Thursday, October 06, 2022

The Stories of Attila Veres (ongoing review)

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THE BLACK MAYBE

A story literally up to its elbow in larvae. Tourists and locals in Hungary mix, the locals demonstrating a harvest ritual that will make you hope you may be the one with black eyes. Utterly transcendent with the genius loci and with something accepted even as much as Hungary perhaps endures the EU against its better nature. The story of a tourist girl who refuses a young male local’s sexual advances — eventually  to her soul-depleted cost — and of how, subsequently, beings with different coloured eyes are made from snail oil (and the concomitant oiling of silver chains), and you have to swallow much in order to fly around the staggeringly shocking elbow room of this story — there are four mentions of ‘elbow’ in its ‘fishing’ finale involving broken mirrors, larvae lures and the ‘essence’ of virgin young people or children. But be wary, the whole process is laid out here, and if I were you, maybe your literary virginity should be shriven elsewhere by much transcendent literature  before you enter, towards the end of your life, this major example of it … in case you never come out of it again as whole as you went in.  That may explain this possibly misguided or depleted review of it.

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Any further reviews of Attila Veres stories will be in the comment stream below

One thought on “The Stories of Attila Veres

  1. TO BITE A DOG

    “The boy got up on his elbows in the bed. Now it was getting interesting.”

    Well, all elbow triggers are like that! A Covid pandemic story, a tale of predator and prey, master and victim, of blood and teeth, of lockdown curfews, of masks and masks of masks, of masks as muzzles, bodily abstractions, and parks at night, and a simple loving relationship between a young man, Zoltán, and a young woman, a relationship become complex and sexually polarised by power, the woman who becomes feral and an instigator of a plague of dog bites amidst the perceived anarchy of the curfews, this having been triggered by her having quelled a dog by biting it on impulse (“the moment she bit the dog her own aura grew”), all eventually evolving into a co-vivid synergy of a double bite that is forced upon the man, quelled himself by becoming a master over animals, growing tall by becoming one of a new plague of pet torturers? No, I think it is arguably Zoltán being induced into a new transgressive code of the Hungarian Kodály Method, as a new Close Encounter after Covid’s social distancing.

 

Monday, October 03, 2022

The Stories of A. E. Coppard (ongoing review)

 THE FIELD OF MUSTARD by A.E. Coppard

“Can’t tell your guts from your elbows.”

“Dinah Lock, the vivacious woman full of shrill laughter, with a bosom as massive as her haunches,” and two other women collecting faggots in the wood. In a style that is textured with relentlessness, fraught with hard countryside (“Beyond the field of mustard the eye could see little but forest. There were hills there, a vast curving trunk, but the Black Wood heaved itself effortlessly upon them and lay like a dark pall over the outline of a corpse”) and small mercies, and a devil’s care, Dinah’s sick husband (“When he coughed, you know, his insides come up out of him like coffee grouts”) and shared men, and one woman said to another woman she wished she were a man.  This tells time like this story’s  watch that still ticks when swimming as a fish under water. Never to fully evolve. But a windfall shilling for stout is better than everything .

“…with elbows sunk in her fat thighs, and nursing her cheeks in her hands, she puffed the gloomy air, saying: ‘Oh God, cradle and grave is all there is for we.’”

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Any further reviews of A.E. Coppard stories will be in the comment stream below

My previous reviews of older or classic fictions:  https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/reviews-of-older-books/

7 thoughts on “The Stories of A.E. Coppard

  1. The next story was reviewed, as follows, in the context here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/06/07/the-7th-fontana-book-of-great-ghost-stories-edited-by-robert-aickman/#comment-22131

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    Please see the Elizabeth Bowen ‘Inherited Clock’ quote above that turns out to be the utterly utterly perfect companion to the next story!

    GONE AWAY by A.E. Coppard

    It is ironic that depressive Anson seeks a copy of ‘The Times’ to anchor himself during a car trip in France with two others, as the speedometer seems to speed up and his ‘world without end’ becomes as mazy and timeless and distanceless as the Museum in the previous story. Daylight fireworks as a disguise earthquake. Is he all three of them in the car at once, so when losing himself he loses all of them, including the story’s narrative protagonist called Lavenham. And the latter’s wife Mary. Absurd but terrifying, concentrating with encroaching random details like the four priests in long black cassocks and a certain dirty-looking pigeon and an advert for stomach trouble … concentrating or focussing ever toward a vanishing point as a cell — symbol of today’s lockdown or nullimmortalis? Anson, Son of Man.

    “What does it all mean? Am I mad, or is it the end of the world?”

  2. The next story was reviewed, as follows, in the context here: https://cernzoo.wordpress.com/the-penguin-books-of-the-british-short-story/#comment-397

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    A. E. Coppard: Olive and Camilla

    “Camilla Hobbs, slight and prim, had a tiny tinkling mind that tinkled all day long; she was all things to little nothings. The other, Olive Sharples, the portly one, had a mind like a cuckoo-clock; something came out and cried ‘Cuckoo’ now and again, quite sharply, and was done with it.”

    Sometimes you encounter a short story, where you ask: where has it been all my life? A touching, often amusing, story of two beautifully characterised spinsters who have been friends all their life, with a dabble or two with men friends, at first living together, and travelling abroad together, then settling (“they were both now of a sad age, an age when the path of years slopes downwards to a yawning inexplicable gulf”) into separately designed houses to different tastes near a village where we learn of some of the village’s inhabitants, but then with much business about past memories of menfolk (FOUR TIMES! with one of them), involving latent rivalries between them, and one of them sinking into bad drinking habits, they seem to be ready to live together again by the end, with some exquisite visions of their country matters as an Eden…
    ….with some earlier anecdotes along the way, one about a soda-water siphon bought by one of them exploding in a train carriage causing one of them to change her corsets in situ, corsets that later go missing. Luke Feedy the gardener telling stories of people ever gifting him a single sovereign. The compulsive pouring of brandy from a silver teapot, and a servant cooking by chance a cockatoo, and the decidedly off-putting eating habits of fatty things at breakfast… “There are two simple tests of any friendly relationship: can you happily share your bed with your friend, and can you, without unease, watch him or her partake of food?”

    “…on the pathway to Olive’s door she nearly stepped on a large hairy caterpillar solemnly confronting a sleek nude slug.”

  3. AHOY, SAILOR BOY!

    “true as the dust in the road”

    “As still as death it was. And then the shock came; the sudden feeling that there, round about him, just behind, some malignant thing was watching, was about to pounce and rend him, and he shrank at once like a touched nerve, waiting for some certainty of horror—or relief.”

    This ghost story is a great one, just discovered. Beware spoilers, this review being intended for people who will never be able to read it..
    A sailor in a town needing lodging for one night, is matched with digs run by a mulatto woman. But that intriguing start is not the story at all! The story ranges from most intriguing pub talk he has about dead people. That most people you have known have not died. And when strangers die, you cannot empathise, they are simply dead people you never know, dust to dust. Till he plans to sit quietly at night before going to his digs and he senses the “smell of an actress” and suddenly a white hankie appears on the seat he sits on. And the lady he earlier glimpsed is sitting next to him. And she enunciates the best description of becoming a ghost that I have ever read. And the need for her own best clothes in life instead of the dull stuff she was dressed in as a ghost. 

    “‘Then I died, suddenly,’ she went on. ‘Imagine my disgust when I realized, as I soon did, that I was buried in a stupid ugly gown of cheap cotton, much too big for me! Ugh! […] Then my thoughts began to swirl around and come back to me, my worldly thoughts; and though I knew I was dead, a waif of infinity, my thoughts were only of what I had prized in life itself—my wonderful clothes. And while I thought of them, they too began to drift around me, the comforting ghosts of them all—gowns, petticoats, stockings, shoes.’”

    And it has a very telling elbow moment, too! —
    “‘I’ve never seen anything like him in my wanderings!’ He held the packet towards her, indicating the picture of a fathead seaman with whiskers and the word HERO on his hat. ‘Have one?’ he asked her, but she declined. So he leaned his elbows on his knees and puffed smoke at the ground between his boots.”

    He thinks she is mad or the fine actress whom he originally smelt. And to his delight she takes off her clothes to prove she is a ghost…
    Yes, a great ghost story. The dust puffed between my books.

  4. B31DC7F2-29FD-4181-8CE1-0215F64A9060

    Kitagawa Utamaro (1753-1806)

    ARABESQUE—THE MOUSE

    This is utterly powerful, and this whole relatively short work needs directly quoting, so I will not directly quote anything! — except reference to a few of its dichotomies: justice and sin, virtue and property, sickness and appetite, roses and apples, a mouse and a mousetrap, suckling breasts and shorn limbs, a hearth fire and a dead sister, a past sweetheart and his now broken one…
    The story, basically, of a man reading Russian novels in his cold hovel, watching a mouse, then having a boyish memory of listening to his mother’s heartbeat within her naked breasts after she had been expelling milk from them into the fire…. The above colour print upon his wall, and comparing the nature of his mother’s horrific accidental demise to his own potential non-accidental causing of the mouse’s crushing by a mousetrap… feeling like the equivalent to the reader being crushed by this story itself.

  5. ADAM AND EVE AND PINCH ME

    “It was a rann of a name, but it had euphony!”

    Jaffa Codling or Gilbert Cannister, this tale of a Jekyll and Hyde, where, like Gabriel’s toy sword, neither is bad or good, makes the clock tick as if its ticking is an ‘indecent act’, indeed, a clock as ‘mocker’…
    Yet, a story of pervading ‘brilliance’, whereby we think its plot is being told by a ghost of this named man amidst his own family of wife, and three children: Adam, Eve and Gabriel — a tale of ‘fiendish door-handles’, perceived marital disloyalty, a gardener called Bond who left the story before it finished, and Gabriel’s box that emitted wondrous things, including a “a fish like a gold carp,…”. This, his story’s rannamaari? Or, more likely, a vessel of light’? Yes, a husband who, after all, ran not away from his wife, but straight through her. The Child as pinched from dream.
    A treasured work that apotheosises and supplements many of the stories of Walter de la Mare currently being read.
    Mare= mari= a husband all at sea?

    “He was like a new Adam flung into some old Eden.”

  6. Re the ONLY CONNECT stories I did with my late Dad…

    “The result is an offbeat, metaphysical horror fiction that, like the work of AE Coppard, manages to seem old-fashioned and avant-garde at the same time … The title suggests illumination; but the light of these stories only serves to remind us of the darkness outside.”
    – Joel Lane

  7. CLORINDA WALKS IN HEAVEN

    Whatever meaning one gives Clorinda’s vision of Heaven after death, a skein or scarf of reincarnations questioning her virginity, a gang of squabbling husbands none her husband as she remembered none, this state of being ‘drunk on dreams’ (a consequence of having died on a rainy day?), and alongside a concept known as the ‘ghost of a ghost’, and white willow ladder building by a man she calls Jacob, and a railway station in the nowhere of a strange countryside that reminds me of E.F. Benson’s Corstophine, it is also a knitting pattern for seeking a resolution of the literary gestalt, this story proving the pointlessness of trying!… despite the text’s own teasing: “…a compact pattern of beauty and ugliness of which she was entirely aware, all its multiplexity being immediately resolved . . . […] …and there were little plangent perfect moments of the past that fell into order in the web.” Yet, it makes me even more determined not to die before I do, whether rainy or not!
    Clorinda herself remains effectively Ironclad in her maidenly armour forever, if the ending is to be believed! It appears that nobody has noticed that anagram before!

Friday, September 30, 2022

Elizabeth Taylor Stories (4) - ongoing review

 


Elizabeth Taylor Stories (4)

Continued from — https://etepsed.wordpress.com/1370-2/

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My previous reviews of older or classic fictions:  https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/reviews-of-older-books/

When I review this book, my thoughts will appear in the comment stream below…

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2 responses to “*

  1. MR WHARTON

    “‘I really love London,’ she said. ‘All that panorama, at night, and yet it’s so quiet. I sat out there this afternoon for a bit, and it was so peaceful, like being in the country. It’s been like a lovely holiday here.’”

    This is a truly great story, a sadly simmering story. Also it is the slowly, but seemingly happy fermenting, silent roofed London, and cushion dust, story of Hilda and her visit from an unsatisfactory Nottingham milieu to help her needy daughter move into a new flat in London. And Hilda’s figure is better than her own daughter’s, and I did find suspicious the daughter’s woman friend’s cursory behaviour as future flatmate of the daughter, and the description given to Hilda by her daughter of her daughter’s late-lunching ‘Masonic golfer’ boss at work called Mr Wharton did not chime well with me.
    Before the story’s point of view shifts suddenly upon Hilda’s departure back to Nottingham, she had visited alone the pub near where her daughter’s new flat in London happened to be… and somehow a variety of pointlessness, even then, seemed purposefully poignant.

    “A stale beery smell pervaded the room, as if everything – the heavy curtains, the varnished furniture, even perhaps the old man by the fire – was gently fermenting.” 

  2. Mice and Birds and Boy

    “He examined a dish of stewed fruit which had a greenish-grey mantling of mould.
    ‘Pooh! It smells like beer,’ he said.
    ‘I meant to throw it away, but it seemed such a criminal waste when the natives are starving everywhere.’”

    A six year old boy called William visits the local ‘witch’ in what used to be the gardener’s lodge to the large building and stables, now demolished, where she lived as a pretty girl. And later a ‘vague marriage’ and a ‘flat chest’. Now friends with mice and mouldy chocolate that he eats worried that it is poison. And her talk of ‘death duties’… and her saying “want must be your master.” At first, he sees it as his own duty to visit, against his mother’s scolding, his sister’s ballet lessons as irrelevant backdrop and whatever else. A mix of motives. Seeing what the old woman’s past is in photos etc. And the workmen working around the lands where she once lived within a respected family. Now she traipses, under frowning looks by others, to the shops with William. Until she doesn’t. There is a sense, for me, of presage and of present age. One of the workmen said: “And what is your considered opinion of the present emergency?”