Thursday, May 30, 2019

The Deepest Furrow – Jonathan Wood

The Deepest Furrow – Jonathan Wood

My previous reviews of this author here: & and of this publisher here:
When I read this book, my thoughts will appear in the comment stream below…

8 thoughts on “The Deepest Furrow – Jonathan Wood”

  1. Obviously this book is beautiful, and it handles sturdily, too. Over 60 pages; my copy numbered 15/100. All the pages the same colour paper.
    Pages 7 – 11
    The narrator on a steam train, his head out the window in the idyllic air, a narrator with “young arms” and a propensity to draw up diminuendo word games from what people say, dreaming of his beloved grandmother (as I often do, too), even on a train, because it stops for a while, able to join those with rutted hands and grandmothers still with full bosoms, some picnicking on apples as big as fists…
    What an entrancing start to this journey. I dare not read more in case it breaks the spell…

  2. Pages 11 – 15
    “My ink blotter is riddled with idle scribbles and small caricatures…”
    And I dabble or doodle, thereon, my extrapolations from the previous first few pages of this work, extrapolations on how perfectly idyllic the plot remains towards a happy ever after ending that I originally expected to reach.
    I enjoy telling lies. But truth is stronger, not necessarily stranger, than fiction, and the truth of THIS fiction remains perfectly told. Anything I tell you about the plot itself would be a spoiler. Do blotters have creases or even furrows scored?

  3. Pages 15 – 23
    “; a dream of being inside a toy train waiting to be drawn onto the last journey with its final station.”
    I am truly captivated by this journey, once youthful idyllic memories transported by a blend of today’s past and present self (“the bottoms of my trousers” not rolled but wet, and it suddenly occurs to me that these pages seem like perfectly cut shapes of blue blotting paper), today’s self leaving the city in my trilby and my suitcase lifted from the train, returning to another forest enclave where someone’s grandmother, if not mine, and others, welcome me. A room of my own.
    “It was as if this had all been planned and written down…”.

  4. Pages 23 – 32
    “The furrows began to appear, as if they were in a poem, folding out and over onto the land and with it, from out the gaping bowels of each horse, a deluge of dung falls…”
    The narrator, now away from the city’s conformism and his Superior overseeing his tedious job, becomes — sleeping in a hay wain or, rather, a novella’s hovel near horses, susceptible to kicks awake — part of some rhythm, some quasi-William Morris or Dürer communion with dung and timelessness, blood swirls to deck the top of soup, and we with him. An “inner glory.” A share of ploughing. Amid motley-minded characters to boot.

  5. Pages 32 – 40
    “…perhaps it was my ‘city’ mentality coming out on me again that allowed me to ask such questions to the vacant and dead audience in my head.”
    And to question you as a similar audience (!) whether recently in my reviews a character draped himself with a dead deer, as the narrator does here with a buck after it being shot by an arrow. I usually find my own cross-references but this one has defeated me. Meanwhile, we follow the narrator through dung and his catharsis of shuffling off that city ‘mentality’: yet he has not mastered the art of furrows, as they become blurred or as if applied to the board of an artist painting rather than this book’s blue blotting paper. Yet these fabrications of sketching lines and deer dung and other matters incredibly cross-refer to Tem’s two books read an hour so ago here and here. Finally, today’s diminuendo word refrain seems to “bare” itself towards nothing, if not towards Tem’s old bear. Determined, too, to never refer to anyone again as a man-puppet.

Possible spoilers
Pages 40 – 60
This book now becomes very powerful and these sections force you to read them in one fell sitting. The spell is truly broke, the ink (as well as the pig blood and dung) beyond any blotter’s capacity, I guess. Who is that insidious girl? The man in the room upstairs with a bubble of saliva permanently hanging. And the train’s return for me, with explicitly metal hawling equipment, “gleaming metal frames”, aboard as well as a man who makes you complete the journey, as I have just done with this book. No memories of my own grandmother left. And even more diminuendo word patterns. I deleted the diminuendo pattern yesterday that I originally reproduced in my review above, as I thought it cruel to do so. But now this book has been cruel to me. Landed me with a bleeding buck on my shoulders. So here it is again. You see, no matter, because they are “bare furrowed fields”, as these sections attest, and I’m “hunted like a boar”, too. 4435DA65-F408-4BD0-A320-225580B016A7And nobody cares about me, anyway, and nobody has a cosy spluttering fire lit for me when I get home, “Jahddidi, lahdiddi, fahddiih,…” but, still, I recognise it is also a serious work of social history, about the nature of superiority and inferiority, and the false claims of certain perceived heavens on earth, Eschatons falsely immanentised…
“These are not my thoughts.”

       Jonathan Wood Edit
Dear Des,
My grateful thanks for shadowing this blooded narrator and suffering the blows. I simply had to write it and when I had written it, rather in the same way as The New Fate, I barely knew where I had been for the time it had taken; the story awaited me in lowly stables barely recognisable. A compelling undercurrent drove me to compose The Deepest Furrow and in your reference to the cruelty of deleting the diminuendo, there’s the rub that stands for itself. Everywhere today the petty cruelty falls about us like dust; petty cruelties that lead to bigger ones. As an aside, these diminuendos were also the rhythm of the train’s movement as the tale went from youth to desperate age into fate…. The New Fate…and in the acknowledgments to those who disappeared. The Furrow as the middle journey to the end. I became engulfed until my study walls fell away and the village appeared. It leaves me to give very considerable thanks to Dan Ghetu for his faith in my writings and his ingenuity in realising this work on the page and to Matúš Ďurčík for his very fine images. I also thank T. Allan for his insight into this savage environment that is devoid of idyll. Your reviewed journey, Des, is haunted/haunting in murmuring woods.
Jonathan Wood
London May 31st 2019

Black Static #69

Black Static #69

TTA PRESS May – Jun 2019
My previous reviews of this publisher:
Stories by Erinn L. Kemper, Joanna Parypinski, Daniel Carpenter, Jack Westlake, Daniel Bennett, Simon Avery.
When I read this book, my thoughts will appear in the comment stream below…

13 thoughts on “Black Static #69

  1. WHERE IT ENDS, WHERE IT BEGINS by Erinn L. Kemper
    “Sometimes it happens. The sea takes what it wants.”
    I know. You see, I have been a beachcomber for the last twenty odd years, but I’m not really like Mac here at all. I return to my bungalow house nearby, usually empty handed, having taken photos of what I want to keep. But Mac keeps them for real, sells them in his seasonal shop, yet sometimes knitting them together into a gestalt, sometimes the flotsam preternaturally knitting itself together. A huge visionary lure. “Some were facets of a whole,” some needing reburying by learnt mythic rituals around but mainly in the sea, some with almost a romantic yearning in a man and woman sense, or monsters stitched together outwards from a boot’s left foot et al. Even a hand from a fishing net put together with Mac’s chicken salad. Bereavement and exorcised grief, alike. It all hung together and stunk richly to high heaven, for me. Frightening in a dreamcatcher sense. A toot, toot, from Popeye’s pipe, too, I guess.
    My previous review of Erinn Kemper:
  2. BEACH PEOPLE by Joanna Parypinski
    “, trying to lift a two-foot-long piece of rotting driftwood stuck in the sand.”
    What’s under it is ‘beach scum’ somehow needing to reclaim it and little else. What’s under or within this story needs to reclaim its own 16 year old girl’s point of view as she returns to the resort with her parents where they spent holidays, holidays when her brother was still alive, before the road accident that took his face and head apart. A clumsy attempt at an exorcism of grief for all three of them or, as the girl alone thinks, a pointless exercise in a place where even the beach people start drifting off? A place with nests of hair or driftwood. Earlier in the Kemper, an accretion of finds into a walking whole, but here they are drifting off one by one. This is something more in keeping with what nests in oneself. Haunting.
    My previous reviews of Joanna Parypinski:
    (Photo is of this story’s page with Richard Wagner’s artwork.)
  3. HAUNTING BY THE RIVER by Daniel Carpenter
    “He knows then that he will see her everywhere.”
    Lee returns to Manchester – this text’s singular genius-loci of his home ‘cities’ now changed but yet perhaps unchanged, too, in dour deadpan acceptance by himself – returns there because it is his kid sister’s 18th birthday, but she has now vanished again, his mother tells him. He swears to seek her out, rescue her from more sigils cut into her skin. Why he should see her everywhere would spoil this effective story. And spoil the hawling or scrying or combing of its river’s flotsam… “Some building equipment floats past, and Lee notices the hook of a crane sinking slowly into the depths.” My previous review of this author’s other ‘Flotsam’ here:
    “There is nothing else. Only the chant. It ceases being a word and it takes a new power from that.”
    I have often made words incantatory in refrain, where they eventually have new meanings. Here, we have a story about a Wordplague, with the frightening need to keep the words staunched behind the teeth. A touching, as well as tantalising, story in rite of passage, as a young woman travels to seek a cure by the seaside, seaside seaside, seaside… (ah that’s me chanting not the story!), with her lock knife to protect her from the other survivors, and her sister whom she loves is at home waiting and wilting with the Wordplague. “How it’s not about sound, but meaning.” Homonyms are OK? Speaking in one’s sleep is OK? Speaking in someone else’s body à la Daniel Carpenter is OK? Who knows? Best not to know, I guess. Something by chance even more uncanny – there was an anthology which I recently reviewed here where I happened to mention the word ‘pomegranate’ four times in its connection, an anthology that contained a story by Joanna Parypinski who is also here in this Black Static.
    My previous reviews of Jack Westlake:
  5. WHEN YOU DECIDED TO CALL by Daniel Bennett
    “Did he remember, I asked, the time we had built a windmill together out of plastic building bricks? I drew a connection between this windmill of our shared childhood, the windmill on which he now worked, and the windmills of the bland, uncovered Dutch landscape. This, I told him was an example of synchronicity impossible to ignore.”
    And if the narrator had ignored this synchronicity, I surely would have brought it to your attention in my review. Ironically, that is the only one so far that I can establish. The surface style perhaps, meanwhile, is relatively bland, but that is not a criticism. It is necessary to the deadpan facts we begin to garner, a flat landscape. The narrator’s day job has gone vaguely dysfunctional since his holiday in Holland – and his gin-tinged woman neighbour, and the visitor who keeps missing him. And his family, dysfunctional, too, through their unquestioning blandness and meaningful hints via meaninglessness. The pointlessness that is gradually subsumed by pedalled wheels rather than wind-powered ones. As if I might have been a reader as a visitor to the story. Put a spoke in it. Such as people speaking for or through others as in the work here by another Daniel. And are pomegranates orange? Orange as the suit and bricks. This story somehow hypnotised the windmills of my mind, and anything else I say about it would spoil it.
  6. My previous reviews of Simon Avery:
    I will not quote from this story, for various reasons. And I think I can safely say this is the PERFECT story of novelette length, possibly the perfect weird fiction ever. I think I must have been waiting for this story all my life, and so time to do a complete book of all my Black Static reviews so far, the first volume of such. This combines the beachcombing and the flotsam with this particular edition’s Wordplague now become a constructive Weirdland to retrieve and, even with a musical dying fall in its last paragraph, reconfigure a lifetime, via the windmills of the reader’s mind. Blending Lear with Lewis Carroll and Edith Sitwell and something indefinable, lightsome as well as darkly poignant; to my own mind, by chance reconfiguring, at least in part, my own life with my wife at the edge of the sea in our bungalow house. The creativity of the as yet unrequited Weirdland. Messages in bottles have arrived at last, and they just need gestating, gestalting. Mongering, hawling, dreamcatching deep. Ah well, I WILL allow myself a single quote:
    “Get a word! Get another WORD! Which word? Which WORD?”

Monday, May 27, 2019

Warewolff! – by Gary J. Shipley

16 thoughts on “Warewolff! – by Gary J. Shipley

  1. 93A41861-1CE9-48F7-8A7D-9A04E5178A46I was convinced I had seen the word “Warewolff!” before, and I was right. There are two quotes at the beginning of this book, and this word is in one of them. From FINNEGANS WAKE. My twelve page review of this wonderful book is linked below:-
    The other quote is from Artaud. Two of my reviews that happen to mention him:
    This book, on first impressions, is just up my street! I hope it is up yours, too.
    More comments below in this comment stream as I read it.
    “The greatest film reviewer of all time was Cabrera Infante. The best music reviewer of all time was Amiri Baraka. And now it is possible to state that Des Lewis is the best fiction reviewer of all time. He has crossed the threshold and achieved the distinction!“
    – RHYS HUGHES today on his FB, Feb 2018
    Layer 1: buildings
    Pages 9 – 20
    “The titles were put together from a single word or phrase in the sentences preceding the extracted texts that seemed somehow to signpost the content to come.”
    This is inspiring stuff. I am apparently being tutored here to hear a single gestalt voice being spoken behind the various extracts. A monster or a god? Or monkey? Judging by the front cover, it is a monster lurking behind the cut-up title. Amazingly, this book seems significantly to be, by chance, in mutual synergy with another book I am simultaneously reviewing here: The Book of Days wherein extracts are triggered by dates of the year and what previously happened on them. But what triggers the extracts in ‘Warewolff!’? I have much to learn. Relish eking this book out into the future – below.
  3. Pages 21 – 26
    There is language here that masturbates itself inside out, as some monkeys did earlier, I recall, but my memory is not good at my advanced age — yet it all reads accessibly with real words in the main, unlike the wild neologisms of Finnegans. Striking prose poems as some of us, although not me, may call them. Extracts literally aching for the eventual arrival of the Gestalt voice I mentioned earlier. Extracts as word clusters that strike me as immutable and seem as if they always were so, or, if not, why not? Like the sentence in these pages containing ‘Google Earth’, as just one example. Buildings building, inverted pyramids, walls, storeys et al. The two startling sentences with ‘Palestine’ and ‘Hamas’ in, notwithstanding the ‘gorilla’ (the gorilla from Flannery O’Connor?)
    Then, thus, we return to Rasnic Tem again: “I sat opposite the house I’d lived in as a child and didn’t recognize it.”
    And Rhys Hughes again: “Some objects spend their whole lives being meaningless semaphore for other objects”. Not words about the author, but words about the amazing fictionatronic work that created him.
    Each extract has it own title. One example here: ASSISTED DYING INSIDE 4 ISOSCELES TRIANGLES. My recent review of Cyclonopedia here in this context. And “Rhombus is a rhombus is a rhombus is a rhombus” (after Gertrude Stein) that I happened to think about a few days ago as an observation at the end of this review.
    I do not intend to write so much here whenever I read the book, but these sorts of thoughts are what I am confident will be going through my mind as and when I proceed with this fast-becoming landmark read.
  4. —> Page 35
    I can only repeat what I said above; for you can take it as read in future that I would say the same thing whenever I happen to open this book, viz.:-
    “Extracts literally aching for the eventual arrival of the Gestalt voice I mentioned earlier. Extracts as word clusters that strike me as immutable and seem as if they always were so, or, if not, why not?”
    I would just replace ‘arrival’ with ‘identification.’
    As I go through, I cannot cover everything, but I will pick out things that strike me particularly: here this reminding me of the ethos of Nemonymous Night:
    “It’s the house falling through the crust of the earth, and coming out the other side.”
  5. —> Page 62
    Layer 2: eyes
    “The world around her is nothing but her need to blink.”
    The world around me is nothing but my need to think.
    To understand.
    It is as if I need a birdcage around my head to protect me from this book. Still reading it, but not where it can actually reach me. A Zeno’s Paradox of a synaesthesia, where death is so slow it never happens.
    Warmer inside when swallowed up by my own body.
    Kubrick’s EYES WIDE SHUT. Saw this film a day or so ago. Seriously.
    I am a walking synchronicity these days!
  6. –> Page 91
    Layer 3: families
    “We dug up detective novels from between the heavy legs of old women so our bellies could wiggle with the idea of a trail.”
    This book’s potential audit-trail towards a single ‘noise-thing’? The various family‘-parts’ towards gestalt, or Colony, slowly strobing back and forth therefrom, And “eye-parts.” …with the attrition of Tem (“Nothing can ever prepare you for the disembowelling trauma of watching your child die…”) to the CENTIPEDE (press?) and REPTILE CHRIST, to “Their disused swimming pools” of Ballard, the feel of Lee Rourke and Ralph Robert Moore and David Mathew and Paul Meloy and others, discovered in my earlier reviews, our modes and moeurs taken to the nth stage of wild extrapolation to which we feared they would always be taken, or we relished this prospect? Those words on the brink of pormanteauing themselves. “Brainwaterfamilyilluison.” And much more. “Notes toward more notes toward nothing.” Abortions and rapes. “The kids talk about Martians.” Old men like me.
    “The old men construct noise-things…”
  7. –> Page 112
    Layer 4: Sky
    “Culture is one thousand new rituals a day, and the newspapers ignoring them all.”
    “There was everywhere the glow of something waiting to end.”
    From the sky we can at least rehearse a formulation of a gestalt. Even if air liners are dropping like stones. And we burrow into our own bodies.
    I recently managed to listen to recorded voices reading extracts from this book, and I understood it even more so or, in some cases, perhaps for the first time, and I now try to imagine such voices reading it aloud as if from the sky. Like falling upward. Kafka’s prostate, as a version of his dick, and the Eraserhead baby, notwithstanding.
  8. –> Page 140
    Layer 5: Air
    “The light in old people’s homes is found to be invariably made of sponge.”
    And “The bridge is what it feels like to build a room out of air and suffocate inside it.”
    This section ironically is full of stuff, OCD Zombis, bodily dysfunction utterly in your scatology and eschatology faces, and today’s religio-politico spaces and places equally in your faces. — and Rhys Hughes is currently on his own “PASSAGE TO NAIROBI.” Seriously. made no secret of it.
    God Particles, too. But where is Cern Zoo or Cone Zero or Zencore or Null Immortalis? Lethal spaces indeed. So much here, it teems in and out of my sponge. Not to be read lightly.
  9. Layer 6: holes
    “I am in the puberty of old age.”
    This is really a marvellous book. There is so much I COULD quote from it. Each section needs quoting in full. I have also spotted that these sections are (chance-inadvertent, possibly more political or more fractured/ fractious and more youthfully perceived?) extrapolations upon the intrinsic pattern of themes by one of my top five favourite living writers, Steve Rasnic Tem, not much younger than me… I can give this book no greater compliment.
  10. –> Page 185
    Layer 7: rooms
    “Everything I didn’t know and couldn’t tell came out in semaphores of undigested food and urine that they immediately set about translating.”
    Conceptual art items (holes, hermitages, habits and habitations from birth to death in scatology, and eschatology) while, I guess, Aliens (AI is also embedded in the word Aliens) take us over via ‘wi-fi’ (including the ‘wife’ one watches in the shower) to imbue us with senile dementia younger and younger. At the age of 71, I still stick against them by reading this book. and other kindred books. And respread them here. Against using mastectomies, to stop spreading.
    Reading this book about its Hikikomori et al.
    “Names were violations,..”
  11. Layer 8: distortion
    “All fear is a kind of worship; they just learned to love their molester, had its migrating organs version them a crucifix.”
    Irony becomes an iron faith, I sense; the Lycanthrope explicitly now Warewolff! itself, with Joycean neologistic mutations implicit. Here factored into by, inter alia, dysfunctional feet. Only yesterday I read a story by Erinn Kemper here where a separated foot was the first part of its body’s gestalt. Also I am unsurprised that SPELUNKING is in this book of homes and spaces and air pockets etc. and in the body (and its voice) that we build as gestalt. Also SCHIZOPHORA insect as the schizophoria of Brexit. I am a reader who has possibly become more omniscient about this book than whoever wrote it? Meanwhile, I remind you that its prose gives the strong impression of autonomous literature, a literature that is already cloistered by some heretofore secret unknown unique preternatural immutable sump that is now being tapped for this book, a literature that needs as many differently minded readers as possible to triangulate its coordinates towards an emergence fully from that sump. Each review by these readers – even if worded thus pretentiously and precariously, as I am doing – will hopefully become part of the eventual gestalt, the eventual voice, the eventual thing we all seek that is being formed by all of us?
    “The God eye is glue.”
  12. Layer 9: screens
    “I believe it when they say my computer was assembled by robots that were somehow clinically insane, and they left messages in the motherboard that I’m now processing without knowing it.”
    After last night, the schizophora fly still spins on two rumps. Meanwhile, I use my own screen to shape this novel, its own spinning rumps making it more than or less than what it is, not a novel at all, but a conscious thing in the room with you. All my past considered thoughts dubbed into a neglected dialect of something I once spoke as a language. PRETERITION reminding me of the ‘Preterite and the Preinternet’ that I thought a while ago here:
    And what I thought above earlier in this review when I said: “…Aliens (AI is also embedded in the word Aliens) take us over via ‘wi-fi’…” Nairobi has AI more discretely embedded, by the way.
  13. —> Page 252 (end)
    Layer 10: ghosts
    “The cranes had rain blown into the shapes of men at their controls.”
    Meanwhile, Bank Holiday today, time for two layers of time, two films of pus? Yet, I saw the triptych below today, not a diptych, when called into another review cross-referenced with yet another review, if not cross-referenced with this one. That makes three layers, one invisible? “Alien abductions are not trips to the supermarket. Insects are not bugging devices.” And I get the sense that everything I wrote above about this book is now even more true than when I first wrote it at the time. But are there degrees of truth? This book seems to teach you that there are layers of truth, as buildings et al, emptiness and areas of our mind like a Thomas Mann or Jules Verne exploration of its bottom reaches, with all the bottom-fishing around, puking or not. And this book itself is the optimum layer of truth. Or the pessimum one, if optimisations as well as filters can work in either direction of flow. All of those who have read this book or will do so in the future: now the Gestalt flowing either way. COMORBIDITY, STUPEFACTION and APORIA. Beware the wolf, it’ll blow your house down. Make it a ghost.
    “This is me speaking. Can you hear?”