Saturday, February 09, 2019

The Clockworm – Karen Heuler

The Clockworm – Karen Heuler

TARTARUS PRESS 2018 (my previous reviews HERE)
When I read this book, my thoughts will appear in the comment stream below…

26 thoughts on “The Clockworm – Karen Heuler

  1. The photo below first appeared in one of my reviews in 2013 HERE.
    36b7c045-5216-4580-ac43-1dfce02c457cHERE AND THERE
    “She seemed to think through her fingertips, always reaching for shapes that she could use to build her bridges.”
    The inspired and up-spiring story of Nola Poterri, from childhood onward into age, a story that affected me deeply. What a magnificent start to this book! From outset, she is obsessed with building bridges, layers of them, from point to point, centre to centre, miraculously described, towards an invisible bridge and paper ones, building sometimes to the chagrin of neighbours, later with their gratitude, and with the perhaps equivocal support of her father, but enduring the lack of support for women as civil engineers, and as beset by sexual abuse. Infrequently described deadpan, sometimes magically. The yearning machinations, as I see them, towards bridge-nirvana are implicit and explicit in this story, a story that serves as a wonderful fable for my own gestalt real-time reviewing and other literary bridge-building over most of my life…
    “I see a point and I see the links to the points that constellate them. I go for the ones with the most links. They’re obviously the strongest.”
  2. Pingback: “I see a point and I see the links to the points that constellate them. I go for the ones with the most links. They’re obviously the strongest.” | DES LEWIS GESTALT REAL-TIME REVIEWS - established 2008 Edit
    The second proto-architectural story in a row with a girl’s full name starting it, here Audra Donchell. e6bc6b92-20e8-4287-bace-b34524d6a3f7 Another story which seems invented for ‘hyper-imaginative’ as optimal hawling (“They worked for two days that way, barely speaking, pushing in lines and pulling them out, sewing the island, tugging at it, patting it and pushing it.”) – here hawling the worst of this world’s gestalt or gaia into the best! An inverse reclamation of plastic that made me think of a Dream Archipelago of peglegs and eggs. The turtles and prosthetics, notwithstanding.
    “I wanted to see the eggs,’ she said finally. Her voice was soft; she didn’t want to seem egotistical,”
    “‘I suspect I only got permission because of my arm,’ she said and flexed it. He looked impressed. ‘That must be handy,’ he said.”
    “They told their stories, one by one, what they lost and how they had gained a replacement.”
    “: all connected, all synchronous.”
    “You need advice from someone with more connections.”
    The recurrent story of mothers and daughters, here of Gina and her mother, one growing, the other eventually dwindling out, a deadpan (or deadjar?) random curse harder to fight than a deliberate one. Connections? Gina’s tether to her mother is described exactly as my wife has recently described her onset of back pain; the toes missing are exactly like my own toes gone numb and stiff in the last year or so, and the description of skin hawling is, for me, a sort of holistic or gestalt healing… An affective tale with tugs upon it by Ocampo and Lispector? A stoical moment in literature.
    “I lose, too, when the healing doesn’t work.”
    “It was no surprise that the footsteps came towards her. She had the power. She wanted to help.”
    A deadpan, deceptively simple text of Adele, now a social worker, and the ghostly footsteps of her departed mother or whatever force it is – and Adele’s backstory of being abused by her father, and a form of voodoo that eventually arrives and the striking, shocking conceit of an eventual army of ‘erect men’ as a paradoxical pathway to destruction of man’s evil world?
    This, for me, is either a fabulous work to remember or utter rubbish; nothing in between. I am keeping my powder dry. The proto-architecture of bridges etc, to that of other erections.
    “They already knew the vessel was unlike anything seen in novels or film. It was boxlike and clumsy.
    A door opened and out stepped two black females.”
    a4b14854-0515-453f-8a74-47e2ff8090eaExcept, notwithstanding the diluted tornado, it was the one from Oz. Ozone ecosystems, or not. This is a whimsical stream of consciousness that hangs together like a story that belies any belief in randomness. An amorally fabulous ricochet between equably stoical aliens with a long view and our human race with all its foibles of self-seriousness alongside endemic entertainment tropes. One thing that struck me is that if we received such aliens and they want to meet our main leader, we shall have to introduce them to Mr Trump! The giraffes strike me as bridge-like creatures. Pity they are dying out. And the talking kittens resonate with those in another book I am simultaneously real-timing: Kafka on the Shore by Murakami. Political correctness will never be the same after reading this Heuler hoop of a story. Am I beginning to catch on to the unique nature of this book?
  7. I AM
    A story of Holly who, after a party fling with a male scientist, becomes party to all manner of Proustian selves created by a Mad Science related to Egg Island and its plastic and 3D printing. Ground-breaking concepts extrapolated to brainstorming lengths, relating to elements of identity legal and/or self-felt, and of frightening eschatologies and of having dealings with other versions of oneself and of whether (I personally infer this additional thought) Holly merely has a holiday from Holly upon a hangover?
    “What a world Missy lived in! Conspiracies; lies; nothing real was true and nothing true was real!”
    A story of getting on with irony. Manipulated reality TV shows, inveigled bodily implants, pre-signature cancers, heat signatures, invasive neighbours, Missy’s invasive woman friend who does not implant her, but supplant her. I scratch my head and find signs of an implant that this story has left there. Whether it is a tumour that will spread further or a wonderful literary conceit with equivalent potential, remains a Misstory.
    Meanwhile, at this halfway point, I will suggest that anyone who enjoys this book will enjoy another book I reviewed here: and vice versa.
    “Seeing a new patient is like opening a new book.”
    A perfect paranoiac vignette to read straight after this Watt story, as I just did – a preternatural random accident! Their two women characters (one a character in the Watt, the other here perhaps the Heuler Hawler herself) needed such a solipsistic writerly diagnosis and healing plan to give them strength. Give me strength, too.
    “A boy fell in love with a girl, both aged three.”
    An astonishing essay on the eggs of the eponymous insect creating a swaddling, irresistible love between humans, animals and things, including perceived planetary bodies … towards a Gestalt or cosmic Gaia of love?
    A window cleaner trying to reach out to a gargoyle with which he fell in love…. as another example. A kiss and bodily twist beyond human capacity? Give us strength.
    “I admit I was lonely; it is why women all over—good women even, women of quality—fall in love with men who are acid, who are destined to corrupt one’s belief, one’s sanity, one’s sanctity.”
    An ingeniously tantalising story of Jack Figaro or Figueroa, dependant on what name is finally given him, a character whom the female (I assume) narrator creates in a written work and brings him within interface of Alice, another character whom she creates. Whether these characters have free will or not, I shall let you decide. Whether YOU have free will, my imaginary reader, is unknown to me, but whatever the case, please let me assure you that this story is a landmark read about authorial ‘Intentional Fallacy’ (see Wimsatt, in whose literary theory I have been interested since 1967); it is a classic story, I would go so far as to say. Subtle and complex, and intellectually inspiring. With social or feminist implications. As if the author has opened a door by chance when I simultaneously opened another door by chance from the other side of the corridor where we live…. (Also a portrait of how minor characters sometimes uncontrollably take over works as one progresses with writing them, as I often found in the past.)
    “‘It feels like I could fill the room with it, lift everything up, kind of explode—only I hold on to the explosion.’ His eyes got internal.”
    The perfect story of a man, as beset by national utility spies, who is self-sufficient in renewable electricity – and of his relationship with a woman. The best word for this relationship is ‘synergy’, although the story does not use it. Hope this review of such a style-crepitating story is not too glib.
    “But once they meet up with a clock, it changes everything. They work.”
    …and once one of these clockworms becomes a whole book’s title, as here, it spreads its gestalt power throughout, extrapolating, brainstorming, metaphorising, hypothesising, hyper-theorising, from pure science to mad science and back again in oscillation. Indeed, this eponymous story of invented worms (descriptively, if not prescriptively, designed differently for optimising a change in Time within either digital or geared timepieces), is a meeting between two human beings to discuss clockworms, author and reader, or the two characters themselves created by the author for the reader to read about, and I wonder who changes most or who changes first — the author’s brainstorming of the characters and their inventions within her mind (as this her book’s further extrapolation of Wimsatt) or the reader’s brainstorming as represented by this review?
    “‘I think that’s Bach,’ Tony said, surprised.
    ‘I was thinking Chopin,’ Renee answered.”
    They were both guessing, it seems.
    Two people — who are not an item and who earn pin-money by trialing new medical drugs — enter the equivocation of this work’s title, both the eventual chemistry between them and the presumably mad-scientist chemistry that created it. The drug, this time — for which they are separately interviewed about its perceived effects on them — is claimed by the author to create lust as a side effect. Lust, represented, I infer, by the Eve’s snake myth, snakes that they then see increasingly infesting Manhattan thereafter, tellingly seen in blind spots or at the peripheral edges differently from when seen head on. I gather that it is not lust, in fact, with which they are predominantly infected or blessed (blessed as some may think if love takes them after the sex), not lust but happiness, a synaesthesia of pure unbroken happiness, a phenomenon ever ungraspable, depending where and/or how you look for it. And only a few days ago I happened to write a brief prose piece called ‘Seven Days of Happiness’ (posted at that time here), a piece that I find mutually synergistic with this Hawling by Heuler. Pretentious, moi? Well, it’s in what takes me, not in what I take.
    “He was tempted to write down the word ‘happy’ and spend time thinking about it.”
    “If I were in the world, the two of us would be all over the place.”
    A bit of a non event. From the vantage points of two twins Tonia and Vivian, one of whom had survived with the other inside, descriptions in two alternate worlds with the other one inside, each with a mentally-challenged girl as a third party friend, one who surreptitiously carried scissors in her pocket.
    “Her mother wanted to make curtains but she still couldn’t use the scissors with her left hand, she held them all wrong.”
    A tantalising tale, as if we need to cut out Grace’s mother from this mother’s new dwindling self, a self with a leftside stroke, then encroaching dementia. Sharing her once childhood cut up games with her own mother, the daughter’s POV is then helping her mother in building a house, a sort of doll house that had a memory of a vanishing child, the lost Penny – to try and cinch sanity for all of us, because this story seems somehow to infect the reader with dementia, and her daughter the POV becomes ours, slowly dwindling, like the Penny. The daughter’s father increasingly keeps a low profile, the reader, too, busy busy on other affairs, other books. Better get back busier on this one?
  17. EXILE
    “At the end, she saw that all the bones were connected, for he picked up one and they all came together, and he stacked them and then shook them out, and they fell very neatly into place.”
    Yet, I am being led astray again, as in the previous tantalising work, but now even more so — along with another daughter with another father, this a step one, one intent on his affairs, yet she, along with the reader, a reader, like me, who tries to connect things, if not with bones, like another man she meets in his house when on her way back from exile towards her stepfather, but she hits a man in a car in the fog and then she has to follow vultures on foot to see whom she had hit or to resume the steps of the dance with the leading man’s hand so tantalisingly on her back…. or hers on my back, led a real dance!
    “The tall Oriental mirror had proved to be the curse of the Lewis family.”
    Perhaps this seems to be another non-event because it is outweighed by stuff that puts it in a worse light, and if it was in another book, it would be a better story? A woman coping with the family curse as represented by the mirror, by the poeple within it (equivalent to the earlier clockworms?), a strobing of cause and effect within the realms of fate. Looking within it is to see your own path to destruction, a mirror that, even when she splinters it into several mirrors and windows-acting-as-mirrors, becomes instrumental to her husband’s infidelities against her with another woman. Or are the infidelities with her against his real wife? Her name: Agnes Lewis. Or at least her maiden one.
    Following the previous story, another husband and wife – here in the tourist jungle – losing themselves in rivalries and mutualities. So unsure of its intentions, I become unsure of myself! (Wimsatt’s Intentional Fallacy again? If so, turned into its mirror image, with an author doubting the intention of a reader? Called out, at last!?)
    “She looked through it and saw she had no reflection. Maybe it wasn’t really a mirror, maybe it was a window.”
    A possible summation of this book’s earlier clockworms and snakes at the periphery of sight, and the twin-within-twin-and-vice-versa, and the reflected images of self with not even a vestigial foot out of place in the Zeno’s Paradox of Gestalt searches amid splintered stars — and here the palindromic Hannah is perhaps the new Alice heuling into view a new archetype of literature, a bridge towards an even more supreme architecture of itself within an alternate or mirror world. Figaro characters, eat your hearts out.
    This book is my gargoyle, and I am its highrise cleaner.


    Friday, February 08, 2019

    Non-Syncopated Alignments And Corporeal Jurisdictions (Stories) – Thomas Phillips

    4 thoughts on “Non-Syncopated Alignments And Corporeal Jurisdictions (Stories) – Thomas Phillips

    1. Sturdy book about 5 by 6 inches, and inclusive of a music CD that I assume to be music by the author. And some striking black and white photos. About 40 pages, restricted to 22 copies plus a few for private distribution. September 2018.
      My previous reviews of this author:
      And this publisher:
      There may be a delay before I am able to read this book.
      I warn you about this warning to the rest of the book, the rest of the book that I have not yet read. This warning itself (a sizeable proportion of the whole text in which it is embodied) may send you mad or make you very frightened, or both.
      I will not be discussing the text-accompanying photographs in this book, other than to say I find them obliquely in synergy with what I am led to expect by this initial warning.
      I intend to listen to the music CD after I have finished reading the text.
      “Is this Dada or Fluxus performance, or the mere performativity of a child under the sway of self-importance?”
      In a disarmingly aggravated prose that, nevertheless, flows smoothly, we follow one woman or two women, with a small daughter or puppy dog, or both, and car as imagined jet aeroplane, possibly. I wonder if the child got the gender of the person hanging in the tree, correctly.
      This is strangely disturbing to me, especially when I reread my own brief story ‘The Parachutist’ first published in ‘Night Owl Network’ vol 2 No 13 (1993) and first posted to be read here in 2007:
      “What is veracity in the age of seriously relative truths and imbeciles merely reacting to propaganda.”
      “: to retreat ahead of it.”
      From the translation of the de Queiroz poem (Damned Art 1939) by Alcebiades Diniz Miguel to the Francis Bacon ‘New Atlantis’ quote (aptly after which I listened to the 6’ 36” of sound bliss in the CD), I have decided that this book has given me a form of spiritual parachute, although this is not explicitly a good or bad thing, not even explicit at all. And this final work is in fact a form of text bliss (an amazing conceit), by dint of another sound recording, an interchange between listener and sounder, life and death, in Damian-like interview, and my simultaneous review (here) of The Book of Flowering comes into strong mutual synergy. And the naive policeman in the Murakami (here), also simultaneous. I wonder if Barthes had a parachute available?

      Thursday, February 07, 2019

      The Book of Flowering

      The Book of Flowering

      Edited by Mark Beech
      My previous reviews of this publisher HERE
      Works by Mark Valentine, Tiffani Angus, Sheryl Humphrey, Timothy J. Jarvis, Ron Weighell, John Gale, Reggie Oliver, D.P. Watt, Colin Insole, Alison Littlewood, Damian Murphy, Rebecca Kuder, Mat Joiner, N.A. Jackson, V.H. Leslie, Jonathan Wood, Charles Schneider, Thomas Strømsholt.
      When I read this book, my thoughts will appear in the comment stream below…

      22 thoughts on “The Book of Flowering”

      1. A most beautiful book, as you can see, and pleasing to handle and read. Over 270 pages, and copies restricted to 350.
        THE PALE SENTINELS OF ASPHODEL by Mark Valentine
        “Though he was Leys by name, there was no ‘laze’ in his nature.”
        A luxuriantly elegant story so richly deserving of this particular author’s efforts to hone it. The still solid house, but rundown, is rented in the story by the narrator from a R.K. Leys who dies during it. The bequeathed pot-pourri holder and the garden of the house, and the essence of the flowers’ secret scent as loaned by the husks of their petals, and the eventually unfolded findings — beyond any strident eschatologies — of connections between that scent and the god Set, all make me further play around with the words myself and distil new meaning from them, to lay or set down, relay the Redolent Kinaesthetics of Flowers. A medley of cattleyas, and more. Set as Scent. The floral ley-lines veining the ark of history itself.
        My previous reviews of this author:

      2. WHAT CANNOT BE DESCRIBED by Tiffani Angus
        “Around her waist, Maria had tied one of her glass jars.”
        “, as any dutiful daughter should, but since the jungle she had treated Maria like a specimen:”
        What cannot really be described, either, is my feeling in reading this fine standalone story, richly orchestrated with jungle mœurs and stoical emotions of mother and daughter, a God’s-face moth and flowers that blend into a Gestalt scent like a God itself as the essential scent in the previous Valentine story that I read yesterday in this book, i.e. my feeling NOW in reading this Angus story that I happen to have read straight after (within minutes) this one called ‘The Stray Curse’, giving me two stories utterly in synergy with each other, by magical chance, as I say. This Angus one is about a mortal mother’s battle (alongside her daughter) to paint the Jungle’s specimen jar, its moths and flowers, before returning to ‘civilisation’ where I, a man “who will not have looked at truth” etc., will now read of her wondrous journey. And the colours that could not be described. The peacock flower, too.

      3. (Possible Spoilers)
        FLORA’S LEXICON by Sheryl Humphrey
        “He noticed a copy of Hawthorne’s ‘Mosses from an Old Manse’.”
        An engagingly old-fashioned story of touching romance between a travelling stationery salesman and she whom he sees as a beautiful woman called Flora, a woman he glimpses one day by a willow as he passes in a stagecoach. Eventually, they dutifully exchange backstories within a constructively fabricated artistic frame of words, their love growing. But tinged, I feel, with glimpses of something naively darker beyond them. A story imbued by a communion with flowers, the language of flowers as a Gestalt of meaning in tune with this book’s earlier archetypal scent as the soul of all flowers, even the meow language of a cat, turning the story’s words themselves into a language beyond Adam, Eve or, inferentially, even Moses, thus strangling the couple’s love with fake news or naive misapplication of what seems to be best. Strangling ‘you’, too, explicitly by the end. A fable for our times.
        The story titles’ typography in this book emblemises this Gestalt language of flowers perhaps, as shown by the next story’s title, a story as yet unread…

        “Black Madonnas in niches in stones by the side of paths, including one that was devouring her son, as Saturn in Goya’s famous painting.”
        A powerful work eventually deploying ricochet points between the various races and religions in Brexit Britain today, as we follow a well-characterised Bulgarian woman living at a campsite near Luton with other East Europeans, she working in a care home. All threaded through with flowering rosemary and thyme images, and a matchbox that twitches… She meets a deceptively beautiful ageless woman in a pub, a sort of eternal Wanderer or Witness (see my reviews here and here) – and she tells our Bulgarian friend of her supposed time in the Spanish Civil War. There are many striking images in this work whence we derive both companionship and antipathy in paradoxical alignment, and from a ‘fragmented’ speech overheard in dream we feel this book’s, so far, strong tentacularity of Gestalt and language. And as to the twitching matchbox, I personally thought of my father’s manufacture for me as a child of a candle-elasticband-matchstick matchbox, now trundling across the plains of history, then eventually arriving at an expended halt with a twitch.

      5. d0ed1f0c-d8f5-46a5-b068-34b0566ea37bFUGUES OF THE BLUE LILLY by Ron Weighell
        “A man whose talk is oxen will dream of oxen.”
        A man seeking his dead wife in the realms beyond life is aided and abetted by a bag lady with the help of this story’s eponymous distillation, and references from Poe’s Usher and other named dark and arcane books whose listing here may be its own inverse “homophony”, I infer. This is an apotheosis of love now unrequited by one of the lovers’ deaths, possibly both, by the end, as meshing of souls and bodies occur in realms described to the nth power of Baudelaire’s Fleurs du Mal – or of stylistic Lovecraft… a name that is its own assonant synonym or homonym? And when I say to the nth power, you would surely not credit the power of effect when you enter the ‘you’ part of the journey here, a reading journey, too, that ever remains the darkly florid language that swaddles it. Weighed in Hell, this eschatology of vision is well worthy of the author’s canon of fiction and of being written under his name. My previous reviews of his work:

      6. (Possible spoiler)
        “But this is what the Queen of Faëry had anticipated, for she was now all but certain of what she had long suspected:”
        This story has a style of language that is be-Galed and be-Galing, but only those who have read this author before will know what I mean by this, and there is no way anyone can convey its special nature in a book review. A style, with souls or presences hovering in every archaic compound corner of the words, a style that tells of the Queen, who sometimes visits the Mundane Worlds, as she seeks her own soul — and the garden, with its own secret garden within it, is a rarefied provision of such a soul. This work is utterly something else.
        My previous reviews of this author: and

      7. The next story I read and reviewed a week or so ago here:
        Below is what I wrote about it then, in that context.
        LADY WITH A ROSE by Reggie Oliver
        “, vaguely reminiscent of Jackson Pollock but with none of his control and subtlety.”
        …like the Boke of the Divill, as rewritten by a master.
        This, meanwhile, is, genuinely, an engaging, ingenious story, and disingenuously old-fashioned (in a good way). I dare not itemise its plot as it is full of spoilers. A story broadly, then, of a hidden Titian painting of a lady with a rose, and a struggling English painter as narrator in 1960s Rome, hired by a Prince who claims not to be ‘omosessuale’ (he had an affair with Lady Constance Martlesham) and has a thing about not giving out his telephone number — the narrator as hired by the Prince to paint the Titian again, meticulously stroke for stroke, part of which job is to paint the difficult rose, perfectly, of course. I think, however, that I am not sure whether this story is the replica or the original, as they are certain to be identical. The Prince himself differentiates between a replica and a forgery, despite the end result being that they, too, can prove to be identical, whatever the intention. But who is fooling whom? All I know is that the rose can kill if squeezed too hard in passion. And it is a lady with a rose that thus ends this charming, sometimes horrific, book of staged eschatology, with a subtle literary antechamber that threatens to squeeze you into its coffin. Or its misangled cabinet. One or two genuine original masterpieces in this book as well as a few that are not. Some madder than others.
        My previous reviews of Reggie Oliver:

      8. BUT THEY WITHERED ALL by D.P. Watt
        “; a town that knew so little of our family that it felt compelled, instead, to make up what they didn’t know. I shall return the favour.”
        Not so much a catapult of gossip (even though, in it, you would need to go far to read another such remarkable description of a real catapult shot), but more a boomerang with internal ricochets as well as outward floral tributes that often never came home to roost. This is a deceptively ingenious story narrated by a woman that we suspect is the various women of whom she writes, in a quilted tale of nefarious preternatural recrimination after her father died. Full of roses (another lady who starts with just one) and pansies, plus fish and fennel tarts or rue fancies for funerals. What is invented by her, what is not invented by her: an eternal tussle that no amount of re-readings of this style-enticing story of inferred abyssal flowering paranoia will allow you out of its prison, yes, you, perhaps the only one she seeks out. Though, my name is not Davis, but close enough Welshly. Got me over a barrel. By the way, I think the catapult shot must have hit her head, not her coat.
        My previous reviews of this author:

      9. GALLYBAG by Colin Insole
        “And there were other patterns in the landscape that he could not decipher — like shapes from an old watermark that had faded and merged with its paper.”
        This book happens to bear a proud watermark on its title page as this story is arguably the book’s literary watermark that I cannot imagine fading as such, but perhaps ever merging and meshing with our past and future, giving the expression ‘hidden in plain sight’ a new meaning. I could have quoted most of this story as prime poetic prose of such a feeling, but reading it all is your only path back to the village, with its lime trees and mistletoe, its collision with conscription in the Great War, the return diaspora of its dead, its clearance as a punishment or for utility army means, and the regathering of its ashes and blue flowers, its gallybags, and more, regathered by one man who retrieves names, old postcards and one diary in particular that, as a disarming info-dump, leaks to and from Insole.
        “The goods leak from one emporium to another.”
        A major Insole work that should enable you to recreate or transcend its stated “ecstasy and despair”, whatever the modern inroads against it. I cannot do justice to it here. My previous reviews of this author:

      10. DOWN IN THE DENDRONS by Alison Littlewood
        Rarely fatal, the books had said. Rarely. What they didn’t say was never.”
        Rarely stories of childhood betrayal end up told again, but here the narrator, as a man, returns to the garden whence, as they once played together, amid mad flowers and mad honey, his younger brother vanished into the Circles of Rhododendron, a growth and undergrowth now cankered, today. Infecting the trees. Dendron is the Greek word for tree? So what swallows what? And who swallowed whom? I allow this work to flow over me as if it is something more swaddling than being at first glance a work of horror tropes simply worthy of straight horror anthologies – it also has childhood from past more innocent books, too, and a growing “bitter taste in my mouth” about what came after. Down in the Mouth, as well as the Dendrons.
        My previous reviews of this author:

      11. FLOWER DREAM SERMON by Damian Murphy
        “Transgression loses its savor if you throw out all the rules.”
        An interview with the married partner of Cyril conducted by her close woman friend. Hypnotic and irresistible, this method of narration makes the blend of nostalgia and déjà vu perfectly pitched and believable. A blend, too, of secrecy and openness, taking what I described earlier in the review of Insole as the ‘hidden in plain sight’ syndrome to new levels. Taken towards the inner circle of Dendrons, too. There is no way that this latest Damian Murphy, at novelette-length, can be fully covered here. I was entranced, by the constructively devious games of the married couple, by the smouldering or pent eroticisms, the nostalgia for Tenniel’s Alice, the morphing of city maps into flowers (and exploring those cities in dream reality), and, eventually the ritual path towards a Gestalt of visionary “fragments of a revelation” into a “concise statement” of utter truth. Mischief and obedience. Scriabin and Varèse. And other couples galore. An “extended dialog” between Mentor and Disciple (this interview as its looking-glass image?) – And her perceived marriage with Cyril: the perfect backdrop to this guided journey, that depends just as much on being misguided. Scourge, as well as Sermon, as the moving title of this work as well as the notebook within it (and the flowering book outside it). A religious experience in its own right as well as Murphy apotheosised… “If the piece was magnificent in its original form, it was nothing less than stunning now.” Percolator, percolator, percolator, percolator …
        “…delighted and disquieted to find that every image in the book had morphed into the form of a flower.”
        My many previous reviews of this author:

      12. 7F9D5A98-9D50-43B4-9CBD-6B33046CECE9THE ONLY FLOWER THAT MATTERED by Rebecca Kuder
        “I had yanked the dead Queen Anne’s lace from the ground, roots dangling.”
        Also known as Daucus Carota. Begins with the first three letters of Daughter, by coincidence or subtle design, too subtle for me to divine. Meanwhile, another story that is something truly special among many in this book, where it is impossible to deem one the Favourite. This is of a waif imported as maid servant from a waifs’ home to a large memory-filled house a hundred or so years ago, one too large for the dried up couple who live there, their son seeking his fortune endlessly in the world, and daughter Eliza dead after being left behind when her parents went elsewhere hunting zebra et al. Only a vase of weeds or disguised flowers can tell the story perhaps of that tragedy and the affective haunting of the house by the daughter, and our growing knowledge of the servant waif’s stoical life. Her small pleasures, like seeing ‘sugar flowers’ left on a food plate. Red roses and “sideways water” and “brittle paper story.” Exquisite work, with “small kindnesses” and anguish.
        My previous reviews of this author:

      13. BEBYNE’S LANE by Mat Joiner
        “If you were desperate enough, any hollow could become God.”
        Merlot-drinking, memory-haunted, the ageing man, divorced and now alone, experiences pareidolia from whatever lurks in the flowering bindweed, bynebeing, of his garden, haunted by his own acts or accidents that he had hidden in the plain sight of his backstory. His own disloyalty and concealed crime. The crime was not really the love, or crush. but a hidden crash… I was not surprised that he liked solving chess puzzles and had a nephew called Xan, a nephew with his own husband, a Xan whose next move was to somehow merge or morph into the Brummie victim of the crash. And an ex-wife with whom he still shared remaining in the EU during Brexit, while he whom he loved also perhaps merges with the “sunny lad”, the once promised sunny-uplands? Till, like a chess problem, the moves are made to transcend the beast in the hollows of the bindweed, tearing down this book’s earlier Dendrons. This Joiner of memories a darkly tantalising tale of guilt and reclamation.
        My previous reviews of this author:

      14. A PHANTOM FLOWERING by N.A. Jackson
        “: night-scented stocks and nicotiana. Jasmine and honeysuckle twined round the rusting metal framework of the balcony.”
        Krauss’s Last Balcony, one might say, as, in tune with the previous Joiner, where the past, including Krauss’s deceased wife’s spikiness, are reclaimed or brought back unwillingly, here not by bindweed so much as nuclear waste after a meltdown near the River Dnieper. He is a scientist exploring the sometimes floral array of his specimens when investigating the meltdown, and he finds attractive the dumpy cleaner of the Portakabin where he has ended up working. He follows, without knowing he follows, that person, in a haunting Ishiguro-Unconsoled sort of way, ending with scenes you will never forget, however hard you might try. A natural unfolding-in-concupiscence. A poignant passing, passing away and transference of tactile binding pollen (?) via erotically inhabited flowering-growths…which brings me obliquely to a new meaning perhaps now given in hindsight to the binding of the Joiner?
        My review of this author’s collection: and reference to his story in Nemonymous as Zencore: and Still Life in Horror Without Victims:

      15. THE ABSENCE by Jonathan Wood
        “This was the blissful experience amidst the silence and the canvasses and the worlds within the wallpaper and silences within the domes.”
        A museum out of season, and its curator/caretaker’s thoughts upon the original joblot collection that once came here, a blend of permanence and impermanence, dried flowers and their once concomitant freshness, the bespoke wallpaper so beautifully described, as is everything, to cut is to grant life, the artistic arrangement of taxidermy and life for appreciation perhaps only for child visitors to the museum – building into the dried-flower books’ binderies the bindweed earlier in this book, and its pollen, and in one instance, Jackson’s description of a sexual act, even cacti connected with a Lily to compare to an earlier Lydia and cacti? A wonderful apotheosis of merging with or into a rich wallpaper of words, clocks and roses, Japanese anemones, as a catharsis of death and life in due season, “that very moment of knowing.” This book one day may be even more valuable in a ‘distressed’ state than in its original newness when I received it? I have done my best during my reading and review!
        My previous reviews of Jonathan Wood: and

      16. THE FLORAL SEASONS OF LIFE by Charles Schneider
        “In the Summer of my Life
        I chose the Lily to be my wife.”
        An exquisite poem of four stanzas, each dwindling to a sudden musical ‘dying fall’, assuming one CAN dwindle suddenly! This poem is utterly in mutual synergy with the Jonathan Wood work, and the rest of the book, this being the first of what promises to be two codas to the book’s still flowering lexophony. Codas or “the secret Codes / of Flowers and Life,”…
        My previous reviews of this author: and

      17. My previous reviews of Thomas Strømsholt – who wrote the last story below – here: &
        “… a heavy heart and an ugly head, to quote Burton.”
        Mine shown as was taken yesterday by self-obsessed selfie, as if I am speaking these last words about this whole book, speaking silently. This last work by Strømsholt is the perfect ending to the perfect experience of this book’s gestalt of life and death seen florally. Perfect is glib, true, but true.4C0C60E6-E684-4CF6-9F5C-3DCB73FF360F
        A man inherits a property full of books and an overlarge garden, the garden with which he uncharacteristically becomes obsessed. And watched by the bookish narrator who is his lover, I guess, and lives there with him. The eponymous book is a herbarium to match Wood’s dried flower books, as ‘curated’ by the previous owners of the house whose selfies were more lethal, I guess. The new owners, as it were, now start curating it, distressing it, too.