Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Teardrop Method – Simon Avery

The Teardrop Method – Simon Avery


I had my ears syringed today and later received this book.

My previous reviews of TTA Press publications HERE and Simon Avery works HERE.

When I review this novella, my thoughts will appear in the comments stream below… (My reviewing queue of purchased publications is growing longer and I don’t expect to catch up until late October).

6 thoughts on “The Teardrop Method – Simon Avery

    1 & 2
    “She tried to imagine how she could ingratiate herself into his life in order to pursue the song to its bitter end.”
    An absolutely miraculous start to this novella, a book that I intend to take slowly, eke out, ache out, even, act out. The snowy benighted ambiance of Budapest as Krisztina of apparent Sapphic leanings seeks a song, here with a literally accidental (road accident to other people) meeting of an older man – a soldier from the invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1958 (is this an alternate world for 1968?) – whose clumsy if partially permitted sex upon her in his flat evolves partial discovery of a song that she sought, still seeks. Beautifully done. I am utterly captivated.
    The word ‘ingratiate’ above reminds me that I used it in the last day or so with regard to being drawn into, ingratiated into my coincidentally concurrent real-timing of the mighty novel THE UNCONSOLED here – a kindred-spirited book? Also reminds me that I myself coincidentally wrote yesterday a very brief, possibly kindred-spirited prose poem here.
  2. 3 – 5
    “She waited for hours with her hands suspended above the piano but the melody resisted her. She was afraid of one false note.”
    …as a writer of fiction must feel, except typewriters once made that a fear of indelibility. The nearer to truth the writer today reaches within the flow of less indelibility, the nearer that false note promises to take it beyond perfectible fiction. Here, amid the romantic pangs of Pest and Buda, such songs, towards each of which Krisztina reaches, contain more than just a false impending note but also life’s own dreadful last indelible note that ignites them. One song derives from another road accident. Each song a gathering gestalt of piecemeal verse and music by dint of any such keynote’s induced crystallisation of weeping… Dave Cook’s copy, a music review, tells us inadvertently that her surname is Ligeti.
    But if you go from Moscow to Budapest you think you are in Paris. — György Ligeti
  3. 6 – 8
    “But some of the words had been gestating for years, you know? I was just waiting for them to make sense to me.”
    Dave Cook reveals inadvertently — in another article, i.e. an interview with her father the same age as me — more about K and her real surname probably not being Ligeti, but only her stage name, I guess. There is also another aspect (concerning porcelain) that I keep forgetting to mention, but now remembered, but still undivulged in my own review, or article, that you are reading now. And exactly how K’s songs gestate as songs, as gestalts. These are things for readers themselves to listen out for. Suffice to say, K’s reunion meeting with her terminally ill father is moving and meaningful in this context that I have not divulged.
    In recent months, I have myself discovered the music of Scott Walker, and as a classical music lover, this has been a revelation. The description of the music of K’s father has beautifully captured Scott Walker’s songs for me, and this may also give me greater understanding of K’s songs. The mention of Sibelius is significant, too, bearing in mind his great music and also his not composing any of it in the last 32 years of his life.
  4. Pages 71 – 92
    “Every person on every street is a potential tale to tell.”
    The crossing paths of mortality and music. And literature. As we become imbued with the historical hinterland of Budapest, occupied, like Paris once was, but here occupied with the stories of people, but unlocked, unoccupied how? Some haunting others, some captured by others, and we truly empathise with the musical stalking, the literary stalking, too. Like finality-clinching vampires. Our real-time live performance this as a gestalt review, like K’s performing her songs live for the first time and with her father present, and the deadly stalking by some sort of King in Yellow? Or by “the author and the broken model.” Staring into the Danube, somehow ‘thrilling’ as well as ‘depressing.’ Full of teardrops?
    1. Pages 92 – 111
      “…the song had followed her from the dream. It had escaped into the dark rooms;”
      …and also into lighter ones, towards a sound-chiaroscuro of art helping art, death helping art, too, and vice versa, as we all do in our creative world that I map out on my site, I hope. I am pleased that my chance instinctive quote earlier from Ligeti prefigured the later importance of Paris in this monumentally haunting novella, as well as of Budapest, not only the road accident in Paris, this book’s accident and a different one there, but K’s eventual home city, where her second Sapphic love to replace the first also enhances that death- and art-synergistic mapping I mention above. The father-daughter synergy, too. Walker with no stalker left. A Yellow King, a Yellow Jack. A new song. A new dream. After horror’s nightmare. A song for a song. A knife from ear to ear? Thanks, Dave Cook, for your review of ‘The Teardrop Method.’
      4D5F5F02-8F47-4D8F-BF4D-359A352D11D7 4D5F5F02-8F47-4D8F-BF4D-359A352D11D7 4D5F5F02-8F47-4D8F-BF4D-359A352D11D7 4D5F5F02-8F47-4D8F-BF4D-359A352D11D7



    Theaker’s Quarterly Fiction #60


    Theaker’s Quarterly Fiction #60


    My previous reviews of TQF publications HERE

    Stories: “The Lost Testament” by Rafe McGregor, “Turning Point” by Nicki Robson, “Yttrium, Part One” by Douglas Thompson, “Amongst the Urlap” by Andrew Peters, and “Doggerland” by Jule Owen

    When I review this fiction, my thoughts will appear in the comments stream below… (My reviewing queue of purchased publications is growing longer and I don’t expect to catch up until late October).

    7 thoughts on “Theaker’s Quarterly Fiction #60

    1. The Lost Testament
      An Intermezzo by Rafe McGregor
      “There is nothing more disgusting than an officer who fails to recognise the humanity of the men under his command, whatever their colour or creed.”
      A wild, seemingly well-written, mini-chaptered account amid the crawling chaos of history and war, tribes and ghoorkas, muskets and wrong decisions, miscegenation and loyalty, white and black, and I tried to work out which war, which geography and which lessons learnt other than my being convalesced out of reviewing books on the foreign hoof, then to find another job beyond the simple retirement that is probably for what I am best suited being without, as I am, much historical knowledge or memory for things. I sense I have lost the gestalt. Intermezzo? In media res, more like!
    2. Turning Point by Nicki Robson
      “He spoke out loud but his rhetoric was entirely for his own benefit.”
      I go to many pub quizzes. But I have never left a pub quiz as Jake leaves it, a cross between second chances by frozen time, regret that his team JUST won the quiz based on a religiously themed tie-break measurement against a team of grizzly thugs, like that frozen moment now bifurcated, that painting of the Last Supper become a tableau of statues, a trestle of quizzers, then a series of such frozen moments. And an ending where I was kissed by the Judas of Time? Or did I imagine that last bit? Was it me or not-me? Or was it Jake or not-Jake? Was this story’s language so utterly simple and mundane that it could not possibly have produced such split second clinches of desperate u-turns or such moments of broken brinkmanship that eventually made this story not a narrative disaster but a last minute success? I’ll get my coat.
    3. Yttrium
      Part One by Douglas Thompson
      “I watched them make indifferent love afterwards as I clung to the ceiling with the detachment of an alien insect.”
      This is great stuff, with Thompson’s sparkling SF style I have loved in the past. Part One not an Intermezzo, but satisfying enough, as long as I get back my memory-coat when reading Part Two, if I do. Five variegated humans connived into colonising this well-geniuslocated planet world – with permutations of potential paired mating, leaving one a bit askew at loose end, the narrator, who returns disembodied to earth – as synchro-emotionally duplinauted as last night’s TV Channel 4 Philip K Dick electric dream – and he tries to link up with others on his mission in their old earth lives as well as his own sex-seeking wife, legs akimbo, who’s still there. Intriguing and cliffhanging. Frozen on the cusp of the Judas-kiss of time? Storey One as mezzanine?
    4. Amongst the Urlap by Andrew Peters
      “preprogged to avoid syntactical lunacy,”
      This is a sort of tour de force, disarmingly lengthy, written in a mind-brexiting word-priapic flow over you with the feel of its having been written by one of the participatory aliens themselves pretending to be one of the humans in the story. If a successful withdrawal from the EU (forgive the paradox) requires Trade Deals with foreigners beyond Europe, this is a wild envisaging, to my mind, of such deals extended to the universe’s human antique-acquisitive copulation pits themselves. Including a marriage of surround-screen cinematiic convenience. Except that tells you nothing of the various paths of the plot or the semantic-phonetic nature of this story that I have just foolhardily allowed into my mind, to flow over me like a Finnegans Wake of SF but with mostly real dictionary words & with a sense I understood everything in a part of my lingual-erotic body where the brain hardly reaches. It is either a potentially embryonic classic or something to worry about it ever being considered publishable or safe to publish. Yet in no way wishable-away, now it is here, whatever you decide to call it. Existence is only half the battle, I fear.
    5. Doggerland by Jule Owen
      “A central corridor connects the hubs for each section of habitation, stretching the full length of Doggerland, from Britain to mainland Europe, a chain of communal space. […] He is on the mezzanine level of a vast atrium and high above him there are windows beaming down natural light.”
      I know it wasn’t, but this inspiring, if narratively methodical, story of the Pangean ‘Unity’ or Gaian gestalt could have been written with this my real-time review already in its Jungian authorial mind, i.e. my comments above about contiguity or not with Europe and the intermezzo/mezzanine and the jelly parts of human bodies seen in Urlap, here a visionary Jellyfish, like Powys’ Great Tench? Here on this far future earth, the seas the world over have become structures such as Doggerland, a single world City following the ancient flooding of previous cities we know today, but the question is how Sim is this resultant single City? The protagonist is Marsh followed by a number, who is a continuity but not with the memories of the previous Marshes and he rarely meets another human being, but today it is a woman called Baker Five, instead of just mixing with programmed directors and servants and testing drones and tactile holograms or AIs. Are the windows real windows or digital screens? Everyone is optimised to look in their mid twenties however many centuries they have lived. It is as if the duplinauts of Thompson have now again visualised their own Dickian electric dream of an idyllic Earth where we all once fell in love and swam naked together…? Or, at my advanced age, named Lewis-God-knows-what-number, and I can dream …. and this story on its own and in its context here allows me to dream…. optimised, too, however Sim-ple.
      Despite everything, I think I have just regained the plot…despite losing it at one turning point above.
      The remaining 30% of TQF 60 opens other windows ….in addition to its fiction reviewed above in its other 70%.

    Thursday, September 21, 2017

    The Moment of Eclipse (1970) – Brian Aldiss

    15 thoughts on “The Moment of Eclipse (1970) – Brian Aldiss”

    1. The blind idiot god Azathoth – Trump famously looking at the sun without protection on the day of the recent eclipse.
      RIP Brian Aldiss who passed away around that time.
      The two events suddenly caused me — just like the Danish film-maker going to Africa after all in the first story — to want to real-time this collection….
      Also encouragement from Rhys Hughes who told us on Facebook that it one of the greatest short story collections.

    2. ———————————-
      I sense I have already become this book’s “loiasis vector”…. Its inner shadow, disguised as something flickering outside, not inside, to bloodsuck it, not to subsume it from within. Or perhaps I do both?
      This first story is truly amazing. In a style that temptacles you into a slipstream of beautiful prose and constructive mischance. A film-making man obsessed by a Danish woman in fields beyond the fields they know, he being Danish, too, bending fate to follow her to West Africa, making his film after all, a film that he wouldn’t otherwise have made, entranced by her legends of love, love even with her underage son whom the film-maker also later meets, in fact still sporadically meeting her son by bored chance beyond the end of the story itself. It is a frightening story. She is a Munch madonna. Also a Thomas Hardy sonnet. She is not the SF they wanted him to film. This story is something far more rarefied, paradoxically far more real, too.
      “, brains that teem,…” Thomas Hardy.

    3. IMG_3644
      “Permanent happiness lies only in the transitory.”
      A train story too, as attacked by carnivores.
      If I said this was a philosophical discussion by aliens in the shape of Socratic humans, interspersed with italicised visionary codicils or codas or, even, corrections to their own alien history, and where the cynosure of Cythera is sought by each participant, you might start yawning…
      Take it from me, this a perfect gem precise because of its imprecision. Something that lodges in the mind like the previous story’s inner eclipse. That previous story’s entangled polarities, too.
      Also the ‘cage of words’ that Aldiss described here in 1970 prefiguring endless, increasingly bitter and logic-chopped threads on Internet discussion forums!
      “Perhaps truth is an accident.”

      “Postponement is an Indian virtue. In Europe, it’s an admission of failure.”
      A long story, ostensibly well-written, well-characterised Graham Greene like with slants on cultural and political geography, but with the added tantalising texture of it being written in 1970 about 2001, being read by me in 2017. A dislocation echoed by the opening phone call, ending with an ancient landline, from England to India, a phone call through various junction points from Tancred to his wife against whom he is (secretly?) committing adultery with an Indian woman, whose character and body we all grow to relish alongside him. But also a dislocation echoed by the text itself: straight-line bordered mini-texts between the main thrust of text, mini-texts including postponed or premature ‘quotes’ from the main thrust of the text itself (also one line I spotted from ‘Mrs Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch’ by Alice Hegan Rice)….
      But like Tancred, I see myself as no “spoiler”. So please absorb this remarkable anachronistic work for yourself. It is revelatory. But what does it reveal? Infrasound warfare, notwithstanding. And the standard of living on Mars. Floods or droughts and bandits.
      “It creates a sort of pendulum action,”

      “Why not do it again in crayon?”
      From 1970, a pre-fabricated-in-hindsight story effectively about the Internet, but an internet to solve the loneliness of an overcrowded world. But the Internet in reality, today, I sense, has exacerbated both problems. And reality itself, what and who is real? And a story about the control of the birthing rate – as they do in China today? Why not do the world again, this time in crayon?

      “There was a heart-shaped swimming pool at the back, although it was empty of water and the sides were cracked.”
      An aging white man, working for a union of European countries to fund the poor parts of India,, and his daughter, are halted by his sudden heart attack near a village, his daughter later going to a part of the village that “lost heart”, and meets a poor, arguably story-eponymous, Indian man with smallpoxed family who tries to swap a vase for a heart, a story transplanted for another. A world away.
      His daughter 40 and the Indian Doctor’s daughter 20 hit it off. Provocative, with a sun’s wound annealed. The story’s open ending, too.

      “That burial business was all a joke — a swindle.”
      The swindle transcribed from the previous story’s ‘death swap’, here what I imagine a SF writer or publisher dying, his revealing subconscious still in place, but not his conscious, mixing and mingling current concerns about the escalation of the Viet Nam war (a (pre-)echo of an earlier and future Korean War in the area?), and many of his relations who thought themselves proper writers (including his Aunt Laura) – we all think we are this today! – and wanting his help to further their writing!
      His name Festival.
      Death is a sort of festival, I reckon. An eclipse. Estivation is the summer sun’s version of hibernation.
      Just noticed that this book has each story under a heading as a numbered chapter, as if encouraging from the past my gestalt real-time review approach in the present?
      The subconscious as an alternate world?
      “When a concentration camp was set up, it was rapidly filled; people have a talent for suffering.”

      “Since there is no danger that any of my present readers have heard of Report on Probability A…”
      Holman Hunt again, I say. I’ve lived with probability’s report some time now but without the knowledge of Nigel Calder’s book TECHNOPOLIS until the author left it on the cafeteria table during a V&A Hunt exhibition in this story. A story that says, with Hunt, you never see the threads. Except the pair of threads in this one entwining the author and the package-life of a strange woman (with her orangeade in the cafeteria) talking at him. Her important memory-life, but not as important as Proust’s? No painter has painted a hysterectomy? Except Gustave Courbet’s Origin of the World – nearly.
      “My review.”

      “GE NU: The sorrow that overtakes a mother knowing her child will be born dead.”
      …that being just one example in a shown series here of SF alien words and their equivalent English meaning – but without the many stances that should accompany the words to fulfil their meaning.
      A conflux made tentative. The ultimate real-time gestalt review now being needed by all of us. And notes compared on what stance we instinctively took with each word. Hawling, I call it. Dreamcatching, too. The Moment of Uneclipse.

      “No sooner had the American congregations united with ours than they broke away on a point of doctrine at the Council of Dead Tench”
      Thing or God? This is an outrageously believable scenario of a Huge God settling on our world like a caterpillar on an apple, where its seconds are our years, leaving once, then making a Second Coming, shifting twice, and the resultant changes in geography and climate, and in our religions, schisms, heresies, wars. It is absolutely mind-altering, and ironically the Americans tend to be on the Thing rather than God side of the argument, making my feeling even more ironic that this is a very clever prophecy of the Coming of the Trump or of the Tench (see my views on the latter here: Is it a Tench?)

      “Child! You’re the child, Father!”
      Intimations of Wordsworthian Immortality as a viral disease via the lens of Mad Scientist SF when blended with the more subtle literary force of this novelette. An island in the Indian Ocean, a man back from the South Pole, has reunion with his second wife and his young grown-up son by an earlier marriage, jewfish, carrier-plankton, pseudo-incest, carcasses of blue whales almost still alive, cross-channels of ocean currents via impossible straits of natural or smuggled route, this is an important work that will travel right round your mind using more channels of thought than otherwise would not have been possible. With nefarious machinations of guns and prior relationships that form this map of patterns to dreamcatch vastly a gaia of human motives within which we are just plankton ourselves?
      “The Kraken often rode on a pink sea.”

      “Not a fortress, not a temple: the meaningless functionalism, now functionless, of some kind of factory.”
      A disjointed sequel to the previous story, not only by dint of their conjoined meaning of titles, but also some of their characters and the intimations of immortality or longevity feeding into a disjointed narrative, with words competing with each other at times, instead of working with some harmony of meaning. The dystopic future diaspora of Calcutta, a hover-ambulance, an Indian character (as in the orgy of the living and the dying, part of this disjointment of words out-Joycing Joyce) having ‘satanic’ as a pet word, and sacrificial goats.
      “The refugees become refugees again.”
      I am placing this story in my DYSFUNCTIONAL ROOM here:
      Has anyone dared review this story before now?

      “…he still contained the skill to place new stones he had brought within the general pattern with reference to that natural harmony – completing the parapatterner.”
      My review site where you are reading this is one such parapatterner I have now discovered! This is a major work, a Blakean (not Wordsworthian) theme and variations on ‘change’ and the ‘child’ who ‘chilled’… immortality again, a gestalt for this book, as a force for mutation and James Tiptree scenarios, the treemen of Or, an anagram of the earth as a collected pile of stones, as Argustal and his wife Pamitar meet all manner of gradually accreted memories they had lost to the mooncalves, now to remind them what they once were. That child, subject to change.
      Together with, as eponymous counterpoint, a sun not at a moment of eclipse, but sporadically blotched with bits and pieces of darkness called Forces.
      An imaginative tour de force.
      (My own immortality story called ‘Dear Mum’, very humble by comparison, that was published in the early 1990s: )

      “(we have the new Negro androids working in the spaceship yards now)”
      And women. These and others (even limping androids) being employed in the FTL transport yards.
      A puckish tarramadiddle by Aldiss on AI, the intergender, the interracial, endemic role playing, the human condition as a necessary toothache, extra moonlight provision, suicide notes, and childhood antics, all apt in view of the previous story’s putative mutative Null Immortalis (and today’s views of Mel Brooks on political correctness: ).
      “I often feel women do not have quite such a large share of the Human Condition as we do.”

      • SWASTIKA!
        As part of this dual coda to the book (from which I dare not quote in view of today’s hard-bitten polarities), this story – hopefully a satire – deals with what Mel Brooks said today he would never consider dealing with. Adolf Hitlar and the Final Solution.


    Wednesday, September 20, 2017

    Knucklebones – Marni Scofidio

    13 thoughts on “Knucklebones – Marni Scofidio

    1. IMG_3645
      Pages 6 – 25
      “Giving books with five-star reviews one or two stars to bring down their ratings made her feel warm inside.”
      I already seem to know 53 year old Welshwoman Daere Synnott as if I have known her all my life. Not that my half-Welshness helps me out there, never having lived where she has lived, me in England, she in Wales. No, what helps me is a tactilely tractable and nicely engaging style of description. I do not intend to itemise the plot of this book but mainly adumbrate its effect on me as I gradually submit to its already captivating grip. But I will start here by itemising some deft moments in the portrait of dear Daere, following the Welsh glossary:-
      Another’s pre-Tarot gamble involved in her past as a child in 1970 when coerced into the shed by a pillar of the community. And now in 2013, her own Tarot habit, her shopping for own-label goods in Aldi, the man in Aldi who counts baked beans in a tin by shaking the tin, her demanding mother Edith for whom she spends her life caring in the flat with noisy neighbours upstairs, Daere’s EBay habit which is part of her wooing of the local postman Sam by means of his being forced to knock with the parcels, her DVDs of Strictly Come Dancing, and her speculation of a different family background for herself involving Anita Manning, Tim Wonnacott and Charlie Hanson. I know exactly what she means!
      “They couldn’t hurt you if they didn’t know you were there.”
    2. IMG_3651Pages 28 – 47
      “, never to litter. Litter not,”
      Two months later.
      Daere and her mother Edith have a new neighbour to replace the noisy ones, whom we meet before Daere does, maybe just as noisy, as she, this new neighbour (Clary), has a special needs child called Felix about to live in this social housing after being in a woman’s refuge…. I love the way these people are built up with telling modern details. This has a literary power, evolving a portrait of our times, with all its fallibilities and suspicions but often with intrinsic care from simple folk to simple folk. And focus on things, like litter, a stray fag end, as well as lack of focus often on big things. I noticed a reference to Virginia Woolf in connection with Clary. Synchronously, I currently happen to be real-time reviewing THE WAVES by that author. And there is a Sea Road in this Welsh town. Much else going on. A busy book, as well as a feel of it being stylishly laid back, too.
    3. IMG_3653Pages 48 – 68
      “People are crazier than they used to be.”
      You can say that again. Meanwhile, we learn more about Clary and Daere, now in interface with each other, the former with her loved Felix (Flea) an unpretty child based on first impressions of reader and Daere, at least. Daere equally caring for a dependant, her elderly invalid mother. Both women whose name is often mispronounced, both, I sense, superstitious or psychic. But with telling differences, too. I feel the literary and horror genres are now beginning to blend seamlessly. And I am intrigued by Clary’s reluctance not to name her errant and abusive man from whom she hides here in the back of beyond near Sea Road. And that painting above is not painted by Richard Dadd, I somehow find myself wanting to say out loud here based on a random, possibly errant, instinct of mine. And who is the ‘attic dweller’ who shares this building of flats with both women?
    4. IMG_3659Pages 69 – 93
      “Like a scarecrow he slouched on the wall, a patchwork of bones and flesh, all angles, no generosity.”
      I know the sort. Brilliantly, worryingly conjured. Clary’s man against whom she has a protection order. Near Ocean Street, I note, as well as Sea Road. There is half-bonding, half mutual reviling between the two women in face of this man, their preoccupations now bespoke for this book’s deeply enthralling and unpredictable audit trail. Clary’s son, Daere’s mother, a caring for similar human-things? Worrying, again. Constructively so for those of us who like somehow to enjoy worrying fiction. Those of us nearing ‘the lie-in of all lie-ins.’IMG_3660 Cinematic, too, in a seedy sort of Beckett way. Or Pinter? I was merely bemused about the prop of Clary’s mobile and the reason given to us for its staying untopped-up. And much else, including the WPC at the local nick. A town that is becoming Scofidio’s genius loci.
      “Summer sunshine in Wales never lasts.”
    5. IMG_3663Pages 94 – 116
      “He loved wood, the fact that it lived, that it had patterns,..”
      Back to the drawing-board or a new character organic with what went before? You decide. For me, it is organic. This book is full of things, like picture frames from Wilkinsons and supermarket delivery slots; it is a living place called Ffrynt. It sounds a bit like Clacton where I live in Essex, a seaside resort of a certain ilk. Down the road from here is another town, Frinton, one that is not like Ffrynt at all! Another synchronous name-wordplay in the book: Ruffalo with Buffalo. Baffle with bullshit. IMG_3664To Clary’s mother’s town-backstory of an info-dump from the Internet making me think back to what I said earlier that the horror genre is blending seamlessly with a literary work. One of them is now insidiously trying to break or mend those seams or replace the seamlessness with something else – ineluctably to prove which is stronger, or more likely that they are not differentiable at all.
      “Well if the synchronicity of that doesn’t call for celebrating…”
    6. Pages 117 – 135
      “‘I play in a band called Captem Cariad,’ Sam explained.”
      An unannounced synchronicity?
      The postman always knocks twice. But for whom?
      Just an obliquity, my self-amusing doodle of critique:
      Richard Dadd working on ‘Contradiction: Oberon and Titania’ (1854/1858)
      Meanwhile this is essentially a modern ‘Britain has Talent’ watching soap with ordinary people unselfish-consciously acting out a Pinter play. Pinter as Painter. A Welsh horror soap?
    7. IMG_3671Pages 136 – 160
      “Barefoot in the kitchen,”
      How can you love someone to pieces, someone asks somewhere. This consuming book seems so far to be about the sincerity and blindness of love as an oxymoron. Are we seeing the distinction correctly? I do not wish my reference to Richard Dadd the painter to muddy the waters. It’s just a skirmish of one reading mind, mine. Clary’s ex-partner is real, believable and monstrous. He is nothing to do with painting. Or even Mallory’s drawing-board? Back to that oxymoron of love, is there a difference between loving a “mong kid” and a dysfunctionally senile mother? Meanwhile, we seem led towards a view of Daere, the neighbour downstairs, that if I told you its details, would spoil the oxymoron. Suffice to say, the portrait is powerful. (The tarot partitions of this book, notwithstanding.) As powerful as the evocative conjuration of a music club and its music and its denizens.
      “All that for ten seconds of pleasure.”
    8. img_2619Pages 161 – 177
      “Sam flipped his tie with both hands, like Oliver Hardy.”
      The battle ensues between horror and something else, but now the seams seem not within literature alone but within life itself, within our era, as we know it, to the backdrop of thump thump thump from a imageneighbour’s party where nefarious things go on that already go on on-line as insidious echo, crips and all. The characters continue to develop, some with misunderstandings of love, that oxymoron of love now a creature trying to douse a ‘Creature’ with perceived kindness beyond the ulterior motive – and we do well to differentiate ugliness from beauty. Normal human jealousy and coolly manic obsession. There is nail-bitten suspense, too, depending on mobiles, wrong numbers, available taxis, and what we see as truth, so different from what the characters think they see. Or what all horror writers see, like those named in the text.
      “If you blocked out its deformities, it looked so beautiful,”
    9. IMG_3686Pages 179 – 203
      “Then it was the use of ‘Ms’. Ugly sound. Like a bee with a speech defect.”
      More drawing-boards of sorts, not only Clary’s, Mallory’s and Richard Dadd’s, but also now the daughter of a social worker (the one trying to visit Daere and her senile mother), a girl who has “drawed” a “pincher’…and Daere herself with a clumsily prophetic collage of her Tarot.
      Passages inclusive of but not exactly “chocka” with texting. Yet full of typing. And machinations, plot tensions and accretive characterisations continue to entrammel the reader.
      “And Anita thought happiness was the belief that no matter what happened in your life, you were equipped to deal with it.”
    10. IMG_3694Pages 204 – 229
      “…everyone found what they needed with a finger-swipe…”
      Back to the drawing-board, organic or vestigial? You’re on your own now, O companion-reader-alongside-me. Such a plot twist now occurs, or SEEMS to occur, transcending prior omniscience as well as a suspension of disbelief regarding knowledge of the Internet, Amazon reviews, mobiles, smartphones and texting. I am really enjoying this now horror-prevailing book. The heart of the stench, perhaps, notwithstanding.
    11. 481E3AF4-59FB-4CC5-B9B1-F96A573D7DA2Pages 230 – 251
      “That’s where my art desk is going.”
      These pages trace the nature of “a learning curve”, in more ways than one, the good and the bad in life alike, including your own as you read the book. I wonder whether to mention the rather rarefied or irrelevant observation that the author of ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ has a surname a near anagram of Clary. Or that Daere, among other things, tellingly needs to replace her shower curtain. That libraries are for silent reading or using eBay, not clumsy machinations of romance. And that there are ludicrous expectations of the containing volume of shopping trolleys…..
      “…’it’s complicated’, because it never is unless you want it to be.”
      Whatever the case, at least part of me is helplessly entrammelled by this book and I need to finish it so as to escape properly. Almost enjoying it too much, if that is the right word. Certainly enjoying the process of gestalt reviewing it. The nuclear option, or the knucklier one?
    12. D99D2064-CC7F-4ED1-8B25-B458A3A6CB24Pages 252 – 287
      “From pain, a plan: in every cloud.”
      This has the suspense of a Hitchcock blockbuster now arriving at Ffrynt Carnival together with the subtlety of stitched tropes. We follow what is happening, the interactions built up from the book’s hinterland. 1981752C-86FC-4EDD-A0EA-9298F8E75A1C The gullibility, the temperamental mobiles, the “schmeant, meant” of looks, casual and deliberate. I feel I am some sort of Querent, as I unshuffle this book’s cards dealt out. Following “a scattershot nature” as well as a methodical plan of pain. “a sound like clicking bones”. Bottles of Night Nurse. And a remorseless cruelty of means needed to reach inchoate ends.
      “Sometimes it seems like my entire life depends on a series of people who can’t be left on their own.”
    13. C6013EA7-A34E-4C42-A301-42AB142FA299Pages 288 – end
      “, it’s dead fiddly.”
      This is the second day in a row I have had some sort of synchronous run-in with Queen Victoria (see here), but the word my Welsh father first taught me, ‘Hiraeth’, is an important catalyst and that word is used in these pages and imbues the book in hindsight. It means more than it means. It draws you to serendipities, as well as memories that may not even be your memories. Homesickness and eventual emotional healthness, whatever the symbolic stages of the cards dealt. Fiddle-faddly, too, a word my English mother used. BA12E1DC-53B6-4E4E-9401-0CAB4FBED367And here, meanwhile, we continue with the exciting cinematic suspense and dénouement “played out in bloody Technicolor…” plus the psychic illusive ventriloquism of Horror, with a capital H, but who or what ventriloquises whom? The future mimics or uses the voice of the past while the rattly bones that were once upon a time deadly throw-dice of abusive chance are now embedded in Fate’s structured slopes as knobbled stops to prevent further sliding. Not really “a Valkyrie on fire”, or if so, eventually a hurtling distaff of hope, a hope that the innocent can prevail. To beat Fate at its own slip-slidey game. And to know that love will eventually outweigh its opposite.
      “…all the time she’d known The Creature, it had never looked so beautiful.”

    14. A page-turning novel-reader’s novel. A Horror novel that it never tries not to be; in fact it drops names. A work that is dreamcatching of some literary force. Lifecatching, too. And tantalisingly elusive and allusive, words where you hopefully find the Querent. Mighty or not.