Sunday, December 30, 2018

The Angry Red Planet – Ralph Robert Moore

12 thoughts on “The Angry Red Planet – Ralph Robert Moore

  1. From the back cover –
    Chapter 1
    “You look angry.”
    I always get angry at the pitiless prose of this author, taking me places, almost against my will, where most of me does not want to go. Dragged there with compelling autochange. Perhaps my own fallibilities, fears and desires are played out as if with a personally bespoke magicking by fiction. Here in a hospital under potential surgical scrutiny, wife and self as an internally competing ‘sugary’ singularity from within a frail body’s onanism in stereo. With patchwork desires in your life’s angry gestalt now awoken here in this chapter by a beestorm, an obstructive tree and the viability of vicariousness. And an unexpected inheritance of a department-store-in-aspic.
  2. Chapter 2
    Pages 29 – 42
    “The bone structure at the front of Mr. Lewis’s skull was completely caved in. Did you break your hand?”
    I somehow took delight in Mr Lewis’s full name being Brandon Lewis (current Chairman of the Conservative (Tory) Party) – and that this book eschews AnGEr manAGEment and has already conveyed that rage often comes with age. And at my particular age of outed outrage, it is time to admit that 70 is the prime of life, or at least its cusp. Me and Trump alike.
    “When I was a kid, I didn’t have imaginary friends. I had imaginary enemies.”
  3. Pages 42 – 62
    “Edna looked down at her lap. In a sad voice she said, ‘I miss my left shin. I wonder where it is right now.’”
    Disleggingly poignant. The relationship of Harry and Edna complexifies, with not only more surgical or sugary cuts, but also with relationship motivations and expectations thwarted or enhanced in interface with other characters, some aggressive like police force interrogators, plumbers for one’s own faucet at home or the force’s toilet where the interrogation takes place, other characters more disarmingly amenable like the supermarket tillster with lovely hair air-dryable, or the lawyer. I am dragged along by the scruff of my literacy. I know this is naughty stuff, often amusingly grotesque, and, as I say, poignantly off the wall. Raw bodily togetherness with or without qualms. Likeable stuff that I expected to like. Unlike garlic. The raw house renovations, notwithstanding. The tree house as a sort of thematic triage?
  4. Chapter 3
    “There are women hiding everywhere in this house.”
    Houses as women, that is? Harry’s ‘flip houses’. You know, I am beginning to see life in an even more frightful light when reading this novel that I genuinely predict will become more famous than it currently is. The Harry – Edna relationship as a strange yet believable love-hate congeries, and the seedy or no hope men (“I choose not to eat something with eyes”) towards whom she shows a wheelchair’s telltale skidmarks across the lawn. The anger of queuing. (Queue in UK, a line to snort in USA). TV courts. Carpal tunnel syndrome. Curb appeal (kerb in UK.) The art of buying, renovating and selling a human-riven property, where one of its chandeliers had once served as a noose. “Fuck! What circle of Hell am I in?” Even the privacy fence… the first time I have ever noticed Mars and Paris have visually assonant names. Travel. Travertine tiles, et al.
  5. Chapter 4
    Pages 87 – 103
    “‘Actually, it’s the theme from Psycho.’
    ‘Where are we on the Hollandaise?’”
    Just as an experiment to test whether you had the same reaction as me with regard to the contiguity in the text of ‘Psycho’ and ‘Hollandaise’, did your eye briefly misread the latter as ‘Hellraiser’? Meanwhile, this book has, for me, become a necessary catharsis for our times, speaking to me like the Don Henley song does to one of the characters, or like when, as a boy, I could walk beyond each block lost or unlost. Harry is now visited by a character you will not be able to forget, try as you might! It is Sebastian, Edna’s father, a widower with a young wife. The scene in the restaurant with him is surely due to become a favourite literary lollipop of all time. Food preparation or consumption as default dysfunction. And fruit sculpture. Digging solipsistically into the ice cream just for the best bits at the bottom of the carton. Transcending or harnessing a billionaire’s desire – during a property makeover – to “line up all the doorways in the house, north-south and east-west, so when you look through a doorway, you can see…” all the way to Mars? Whatever.
  6. Pages 103 – 116
    “Your Dad really does love you.”
    From the erstwhile Eraserhead in the restaurant, to Edna’s mother’s “art boxes” with landscapes within (cf Harry’s property projects with Paul the billionaire), misogyny roams like a passive-aggressive creature through the backstory memories of Sebastian, deriding feminine ambitions in now dead wife and daughter. Sebastian reminds me of Trump. This novel has now started to swell out within my skull unbidden. The only solution is to stop reading it? But can I stop reading it? Meanwhile, I am beginning to like, even love, Harry! His bespoke care of Edna, her medical appointments, etc. I never knew that would happen! Mixed emotions only literature’s skill can reach?
  7. Chapter 5
    Pages 117 – 133
    “Of course, at a hospital, recognizing someone returning isn’t a joyful thing.”
    This book is like Testing Patterns of Sudoku, a process that enrages and absorbs at the same time, like adding and subtracting things at the same time, too. Poignancy and pent-up irony, and a cult of self-pride second to none, negated by shame, as I grow to Sudokusise Harry and Edna, and also realise that Trump is sucked into a pattern of Sebastian good and proper. At least I hope so now! A revelation of self, as seen in others. Also the kill and cure nature of hospitals, and their frustrating waits for no obvious reason. Waiting for that missing number of deaths or near deaths elsewhere in the building.
  8. Pages 133 – 153
    “She seemed dubious.”
    There seems to be an increased degree of doubt there. “She was dubious”, or “She seemed certain”, or “ She was certain”, at different stages of doubt or non-doubt. Subtraction vying with addition, limbs and emotions expendable, or to be renewed in aggregates of multiplying and division in various parts of the mind and body, trying to adjust to the new environment of self, as people come and go in your life, parts of self that go missing, too, as you compensate with bespoke contraptions fictional and/or real. Some intensely moving moments here, with personal bodily implications, as we lead to a significant subtraction in Harry’s and Edna’s life, and its angry math and aftermath. Looking suddenly at someone dead in a coffin makes them look smaller-than-life, I found, with a squashed grotesquery of a grim grin. Counting the years you had with them as part of a once projected eternity, and whether now to use 911 to resolve its end calculation. My thoughts, not necessarily the book’s thoughts, but thoughts powerfully stirred in me by the book.
  9. Chapter 6
    Pages 155 – 171
    “His voice could reach this level of . . . rage mixed with helplessness, his face bright red…”
    Red as the planet towards which this book is now being ‘flipped’ or ‘double-supremed’ – compelling details of the nature of anger, as if, I wonder, it is an inherited department store of discrete products all under one roof. Only equalled by the compelling details of plans to navigate towards that very planet with which this book is labelled, the mix of crew starting to team-build in fascinating, sometimes passive-aggressive, interaction, in a Mexican restaurant after the dress rehearsal for Harry at a lower flight, with all the sensations of passenger aeroplane travel. Food and emotions, meanwhile, are, as often with this author, inextricable. A good marriage being the unself-conscious readiness to finish off each other’s sandwiches. Later, though. “…the stirrings of lust in his stomach. Odd, that that’s where the physical effect of lust always originates, like the first warning sign of diarrhea.”
  10. Pages 171 – 191
    191 pages in total. Now read them all. Wish there had been 911 of them at least. The Big Brother Mars House as a mock up for outer space, including water usage, now smells fruity like one of Wanda’s fruit sculptures. Was it Wanda, though, I wonder. Sebastian’s wife. ‘I don’t care’ written on the back of her coat. Enough to make a baby want to commit suicide. We reach powerful apotheosis of Harry’s severely impulsive God of War and Wrath inside him. Thinking about it, this book is seriously even better than Philip Wrath, it really is. Meanwhile, lost count of all the differently coloured arms stretching out from between the prison bars. A reader is better than a cop by being able to witness what happens real-time instead of being called in later to investigate.
    “All that was left in that space now was a crater of gum, with the moist dark bone of the drilled-down tooth at the bottom of the crater.”


    Saturday, December 29, 2018

    Hidden Folk – C.M. Muller

    15 thoughts on “Hidden Folk – C.M. Muller

    1. VRANGR
      “As a teen he had longed for a kind of alchemical absorption into these old black and white photos.”
      … as the rest of the particularly brief story slowly rolled out through to his seeking his inheritance in the unmapped eponymity as an inheritance of self….
      Very Real As Negative Growth Retreat.
      If there are comparative and superlative degrees of real?
      “…he had been reading too many imaginative books as of late.”
      This may not be imaginative at all, though, but very real.
      Dare I say, this is a potential classic ghost story of a boy caring for his increasingly ailing mother in face of a dust child stalking her – and more. Disarmingly simple, yet intense and predictably memorable.
      Very impressed.
    3. Hyper-imagination as a conduit for the more real?
      “…and he could not shake the idea he was looking at himself from behind.”
      Stream of Callshifts and Colleagues in the Centre one of whom may be you, co-resonant with the Royle Dummy works (reviewed here).
      Stream of photos, both real and digital, backstory: loss of father, wife’s miscarriage, daughter’s misbirth or miscarried phone…
      ‘qeej’ instrument of your racial or historic beliefs, a cross between a flute and a phone’s trilling.
      Wife’s shutins growing. The very real as negative growth of retreat?
      Suffocated wakings of self…
      A story that managed to suffocate me, too, bar the breathing spaces between the words and lines? Spoken or read, phone-line to self dead? Call centring…
    4. My previous review from here of the next story is shown below…
      “It might have been a different story had then been an occasional passerby,…”
      …or something more integrated as the past than merely the splattergun of memories you are granted as you get old? The eponymous Agnes is retired, with the help of her busy daughter, to an establishment near the reservoir where she was brought up with her brother Anders. The now often wild environs have much altered, and she has some dreaded memory of losing her brother to the place in the distant past. Methodically narrated, but transcendent with parallel dreaming and mischievous real-time straying from the new establishment, we follow Agnes into a believable scenario of haunting catharsis. An experience we all share by different but equivalent means, one day, I guess. It’s just that, as I grow older, I incrementally sense that even with one very slight alteration, like Agnes’ missing passer-by, life’s eventual gestalt alters far more significantly. Like mine might be altered by chancing upon this story?
      “, secretly hoping to glimpse an approaching figure who might dissuade her from what she was about to do,…”
    5. I now see that I happened to choose the most apposite photo from my sculpture park photos to decorate this review earlier today above.
      “…the untamed darkness residing in her boy had bled out for good.”
      A mother and son in mutual echo of each other, as they repeat history of their behavioural difficulties into the heartwood. Mutually echoing, too, with some of the Carly Holmes book I recently reviewed here.
      “shaunshaunshaun” “pleasant demeanour”, another flute like qeeg, towards final out-come…
    6. 42E0F585-D9D6-4882-A7C1-EA27FB54D726DIARY OF AN ILLNESS
      “…the illness, whatever it was, would remain a permanent fixture in their lives, and that the only thing left to do was adapt.”
      A blend of Royle Dummies and Ligottian diseases and pharmacies, mood of anti-Natalism as a religion, this is a unique classic. Inverse or paradoxical hope. Another CrucialFiction for this book! A treat for Christmas Day, in a very specialist way. Anything I say further will spoil its effect. Needs to be read every Christmas Day. And I have indeed been queuing up at a pharmacy in fear of such a breakdown… “Turning from—and thus further into—his diseased self,…”
      “Things have begun to improve. Or, at least, that is your sense. Having survived the past year speaks volumes to your resilience.”
      Has some resonances with the previous story, the mysterious ongoing construction outside one’s apartment – here by a set of workers from a Mark Samuels type Glyphotech? – the sense of paradoxical hope from a mother’s death earlier in the year and your own rebirth from earth and constructive anti-Natalism? Exploration tethered by TV.
      “Far too daunting to sit there in silence, consuming such a multitude of words.”
      “…if he was going to do the job correctly, in a manner most meaningful, he needed to haul this burden himself.”
      Aligned with the ecclesiastical (or otherwise) constructions of architecture in the previous two stories, this moving story is almost a Christian morality tale, of an old man fighting against bodily disease as well as busying his mind — with ancient property reclamation and a cherished ladder of lineage — into new spirited practical challenge, while in bereaved contact with his dead wife, a coincidence of ‘coalescence’ (a coal- word that someone yesterday used in respect of my reviews: or, as I call it, Gestalt mining of mine and minds or, paradoxically, ‘hawling’ up). The hope, however, is, for this man, not easy to mine. Ghostly darkness inside a church et al. Subsumed by self. A pilgrim’s progress or regress: up or down, if not respectively.
      “I did so, crouching to achieve a properly sinister angle.”
      A haunting letter from Jacqueline to her mother telling of her foolhardy diversion in a direct journey route, when travelling with two other girls, a diversion to a city beyond the eponymous one. The genius loci of the city not only conveys this book’s evolving dummy-syndrome of particular individuals but also the book itself and what it does to the reader.
      “And even though they bore a striking resemblance to books, these were nothing of the kind. They were an invasive species.”
      This story is another whelming haunter for this book! Combining the Dust Child and other themes in this book, as a woman goes back to the place where she was inspired by an uncle into reading books. But now the books themselves have become less ordered and strewn around a presence – a presence that was once her uncle?
      This work, in part, also summoned in my mind, by mere accidental co-resonance, a section of my own story ‘Salustrade’ published in Karl Edward Wagner’s ’Year’s Best Horror Stories’ (1994):
      “The sockets, where his eyes must have rested, pulsed darker than the shadow of his skull. The huddle of books in his aching arms were just another shapeless stranger of black and he wondered which of these books would hold the final suffocating victory over her breath. He strode toward the recumbent figure and carefully placed the books in a makeshift pyramid over her mouth, nose and eyes. She had loved that astronaut Williams and, now, her boss, meticulously patting the damp books into place over her features, involuntarily admired her unutterable loyalty to the deceased spaceman: he sprinkled over the pyramid of books some black blooms which had been crimson in daylight hours but now night-stained with death juice. They fell haphazardly over and through the damp pages. But she stirred slightly at this rustle of petals and her face gradually rose, spilling the books to the floor like lumpy porridge.”
      The whole story is now here: and was reprinted in my ‘Weirdmonger’ collection (Prime 2003)
      “The yellow book itself appeared unaffected, save that it was covered in a layer of dust.”
      And this landmark collection finally comes together in this vignette of dust and books. Making me believe that all books are the same book. The Gestalt. Dust as haunting fragments of a whole. Dust is often sand coloured like the book. Writerly hopes of a Work imported. The self in others, others in the self. A word’s worth. And the Child is the Book of all us hidden folk as one.

    Wednesday, December 19, 2018

    Test Patterns – Creature Features

    Test Patterns – Creature Features

    Planet X Publications 2018
    Edited by Duane Pesice
    My previous review of Test Patterns:
    Work by Michael Adams, Danger Slater, Cody Goodfellow, Erica Ruppert, Robert Guffey, Robert S. Wilson, Farah Rose Smith, James Fallweather, Ashley Dioses, James Russell, John Paul Fitch, Brenda Kezar, SL Edwards, Debra Robinson, Calvin Demmer, Kurt Fawver, Aaron French, Duane Pesice, Buzz Dixon, Natasha Bennett, Orrin Grey, Jill Hand, Jayaprakash Satyamurthy, Dominique Lamssies, Daniel Brock, Lana Cooper, John Linwood Grant, John Claude Smith, Aksel Dadswell, Jeffrey Thomas.
    When I read this book, my thoughts will appear in the comment stream below…

    37 thoughts on “Test Patterns – Creature Features

      “, sharing this beautiful moment together, using all of these other people’s parts to feel brand-new things.”
      And now — how do I predict these things? — this work seems to be the essence of solipsism as created by the Frankenstein monster trope, the first time in literature, in fact, as solipsistic ego meets the multiple ids with pitchforks, the ego as monster employed to serve in a store that provides such pitchforks and other monster-killing tools! A unique philosophical bodyrama that also perforce happens to be “Haphazard and vile.”
    2. THE GREEDY GRAVE Cody Goodfellow
      “Hull turned from these confusing eddies of morbid fancy to the question of the telescope.”
      Yet — “…reading from the same book. But not from the same page.” — this was some hokum I did not really understand about hunting for gold in them there wild places, with greedy graves, dead Indians to feed, and half-breeds, or was one man double-crossing? Binoculars not a telescope in the coffee!?
      My other reviews of this author:
    3. 4B3EDF97-E1DC-417D-9797-0A28C13124CDPRETTY IN THE DARK Erica Ruppert
      “She looked up at the wood plank ceiling. She couldn’t see it in the dark, but she knew the knots and grain and the faces they hid.”
      Syl is back at the lodge near the lake. A lodge in decline like its family of owners. She obviously has pareidolia steeped in its ambiance, but does that account for the vision arising from the family legends she follows up? Not the “bearskin” always in the lodge (another bearskin in a story reviewed yesterday here) but the trod paths that the receding water allows near the dam towards a pareidoliac infant or a real infant, drowned in its own haunting creaturifiction as creaturification? Feature or support?
      “At least the bearskin still hung on the wall, and a faded map of the lake drawn in 1973, and the deer antlers, and a taxidermized marten.”
    4. About an hour ago, during my already on-going review of ‘The Rust Maidens’ (here), I happened to quote this passage from it:
      “Hospitals were confusing places that pretended to be orderly, that pretended to make sense. Places that told us to trust them, even though they offered us little reason to do so.”
      So utterly apposite to my subsequent reading of…
      THE EYE DOCTOR Robert Guffey
      “‘Then maybe we need to make an appointment.’ Mommy bent down and began picking up the shattered pieces of her sculpture.”
      A pointy appointment.
      Ever since Fawver’s orange balls, I haven’t read a story with such potential as a classic fable as this one. And an utterly frightening, nightmarish one, too. One with eyeballs and ‘pointies’.
      It concerns a small girl’s fear of the Eye Doctor, as related to the circumstances of her increasingly dysfunctional Mum and Dad. Child as the Wordsworthian Parent of Man? Or Doctor Who as a form of Doctor I.
      “…they just needed a little nudge in the proper direction.” — one of the loopholes of time travel?
      Then, Doctor I, reminds me, too, of my initial reference to solipsism at the beginning of my review above…
      “It was as if there were dozens of little people buried in The Doctor’s torso,”
      “‘Where are you going to run?’ The Doctor asked. ‘Into your body? You can’t.’”
      Essential reading. You will never forget some of the longer passages towards the end, especially.
    5. APHANTASIA Robert S. Wilson
      “She’s reminded again that to imagine such a state destroys its reality in and of itself.”
      “Give me the eye and I will let you live.”
      “…where men and women stand divided by some solid unseen border in which anything that dares to encroach becomes ugly and unclean. An abomination. A thing that should not be.”
      A sonic boom for literature to cope with. As it does here, in the form of some transcendent zombie horror that builds and builds with suspense and pent up booming. The Guffey eyeballs, as it were, replaced by empty sockets thirsty for Third Eyes. A man with a vision to share from a so-called tumour in his head. And those who hunt him for it, and the woman who tries to protect him, too. Except it’s an optic, not a sonic, boom, you see. That’s the way I see it.
      I had never heard of “aphantasia” before and the story has enlightened me about this real condition, and that not to have a mind’s eye is a power in itself, more powerful than HAVING it. I think I now suffer, and have always suffered unbeknownst, from this condition. And I suffer alternative visions to come to me with bespoke perceptions of a me-too world. Solipsism now rampant.
      But what is this about dolphins?
    6. IN THE ROOM OF RED NIGHT Farah Rose Smith
      “And the swarm! To pursue the memory is to pursue that familiar delirium of a forgotten world. Savage beasts that would not hide their wings, living as men until the moon shattered.”
      A highly dark-poetic (incomparable and constructively untranslatable to sense logic)) transfiguration of swarm theory and human words, resonating by chance with the inverse falconry using humans, in ‘Flock’ (reviewed yesterday here) and the vision from underground of one of the Rust Maidens, now to her nth power — a densely word-powered vista of possibly how I see the precipice of Brexit and the Trump as ‘Meiser’ too, but really, as I said before, paradoxically, this work does not represent these things at all, untranslatable, as human beings in diaspora within an unrecognisable mythic world, underground or beyond last weekend’s Norwegian Whovian portal?
      “One might dream of random things, and find some undercurrent of truth; a strain of allegory in an otherwise ceaseless cacophony of mental anguish.”
      “I know in this moment that there is little chance of life for me beyond this precipice.”
      “My worry is not of life after death. I have come to a silent worship of an undying light; an everlasting current of energy connecting all life.”
      Such energy as the gestalt from literature that I still seek by testing all patterns?
      My previous review of this author:
    7. LITTLE HOUSE IN THE SUBURBS James Fallweather
      “Seventeen deaths, seventeen prisoners, seventeen regrets.”
      A moving portrait beyond the precipice of the last war, the war that had featured Pearl Harbour (think of that expression of hope that such a name carries), in downtown Detroit similar to the post war pre-Trump suburb land of the Rust Maidens elsewhere… a family where parents and daughter mourn the boy-man, brother and son, lost, presumed dead, in that now lost war. But they each have visions of him imprisoned and tortured, in a dream that promises release of a creature that is himself – or as a creature fitting for this book’s monstrous gestalt? I found this work to be powerful through its straightforward expression of pining and imposed suburban hope, hope or gullibility, simple-mindedness that holds dark complex secrets like revisiting, revised deformations of those we once loved, allowing us to wield potential euthanasia for life’s victims….as they perhaps otherwise live forever in pain? But what of this story’s prairie irony in its title?
      “Lost in thought over the chance that a death in a dream would constitute a death in real life,…”
    8. SPIRIT OF PLACE James Russell
      “He had accepted it pretty much straight away as a hallucination the first time he saw it, after all, and had no trouble dealing with the idea that only he could see it…”
      There is something about a warring thingness hovering over a vexed land as in the previous story….
      But also, my prediction – at outset – of this book’s solipsistic gestalt now seems here to bear ultimate fruit in its genius loci hallucination – without being a hallucination – as a memorable amorphous UFO-like ‘thing’ with felt or observed human emotions changing over a particularly dreary suburb, a scenario that becomes consuming to read about, one of this book’s suburbs, with an ending to the story that made me furious as much as the story itself became furious with the protagonist’s selfishness. My fury was also at the ending itself. A story otherwise with a classic objective correlative of ‘thingness’ for our time equivalent to Fawver’s orange balls and Guffey’s eyeballs. A dual-shared solipsism halted by one of those sharing it so as to purify that solipsism?
    9. SIGNALS John Paul Fitch
      “If he’d been awake, maybe he’d have seen the streak of lightning that cleaved the sky in half.”
      A derecho? A new word that I learned when reading the book about Rust Maidens. The name for a certain storm weather formation. A violent storm that seems to fit this otherwise straightforward monster yarn through (extraterrestrial?) transmission signals of a township, with tentacles and teeth, and gory human transfiguration. An honest shocker, with no philosophical frills. With some effectively expressive language. I wondered, meanwhile, if the derecho was a repetition of a certain barker?…
      “Hear what?” said Sheriff Barker.
      “Exactly. Nothing. No birds, no wildlife.”
      Doctor Banovich scratched his cheek. “Shit. Didn’t Fred have a dog? Big old brown Labrador. You could hear that thing bark for miles on a bad day.”
    10. FROM LITTLE ACORNS GROW Brenda Kezar
      “And half an Elasmotherium is better than no Elasmotherium, right?”
      My fault, but I found this difficult to follow with the various characters involved in palaentology and the sudden change of scene from Russia with a smuggled fossil that grows into life-threatening tendrils back home for Kate. Some great descriptions, though.
      “He paced slowly at the mouth of the mine, swatting his gloved hands against his pants and periodically spitting out something black and viscous. The men around him had the blackness pouring out of the corners of their eyes like charcoal tears, streaks going down their faces and across their lips. It seeped from their ears and noses, from every exposed orifice of their bodies as diseased war-paint.
      There was no hope for them, and only one cure.”
      I needed to make that substantial quote from towards the beginning of this powerful work, where this whole story seems to be part of my own still developing gestalt of the preternatural ability of hyper-imaginative literature to both affect and reflect our existence, and possibly to act as its potential cure or healing or, as I call it, ‘hawling’. The hawling of mines (each being mine solipsistically and, perhaps, yours, too, should you exist at all outside of my mind) — (my first and last novel, incidentally, placing Azathoth at the Earth’s core) — and here in this story as the miners and other honest workers (of our Trumpish and Brexit?) suburbs being sucked in by evil ‘black ichor’ creatures thereunder (cf the Rust Maidens elsewhere), and here Pan, a young girl, as our defending warrior against such forces. Pan being Pandora of the Box, as a possibility, is an added level of irony. (Cf young Sudra as well as the other miners or hawlers in the aforementioned 2011 novel). This story as a standalone consideration is a significant one that needs its coordinates triangulating by as many readers as possible.
      My previous reviews of this author:
    12. CHAOS AND VOID Debra Robinson
      “My horror was complete.
      I felt my forehead; smooth.”
      A female musician pushing middle age, later pulling millennial, blue pill or red pill, I could not resist being captivated by her phobia of developing a Third Eye in the middle of her forehead, and her need to co-opt a series of beanie hats to hide or soak up the yellow goo that she had seen such a Third Eye exude when giving a lift to a wide boy (with one) in her car. An enticingly crazy Dorian-Gray type yearning for renewal, in cahoots with this book’s earlier thirsting for Guffey-Wilson Third Eyes through which one can, or can’t not, see a tornado of monsters to match earlier UFO/derechoes in Russell and Fitch. The solipsistic Danger of ingrowing pitchforks of self.
      “It was all unknowable, until it was known.”
    13. THE RIVER RAN RED Calvin Demmer
      “I’m going to show you the circle of madness. Have you seen it before?”
      I guessed he was showing off to his new found ‘girl friend’ in the here well-characterised residue of jungle in our world, when our young man decides to dive into the river to prove it was just an ordinary river, even one that was otherwise full of real monster myths / rituals of skulls to be retrieved by ‘daredevil’ young men. A straightforward fable of foolhardiness? Or something more complex about the retrieval of the solipsistic skull of self itself?
      “images from a world we no longer understand.”
      The format in which I have just read this series of 117 days of diary entries — a compelling claustrophobic Evensonic experience told by one person as effective narrator, eventually the only one solipsistically left to communicate with us as unseen readers (after the woman “who rarely speaks drew a circle on the wall and told me that it encompassed the remainder of the known universe” left his sight), all taking place in the basement where five of them, randomly as otherwise unconnected people, originally started sheltering from another of this book’s Underechoes, as objective-correlatives of impending UFO pestilence or inimical-philosophic thingness, here a green light — yes, the text’s format seemed to be visually a poem with enjambment, while still continuing to be compelling prose, a format dictated by the shape of the narrator-diarist’s notebook available or by the shape of my reading-screen’s landscape or portrait view, just as the characters’ hands or feet were mutated or shaped accordingly by the green light infiltrating the basement like this book’s earlier Russian tendrils, until each character, either submitted themselves fully to it or left the basement with us still reading unseen the narration or diary-keeping. “—an implausible coincidence at best.” The green light, what is it, I wonder? Perhaps it is the suffocating need today to make this world green again, thus rescued, but rescued for or from what or whom? And why? Only fiction can prevail, I infer, dark and often ungreen. Another Fawver classic, needless to say, whatever the interpretation inferred by us unseen readers.
      “A thing has to stop being in order to become.” A motto for this whole book?
      My previous reviews of Kurt Fawver:
    15. CHOSEN Aaron J. French
      “When we’re all together, I recount my observation of the green light.”
      I don’t need to draw out the connection there! In many ways, a post-holocaust horror story of archetypal aliens, UFOs and zombies. Another honest yarn, but this time with philosophical frills. More than just frills, though, suiting my developing gestalt for this book, the preservation of Mind and Mine…
      “The creature’s face unfurls like a blooming rose. Drops. He looks at me and mouths ‘thank you.’”
      “We draw our guns, but it raises its arms in surrender. It absurdly resembles some politician, posing like that.”
      “We move as a single unit, our backs to each other so that we face all four cardinal points.”
      “‘Does exist in nature? No? Where exist? Mind?’
      Mike darkens. ‘What the hell are you talking about? It’s mine, give it!’”
      “Must die like mind, like rest.”
      “More oneness, less doubleness.”
      The irony is that do we know which of the two people is the real one?
      “She is.”
      My previous review of a book edited by this author:
    16. BONE SEQUENCE Duane Pesice
      “The makeshift tarpaulin umbrellas and other jerry-rigged contraptions went almost immediately, and we were s.o.l.”
      s.o.l. means ‘shit out of luck’. There’s certainly shit in this story, as well as slime, and all manner of colour monsters, even another Russian infiltrator, a greengirl, and a shambler, a cat called Brutus, a relentless bass note as this book’s ongoing underecho, plus lots of food words, and an infiltrating soap-like stone, carrot-people, and a narrator or author or editor who is either taking the piss of any would-be real-time reviewer like me, with the disruption tactics of this wild Pesice absurdism, or is it a satire on all monster and extraterrestrial invasion stories, or is it just slime and other madnesses for their own sake dreamt up by the sole reader?
      “Art? Or an attempt to communicate? I never did find out.”
      “Consumed with rage, consumed with fear, his brain racing as his stretched synapses desperately sought new connections,…”
      SinGLENess as the eponymous ‘monster’? Was it all in his synaptic head or mine? Whatever the case, it is a wonderful story of this human King Kong (created by nuclear accident in our ungreen world) and his more than just platonic romance with Vera for the benefit of Julius Squallido (if I have his name correct) and of the Las Vegas casino the giant otherwise threatened to rampage through. Also, this story has been the perfect inverse fit with an old Vladimir Nabokov story, ‘The Potato Elf’, that I happened to read and review two days ago here! And when I say perfect, I mean perfect. By absolute chance.
    18. UNDERGROUND ROSE Natasha Bennett
      “They would pry open this town and leave nothing left.”
      I feel like that with this motiveless story. Yet it bugs me insidiously. But how? Why, for example, does he replace the cactus that his bitchy ex-wife once gave him with another? She sounds more dangerous than any male stalker. But then I think of what this book has already taught me about aphantasia. And other things. Fallweather/Fawver dreams, et al.
      Underecho rose, but how far?
      “He loved the secret gears and wheels that made his creations live.”
      A monster story, with theatrical and cinematic entertainment angles, as well as public sightings of ‘real’ monsters in the eponymous lake as well as another lake-like-Loch Ness, ranging through time, even as far as the holocaust of the second war, in a not-so-mad-scientist theme running through it, one that poses the interesting philosophical (or religious?) question: Which came first? The real monster or the fabricated monster? God or the thing that created God? Perhaps even: the solipsism or the Jungian collective? All contained within a patchwork of accomplished prose info-dumps, dumps that undump well, separately and together.
      “This time, the mass was made up of children. They spun on their bases, to indicate that they were dancing, though once again they were truly just one figure,…”
      (With nods to Padgett and Bartlett, even to our famous Brexiteer called Raab!)
      My previous reviews of this author:
      “The mad are capable of tremendous bursts of energy,…”
      From an eye bobbing in lager to a visit to Igor, servant of the eponymous count, university student Franz makes the journey to be the count’s scientific assistant and later makes his excuses when faced with the count’s then mad-scientist theory that blood had more than one type. A bloodcount to die for? And Franz leaves the castle before being apprised of how its wife was raised from the dead. A hard return. Rumbling thunder as underechoes, a supper of meatloaf and mashed turnips, yum! Meanwhile, some of the many misapplied hard-returns within the paragraphing, at least in the kindle version of this story, need less (or more?) sealing wax so as to help unlock them…
    21. NO MORE IRON CROSS Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
      “All the way home, the woman sang ‘You’re a girl and I’m a boy’ in my ears. ‘You’re a girl and I’m a boy.’”
      Turns out not only to tell of a rather extreme and shocking metalhead event near Bannerghata Zoological Park, with Nazi tokens. It also eventually became something far more thoughtful. But you have to take my word for that … unless you also read this work, and become part of my team of co-readers on a much calmer team-building event. To find out which one of us was the sole reader whose head it was wherein “the cast had been shuffled around, extras from one production transferred to another.” Loved it, despite myself. Or because of.
    22. ADMITTED INHABITANTS Dominique Lamssies
      “An Englishman was on the ground, his legs down the snake’s gullet. Its muscles contracted, pulling more of its victim inside.”
      The book sort of does that to this Englishman, mind and body. Yet, I am afraid I did not follow the plot or characters of this particular story very well, probably my fault. Meanwhile, I recognised the earlier zombies from this book and some trenchant goriness, as a young woman fights her own personal war against those battling with her tribe. I also learnt about the 17th century American history of the Pequots and the Mystic Massacre after finishing this work.
    23. BITTER WATERS Daniel Brock
      “It writhed as if some angry serpent beneath it was trying to climb free.”
      To climb free from beneath the boy’s skin.
      This is a disarmingly simple narration that remains powerful enough, of a girl mourning her brother’s death at the age of 14 from sudden illness, a girl yearning, in their erstwhile countryside haunts of childhood, for the return of his presence, mingled with her memories of his blowing on a dandelion, an eventually religious spray of seeds, as mingled, later, with grimmer beastly revenants wherein dead people are trapped… “The beast was truly bad, but the boy inside hated it more than they did.” And also, relative to spiritual or solipsistic entrapment, there is, for me, something significant to this book’s gestalt in this story’s “things in this world that can’t be explained. Things so terrible they should be left to stories.” Stories whose patterns we are still testing as we now head towards their ending.
    24. MRS. DOOGAN Lana Cooper
      “I don’t like that woman very much, either. But I would not test her.”
      “The way we would hide from the dogs they sent to sniff out camp was to roll in the mud. It masked our scent if we coated ourselves in mud.”
      Doo doos for dogs or dogans? No it really is mud they use. Mrs Doogan a force that parents threaten their children with to behave. And – spoiler alert – she‘s half snake to eat children, that seems appropriate to something at least I read earlier today above.
      Some hilarious monster making here. Nasty bits, too.
    25. FOR WHOM THERE IS NO JOURNEY John Linwood Grant
      “Cleveland saw me through Fremont, Defiance and beyond, until I reached the edge of Chicago. That was where I met Ella.”
      And then back to Ella after hauling trees and bears with English Marge in Wisconsin. More of those misapplied Hard Returns in this story’s text, appropriate or not in this freewheeling work about the Hard ‘Returned’…whether we call ebooks ‘edimmu’ or not. Eventually Returns to Ella
      “She emanated loneliness, a hopeless revenant with no clue as to her nature. She must have been about sixteen when she was Returned, and this close I caught the nature of her own hunger. She needed what the men gave her. Desire, disgust, even self-loathing, if they had any. Those base feelings that set their loins
      pumping in filthy alleys.”
      “Crazy English, huh?”
      “It’s what we’re known for.”
      It’s what I’m known for? And this is instinctively about some more of those entrapped as revenants, most of them good fighting evil as part of themselves. Most of them seeking a Gestalt, like me…
      “…any vitality I had hoarded. He couldn’t kill me – I don’t believe a revenant can die – but he could leave me drained and helpless. And that might be right,…”
      You can’t kill solipsism? Those for whom there is no journey.
      My previous review of this author:
    26. NORMAL John Claude Smith
      “The new man, no name attached to him yet, looked just like his car, half falling apart, the other half angry about it.”
      I found this very funny, written in a maturely engaging style fitting for a literary bestseller, should this author ever write one, and deals adeptly with the suburban ‘normal’, and then with its transgression by whatever lurks beneath. Perfect for this book. Close your outer eyes, and seek the mind’s eye within, from scarred sacred lawn to lawnmower.
      “They were all affable to the point of being dull, but we did not mind. That’s all we needed from them.”
      My previous reviews of this author:
      “Who the fuck wants that? Plus, reality’s subjective.”
      A woman called Everly, cult studying, moves towards distaff epiphany in the shape of an ouroboros matriarch, towards and into the here well-conveyed genius loci of a Norwegian outpost with caves, cabins and mountains, arriving by ferry with a piece of paper of supposed importance, arriving from another global outpost where she lives and studies, to reach a refuge against her aberrant boy friend, intent on completing the circle of his punishment and removing his own worm of procreation placed within her. How does he find her? Does she want him to find her to complete that circle? That serpent’s head entering the mountain bearing him, with, I found, all manner of perhaps unnecessary parts of her backstory interspersing, yet the book itself contains this story of worms within worms as if it is itself a worm, containing whatever else it contains within the containers of the single mind… mother to mother connected.
      “It’s been building in some neglected corner of her head and she hasn’t even realised.”
    28. E Jeffrey Thomas
      “Is that issue, or issue?”
      A human skull, with bits of itself moving against each other within the overall skull. I somehow predicted some elements in this story a few days ago with this rare new DFL short short! This Thomas story itself harkens back to the gigantic humanoid King Kong earlier in this book, and is placed in this book’s essence of normal suburbs, involving a deliberate dipping into a reactor tank of self as well as one representative of real mutant ungreenness, a giant self with no gender, as a metaphor for our current spate of political correctness amid swathes of political incorrectness, as discussed by otherwise ‘normal’ people earlier in this story, with regard to gender as well as race. E not He or She. Ebooks, instead of real ones, prone more easily to unwanted hard returns…returns to early evolution’s insular madness? The ultimate horror of all is that you are alone with it. Ouroboros of Self’s Issue. Thoughts of mine and mind as generated indirectly by this story when seen in this book’s preceding context. What I say books are about, that is what they are about. These days, what you say you are, you are!
      “I don’t care that I was born with two arms and two legs… I see myself as having four arms and six legs, and if you don’t see it my way you’re just frigging evil.”
      My previous reviews of this author:
    29. This is a disarmingly aberrant book of possibly accidental genius that has inspired my pre-Christmas aberrations with preferable aberrations of its own. Star turns as the monstrous stigmata of solipsism. As the end FADE OUT by the editor, inter alia, says: “transfix you.”