Saturday, March 26, 2011

Taking the Ball

My latest chapter review of the gigantic 'Wizard and Glass'  by Stephen King

VII. Taking the Ball

If I could draw a crude basic eye here, I would, so as to serve as heading for this chapter’s review, a chapter concerning an ambush of our three sterling youths, and other characters fulfilling gradually their own ominous destinies, including Rhea’s: who uses the glass pink ball to watch a woman she torments through it by making that woman do her housework by getting on her hands and knees and licking into all the house’s corners with her tongue! And the author uses the book, this book, to picture tantamount the same thing: thus acting worse than Rhea: because he created Rhea. He effectively created the readers, too, by writing so damned well we cannot fail to read his work, we readers, who entice him, by our presence, to see things in his own version of a ’pink ball’ for us to see them later, readers who are effectively worse than the author by conspiring to make the events real by completing the circle of creativity, a circle that needs dependable readers or witnesses or pupils or, even, reciprocal teachers to make everything real by symbiosis, a circle representing - or soon becoming - a pink-veined eyeball. No wonder the Rheader desperately clings to the ball when others come to reclaim it. Who is the Wizard, him or us? (26 Mar 11 – three hours later)

Saturday, March 19, 2011


Claps of thunder, flaps of weather, flaps of leather, at the end of my tether. I sang to myself – out of the blue, without rhyme or reason: well, there was some sort of rhyme, but you know what I mean – as I sat on the top of the double-decker bus. I sat at the front, pretending that I was driving, holding the window safety-bar and pushing it in one direction or another but, I guess, I imagined it was a tiller of a canal-boat, because I pushed it to the left for the bus to turn right and pushed it to the right for the bus to turn left. Claps of thunder, flaps of weather, flaps of weather, at the end of my tether. Suddenly, the bus...

Before I tell you exactly what happened, let me reminiss for a while. On top of most buses in those olden days, there were signs saying things like “no spitting”, “no standing” etc. and on the back of each seat below a five-inch metal ratchment there was a sign saying “stubber”, although it acted both as a stubber and a serrated surface for red-headed lucifers. In view of that, you can assume there were no “no smoking” signs...

Also, there was a circular mirror-thing or porthole in the top right hand corner at the front. I often wondered what that was. Invariably, there were other passengers upstairs. Like today. I turned and flapped my tongue at them. I didn’t spit, though. I definitely didn’t spit, m’lord.

There was one particular man toward the back who bent forward in his seat and seemed to be rubbing the front of his forehead quite fast along the seat-back that was in front of him. Back and forth, it went. Flaps of this, flaps of that.

A few minutes later, I sensed something had happened behind me as I momentarily took my eye off the road ahead to check what that something was. A hubbub that was worthy of its name even though there was only one person who made this hubbub. The man’s head had burst into flame.

I pointed to a sign close to the ‘no spitting’ one. “No butting”, I read aloud offishushly. No butting, no cutting, no grubbing, no rubbing.

Meantime, the side of the bus had scraped sickeningly along the side of a warehouse wall. I blamed myself. But blame was irrelevant really. Blame is often a waste ‘in extreemiss’...

I thought of a demon barber stropping his blade along my tongue. And a train window that had a leather tongue inside. At least a train needn’t be driven by passengers. Trains had a man at the front to do that, a man with a huge face covering the whole front boiler. The last thing I think I thought was the circular mirror-thing in the top right hand corner of the bus's top-deck – with a single huge blinking eye filling it. Beady beady, greedy, greedy.

Suddenly, the sparks milling through the open side-window caught me alight. A pity I couldn’t spit on myself.

Epilogue: Heaven and Hell are situated on the same floor, not Heaven above and Hell below, as many seem to believe. So, for one of them you need to turn left to reach, the other right. But I did not know which was which. I hoped to strike lucky.

written today and first published above

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

A Pallid Wave on Shores of Night by Adam S. Cantwell

A Pallid Wave on Shores of Night by Adam S. Cantwell (Passport Levant MMXI).

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

All my real-time reviews are linked from here:

All my Ex Occidente Press (Passport Levant) real-time reviews here:

This is a beautiful sewn hardcover book of 96 pages with stiff black dust-jacket bearing an exquisite angelic harp design (Decor by Erté) , silk ribbon, red endpapers and a frontispiece by Baron George Hoyningen-Huen (Agneta Fischer). The edition limited to 100 hand numbered copies. My copy is numbered 50 and possesses exceptionally aesthetic yet heavy-duty page paper.

The black board covers beneath the dust jacket bear the words -”This physical reality contains all the miracles.” Anton von Webern - on the front, and nothing else anywhere. This is intriguing to me especially if this refers to the Anton Webern who is a serialist composer with whose music I am obsessed (among much other classical and contemporary classical music). I need my ‘fix’ of Webern each day in order to exist. (9 Mar 11)

Moonpaths of the Departed

“…the attempt to evaluate the experience and the emotions it engendered for artistic or musical correlatives. I have turned worse horrors than this into Art, …”

Judging between the correlatives of this story’s data and that of Anton Webern in words that itch to coalesce like Gothic music or Lovecraftian Zannisms-by-Zemlinsky, we have here in this substantial weird story – to my utter delight – the real Webern as protagonist and narrator, pickled by séance and an ‘Oh Whistle’ flute, by a Baron and Baroness to produce the ultimate performance music from caves, cave-art and caves’ coalescence with an otherwise Gothic building in 1914 Austria or Slovenia (or Poland if the salt-mines I visited there are anything by which to judge in proximity to the inner-cathedral images here). ‘Three Pieces for Cello & Piano’. Weird Literature of the first water – with olms and other creaturifications (Lovecraftianisms otherwise honed by another Poe), “uncongenial and alien“, miasmic, and the writer’s fingers, the composer’s fingers, the Baroness’s fingers, I sense, allplied unheard-of chords of claustrophobic hemitones; the cello picked a twisting path with whining harmonics, as if tunneling through a solid mass”. Yet this is not just a great Horror story (which it undoubtedly is), but one imbued with a sense of European Absurdity and serial flashmobs coming up from beneath the words to get part of the atonality of action. The induced madness is perhaps not in the protagonist, but in us, “the kind of avant-gardism that looks within, …” (9 Mar 11 – four hours later)

The Kuutar Concerto

The rest of larcenous ensemble danced along the thread of the unfamilar music like slinkers on an icy walltop, …”

The beauty of reading a real book like this one is that one cannot do ‘find’ searches to check on something. The experience is at it is. Only re-reading will enhance or spoil that experience. These real-time reviews walk that tightrope. For example, was the Baroness in the previous story called ‘Europa’? Whatever the case, this story concerns another favourite composer of mine, Wagnerian yet Baxian, the Finnish Sibelius (a favourite yet so utterly different from Webern!), a composer who, before today, I previously knew only from his music. No ‘find’ searches for gestalts or leitmotifs in his precarious life, no emotions, inspirations, either. Here, as in the previous story, he is among “lizards pickled“, tempted into creativity of that inward avant-gardism (against his nature?) by life and its own temptations, drugged or ‘sexed’ or base-lined into genius (or just minor larceny?). A sort of ‘Death in Venice’ in reverse? And that that old-fashioned genius can exist within the threads of modernity, power lines, lines of modern fiction… This is a major work (I can tell already), one that tells me that “Music was a game they played with the truth, it was the tail of a kite, it was a shadow of an ever-changing ultimate that somehow held its shape in the mind, …” Myths and legends and “gods of Antiquity“ are only half the battle. One needs more to turn ‘Kalevala’ to ‘Kuutar’. (9 Mar 11 – another 3 hours later)

I now cannot exactly recall why I mentioned ‘serial flashmobs’ rising up in connection with this book’s first story. But they sort of did rise up in this second story’s first few pages! (9 Mar 11 – another 15 minutes later)

Symphony of Sirens

“Q: You fell asleep in your … vision?”

Amazing stuff. Don’t know where to start or end. Firstly, thank you for providing a story about a composer I’ve never heard of before, although I do love the Symphony No 3 of his apparent teacher, Glier (for me, Glière). Aptly, perhaps, for this book, I see this story as a coda. I always do. Last stories in collections are invariably codas, whether the author intends or not. This one has Swiftian land on clouds (cf: the earlier caves), as told by a Q & A session between the composer as A and a woman (who turns out to have a name that perhaps answers one of my earlier questions above) as Q, following an incident on a plane. A bit LOST-like, too. It is my Klaxon City. It is a wistful jiggling with my own trip to Moscow last September. It is my potential de-coda of all the book’s previous themes of avant-gardism and Aesthetics. It’s simply wonderful. As is the whole book. [And who thought I would ever have the surprised pleasure of reading a Lovecraftian story narrated by Anton Webern?]

“Soon I overcame my fear and walked from wingtip to wingtip.” (9 Mar 11 – another hour later)


Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Amerika - by Karim Ghahwagi

Amerika’ by Karim Ghahwagi (Passport Levant MMXI).

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

All my real-time reviews are linked from here:

All my Ex Occidente Press (Passport Levant) real-time reviews here:

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

Pages 9 – 38

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

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

Pages 38 – 63

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

,,,”A cartography of bewilderment”.

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

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

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

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


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