalis.wordpress.com/2010/09/25/tta-press-my-real-time-reviews/

My massive real-time review during Autumn 2011 of the VanderMeers’ massive THE WEIRD:  https://nullimmortalis.wordpress.com/2011/11/16/df-lewiss-real-time-review-of-the-vandermeers-massive-the-weird/

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Forever Autumn

AEONTONOMOUS RISE OR FALL?

From my 2011 Real-Time Review (HERE) of the VanderMeers’ THE WEIRD:
“The best Weird fiction can touch and tantalise you strangely, darkly, poignantly, humorously, grotesquely or with deathly finality, but, also, mellowly and fruitfully, because, from the very experience of reading it at all, one never quite reaches the winter beyond the autumn in the way that you once reached the autumn beyond the summer.”

From my 2012 real-time review (HERE) of PEEL BACK THE SKY by Stephen Bacon:
<<Forever Autumn
“…there are no seasons any more – just one long endless constant.”
When I real-time reviewed the VanderMeers’ massive ‘The WEIRD’ book, I came to the conclusion that the distilled core of its century’s worth of High Weird literature was, for me, a mathematical constant embodied by ’Forever Autumn’. I think I said this a few times explicitly in my equally MASSIVE real-time review. At that time, I had not read this story by Stephen Bacon, a number of whose stories would surely have been deserving of being included in that book. No greater compliment can I give his work than saying that. Meanwhile, this particular story, although not among his best, nevertheless makes me think for the first time that such post-virus scenarios are emblematic of a slipping and sliding of human standards since I was a child in the 1950s, towards a self-deceiving brain-numbness in authorities when trying to ’control’ the <<’soldiers’ that are us>>, a fact that yesterday’s Hillsborough findings show was already happening in the downward zombie-viral cycle as much as 23 years ago…only few of us remaining to recognise that inverted cone-spiral of verities… But that may only be because I’m well and truly within my own ‘Forever Autumn’ whereby all manner of clouded ’wool’ is being pulled over my eyes that I hope good imaginative fiction can still manage to peel off.>>

From my review of MORBID TALES by Quentin S Crisp HERE:
“I always relish dealing with Prince Autumn.”

‘The Last Balcony’ by me: The eternal last stand or simply CANDLE DREAMING?

and

several references to the ‘Yellow Wallpaper’ story in my fiction

and

and

Yellowish haze in Ligotti fiction and as a character called ‘Yellowish Haze’ in my ‘WEIRDTONGUE’ and as an avatar of one of my oldest internet friends.

Autumnology or Aeontonomy – a new approach to a late life of mellow fruitfulness…

Aeontonomy – Autumn Immortalis
He was going for the aeon…” — Rhys Hughes: at the end of ‘The First Book of Classical Horror Stories’, from his story about Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.

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Prince November’s Quandary

Having just completed real-time reviewing the fiction anthology DADAOISM (Chômu Press 2012), I have distilled my own symbol from the gestalt of its contents.

I now have the residual Autumn years of my life – however few or many – to decide which is the greatest anthology of all:

DADAOISM

Or

the VanderMeers’ massive ‘The WEIRD’ that I obsessedly real-time reviewed during November 2011: Inter alia, I said then: “The best Weird fiction can touch and tantalise you strangely, darkly, poignantly, humorously, grotesquely or with deathly finality, but, also, mellowly and fruitfully, because, from the very experience of reading it at all, one never quite reaches the winter beyond the autumn in the way that you once reached the autumn beyond the summer.”

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My reading-lifetime’s Hall of Fame

Image by Tony Lovell (2011)

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

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

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

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Shrike – Quentin S. Crisp

I’m due to start below another of my gradual real-time reviews, turning leitmotifs into a gestalt. A hardback novella (signed by the author) that I recently purchased via Amazon and received today (3 Feb 12). And it is entitled:-

Shrike – by Quentin S. Crisp

Shrike

PS Publishing (2009)

CAVEAT (1): 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 other real-time reviews are linked from here: http://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/

My previous real-time reviews of fiction by Quentin S. Crisp: Morbid Tales – Quentin S. Crisp ; All God’s Angels, Beware! – Quentin S Crisp ; “Remember You’re a One-Ball!” – by Quentin S. Crisp ; Cinnabar’s Gnosis

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I.The note of the upturned bronze bell was silence made audible. It interpenetrated the realms of both the living and the dead.”

[My first remembered creative writing outside the jurisdiction of school was a poem called ‘O Garden’ that featured a shrike: that I somehow knew was also called the butcher bird.] This chapter, Autumn of course (it always is Autumn with my reading!) – and Brett Stokes, a young man, who had sort of been adopted by the Kunisada family during the time he was an exchange student in Japan, returns for the ‘funeral’ following the death of Mr Kunisada from cigarette-caused cancer. Here both Philip Larkin’s “musical, moth-eaten brocade” of religion and the “excuse” provided by alcohol are factored into what I have called before an element of Crisp fiction: i.e. the Laconics: here the Laconics of Japan and its bereavement rituals.   A touching picture of a granted “leisure of death” told in characteristically well-textured Crisp prose. (2.15 pm 3 Feb 12)

II. “…a gardenful of autumn morning.”

An almost rambling chapter, but somehow at heart we know it is not rambling at all. Brett with Mrs K, Mr K’s widow, leading to comparison of his mother-son type relationships with the meaning of ‘love’ and an ‘ex’ called Heather – and a palimpsest or tracing of erstwhile relationship with Mr K himself, mixed by the “precious” memories within a “still-life” of Japan as ‘genius loci’: the organic, poetically meaningful difference between Autumn there and back where Brett lives. And almost what I can transpose from this chapter’s mention in another context of “crisp notes” now written by Brett about these things as the further factoring-in, via a two-way filter, of the reader’s own entrancingly laid-back journey amid “lost cycles“, self-doubt, “a crisp, lucid pathos still spoken as of old by the gong-like reverberations of a temple bell“, the minutiae of a wrist and sleeping with the pre-funerary dead (as they do in Japan?).  A fiction-truth of all these things that “seemed always and only to belong to the future , or to the past, but never to now.” (3 Feb 12 – another 2 hours later)

III.Obscurity, after all, was a great part of the aesthetic attraction of failure.”

Resonating between an anti-novel about, say, a Venetian blind or a futon and a dead neglected Japanese writer whom Mrs K and Brett visit at that writer’s museum, as it were, we are teased with the image of a thorn-crucified lizard as a shrike’s latent larder.   Having watched a number of ‘Tales of the Unexpected’ recently,  I, too, wonder, if the bird was featured there (Dahl influenced by reading my sixties poem ‘O Garden’, thus later to influence Stokes (via Crisp) in the 21st century?). The leisure of death as a symptom of laziness or of “literary failure” (I can relate to that, at least) or of lie (fraud)?  Or of all three?  There is an intrinsicity here akin to each chapter heading’s explicitly but supposedly Japanese script-capsule of a paper’s print-mark – as if each audit-t(r)ail crosses (cf the lizard) then re-crosses another and another eventually to form the unified pattern of meaning or “death-mask“. And one character says: “I believe Murakami Haruki has publicly stated that he can’t stand Japanese literature. He spends his time listening to American jazz and suchlike.” (3 Feb 12 – another 3 hours later)

IV. “Getting close to someone reminds you how tragic ordinary life is.”

And that if reality can be turned into fiction, fiction can just as easily be turned into reality …  in this new Crispian “Suicide Watch”-type ‘letter’ to Heather from Japan written as if he’s already dead, i.e. another variation on a theme: a ‘dying fall’ that runs, for me, like a paradoxically uplifting vein through much non-vocal classical or ‘chamber’ music (that some people call ‘serious music’!).  The shrike now seems to have a second victim in a desiccated toad, and potentially a third in a live toad.  There follows Brett’s attempted, potentially dream-invading visualisation of the nature of this, or any, shrike. I, meanwhile, try to remain unable to visualise a shrike. I suppose it’s the easiest matter in the world to google it…. [I wish to remain ignorant of its nature, and part of the suspense of this novel, for me, is being on the brink of being told something about it I do not wish to know. I never knew what a shrike looked like when I wrote my first poem many years ago. I suppose I just liked the sound of the word.] (3 Feb 12 – another 2 hours later)

Dahl or Dali (both referred to in this book’s text), I woke up this morning with their hybrid dreams still presiding.  (7.50 am – 4 Feb 12)

V. “To arrive at life, one must first go through death, that was as plain as all hell, thought Brett, taking the first drag on his cigarette…”

This chapter: sometimes eschatologically mawkish, at other times, stigmatically spiritual, as Brett (who gave him such an awfully off-putting name! … ‘Stokes’ at least partially resonates with spike and shrike and poker-as-thorn) continues his Crisp Notes to Heather, via a “Ghost of Love Affairs Past” version of unrequited Proust, a potential act of dire gratuitousness via Albert Camus: and an abstemious Scrooge wielding Occam’s Razor —- and I remember my cough that I made public when reading “All God’s Angels Beware!” and here the cancer-thorn to be ‘inherited’ from the late Mr K.  Brett’s body as well as soul seen first  as a “fortress” or aspergic defence-system, but seen second, via my interpretation of Brett’s undercurrents of thought, as Terry Buzzacott’s ‘two-timing’ Fortress as Redoubt. Time frozen as Pilate (the embodiment – of all other people who Brett feels watched by – in the unknown  form of a conceivably tiny shrike) is about to drive a relic-nail from Golgotha through Brett’s Breast. (4 Feb 12 – another 2 hours later)

VI.Stalemate is stalemate is  stalemate.”

Like that Stein line “a rose is a rose is a rose”? Or a woodbine is a woodbine is a woodbine. This substantive chapter is the Earth’s Core of ‘Shrike’, I am currently assuming. A significant visionary episode that it would spoil to describe, especially the nature of the narrative belief underlying its beginning. Simply do re-read the whole of the published Quentin S. Crisp fiction canon before reading this chapter – because it all culminates here.  A judicial theatre of eschatological choice: and one must re-read War With The Newts – by Karel Capek, too, and revisit the cigarettes in ‘The Man Who Collected Machen’ by Mark Samuels: Fiction pulling the strings of Reality: or vice versa: except they are called different names from Fiction and Reality in this chapter, names that would reveal the Spoiler I’m trying to keep Unspoilt.  Whatever the case, this section is a major memorable intervention within the plot’s audit trail, an audit trail that I once thought I was following before reading this chapter: even as powerful as the Sermon on Hell scene from Joyce’s ‘Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man’ that once severely kicked me into or out of touch when a Young Man myself many years ago.  [Emma’s in the smoking Woodhouse. That’s a non-sequitur?] (4 Feb 12 – another 2 hours later)

I forgot to mention – in VI. there is also a reference to “exquisite music” that is not a million miles away from my observation earlier about ‘dying fall’ etc. (4 Feb 12 – another 45 minutes later)

THIS REAL-TIME REVIEW NOW CONTINUED HERE

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Morbid Tales – Quentin S. Crisp

I’m due to start below another of my gradual real-time reviews, turning leitmotifs into a gestalt. A highly aesthetic paperback book I recently purchased from the publisher and received today (24 Jan 12). And it is entitled:-

Morbid Tales – by Quentin S. Crisp

Tartarus Press 2012

Previously published as a hardback by the same publisher: 2004

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

CAVEAT (1): 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 other real-time reviews are linked from here: http://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/

My previous real-time reviews of fiction by Quentin S. Crisp: All God’s Angels, Beware! – Quentin S Crisp ; “Remember You’re a One-Ball!” – by Quentin S. Crisp ; Cinnabar’s Gnosis

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The Mermaid

Prelude: Philosophy in the Underwear Drawer

“I believe that everybody has a story. It falls to their life’s epicentre like a meteorite.”

There is a difference between morbid and misanthropic, I guess.  Here, we balance on the edge of each in turn and discover these edges do not overlap – necessarily. Imagine, the narrator of HP Lovecraft’s ‘The Hound’ preambling  not a Hound but a Mermaid, discovered not from a fruit-mulched grave-plot but perhaps another slot closed up as if there’s nothing to penetrate… I am entranced by the prose and its erotic touches as well as by the “mer-monkey” from the Horniman Museum, Penge, to which the writer of the book’s Foreword once introduced me decades ago.  The narrator is in a coastguard’s cottage where his obsessions may drift ashore? (24 Jan 12)

{later} Chapter One: Beachcomber’s Delight

“…fashioned by someone for whom this was the world, for whom jellyfish were floating flowers…”

Now here a moving solidification – via unsolid visions of sea and sea’s accoutrements and ‘object’ magic and a spoken “Sunken Tongue” and Medusa-musing and a “Kraken powder” – of the Mermaid taken to the Narrator’s home, where the purpose-built tank etc. amid narcotic prose gives birth to all manner of thoughts in my mind. The use of gills?  The felt literalness (as here) of wonder being more wonderful than more wonderful wonder.  And the beauty of reading such flotsam-blessed fiction – partly at least as a result of narrating one’s own journey in it as I am here – is that serendipities are often convoked – [e.g. (for me) from today’s immediacy as well as the recent past; Capek HERE, Reggie Oliver HERE and a Medusa-like HERE.]

“…as if I were a tomb-robber fleeing the winged shadow of a pharaoh’s curse.” (24 Jan 12 – two hours later)

{later} Chapter Two: To Have and Not to Have

“It was one of those times that form lightly without you realising that they are to become a poignant memory.”

And I suspect my reading of this story is one such ‘time’, tantamount-to-a-novella instilling in me both joy and despair at the same time: no mean feat.  Yet the narrator is mean to himself.  Guilt plays with innocence, like a mermaid with a lobster: and not always ‘respectively’ (or even ‘respectfully’).  And the love-physical implications – tied to that earlier ‘literalness’ which I see is in turn tied up with that in the War of the Newts book by Karel Capek – are striking to say the least: a tail like a sheath; onanism making one two (a tail eventually bifurcates) etc.; “this story-book love” telling its own story of perceived self-denigration: but, like two multiplicative negatives making a positive, two stories telling each other possibly make a positive reality along their own Escher combined audit trail or ley line of disguised fiction.  Good, too, to know that “vowel sounds travel better underwater“. (24  Jan 12 – another 3 hours later)

{Later} Chapter Three: The End of the Tail

“Yes, yes, the memories trail together as elegant as houseplants growing at different levels in an ornamental stand.”

Indeed. Just like this novella and the book it becomes. A book from the tides of sea-voice and anemone and jellyfish, shaped and hinged (like the Necronomicon?), a book that is as distant from what books are now fast becoming in 2012 as it is possible to be.  This is a perfect ending: where my earlier joy and despair are explained, reconciled, transcended – with even a passing, yet explicit, contextual reference on page 57 to the human curse of end-of-one’s-days dementia in the story mentioned above (‘Flowers of the Sea’) that had yet another 7 years to be written after ‘The Mermaid’ was first published in 2004. I shall not give away the ending of ‘The Mermaid’  – but it is something you will never forget in the context of everything that happens before it.  Not exactly “passive aggression” but something, although similar, more cataclysmic within the human pattern of weakness and strength.  There are no words for it yet except perhaps in ‘Sunken Tongue’.  I guess, you need your own “passive aggression” to appreciate this novella fully, but that’s not all that you need : you need a willingness and an ability to empathise.  To not be you.  First and last, “Certain sacrifices have to be made...” (24 Jan 12 – another 90 minutes later)

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Far-Off Things

“They become nothing more than an anonymous ‘you’.”

A pagan paean  – as a heart-felt, old-fashioned investigation (amid modern times) into the nature of love and into a Wordsworthian Pantheism (here sown with demons and bugbears as well as the unpagan, quite human-needed magic of Christmas Day between the “folds” of Autumn and Winter) –  to another self-denigrated obsession, another explicit story-book love, not now a Mermaid, but a Milkmaid with (for me) Rapunzel’s hair raining like teardrops to feed both hope and, with eventual inevitability, despair. Yet the hope remains by being crystallised here for me on real paper so as to hold the fleeting emotion of ‘fabulous’ fiction for as forever a forever as possible.  Another oxymoron of permanence and transience. Another of those “gooligars” (no point in googling). (25 Jan 12)

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Cousin X

Pages 77 – 101: There was the discreet feeling of her feet leaving the earth. She even forgot this was strange. She was simply rapt.”

Discrete or discreet? Probably both in resonance – as, here, is the optimum blend of autistic gaucheness and  single-minded wondrousness.  Well, those who know me, will guess this story is written just for me. It’s just up my street – where, I imagine, the lorries and buses float in the sky like kites.  Proustian, yes a little.  Rather more it is another optimum blend: of Elizabeth Bowen and Sarban (especially their stories about children if not for children).  The prose immaculate reveals another form of unrequited love to match those earlier: a love as yet unfelt, the deepest unrequital of all (immortal, invisible, God only wise)? — here via the free gift or bought on approval from an old comic of x-ray specs between the Cousin X (why no name?) and his cousin Sasha, she warned by her parents not to spend time with him during his vist to her house. But she is Calmahained towards other-wordliness, self from self. As I am. You see, possibly misjudged Cousin X is unnervingly obsessed with taking apart contraptions like clocks etc. [A bit like doing real-time reviews…?] – exploring rock-pools for see-through sea-creatures and “kisses like jellyfish.” A story so far for the reader to (un?)”solidify” into potential “shapes“.  (25 Jan 12 – five hours later)

{Later} Pages 101 – 122: “And in the next instance there flashed out from this calm remembrance a vicious fear, like a hound left to guard a forgotten chamber, crazed and half starved, no longer able to distinguish between those who put it there and those who it is meant to guard against.”

Remembrance of things past: having gained a past like Proust – I would not have thought to write about this story’s first half like I did above if I had already read its second half before starting to write about the whole story.  Two hours ago, I had not reached the Earth’s Core. Nor had I reached this story’s deja-vu or hindsight of adulthood (and this is truly a drama that MUST one day be filmed by Stephen Poliakoff).  It is one incredible reading experience.  You need Cousin X’s concept of ‘air’ as well as the gaps between the words just to gain breath. I hate getting into superlatives and ever try to resist them. But sometimes they take you over just as subsumings take you under? As both do here. It’s just that all animals and other creatures, not only mermaids, need penetrating somehow, even if you have to enter by some strange byways. As I have done here, I hope, between the story’s claws and into its underbelly of meaning.  It’s possibly Aickman’s ‘The Same Dog’ rather than Sarban’s ‘Calmahain’.  Or, more likely, both.  And “darkle” is just the root of ‘darkling’. And k just a mutant x. (25 Jan 12 – another 2 hours later)

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A Lake

Pages 123 – 146: “There passed a few moments of expectant ambiguity, bobbing moistly like an Adam’s apple.”

At first or mostly or ostensibly, a workmanlike narration about Stephen in Japan: his visit to an uncanny Lake that he discovers is associated with suicides in the past: but set within gradually more and more stunningly conceived flashes of observation about fate and choice and identity and language and landscape and weather and morbidity and…, observations that often take the reader by pleasant or unpleasant (jarring) surprise and makes him or her stagger back on the balls of his or her feet for a nonce.  [Inter alia, a black rectangle wall emerges to bar Stephen’s eventual path of aggressified passivity: that erstwhile Necronomicon-like book again? And the lake, we learn, early on, has given up many dead fishes or they have given themselves up like lemmings – brilliantly described – with their size difficult to assess as “nowhere a whole specimen to be found” (intriguing in view of the first story?).] And we reach the end of the first half of the story with a tinge of a haunting, a woman, one of the earlier suicides, returned, I feel, to requite … exactly what? I shouldn’t have stopped reading to write this. But too late. (25 Jan 12 – another three hours later)

{Later} Pages 146 – 168: “Although he could not see more than two or three feet in any direction, he became increasingly aware of a poignant depth of water beneath him, needling his innards.”

The workmanlikeness is a form of well-written ‘pulp horror’ fiction: reminding me, inter alios, of A. Merritt. As in the first half, there are shafts of perception that stun one’s path through this darkly cosmic foray into a vast universe of self and selflessness reflected within the lake and its darkling Japanese myths and demons and inter-coiling snakes.  And the word ‘poignant’ when related to a depth of water actually does take on a real, perhaps unintended, meaning – in the half-resonant light (or darkness) of the earlier Mermaid story – when Stephen discovers the layered conjoined remains upon remains of… well, that would be a Spoiler.  “Not only space, but time too will disintegrate in The Ray.” (25 Jan 12 – another 90 minutes later)

———————

Time too will disintegrate? Seems to be a fascinating slant on the next story that I’ve just read this early morning…

The Two-Timer

“As a result, here I am today. I have remained discreet, apart from now, of course, divulging my adventures to you, here.”

An “anonymous ‘you'” who is somehow complicit? This is a telling, gradually maturity-accreting monologue to ‘you’ by Terry Buzzacott about a boyhood of “flobbing techniques” and a special power that he wields of freezing time (resonant with Cousin X’s x-ray specs and dissecting contraptions such as clocks (and, possibly, the book’s earlier ‘experiments’ with a mermaid)) while everyone else in his life is oblivious of his ‘fiddlings’ with them during the time that time is thus temporarily frozen.  I spoke of a relative ‘foreverness’ earlier in this review and that now takes on new meaning here: “drunk on the perfume of forever” with an arguable factoring-in of Bradbury’s butterfly effect… This boyhood tale at least partially resonates with the author’s novel (Remember You’re a One-Ball) and with my own recent interpretation of ‘two-timing’ in Jeremy Reed’s novel “Here Comes the Nice”.  A fascinating slant on early love, puberty, relationships with peers and teachers as filtered through an autistic aloneness’s yearning for ‘silence’ against the pisspot that life seems.  The plot’s final pay-off makes this  a really compelling story of beginning, middle and end, with the emphasis on the art of traditional story-telling but mixed with experimental conceits. Another landmark read for me.  “Meanwhile“, I just found myself wondering if a flob still oozes down the wall even when time is frozen?  But that’s just me. (26 Jan 12)

I just had a rainy constitutional by the sea and, while doing so, it occurred to me that real texts in traditional books are time frozen and ebooks are transient text subject to both benign and malicious ‘fiddlings’ over time.  Or other variations upon that theme.  (26 Jan 12 – 90 minutes later)

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It now turns out that those thoughts of art’s transience and permanence, text and etext, during my constitutional, have some significant bearing on the next story (novella?)…

The Tattooist

Pages 193 – 218: “So why do you want death impregnated in your skin, might I ask? You don’t think it’s a bit morbid?”

The Laconics of a professional Tattooist as he tells so tellingly another anonymous ‘you’ (in non-laconic, stun-jarring images and stylish syntax and word-choice) about the Boy who visits his Tattoo Studio for a customised comic-book image of a girl called Death (semi-irrelevantly reminding me of a Manga image and I sense the Japanese are richly laconic (a contradiction in terms?), laid-back, too)…   This story’s first half, too, is full of well-characterised portraits of pub-goers in modern Britain (jealous of each other’s tattoos), contrasting with the almost religious, almost parthenogenetic immaculacy of two men creating a woman between them over the “needling” poignant depths (cf: The Lake) of their interaction to the sound of “dirty guitars“. The religion of stigmata, too. And Pre-Raphaelite art. And life’s accessorization. And the Intentional Fallacy (“To be astonished at one’s own work is involunatarily to disclaim it.“). And the pain that makes non-pain worthwhile. As well as all the astonishing richnesses of theme and composition, this (so far) is a genuinely compelling story that any reader would not be able to put down, susceptibility to such rarefications or not.  A “Women in Love” (Gerald Crich and Rupert Birkin) type of struggle, a struggle that is also a parthenogenesis, creating the struggle as a thing-in-itself rather than the brutality of two men simply fighting: that of reader and author, too.  The dull-beating of the ever-new and ground-breaking, skin-breaking SF-fantastical from the portal of crowding creations upon screen and in book (or both). All tantalisingly touched upon: touching (at first tentatively) upon the ‘skin’ of reading this story.  Then puncturing it… “Actually he was as punctual as the haunting of a ghost.” (26 Jan 12 – another 3 hours later)

{Later} Pages 219 – 241: “There are so many kinds of relationships we don’t really have names for them at all. In fact, each is unique, and the most insignificant and influential relationships in a person’s life are not always those with people they see regularly and often.”

I am terribly nervous about doing justice to these pages that form tantamount to the powerful coda of this ‘novella’ (forming about half of the whole work).  It’s akin to (Cousin X’s) knife reaching beyond (The Two-Timer’s) “nervous test” – and here that takes on enormous importance where Struggle struggles out in full sharp relief.  Suffice it for me just to recall the Nursery Rhyme that this coda quotes in full: meaningful as hell for me personally. And the daydream of the Primary School scene (NF “British bulldogs” pent within it).  And so many other startling images and expressions here that will last me for many a “Holy Grail” of memories. “When the past is gone, it becomes unreachable“. But this coda, this further Proustian hindsight, has a creative tension and its own ‘struggle’ with what the narrator feels, without him even realising it. I cannot hope to cover everything I wish to say about this coda (this Nemonymous Apocrypha?)… It has become, not another landmark read, but a skin one.  Despite its inferred “morbid” watermark running from page to page like the name of the resort through a stick of holiday rock (by the way, never read this book on an ebook!), the plot’s “oral fossil” — its version of the mermaid’s tail-pouch — readily disperses the “covert accusations” and “grey spirit of oppression” that seems so prevalent in today’s sadly forever world.  And for that I thank it. (26 Jan 12 – another 2 hours later)

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Ageless

When I look at your arm just below your sleeve, I realise there is no more nostalgia.”

A short prose vision of a couple on a city roof playing chess. Frozen  by Terry Buzzacott’s time magic?  A riposte to the creative tension regarding Proustian ‘petit madeleine’ nostalgia I read into ‘The Tattooist’?  Or a variation on the Wordsworthian Pantheism as background to the two essentially (for me) parallel protagonists in ‘Far-Off Things’, but now here not classic grazing-land Nature or even Tintern Abbey Nature as such but a (Japanese?) city and its buildings as an organic stasis within Nature just as much as our sun is that, too?  Or perhaps just another “gooligar”? Perhaps the book’s last story (yet to be read) will give me the answer? [Earlier in this review: “Yet the hope remains by being crystallised here for me on real paper so as to hold the fleeting emotion of ‘fabulous’ fiction for as forever a forever as possible.  Another oxymoron of permanence and transience.”] (26 Jan 12 – another 3 hours later)

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Autumn Colours

“…the jellyfish glistening of street lights on the wet tarmac,…”

I always relish dealing with Prince Autumn. This is Andy, student, finishing a sort of gap year, then later, more gaps later, adulthood’s hindsight (so common in this book) – the earlier time: Socratic dialogue in modern voice about studentish things with a girl called Adrienne whom he only half knows; later time: this author’s work Suicide Watch in a ‘new’ monologue to the anonymous ‘you’ in counterpoint (the reader doesn’t or at least shouldn’t know which comes first: this present monologue or the earlier one in an ostensibly later book): mirrors aligned face-to-face like those cosmic mirrors in ‘A Lake’. Terry Buzzacott’s consequential “Time betrayed him, trapping him in this ageing body” (his body being the only thing in which Andy can be): the dreaded “kick of death” like that kick as the gooligar springs from the box with empty face… and a real story-book time when people wrote letters on real paper and translations of foreign works were kept not like as zip file but as valued manuscript in a box, ready itself to spring out.  And over time, through only half-knowingness between Cousin X and Sasha, Terry and Nicola, Stephen and Mariko, ‘you’ and Gwendoline, ‘you’ and Leah, Andy and Adrienne, they reach out to make each other better, or simply to make each other come.  Or make each other go.  The choice is yours.  This book paradoxically eases the choice by making it more difficult.  Morbidity: Actuarial tables regarding statistical proneness to illness. Mortality: Actuarial tables regarding statistical proneness to death.  But when the tables are turned into tales, we smile knowingly that the battle is to know which “someone whose part in [her] life had seemed almost incidental” is now waiting to spring out of the book-shaped box or box-shaped book to become more than just incidental to us (even to themselves). Kill or cure. To be you or not to be you. To requite or to reject.  I know what this book’s answer is but it will never be clear-cut enough for me to put into words or translate from any ‘sunken tongue’ that may have the exact words.  But somehow, against all the odds, this book has made me feel the potential power of achievable fulfilment.  And no need of Kraken Powder! “A vague daydream is always more exquisite than something clearly defined.”  (26 Jan 12 – another 90 minutes later)

END

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I Wonder What Human Flesh Tastes Like

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

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

I Wonder What Human Flesh Tastes Like by Justin Isis

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

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

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

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

“He started changing history.”

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

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

Nanako 

“…because Nanako had no opinions…”

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

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Manami’s Hair

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

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

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

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

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

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The Garden of Sleep

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

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

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

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

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

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I Wonder What Human Flesh Tastes Like

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Quest for Chinese People

Pages 103 – 121

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

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

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

I watched as she cleaned her teeth.”

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

Pages 121 – 139

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

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

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

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A Design for Life

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

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

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

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

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

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I Wonder What Human Flesh Tastes Like Etc.

Pages 171 – 187

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

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

Pages 187 – 203

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

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

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

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The Eye of the Living Is No Warmth

Pages 205 – 230

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

…a far-fetched description of an internet reviewer!

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

Pages 230 – 249

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

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

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A Thread From Heaven

Pages 251 – 271

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

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

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

Pages 271 – 290

“Time is the same as language.”

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

Pages 290 – 306

“Gradually, the past was slipping into fiction,”

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

Pages 306 – 335

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

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

 But what were those divider-symbols?

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

“…exist, exist,”

(29 Jan 11 – another 90 minutes later)

END

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Capek’s Newts Corengate at the Dark Tower

I find myself suddenly reading three books in overlap:

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THE BEST OF ALAN COREN TBOAC (1980)

The only one by my own volition, having impulsively bought it while on a shopping trip with my wife in Frinton-on-Sea a few days ago. It actually gave birth to my Expen the Scusil website, as well as amusing me with Mr Ocren’s slightly dated off-boat humour.

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THE DARK TOWER – THE GUNSLINGERTDT – TG (1982) by Stephen King

At the behest of some members of the Message Forum Stephenking.com I just joined following my Real-Time Review of Full Dark, No Stars.  You see, I admitted to reading all SK works as they came out except ‘The Dark Tower’ books.

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WAR WITH THE NEWTS – WWTN (1936) by Karel Capek

This is at the behest of Quentin S Crisp.  Not that I had to read it. But I was strirred to do so by his intriguing reports of it.

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These three books – into none of which I have as yet got very far – are beginning strangely to harmonise with each other. Off-beat, off-boat, brooding yet absurdly creaturifying.

Who knows where they are taking me. (14 Jan 11)

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WWTN I. 1 – 3

 A cross between Alan Coren, Stephen Leacock, Rhys Hughes, Jonathan Swift. A blend that makes me believe in the creaturification of words. Tails lumping between the lines.

“And God has no shingle at all, on earth or in heaven.”
Interesting use of uppercases and uppercuts. (15 Jan 11)

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TDT-TG: I. 1 – 5

“…where demons undeniably walked;” I’ve reached the end of Chapter 5 of the first section. (I’ve not read the Foreword or any other impure non-fiction gubbins that precede these chapters). A brooding spaghetti western, brilliantly evoked in King’s inimitable style. The last Gunslinger in an oblique quest, meeting strange characters, feeling strange feelings, surrounded by the creaturification of the words that bear him on their backs. “And pigs would dance the commala in the light of the Peddler’s Moon.” (15 Jan 11 – two hours later)

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‘Yes,’ said the voice, ‘one does not run into four-foot dragonflies every day of the week. However,’ it continued, unplucking itself from the roof and dropping to the floor beside me, ‘we do not, contrary to popular myth, sting people.’ – TBOAC (Page 57) – (15 Jan 11 – another hour later)

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WWTN – I. 4

“Those poor little buggers so multi-pigged themselves in Devil Bay – “

Amazing stuff. Narrative and disbelief of narrative by others within the same narrative, plus memory loss – concerning giant walking lizards that the locals see as Devils, the pearls that our Jules-Vernian captain is teaching them (he says) to harvest.  Multi-plied, not -pigged.  (16 Jan 11)

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TDT-TG: I. 6 – 7

“Somewhere something was tottering, and when it fell, all would end.”

Narration within a narration as the Gunslinger is told by his one-night stand about the Man he follows, i.e. the Man in Black with an ability to resurrect the dead, particularly a told-about corpse with a sick grin, amid more mysteries and oblique wonderful weirdmongerishness and not davinci but numeral codes….nnnnn nineteen… [I keep expecting one of Capek’s giant lizards to stump along the tussocky horizon as a cameo.] (16 Jan 11 – two hours later) 

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Beethoven’s living liver: “Shrunk to half its proper size, leathery in consistency and greenish-blue in colour and bean-sized nodules on its surface.” (TBOAC – page 61)

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WWTN – I. 5: Captain J. van Toch’s Trained Lizards

“Back home, man, we have devil priests who are downright wizards.”

Gossiping of Capek Toch – and the transportation of his lizards and their human-likeness or king-kongish novelty – “ts ts ts ts ts” – they go – or do they speak like we do – in tongues? Like Eliot’s cats? Stealing our own pearls of wisdom?  I am getting a feeling for this sf-topian fiction, a feeling that it is true, because it makes so much sense in the context around me. My birthday tomorrow. (17.1.11)

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

TDT-TG: I. 8 – 10

“He was like something out of a fairytale or a myth, a fabulous, dangerous creature.”

Like King himself in 1982 as distilled by his fiction?  And what is over the other side of the endless desert? Devils? We’re not told. Too busy looking after the Gunslinger’s mule. There might even be giant lizards brooding inscrutably out there?  Reading this book and wondering why they’re not mentioned? Thinking aloud. (17.1.11 – an hour later)

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From ‘Semitopia’: “However, these urges do not die; the semi-spirit lives on.”  (TBOAC – page 208) (17 Jan 11 – another 3 hours later)

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

WWTN – 6. The Yacht In The Lagoon (Part One)

This book is really taking off nyfelyA gradually benuding Botticelli nymph nommed Sweetiepie Li watched by male admirer – ABEing, after original considerations of cannibal talk & kingkongish ‘gorilla’ nature with their fay wray – she meets the lounging lizards – doing obeisances before her and giving some sort of communion by pearl-fishing…  Nyfe in the Water.  Ts ts ts.  Who would have read this book without some sort of pushing…. (18 Jan 11)

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TDT-TG: I. 11

Another knife and another nude woman. The Gunslinger has a past & it  is being eked out non-collusively to we bystanders of this very strange konking fiction. I wish I had read this book before. It sheds light on other pieces by this author I’ve enjoyed piecemeal from the time of Carrie in the seventies.  But the light The Gunslinger sheds is diffusive, misty, intriguing, a dream that is slowly fitting into shape in a parallel way to how the story of the lizard-newts is emerging within the other novel I’m reading randomly alongside it. (18 Jan 11 – an hour later)

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“English Bohemianism is a curiously unluscious fruit. It does not belong in the great, mad, steamy glasshouse in which so much of the art of the rest of the world seems to have flourished – or, at least, so much of the pseudo-art. Inside this hothouse, huge lascivious orchids slide sensually up the sweating windows, passion-flowers cross-pollinate in wild heliotrope abandon, lotuses writhe with poppies in the rich warm beds, kumquats ripen, tremble, and plop flatly to the floor – and outside, in a neat, trimly-hoed kitchen garden, English Bohemians sit in cold orderly rows, like carrots.” (TBOAC – page 210)

Like carrots, or , rather, lizards … or weirdslingers? (18 Jan 11 – another hour later)

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WWTN – 7. The Yacht In The Lagoon (Continued)

This lagoonery seems to be a panoply-within-panoply of the emerging lizards (now nown as newts) – as if the book itself is giving gradual birth to them via its own literary-real process of evolution… and it appears I was spot on at least with the kingkong ethos and faywray … and the photostatoo — of a giant lizard hugging a woman within the comments below — that I used for the cover of a book called Cern Zoo in 2009…  I am protoplasmically entranced by WWTN. (19 Jan 11)

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TDT-TG: I. 12

“The gibbering madness that walks and crawls and wriggles through men’s most awful wants and desires.”

From that beautiful woman ‘surrendering’ to creatures just now in WWTN, we have here in TDT-TG, almost by inversion, a grotesque woman preacher creating creatures from herself as conjurations of her gospelling prayers … while the Gunslinger watches her memorable ‘performance’, here in Tull.

“I have walked arm in arm in the lion’s den…” (19 Jan 11 – another hour later)

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” ‘I blame the Zoo,’ said the Lion.”  (TBOAC – page 224) (19 Jan 11 – another 45 minutes later)

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WWTN 8 Andrias Scheuchzeri – 9 Andrew Scheuchzer

Scientific context and technical names for our new newzardy friends emerging from the primeval waters of a rare fiction-reality and London Zoo where they’re human-language-talking freely about their new readers who have come to them as a result of my review. Or rather Quentin’s suggestion that I and others read about them. Thanks, Quentin. It is so much like the ethos of ‘Cern Zoo’, I can’t quite believe it. Not that you knew that, really, I suppose. It’s like serendipity has emerged from a ‘one in an eternity of trillions chance’ conflux of dream and reality. 

“As can be seen, fame demoralises even newts.”  (20 Jan 11)

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TDT-TG: I. 13 – 20

“Why do you have to think you’re in the middle of such a mystery?”

In 1982, when this book was first published, it must have been a horror genre trail-blazer. It stil is – and the Gunslinger continues his quest for the Man in Black, piecing together, yes evolving (in the context of this whole real-time review) items of gossip into truth, prehensile myths into first hand experience, a Tullish killing-mayhem, weirdmongerishness (prefiguring as I now realise for the first time my own ‘Weirdmonger’ story published in 1988) – as, here, the first section of this book (called ‘The Gunslinger’) comes to an end. Very impressed.

“The wind walked restlessly, told its tale to no one.” (20 Jan 11 – three hours later)

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“Call me Passepartout. Should you ask why, I should have to reply, in my mortification, that it is because my shoes are bound together with adhesive tape.  In the old days, you could have called me Ishmael.” (TBOAC page 244, ‘Flying Dutchman’) (20 Jan 11 – another hour later)

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WWTN 10: The Fair at Nové Strašecí

” ‘How much is six times seven?’ / ‘Forty-tw0,’ quacked the newt with an effort.”

A hilarious but equally sad freakshow type scene – with both Capektain protagonist and newt shrunk to tin-bath or book’s own size.  (21 Jan 11)

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TDT-TG: II. 1.

“Because the man in black had shrunk two full feet…”

The book’s 2nd section starts here (THE WAY STATION), resonating, via high fantasy, and a self-concocted nursery-rhyme merged or muddled from the gunslinger’s childhood, approaching a sandhouse waystation (where I imagine tiny lizards foraging but not by dint of any words telling me that) – and has the man in black whom he seeks really shrunk…?  Only at waystations can plotspoilers roost without compunction but then fly off as if they’d never been there at all, I guess.  Meantime, the prose in this book is genuinely some of King’s best I’ve ever seen. (21 Jan 11 – another hour later)

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Under The Influence of Literature: “Dear Mother, / Please do not be alarmed, but I have turned into a big black bug.” (TBOAC – page 250) (21 Jan 11 – another 45 minutes later)

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WWTN 11 – 12 – Of Men-Lizards; The Salamander Syndicate

“(You talk as if this is a novel.)”

Indeed, I wonder if this is a novel at all but rather a specialist literary exercise never seen before (except possibly in Lovecraft), plus piecing together clues and documents – team-building by means of suppositions and Minutes of a business meeting trying to value the share price of global geomantic upheaval or the tangible creation of the very SFtopia we are reading into existence via our imaginative-ontology-teleology or simple ultimation of unneutered fiction neutered by truth (or vice versa?).

I still have the Appendix: The Sex Life of the Newts to read and review, but otherwise we have reached the end of this book’s first section (entitled Andrias Scheuchzeri)  (22 Jan 11)

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TDT-TG: II. 2

“It was not fair to ring in innocent bystanders and make them speak lines they didn’t understand on a strange stage.”

But who is stander and who is bystander, I ask. Our protagonist meets a boy called Jake who speaks of memories that may or may not be of a real world that we readers or bystanders know, a world that haunts the gunslinger’s world. Which world neutered, which unneutered? The book in my hand seems to indicate something real about my own once-upon-a-time world of old-fashioned TV sets. But what if it were now a slippery text on a Kindle, instead? (22 Jan 11 – two hours later).

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“I have taken the trouble to enclose a brick of the Leaning Tower…” (TBOAC – page 279) (22 Jan 11 – another 30 minutes later)

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WWTN – Appendix to ‘Book One’: The Sex Life of the Newts

“…the important concept of the sexual milieu, which represents a separate intermediate stage between parthenogenesis and sexual reproduction.”

We must remember, I suppose (although I yet fail to see how, in the light of the Intentional Fallacy, it could ever be relevant to a textual appraisal of the book and its pure imaginative resonance), that WWTN was published in Czech in the period leading up to the 2ndWorldWar.  Meanwhile, this section talks of the sexual patterns or mating dances, erotic, religious, physical, spermatic, of a collective newtork.  The Collectivity of  Andrias Scheuchzeri -Andrew Scheuchzer as a single character in this book rather than a breed of giant lizards or salamanders or newts.  The book’s Gunslinger with the bullets built in.  Entailing parthenogenetically the distaff- as well as spear-carrier.

[NB: The first ‘Nemonymous’ in 2001 was printed with the subtitle: A Journal of Parthenogenetic Fiction and Late-Labelling – later giving birth to lizardy CERN ZOO as its 9th edition.]

“…the Great Copulator…” (23 Jan 11)

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TDT-TG: II. 3 -4

“Somewhere a radio is playing a song by the rock group Kiss.”

[Cf: “This, if we may so call it, kiss continues for several days;” in today’s WWTN reading above.]

A past car crash (like exploding lizard sex?) is emblematic of Time’s retrocausality as the Gunslinger and Jake, at the Way Station, seem to transcend destiny – as well as the thought that the man in black may be slowing deliberately so that he can be caught up with?   (23 Jan 11 – another hour later)

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“Man here wants to have a go at the salmon.” (TBOAC – page 282) (23 Jan 11 – another 15 minutes later)

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WWTN – II. Up The Ladder of Civilization

This section with much data (some in very small print) may take me a while to study and absorb. So all readers of this real-time review need to be patient.  Fundamentally, it appears that Mr Povondra, seemingly exhibiting today’s fashionable form of male aspergers, is collecting all the News of Newts, i.e. cuttings and other data, with the condescendingly indulgent permission of his mother, who recognises that men should have their boyish ‘nutcase’ obsessions. Apparently, too, Mr P is also doing this for his own posterity or legacy as the doorman who allowed Capektain Vantoch in to see Mr Bondy and hence ignited the world’s (currently) 70 million Newts and its consequent geomantic transfiguration (akin to an erstwhile benign form of global warming?)… (24 Jan 11)

This Review of WWTN will continue on another page yet to be announced in comments below.

The Review of THE DARK TOWER – THE GUNSLINGER will also continue elsewhere, to be announced in comments below.

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Black Static #20

I’m starting below another of my gradual real-time reviews. This time it is of the fiction stories in TTA Press’s ‘BLACK STATIC’Issue 20 (Dec 2010  / Jan 2011). As before, I shall attempt to draw out all the fiction’s leitmotifs and mould them into a gestalt.

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

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

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

Item image: Black Static 20

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

The fiction to be reviewed: as written by Paul Meloy & Sarah Pinborough, Nate Southard, Norman Prentiss, Barbara A. Barnett, Ray Cluley.

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

For example, Peter Tennant’s  continuously excellent ‘Case Notes’. In this issue, his reviews of Horror books are second to none, as ever.  To cross-check them with my own real-time reviews, this issue’s PT reviews overlap with my own in these three cases: Remember You’re A One-Ball by Quentin S Crisp, Literary Remains by R.B. Russell, Lost Places by Simon Kurt Unsworth. (24 Dec 10)

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The Compartments of Hell by Paul Meloy & Sarah Pinborough

“…but then who knew when this shit had started hitting the fan?”

It’s Christmas Eve and if this is Santa Claus’ present to me – it’s certainly a present to the world from out of the blue – a post-apocalypse “it’s the thought that counts” – as those who have cracked and spiked enough are protected from the most gruesome, brain-ripping images I think I have ever read. By a long way!  And I would have spliffed and spliced what I just said with not only a prayer of thank you but also a f**king prayer of thank you. And I don’t usually swear.  This shit hit this fan, then, when these two authors came together – and produced this gotterdammerwrung (sp?) of guts.  It’s spilled all over Christmas.  No exaggeration.  (24 Dec 10 – two hours later)

(review to be continued here in due course after Götterdämmerung or Christmas whichever comes first or last)

Going Home, Ugly Stick In Hand by Nate Southard

It’s as if the characters in the previous story have, in extremis, downloaded Ian Dury’s Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick … or an early Beetles’ hit.  This is another post-apocalypse (a potential one or in the making), well-written, skittering, chittering, Whovianly monstrous in places – but do post-apocalypses cancel each other out? An apocalypse with a different apocalypse’s post-apocalypse? Or f**king vice versa? Another dying fall. We wonder if resolution is possible or we are being left to wonder serially whether man or manster will beat the other, through drugs or the adrenaline of sheer bravado in ludicorous expected defeat.

Gratuitousness made purposeful because we never find the purpose but we hope purpose lurks somewhere….like life. A piece of avant garde contemporary classical music – and Nate’s story is just the second movement or entr’acte or premature coda? We shall see whether the percussionist’s bust his drumskin. (25 Dec 10)

The Covered Doll by Norman Prentiss

“Sometimes things happened that didn’t happen.”

I am excited about this story for three reasons (separate and overlapping): (1) It is a touching image of childhood, hauntingly written about the ‘possessions’ of childhood. (2) At first, I was reading this as delicate contrast to the previous two stories’ apocalypticisms, but there is a telling eruption in this story similar to Meloy-and-Pinborough’s various eruptions and eructations – but here the signs of birth pangs rather than death. A squirming mass, nevertheless. This echoes back with retrocausality. And then forward again to make this story even more horrific. Forever. Perpetuo Moto. (3) Serendiptously, there are even more telling echoes with concepts of life and death via the ‘containers’ of each – strong echoes that were demonstrated yesterday, here in the UK, by Christmas Day’s edition of ‘The Royle Family’ on high-viewed popular TV.  Amazingly so.  Phenomenally so. Undeniably so. Those who watched it will know what I mean. (26 Dec 10)

Four reasons! See my concurrent review of Crimewave 11 (the Ilsa J. Bick story). (26 Dec 10 – three hours later)

The Wounded House by Barbara A. Barnett

“I yanked the covers over my head. I can’t remember if I slept again that night, or if I had ever woken to begin with…”

Let me take this stage by stage. This is a haunting story of a girl’s relationship with a grandmother and grandfather, their house, its redolent nostalgia-in-wallpaper-and-carpets…

In itself, remarkably well-written. But I can’t judge it properly. How can I? OMFG, but its relationship with the previous story and last night’s Royle Family is unmistakeable and incontravertible. The ashes almost in the Dyson!  What can have I opened? Seriously. OMFG. (26 Dec 10 – another 7 hours later)

At Night, When The Demons Come by Ray Cluley

” ‘It was f**king her?’ / The girl sucked in a breath. / ‘What?’ I reached for my gun. / ‘You said a bad word.’ ” [My asterisks]

I want to know if Meloy is harnessed to the back of Pinborough, or vice versa? This final story makes me ask that question. You won’t know why. Yet. 

“They were born to the ashes that came after.”

“I learnt that Cassie had sixteen dolls and teddies…”

This story is very powerful, apocalyptic … complementary to as well as ‘containing’ the fiction cacophonies and adagios that preceded it. Words wriggling out like several little new-born puppies or not, but “We did what we had to when we saw what was coming out”…  You see, only words can convey horror. Visuals – even with, or despite, today’s CGI effects – are certainly not in the same game. When words in fiction come together at their optimum (by design or serendipity), the nightmares are real, with new feelings injected straight into the brain forever via some indefinite sense that the reading of words facilitates and that watching or seeing never can. These ‘word-worried’ feelings are not forgotten, as a film of feelings often is forgotten when you walk home from the cinema or remove the DVD. And here, in these five tales, we have words unintentionally aimed from five separately independent angles of authorial attack. A mighty catapulting of serious demonic, eruptive forces that, with some quieter, darker moments, threaten your sanity and sleepfulness. It is up to you to channel those forces.  But rely on no drugs to protect you. (26 Dec 10 – another 3 hours later)

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“But ya ought to thank me, before I die,
For the gravel in ya guts and the spit in ya eye”

A Boy Named Sue – Johnny Cash

END

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

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The Eve of Nemonymous

I have just decided that decided has dice in it.

And remembering you’re a one-ball makes you link arms with toads.

Written on an extreme wintery time just before Christmas 2010.

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Hawling-points

  • Photobucket

    My natal chart above is no longer the Weirdmonger Wheel Collider but a diagram of the entry points to the Earth of one’s identity and hawling interactions within it for ‘Nemonymous Night’ as published by Chômu Press.

 See below for details of the Natal Chart that underpins it.

“In a top front room of one of those grander houses, a young woman woke to find herself standing in the middle of a carpet. She often woke like this, and was not surprised; but she asked herself to what room the carpet belonged this time.” —From ‘I Hear You Say So’ a story by Elizabeth Bowen (1945)

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From here: http://www.ligotti.net/showthread.php?p=51396#post51396

Quote Originally Posted by The New Nonsense

Quote Originally Posted by Nemonymous

Not so interesting as TL’s data, but mine is 18 January 1948, 5.40 pm – Essex, England. You need all that sort of data.My resultant chart has been haunting me since I first erected it in 1975.

Here’s Des’ chart (with his permission) Pretty wild!

Re DF LEWIS NATAL CHART above
(18 January 1948, 5.40 pm, Essex, England)

Hi, The New Nonsense
Thanks very much. That indeed matches my own version that I calculated laboriously about 35 years ago. I’ve lived with it ever since!
I check planetary transits etc. now and again against it even these days. I’m glad I’ve had it right all these years! Bit of a blow if I’d had it wrong all this time.
I’ve not seen my chart before quite so spectacularly and certainly never on the internet before.

The various ‘grand trines’, are competing against the Saturn and Pluto conjunct the Ascendant – and, as you can see, Saturn is in Leo, Sun in Capricorn, which is a sort of inverse dignity (!) – with Saturn controlling Capricorn, and Sun controlling Leo! I could go on…

I couldn’t erect such a chart these days. I’ve lost all the skills. But I did have some amazing correlations with my own and others’ charts when I did exercise this art all those years ago.
Will be ever in your debt, des

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1. Weirdmonger left…

Tuesday, 24 August 2010 1:32 pm :: http://weirdmonger.livejournal.com/14072

Weirdmonger Wheel Collider relevant at link immediately above.

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