Tag Archives: the dark tower

The Chômu ‘Man Who Collected Machen’



by Mark Samuels

Chômu Press 2011



Losenef Express

“…and once-elegant balconies now rot on lichen-crusted facades.”

An atmospheric story on a train about a grizzled American abroad in Eastern Europe as a self-referential writerly exercise in imbibing Lovecraftian nips plus a gratuitous murder a la Camus.  Or as near gratuitous as possible, were it not for the input of self. (1 June 10)


“Barron consumed his meal inside, but then took hot coffee on a sheltered balcony overlooking the main square.”

After an American in Eastern Europe, we now have another American and he is in Mexico, including similar curt glances in a public place – leading to a tale within a tale, of MR-Jamesian-like warning.  A traditional macabre tale for those who enjoy such tales, effectively steeped in Mexican landscapes and a Mexican mythos with underlying Catholic sensibilities. (2 Jun 10).

Glickman the Bibliophile

“He was not a commercially successful author and had no agent, merely indulging in post-retirement fantasies of authorial fame.”

A cataclysmic yet deadpan relating of I-lessness amid a gratuitous destruction of books and of all words real and electronic, to the extent of human physicality being wedded to that very process. Gratuitous except for the reasons given by the words I have just read about the process. A fable that will continue to give me food for thought. (2 June 10 – six hours later)

The Man Who Collected Machen

“After I had turned twenty-one, in 1969…”

This story is a must for all Arthur Machen lovers. Full of a pungent ambiance of book-collecting, smoking (Condor is (or was) a pipe tobacco), interconnecting conspiracies of, say, magus and common landlady, and a dark-effulgent London city that reminded me of ‘A Fragment of Life’.  Places and tomes that only exist in ‘magic fiction’ as opposed to ‘magic realism’….  And a blessed imprisonment that ordinary prisoners would die for. (3 Jun 10).

A Slave of Melancholy

“…the wizened ancient merely sighed, drew more deeply on his pipe…”

A Dunsanyan fantasy of a decayed city and a demanding goddess – a dream that may stay with you should you be in tune with such timeless arabesques of literature, as I am. There is an element of this book’s first story, too, a grizzled traveller and a self on self threat , here assisted by an original sense of the zombie… Meanwhile, I say it is futile to call life futile, for it is. (3 June 10 – another 2 hours later)


“He drew out a packet of cigarettes…”

My favourite tale so far, this tells of a “word sickness” and other things that disfigure the mouth, in parallel with some Tower of Babel / Wittgenstein concept of language. It is genuinely frightening – a sense of horror at something that happens to all of us, i.e. being taken over by a natural process as part of growing-up, one we all know without really thinking about it.  [Also seen in the light of ‘Glickman the Bibliophile’, one needs to take time out & go sit in a smoky bar and just think thoughts. But do we think in English? I hope that bloke in the corner looking at me is not about to speak to me…!] (3 June 10 – another 90 minutes later)

A Question of Obeying Orders

“…he extracted his packet of cigarettes from inside his jacket, lit one with the candle on the table, drew on it, paused, and then blew out deep blue smoke into the air. The wine had made his thoughts hazy and tobacco aided his concentration. / He flicked ash from the tip…”

Another loner, this time a soldier deserting the Kaiser’s army  … faced, via a tableau vivant, with Horror of a traditional nature, but which tradition?  Meanwhile, another self on self confusion, effectively visualised dramatically. A monster summoned to shoot in a different war of souls. (3 June 10 – another hour later)

The Age of Decayed Futurity

I first real-time reviewed this story last Christmas.

“Often, when I am smoking and absolutely alone, I turn up my skirt and press the burning tip of my cigarette onto the cold white flesh of my thighs.”

This is a Samuels classic. One that ends with talk of pages covered in emptiness (or words in Thyxxolqu?). A writerly Self-Referentiality, zombification, conspiracy, retrocausality of self, and the phenomenon of Celebrity (cf Glickman), this story (as well as adding other themes like modern horror writers’ general trademark topic of static on untuned wireless or television etc), fits any new book like a hand in glove.  But whose hand? (3 Jun 10 – another 30 minutes later)

The Black Mould

“It was in the attempt to destroy itself that the mould consumed everything else…”

Although the previous story is a Samuels classic, this one is possibly a general classic – one of creeping cosmic horror. I can easily imagine myself as a young man in the Sixties loving this story, reading it aloud several times to myself and then to others (as I did then), savouring each word of this rich prose and visionary power.  Yes, genuinely, this is great old-fashioned stuff. And I sense the authorial soul of this book relishes old-fashioned horror and traditional weird literature and is an exponent of it, with tinges and twinges of modern originality to pepper the effects.  ‘The Black Mould’, old -fashioned, yet instinctively a tale for our times. (3 June 10 – another 45 minutes later)

Nor Unto Death Utterly (by Edmund Bertrand)

I first came across this author’s by-line in the Samuels collection ‘Glyphotech’ (which was the subject of my first ever real-time review in 2008 HERE).

“…a form in which modernity played no part; other than to facilitate the return of the glory of the past.”

This story is a wonderful Poesque tale in highly textured antique prose, whereby “metempsychosis” or transformation bears a kinship with the ‘Intentional Fallacy’ and Nemonymity – and whereby felt past preoccupations of horror (felt by this reader on behalf of the story’s imputed head-lease author) regarding different forms of transformation, unnatural and possibly evil.  Relating to gender or to a Goddess sensibility that even Christian conversions sometimes reveal for me regarding ‘Our Lady’, i.e. for me as a non-believing bystander. Disregarding that possible irrelevant subtext, this tale is thought-provoking in many other respects and lends more traditional Horror Genre delights to those of us who often thirst after them. (3 Jun 10 – another 90 minutes later)

A Contaminated Text

“For them the track of time is from end to beginning…”

This story is an acquired taste. It is nothing without the rest of the book  (so far). One sheds light on the other. Hollow world? Hawler world, I say.  Secret wisdoms.  And the whole book (so far) is contained or contaminated by two consecutive sentences in this story:

They dreamt of a decayed city of inverted steeples shrouded in fog, of black stars in a blood-red sky, of being dead-but-alive, and of searching after a cryptic symbol of no human origin, a symbol which alone brought oblivion. They were tormented by a voice seeming to call from a great distance, a voice muttering unintelligible words, a voice that bubbled and spat like hot tar.”

It should have used a filter tip.

A major book (so far). Samuels is Poe plus Borges and a lot more.  His work is better and worse than it seems.  But that is its skill.

In a few months, I will come back here and comment in a new real-time on my own review. (3 June 10 – another 4 hours later)


The Tower

“Its first appearance occurred moments after I had woken for the day, had lit a cigarette and sat absent-mindedly in my easy chair looking out the window, with a completely clear frame of reference.”

I feel I was destined to leave reading this story until now. For the past few weeks – quite by chance – and due to be continued in forthcoming weeks – I have been reading and real-time reviewing on-line — the epic novel series by Stephen King with the overall title of ‘The Dark Tower’. Of overall Proustian length and strength. A gigantic and hugely important work for any interested in Weird Literature I feel. Whether it be by seepage between the doors of the Jungian archetypes, this short story by Samuels has for me crystallised a major event in my reading life. And I still don’t know how it may be further crystallised. The Samuels story seems to be a personal catharsis of life, death, politics, (un)sociableness, eschatology, spirituality, creativity, Ligottian pessimism (and variations thereon), etc…..using the narrative tropes of Lovecraft, Machen and other story writers of this ilk, yet, knowing his fiction as I do, this is entirely crystallised and discretely pure Samuels – a major visionary work that actually makes the Chômu book complete, a sense of satisfaction for me, hanging in the air as it has been, without me knowing it was hanging in the air, like the Tower itself. (31 Mar 11)

PS: The book itself wherefrom I have just read ‘The Tower’ is a very neat, well-produced paperback purchased from Amazon and received today – truly beautiful to handle and view – and with  a cover of the reddest red I think I have ever seen! (31 Mar 11 – another 30 minutes later)


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THE DARK TOWER: The Waste Lands

My on-going real-time reviews of THE DARK TOWER novels by STEPHEN KING.  Continued from here: https://nullimmortalis.wordpress.com/2011/02/01/the-dark-tower-the-drawing-of-the-three/

All reviews written without reading the books’ introductions … nor reading reviews or anything else about the books other than King’s pure fiction itself.

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

There is no guarantee how quickly this review will progress, whether it be days or years.


first published 1991 – this edition New English Library 2003


There are three quotations from TS Eliot, Robert Browning and Robert Aickman leading to…

Book One: Jake: Fear in a Handful of Dust

I. Bear and Bone. 1 -2

“…to use as much as it was possible to use so that no part of the animal was wasted;”

 Roland, Eddie, wheeled-Susannah (odetta, undettaed) – travelling the deeply wild, if textured, text of this tween-treen-countryland … R reapplying the lore of his cortish coltish upbringing to teach the instinctive gun-law to S – backbitefiring = until a LOST-like creature topples trees nearer and nearer …a giant bear? [For me, this Kingstuff-style matures with  retrocausality of  the two brains (one oldening and the other still young) within it.] (19 Feb 11)

3 – 6

“…a bear the size of King Kong.”

E’s affectioning out his childhood past – his mind ‘watching out’ now for his late brother who earlier ‘watched out’ for E – but the bear-giant (with something metal on its face?) lumbers E up the lumber, and only S’s just-found shooting skills can save him…. [I think King is carving these ideas from a singular plot that already exists in his private museland – the Carvery-King…] (19 Feb 11 – three hours later)

7 – 10

“She felt an insane urge to touch him everywhere until she was absolutely sure of his reality.”

All this almost a forerunner of LOST – with the giant  ‘wormy phlegm’ cyborg (threaded with Richard Adams) as an ancient-intended forest-keeper  … and the human adventurers (with guts and instinctive will-power of skill) within this ‘island’ of creativity still come forth or carved from within this fiction with real mystification or mysticism, but strangely real like dehologrammed hologrammes in the imaginative space before me where I read this book.  Makes me unaccountably want to weep…. (20 Feb 11)

11 – 14

“Some far-off tickle like the feeling of déjà vu…  […] …from a when someplace… […] but they were lost places, too.”

I am tween the nexus of explanation and the mystery of things that did happen or didn’t happen but should have happened: and the Jake ‘ghost-boy’ or ‘ghost or boy’ – and the “Great Old Ones” and the horoscopic coordinates of the Dark Tower… A good campfire tale – or the truth by telling it that way to make it seem like fiction to ease any danger of knowing what could happen? Borrowers live in Drawers, but that is a crazy thought (my thought, not the book’s, but the book is never in control of your thoughts, is it?). (20 Feb 11 – another 3 hours later)

15 – 20

“In the morning we’ll follow the bear’s backtrail…”

Following the chewing upon the contrails of the jawbone in the campfire – a campfire that I projected into this section of review from the previous ones – Roland knows more than even the king head-lease author it seems, but then, equally, the author knows more than Roland as the author sees into and reports one Eddie’s ritually visionary, almost ‘Masonic’, dream of keys, fire and roses…and a new version of his own New York backstory holding a real book by Wolfe: “You Can’t Go Home Again” that seems to be a prequel of the very book I’m reading in this my own version of reality, one retrocausing even real text to change to different real text in both books! [Then Dharma-like loudspeakers…]  (21 Feb 11)

21 -24

“The quickest way to learn about a new place is to know what it dreams of.”

Some beautiful one-liners, amid an otherwise pedestrian or fabricated section of time-paradox or Whovian discussion about who?-ness: Walter, Jack Mort, Jake… One-liners, yes, but I am amusing myself with the rail-ka track (my parallel review and reviewed text) of two-liners – and “I’m going insane an inch at a time, trying to live with two versions of the same reality.” (22 Feb 11)

25 – 26

“…Eddie realized that what he had taken for gray soil was more bones, bones so old they were crumbling back to dust.”

Back to dust? Well, there is something significant about that, but most readers like you only remember, in this section, the remarkable fight with the cyborgs (more robot than cyborg, I’d say) after following to the end of the bear’s tree-crushing backtrail.  Like shooting radars off of sitting ducks? Well, not quite. And that Susannah creeps up on you.  A loose cannon, I’d say.  And I’m a loose cannon-reader – be warned, any of you robots reading this!  (23 Feb 11)

27 – 29

To whom are these references: Stephen King or Roland the Gunslinger? “There’s a lot about my world I don’t know […] And there are things I used to know which have changed” and “…Because the world is growing.” Judging by the growing size of the then unknown subsequent books that hold the holy relics of this world, I think we know the answer to that question. We need the continued use of the characters’ speech catechisms to urge the un-urgeable and to unsick the sick narrator or sick head-lease author…. or sick reader? Meanwhile, Eddie dreams of dream-doorways and places he used to know beyond them. (24 Feb 11)

30 – 32

“Yeah, put it on a postcard and send it to the fucking Reader’s Digest.”

If lands have ley-lines, King Magic Fiction (as opposed to King Magic Realism) has ‘Beams’ – story-beams or paths that the words border: so, not reading between the lines as such, but moving along the letter-impeded horizontals of space: cutting them back, carving into the bits you’ve carved off…. (24 Feb 11 – another hour later)

II. Key and Rose. 1 – 4

“One was of a door – he thought it might be the one at Number 10, Downing Street, in London –“

Jake’s backstory. Thinking him to be mad when looking for doors or portals, we, in our own madness, knew he must once have or would once have entered from his otherwise normal boyhood in real-time to inhabit the desert sun of the equally real-time of this review or of the parts of the fiction – he enters so as to inhabit – that are real by virtue of this review reviewing its own assessment of the past as sections of an already written or to-be-written or never-to-be-written book now shuffled into respective ownerships or shares of reality, shuffled and re-shuffled by the readers of this review, not by any other force. Authors are just figureheads. The book being reviewed is not even a pre-requisite.  Readers are everything. This review is taking over all jurisdiction…liberating us from all king tyrants during a new Arab Spring without the constraints of any book, holy or otherwise. (24 Feb 11 – another 3 hours later)

5 – 12

“I’m in a place I don’t know, he thought. I mean, I will know it – or would have known it if…”

A pivot for the book as well as for Jake. A bifurcation of destiny in an infinite number of bifurcations?  One can easily forget – by familarity – what a great writer Stephen King is (and has been), probably the greatest ever, if one really gets down to examining him and those he has influenced and those greats that influenced him and, by retrocausality or backstory, became ever greater because of him.  Just look at his treatment, in this section, of a great day in one’s life, suddenly realised. And the doors opening on doors and what we can expect from our own internal powers that we’ve all got if we can just tap them.  Some good some bad.

“Yet he could not look around, as you couldn’t look around in dreams when something awful was gaining on you.” (26 Feb 11)

13 – 16

“It was a wonderful high humming, inexpressibly lonely and inexpressibly lovely.”

Jake’s being beamed towards premonition of things that have already happened or half-happened mingles Alice with Oz. Deja with View. Chew with Choo. Riddle with middle, and vice versa. It’s as if the book thinks it can now only be read by readers with style and panache.  And we all know that’s true.  (26 Feb 11 – four hours later)

17 – 20

“P.S. If you left school today because you had sudden doubts about my ability to understand a Final Essay of such unexpected richness, I hope I have assuaged them.”

It is now as if Jake believes he is the one who deserves readers of style and panache like us!  The actual or literary obsession with the rose (Blake’s ‘sick rose’ or Gertrude Stein’s ‘a rose is a rose is a rose’?) , the Way Station (that he visited before or is about to visit again or for the first time and indeed with him halfway between an Exam Fever at real school and the Gunslinger’s world, this is, for me, an unstated Way Station in itself, a Way Station about a Way Station), the key with its own secret ‘s’ key, and back to Jake’s own Essay in the ‘real world’, his relationship with his parents, all a dream or just a creative writing exercise, without any help from Stephen King or from us readers humouring him that it’s all one big fiction conspiracy to make him feel he’s going mad rather than becoming an authorial genius – but perhaps, if the latter, only Jake can decide whether to humour us. (27 Feb 11)

21 -23

“The needle knows nothing about magnetic north; it only knows it must point in a certain direction,”

Rev W Awdry, Thomas the Tank Engine, but here in American style with Charlie the Choo Choo, as Susannah’s name is dropped in, almost imperceptibly, dropped in a children’s book about trains that Jake was destined to find in his possession (one steeped in his own childhood) and a book we are destined to read through his eyes, trains with smiles, rhymes, riddles, often suspicious smiles… and (for me) C.S. Lewis had ‘portals’ or doors  (C.S. Lewis rhymes with D.F. Lewis), H.P. Lovecraft, The Silver Chair, The Silver Key…my own stream of consciousness like the stream of consciousness his teacher said Jake’s prize essay admirably demonstrated… (27 Feb 11 – four hours later)

III. Door and Demon. 1 – 6

“ARE you me?”

Jake still hovers between (1) those we know we follow for real and for certain and (2) those we follow for real but not for certain. This is not really fiction reading as we think we know it; this is continuously strobing between dream and religion more like (for me, anyway).  A Cheshire Cat’s smile on my face. Mid-World seems the new buzz word, please don’t Miss it. (28 Feb 11)

7 – 13

“And he was increasingly nervous about that little squiggle at the end. It looked simple, but if the curves weren’t exactly right . . .”

…as if even the head-lease creator of the currently (re-)converging worlds of Roland and Jake is tussling and grappling with the tiniest detail of a cross-section of dream and religion that forms the on-going Beam or Audit Trail. A single slip and I will merely be staring at things as they pass by and vanish over the fiction-horizon … like within the ‘mind’ of a stationary billy-bumbler.  I sense, too, there is an element of the Romantic Wild West (seen from the vantage point of this UK reader in the shape of me and from that of the paintings that Jake now sees on “French leave“) that is trying to force itself into my reading-mind, like Roland’s mind entered earlier into Eddie’s mind when the latter was “on a Delta jet bound into JFK airport.” (28 Feb 11 – two hours later)

14 – 17

“You have come from the shadow of the heroin and the shadow of your brother, my friend. Come from the shadow of yourself,”

Roland to Eddie. As Miss World starts her Mid-Wifery, to ease Jake into Threesome world. There are elements here that make you cry, but why? Perhaps because you realise you are too old to finish this ever-lengthening series of books.  The last Stand. And I realise that I earlier predicted in a previous section without foresight “A ROSE IS A ROSE IS A ROSE” in this later section today.

“Didn’t I just say I’m livink here twenty-two years? Two blogs down.” (1 Mar 11)

18 – 24

“Once again he waited for the feeling of remembering forward to seize him, but it didn’t come.”

The hovering, slow-motion strobing(?) …. and ghosts or haunted buildings (or Eddie and his brother Henry being ghosts of themselves?) is possibly explained by the interface between ‘alternate worlds’ or between ‘time-zones’ – or “dream/religion”, “fiction/truth”, as Jake still (re-)converges and the key, ka, king-pin continues to be perfected by instinctive carving or by writing, then reading the writing… (2 Mar 11)

25 – 29

“…to Jake it suddenly seemed that the man who had written that poem had must have seen this house:”

King at his horrific word-supremest – amid demon rape and haunted house (and T.S. Eliot) – as Jake is midwifed or drawn towards birth pangs from old industrial US towards (we infer) golden-spired mid-world us – waiting for him – with Roland et al.  The Beam is ‘expecting’. (2 Mar 11 – four hours later)

30 – 44

“…as if each of them had a finger stuck in one of those fiendish Chinese tubes, where yanking only sticks you tighter.”

A catatonic, almost apocalyptic, sequence of events, with chapter sizes piling up shorter and shorter like lock-tumblers tumbling, as Jake’s door-entry back or forward is not like a simple walking through it any more but a fight with a house’s plaster-saint as it kicks into being – and scenes ripe with provocative female defilement but which even Susannah’s Innah Dettah unconsciously helps to assuage…  Time and Motion in Whovian, Lostian front- and back-stories within Chinese tubes each with baffles that equally ease or block the fables, quicken or quench the veils and piques of landscape as well as the vulnerable characters while underpinned by visionary power… (3 Mar 11)

Book Two: LUD: A Heap of Broken Images

The Heap of Broken Images image reminds me – somewhat pretentiously – of my own long-seasoned considerations regarding ‘The Synchronised Shards of Random Truth & Fiction’.  Perhaps I am meeting myself coming backwards here when reading these books for the first time?

IV. Town and Ka-Tet. 1- 3

Jake, (re-)arrived, with the ‘door-apocalypse’ seemingly over, now makes up the Quar-Tet rather than the Three, and they continue, as a Quest for a Quest, amid drumbeats (that used to be heard in the ‘Wild West’ from red Indians?), towards a spired city via the onset of a small town and its presumably occupied buildings.  Meanwhile, as readers we are all here characterised as billy-bumblers (please read this section again if you’ve read it before and you may see what I mean).  And as billy-bumblers, these three quotes are directed to us by some narrator in the pecking-order or kingdom-lease of plot-unravelling:

“‘That’s a long story,’ the gunslinger said. ‘You’ll hear all of it, in time, but for now just take the pill.’ / “Some hours later Roland called a halt and told them to be ready. – ‘For what?’ Eddie asked. – Roland glanced at him. ‘Anything.'” / “It’s always better to go straight on, unless there’s a good visible reason not to.” (4 Mar 11)

4 – 7

“It’s been long and long since I’ve seen a bumbler in company with people . . . seems they have lost the memory of the days when they walked with men.”

I, incognito as a billy-bumbler called Oy (I), keep my head down. This is probably the first book review you’ve ever read by one of the characters from inside its plot.  And the ka-tet and Oy meet a group of gentle inscrutable oldsters in the first township like the amish might have been if within a cross between LOST and McGoohan’s Prisoner and this painting … a group concerned with other groups (?) called Harriers, Grays and Pubes… (4 Mar 11 – five hours later)

8 – 11

“Oy shifted at his feet.”

I was wrong about the drums being Red Indians, as the others speculate about lost civilisations, cannibals, jungles etc – or God Drums?  Whatever case, they send a shiver down my spine, as  I listen directly and indirectly to the history from the oldsters of Lud City, and whether we should cross it or go round it – its civil war etc reminding me of Libya today whose war “has guttered like a chimney fire.”  The narrative mechanics of the book itself is like such a civil war. Much else is told and heard that may be significant but I will pick it up later if it is, such as Blaine, the mono-rail…. All slowly intriguing, immanent rather than imminent. (5 Mar 11)

12 – 16

“They reached the place that would become, once the fire was lit, just another campsite on the road to the Dark Tower.”

Roland, Eddie, Susannah, Jake make a poignant farewell to the oldsters and veer off into drumbeat and  the  spired ludcity and the dream-Mono in and out of lucidity.  Oy, they speculate, am a wounded refugee from others of my kind because I am dead clever.  “Too bright – or too uppity.” (5 Mar 11 – six hours later)

17 – 21

“Do you think Oy might be part of our ka-tet?”

The book’s answer to that question makes me think that oy should cease these references to Oy as the reader, i.e. me. It is getting too close to home. Almost worrying. So however strong or weak this connection becomes in my future reading of these books, however strong or weak Oy’s character or importance becomes, I shall endeavour not to mention ‘him’ again.  Meanwhile this section treats further of the meanings of ‘ka-tet’ and ‘khef’ as we ”palaver’ together campside, the nearby builderly mechanics of the city and its bridge casting imaginary shadows on my mind.  Connections and shards (“glints“) aplenty … ‘drawing’ realth as well as its paucity (my words, not the book’s). JFK (11/22/63?), Matt Dillon…  And, concerning backtrails, is it so surprising that the words Beam and Bear (Shardik) differ by only one letter? (6 Mar 11)

22 – 25

“I feel it, and I’m scared to death. But it’s not your trouble, it’s our trouble. Okay?”

Charlie and the Choo Choo book and the connections with then and now, now and then, then and now, now and then…  [Personally, the mixed feeling in this section (‘dread’ not being quite the mot juste) about this CharCharChooChoo book and about the immanent imminence of the city that the ka-tet approaches reminds me of the ‘covered market’ and ‘Ogdon’s Pub’ in Nemonymous Night. Maybe some future reader of this retrocausal real-time review will know exactly what I mean by that. Meanwhile, it’s too early to say. Even for me.] (6 Mar 11 – an hour later)

V. Bridge and City. 1 -4

This is the sort of story where, sooner or later, the characters will come upon a “downed airplane” and then spend a large part of the narrative guessing riddles. We’ve come to that point. Someone later made a whole missing generation of TV serials on that premise.  (6 Mar 11 – another 2 hours later)

5 – 8

“The chambers weren’t neat hexagons but random holes of all shapes and sizes;”

Lethargic bees – and pushing Susannah in her wheelchair resumes its problems of surface, – and with the apparent entropy of the rail-track, Lud city’s insidiously looming presence of graduality is perhaps something we will dream about forever. Somehow, I hope Roland doesn’t accede to the request to narrate his own past at any length so that we can continue uninterrupted in this Vein towards Blaine?  (David Blaine?)  [Roland indeed seems to acknowledge our willingness to be taken slowly into the city but our equal impatience to do so.] (7 Mar 11)

9 – 14

Eddie inspected the closest one with the avid interest of a man who may be soon be entrusting his life to the object he is studying.”

I know the feeling!  As the ka-tet crosses the precarious bridge of narration deeper into Lud – and they meet Gasher with a grenado – who wants Jake. [I shall need to be abstemious with plot recapitulation as the redolence fills my memory-nostrils. Impressions should be the food of reviews, not spoilt spoilers, by assuming you’ve all been here before.]

…the stink of a mattress that has caught fire, smouldered for awhile, and then been put out with sewer-water. He suddenly understood Lud.” (7 Mar 11 – seven hours later)

15 – 18

“‘What are you talking about, Edward Dean?’ / ‘Nothing’, he said, and because that was so goddam true he thought he might burst into tears,”

Our gestalt group poignantly splits in two after Gasher-napping, as the teetering balance of wired and brokenly tessellated metal-ruins makes me giddy with the power of the words that describe this Klaxon City, makes me forget they are words at all – and that effectively, when compared, I’m just another Gash-infected zombie-reader whose real-time words here are not mine at all.  Balanced finely between Susannah’s earlier visionary balm and her now nightmarish cataclashing of sight and sound. (8 Mar 11)

19 – 21

“There are a great many machines under Lud and there are ghosts in all of them – demonous spirits…”

I have written eslewhere today:-  “As I get towards the end of the third volume (The Waste Lands) I realise that this section at least is a significant and original treatment of Zombies in horror literature.” Indeed, amid frightening environs that only reading will make you believe in, surrounded by Proustian or Dwarfish selves populating both machines and heads. Tick-Tock Man, Spanker, Blaine …. Gidifee? (my name for someone, not this book’s).   A civil war as a scatology of eschatology.  Taken willy-nilly along a god-drumming, rail-sleepered Beam (or B(l)ane or Blame?) of Literature. (8 Mar 11 – two hours later)

22 – 24

“I thought he’d come after his  juicy little nightnudge a right smart, if he was to come at all, and so he did.”

There are things I’m realising about Odetta/ Detta / Susannah and how the first two blend to come the third, and then the mighty citysight of the The Cradle (as we learn something else that Eddie has given her or put inside her and waiting to be taken out of her!) – and the Manhole leading down to Lud’s hawling-grounds (my expression, not the book’s).  And Gasher – and the ‘dying fall’ of the Hansel & Gretel couple, their smoulder-love paralleling the love of Susannah and Eddie – and that nameless one (I vowed namelessness to save my own skin) who can help with certain aspects of the plot having ‘read’ other aspects of the plot: i.e. leading people accordingly through obstacles. I could ramble on. The book rambles on. That’s what so good about it … leading to the Golden Statue of the Cowboy at the end of this section. As if it has always been there. Not only in this book. But in all my dreams before I started reading it.  (8 Mar 11 – another 7 hours later)

25 – 27

“Ther’s haunts down here, boy.  They live inside the fuckin’ machines, so they do. Singin’ keeps ’em off…”

And singing is like telling, in the way of Johnny Cash.  And keep telling, Stephen, keep rambling, keep singing, I say! Things are getting big, some of the chapters longer and longer, as our trifurcation of protagonists race with or behind Gasher the booby-trapped maze under the city or inside their own tri-furcated minds.  And vast visions – like the pink Blaine Mono – burrow right into what I dreamt last night even though I hadn’t read this yet.  Passwords and doors. The only way to say ‘bountiful’ to the Tick Tock Man is with all the letters mixed up, like the names of junk email senders.  A Symphony of Sirens, this city, and tannoys for lost passengers in time.  Lost readers each with a different book, but who still understand my daily reviews. [Miss a day, and you’d wonder where I was, wouldn’t you? Or gone crazy.]  (9 Mar 11)


I am just about to start 28. of this section – and I’ve had a revelation, a sudden Road to Damascus:- The Dark Tower is an important premonition of the Large Hadron Collider: (cf the Blaine Mono, the Lud under-city shaped like LHC in ancient retrospect, the Beam, The Berne Zoo Bear, the Cern Zoo Lion’s Den, the Retrocausality, the doors, Charlie’s Choo Choo – it’s all here. AMAZING!  And today of all days, as I realise this, I also learn we are all going to die next Wednesday possibly as a result of the LHC (and, if so, I am never going to finish the Dark Tower books). [NB: I was editor and publisher of CERN ZOO in 2009.] (10 Mar 11)

“Running all around the single curved wall in vertical lines were tubes of neon in alternating strokes of color: red, blue, green, yellow, organge, peach, pink. These long tubes came together in roaring rainbow knots at the bottom and top of the silo … if that was what it had been. […] Another draft, this one issuing from a circular band of ventilators like the ones in the tunnel they had followed here, swirled about four or five feet above Jake’s head. On the far side of the room was a door identical to the one through which he and Gasher had entered and Jake assumed it was a continuation of the subterranean corridor following the Path of the Beam. […] The hands of the clock were moving faster than they should have done, and Jake was not very surprised to see that they were moving backward.”

I believe this scene  – which I watch (“Two gold-ringed eyes floated in the dark behind the chrome louvres” and that’s me!) – is one of the greats of Literature with a capital L, i.e. the meeting of Jake and the Tick Tock Man.  Gobsmattering. (10 Mar 11 – two hours later)

29 – 34

“He had seen doors like this a long time ago – you couldn’t shoot out the locks, and you certainly couldn’t hear through them. There might be one; there might be two, facing each other, with some dead air-space in between.”

As an aside – or, indeed, entirely relevant to the above – Stephen King announced yesterday that in 2012 there would appear a new novel as an inquel to the Dark Tower series: The Wind Through The Keyhole.  Do I leave reading this new novel till the end (ie until after reading and reviewing the current final book entitled ‘The Dark Tower’) or do I pause my real-time review after Wizard and Glass until TWTTK is published? [A genuine question to those who have already read the whole series to date. Please kindly reply to dflewis48@hotmail.com.] Meanwhile, this section proved how brave I am as a reader – or foolhardy – to add to my own “dry pragmatsim and wild intuition“!  Riddling Little Blaine, Tickling Ticky into mistakes, this book is brave to have such wildness itself.  One wonders who is really in control.  I’m just intrigued by the concepts of a Large Hadron Choo Choo… one that speaks and has witty rejoinders as well as fascination with ‘frictive patterns and dipthong stress-emphasis’. [But shouldn’t it be diphthong?]  The tantamount-to-a-wild-west-shootout at the end of this section is still shooting-out as our protagonist groups begin to re-converge or shake-out or ‘shuffle’ back… (11 Mar 11)

35 – 37

“…huge engines powered by frictionless slo-trans turbines awoke the command of the dipolar computers the Tick-Tock man had so lusted after. For the first time in a decade, Blaine the Mono was awake and cycling up toward running speed. […] … who had always believed that the ghosts lurking in the machines below the city would some day rise up to take their long-delayed vengeance on the still living, … […] … the unthinkable machinery which maintained the Beams…”

As our ka-tet’s plot potential re-converges in this section (much danger resolved but noises and beams still at play), I must point out that the link I gave here yesterday to that ‘Next Wednesday’ Earthquake & Hadron Collider article contained a picture of a huge devastating whirlpool. Without making too much of it in times of tragedy and catastrophe – to which we are all today giving our thoughts and prayers – on the news this morning, there was a live broadcast of a similar whirlpool near Japan. (11 Mar 11 – two hours later)

38 – 40

If madness can be creative, we have it here. Not King’s madness, not mine, not even yours. But the soul of this book (is it Wizard, or is it upon an even higher pecking order yet to be revealed by the book) as the Tick-Tock Man (now with name: Quick)  is exhumed by not frictives or diphthongs, not by fictives and dibbuks, but by us-as-the-book, or not exhumed, but resurrected ‘religiously’ – as we grow pleased at our ka-tet‘s own regrouping but fearful that forces are growing beyond all control, as we fictively travel within or through or upon or as the Mind of the Mono itself (a mind that feeds on, inter alia, Riddles) – or so I interpret.  Intrigued, too, how the forces of the book that are insulated within another discrete world can still tap into our own discrete world (from where we read it) osmotically or by some other means of poetry… “‘IN THE ROOMS THE PEOPLE COME AND GO,’ Blaine said, ‘BUT I DON’T THINK ANY OF THEM ARE TALKING OF MICHAELANGELO.’“(11 Mar 11 – another 90 minutes later)

VI. Riddle and Waste Lands. 1 – 6

“Violet dots appeared at irregular intervals along the line, and even before names appeared beside the dots, Eddie realized he was looking at a route-map, …”

A premonition of the sat-nav/ gps in ‘Full Dark, No Stars”? Here the journey is as on a Hawling-Drill – with an obstreperous Blaine-voice like Jules Verne’s Captain Nemo and with both comfort / décor and deliberate danger as Lud is crossed in the aftermath of the Tic-Toc, with Susanah beset internally and externally by versions of the Odetta and Detta souls – and another premonition, this time of CGI as views are either chosen or discarded for viewing in real-time from the train’s viewing cabin… (11 Mar 11 – another two hours later)

7 -10

“The lands below had been fused and blasted by some terrible event – the disastrous cataclysm which had driven this part of the world deep into itself…”

We are riddled towards an outcome. But I remain very sad that – today of all days as the world is driven even deeper – I earlier disowned myself and dare no longer even say my own name or, if nameless, exactly who I am.  Perhaps I can outstay my welcome by failing to answer my own riddle.

“There is some deep sickness at the Dark Tower, which is at the heart of everything. It’s spreading.”

END (11 Mar 11 – another 2 hours later)


I shall be real-time reviewing in due course the fourth book in ‘The Dark Tower’ series. Please watch for an eventual  announcement and the link to it in the comments below.


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