THE BROTHEL CREEPER – Stories of Sexual and Spiritual Tension
by Rhys Hughes
Gray Friar Press 2011
Real-time Review continued from HERE.
The Sickness of Satan
"'We've been sent to Hell!' I replied. / 'No, Donald, I think Hell has come to us.'"
About a married couple. Following the different sorts of 'docking' in the previous two stories, arguably both with Hell (!), we now have (in this previously published story) a timely reference to gladiators fighting and to Crowley and to 666, and to all manner of historical fiends and friends - but which are which, God's or Satan's? ... I suppose it depends on what the couple had done and why they had done it. There is also a student as the couple's lodger (a refugee from the Indigo Casbah, it seems) one who is subjected by the couple to a form of cynically inverted martyrdom. A ruthless couple - a truthless one, too. Truthful, at times. Loving and loveless, a couple of whom this story gives a thoughtful portrait via mayhem's thoughtlessness! I don't know how, but Rhys obviously knows how, as it works! A relationship of marital docking amid a wild vision of anti-vegetarianism (Donald is a vegetarian), of submarine-deep levels of sickness in neutral Swansea, of richly various and rarified meat curries, a Mumbles Lighthouse like a headmaster's erection, and more. Just don't go there! But do go there, and learn about married life and its give & take. Rhys is himself the 'Fabergé Devil'! (20 Sep 12 - 1.30 pm bst)
The Gibbon in the Garret
"What a concept!"
An outrageous fable about onanism with a moral: if you spank your monkey the monkey may spank you! That is in danger of being a plot spoiler, but I don't care! It probably deserves spoiling! However, to prove this is a real *real-time* review I won't rub it out, as the more I dwell on this story the more meaning it gathers about human nature as seen through the cracked prism of seemingly mad conceits. So utterly mad they complete the circle of becoming sane. It is a bad story that is bad at being bad, in other words. ('Fanny' was good at it.) (20 Sep 12 - 2.35 pm)
The Small Miracle
"Then he saw the tower. / It appeared just above the line of reeds..."
If anyone, I at least should know that this miraculous story stands on its own. In hindsight -- with the now perceived telling connections with the earlier brothels (having grown ornate balconies) and a protagonist whom I can see as the same character from "One Man's Meat" and "Mah Jong Breath", including the same motorbike accident -- this is even more a story that deserves the widest readership possible. It relates also to the "guilty dream" gestalt, the marital give and take, and much more that continues resonating even as I write this review in real-time. The self-hatred etc. that now actually relates to buildings themselves - in tune with that Gaia theme I think I mentioned earlier in connection with 'One's a Crowd'... (20 Sep 12 - 3.30 pm bst)
"The Quims of Itapetinga"
"...the arboreal tangle, that permanent dripping hothouse that surrounded the city like a balustrade..."
I was determined to find this to be a bad story that was good at being a bad story, because I thought 'The Small Miracle' was the perfect culmination of this book's accretive gestalt. At a whim, I was jealous of this last story involving Quims that I predicted being silly, like'Fanny'. It is indeed silly in so many ways. But equally its 'synchronised shards of random truth and fiction' (a long term googleable phrase of mine) are transposed into the-lights-of-empty-rooms-above-shops grid-kaleidoscope in tune with the Gaia I just mentioned, with that earlier male gibbon-graft now imputedly destroyed by a female raft of insectoid Quims, i.e. the book's earlier 'lovecraft', via a hilarious but thought-provoking 'mad scientist' scenario. Zelophilia rampant. And much more.
One needs to be tutored by the rest of the book into understanding and appreciating that last story. The whole book itself is like no other and deserves an attention that I feel it yet hasn't had. Outrageous in part, touching in others, thought provoking, disturbing, inspiring, mundane, spiritual, philosophical, ironic, dirty, absurd, Absurfing the Surface. The gestalt? Lovecraft, not the name, but a new dictionary word with a small hell. A small miracle. (20 Sep 12 - 5.05pm bst)