See above for important context.
The Rude Man's Menagerie
This is an apocalyptic story deriving from the Chalk Giant thread weaving through this book as well as the Zoo one, where chalk drawings become a menagerie of creatures, comprising the female protagonist's touching (still conversational) relationship with her dead Dad and her righteous cause against the Rude Man drawing in the well-depicted landscape and the Rude Man's own tethered chalklings. One cannot do justice to the crop of joy and anguish intermingling so tellingly. It is a fictional rite of passage like none other, I suggest. One that will haunt you with chalk dreams. It does me.
Here, too, the Dead Speak again (as part of THEORY?): an added dimension I had not appreciated before. Or is this me hindsighting yet again? (18 Oct 09 - three hours later).
Window To The Soul
"'Welcome to CERN ZOO. We buy your unwanted memories,'..."
Another fable that deals with the core of this book, I feel. Today, even more so than I originally thought, with explicit reference to the Higgs particle itself so central to THEORY. Hindsight and pathos, exquisitely conveyed, with Alzheimers perhaps on some future horizon cone-zeroing back in on us through time... (18 Oct 09 - an hour later)
"...Sam: tall, boyish, sharp-of-nose and eyes full of tomorrow, she..."
This tour-de-force (literally!) -- well, it is tucked away in the Cern Zoo book and, like other stories here, deserves a wider readership. How can anyone go through life without, for example, reading 'Salmon Widow'? But it passes even under the radar of most of the reviews, too. Even (almost) under mine, other than to say: it is a swirling rich fishbone-marrow A.S. Byatt time-woven shoal of images and emotions and horrors and coincidences and 'Who Do You Think You Are?' with Kate Humble or David Mitchell or Marcel Beque or Prickle / Holly / Samantha... all conveying a real story-plot.
All I can really do is quote the actual writer of this story who has given me permission to quote here what he or she wrote to me when he or she heard about THEORY: "Salmon Widow's circular construction was not unmindful of Hadron. Similarly Marcel's snakebelt, that from some angles might be seen to eat itself. And remaining on the mournful: as you'll know, the Old English Cerne (hmm, from the Old French "dark circle") refers to a cairn or grave. Big Crunch theory suggests that we'll meet ourselves on the way back: the collision may or may not be pleasant."
This writer has also reviewed the whole CERN ZOO book (other than 'Salmon Widow') here:
"Perhaps her husband had joined her..." (18 Oct 09 - another 3 hours later)
"...the clouds threatening a rain that had not yet come..."
A simply beautiful short tale of a girl collecting pink pebbles from a beach and the boy protagonist who met her. Ending with a dying fall that contains a poignant contentment at impossibility. It seems a shame to mould the meaning further than that. But did she really seek just one pebble, one particle of our existence? The story does not give the answer to that question because, I suppose, it does not ask it. (18 Oct 09 - another 2 hours later)
The Shadow’s Departure
A dark vision of Distraction, derelict Glass Factories, enticing madness... this is the Shadow of the Future that is tied to us all. Whether we reach full liberation from it is a knot or ligottum that few can untie. It is just that (and this is my thought and perhaps not the story’s) if the future speaks to us we are truly the Dead who Speak back to it.
In honour of this story, I have concocted a short waking-dream from its Synchronised Shards of Random Truth & Fiction, i.e. distilled from the prose in its first half (I dare not distil anything from its second half!):-
the secret life of broken glass
a shadow haunted sector that even the cranks and the closet cranks of academia dare not analyze
I secretly hoped to meet that one-in-a-million madman who clasped some shocking inner truth
the stupid whir of a trillion pointless devices (19 Oct 09)
Inspired by last entry above and by 'Salmon Widow': SHOALS (19 Oct 09 - an hour later)
Being Of Sound Mind
“...sending an attack of the vbvbvbv’s into a current opus.”
One of a number of stories in ‘Cern Zoo’ that I accepted and contracted without first knowing who wrote it – a writer who has since kindly given me much information on Time and Parallel Worlds and other philosophies that also perhaps underlie the Cern phenomenon. As does the story itself implicitly and explicitly.
An enthralling and touching and concept-provoking story of someone recently retired now taking fiction-writing more seriously, later facing a whispering then clamouring ‘political correctness’ after the sudden bubbly arrival of a mysterious ‘granddaughter’ manqué. This plot really blossoms even further in the (for me) new light of THEORY. I am so glad I spotted this memorable intarsia of ‘magic fiction’ before fully appreciating it as such. (19 Oct 09 - another 2 hours later)
The girl on the cover suddenly has a pain in her stomach. Or on it. Incredibly, now, I find, in hindsight, this brief and (for me) hilarious joke letter to a doctor is the plainest example of the power of hindsight itself. This all seems to be in a synergy with THEORY that I, as editor, never foresaw. (19 Oct 09 - another hour later)
“'I wish you were real,' she whispered.”
I just ended re-reading this story with tears in my eyes. It’s that kind of experience, especially today, in context. A tale of Mellie, a Child as Mother of Man – faced with a ‘lost domain’ Zoo beyond the woods we know, of memorable inward atmosphere, in company with other children (one boy as their internal ‘pied piper’). ‘David Almond’-like sensibilities are punctuated with visions of a metal bird and shadow-creatures (both in tune with ‘The Shadow's Departure’) and a Salmon ...
And a caged version of her own stuffed purple hippo at home...and much more. Extrapolating wildly in an uncaged way, I feel this is the Zoo of ‘The Lion’s Den’ version of future self in logical progression as transmuted and rusticated by its return journey come back to haunt itself with pathos as well as bathos. (19 Oct 09 - another 2 hours later)
THIS REVIEW IS NOW CONTINUED HERE: http://weirdmonger.blog-city.com/cern_zoo__a_dfl_realtime_review_part_3.htm