Monday, November 25, 2019

Panic Soup – David Mathew

Panic Soup – David Mathew


On the same momentous day as I real-time reviewed the amazing HEAD EXPLOSIONS by Steve Rasnic Tem, I received this new collection by David Mathew entitled PANIC SOUP, published by MONTAG 2019.
When I review the Mathew book, my thoughts will appear in the comment stream below.
My previous reviews of Mathew:
It’s a strange world today. Some of it’s bad, some of it’s good.

38 thoughts on “Panic Soup – David Mathew

    You need a different angle as well as good luck to understand how the disparate events experienced by or involving Stuey in this story cohere – events too numerous to mention here – well, perhaps I’ll mention at least the conures, the ducks, the blizzard in New York, the long queue at the hotel reception, the change Stuey received increasingly being more than the cash proffered, his half brother and the latter’s now newly, by Las Vegas ceremony, married wife, the three of them on holiday together from Britain, Stuey by chance seeing a girl he had a crush on at school arriving in the queue at the hotel, and the chambermaid in the corridor, all the good luck, the flings, and the angle of approach to departure as represented by the story’s last three letters — a Jonah or jinx is fucked …. but depending on who or what does it to whom and how, it might be a blessing instead. No half measures either way. Fucking or being fucked can be good or bad depending what you get out of it or put into it. And the change received.
  2. TRITE
    “Not thighed tell him”
    As a young man, I loved the fruity in the local pub. And all the pub talk. Trite this story is not, although some of its swearing is. We did not swear so much in the sixties. Here a tale of illicit dealing in eponymosium. With spanners used as weapons and your woman at home who also got it in the neck in all the double-dealing gangsterisms. The piper calls the fee not the tune. And a car an intrinsic part of one’s body, so cherished they are. But who is Barry in the last paragraph? A morphing by the slid-over face of Ray? “YYY DELILAH”
    “, stoned on lust,”
    Just that, on the train underground system around Aldgate, with well-characterised believable named characters and a cello in free love play as a result of a capsule monster. I wonder why all the page numbers are halfway down the pages? Not spent, not fully erect, but in some limbo of lust, I guess. By the way, my own courtin’ was done through the original Summer of Love in 1967. One woman, one wife, then death. Trains like me rarely stray from their tracks, I guess.
    A collaboration with Paul Meloy
    Pipes, burnt shoes, moistened Rizlas, roulette-wheel silence, hopscotch grids, dustmen as angels, Blululululilly, this is a moving account of a web-designer woman with hips she deplores and her senilely demented Mother she is looking after in her small terraced house, the Mother often ‘escaping’ to the park. The daughter’s name is Delilah, senilely, lululilly…and one dustman a black angel but is Heaven’s dust golden, I wonder, and Samson’s torn locks mistaken for arms in the last paragraph. Or confused with burnt shoes.The mother and daughter as one, the single square on the grid at the top, two, one, two, one…Each of us the next roll-up. Smoking pipes. My own dementia already creeping in. All questions without question marks. The next spin of the wheel.
    My previous reviews of Paul Meloy:
    “At which he bent the cards nearly double; on their release, each card flew out from the family nest, describing an arc, and landed in the man’s other palm.”
    Sort of follows the pattern of what happened in this engaging story, where a motley group, Lucy, the narrator, her brother, her lady confidante / companion, the latter’s nephew with ears she admired, and a religious man, or I may have forgotten someone and/or got those I have remembered mixed up, all in a waiting room during a storm, just like in that old Arthur Askey film. 1597B481-BF61-4185-B595-87EB1A017DA1 They are approached by a magician-conjuror called Mondo, who mainly does card tricks. What that card was that described an arc only Leonardo da Vinci can plot such an arc to find out. Once you see it, you no longer see it.
    “What Seb did was run a shower and take a razor from the cabinet.
    He’d long since grown bored…”
    The long-term relationship of Seb and Annie vividly seen by me as a parhelion. But which sun is the real sun? Seb and Annie with secrets from each other, but secrets that WE know as if putting their gestalt jigsaw together. The ending is chilling. But who has bowed out? Just nod your head.
  7. As I read the next work, it became appropriate that by chance I was already listening to a Scott Walker song containing the repeated words: “They’ll turn the buffalo” and ‘buffalo’ is a word used twice in this three page story.
    Also this song was from the Scott Walker album ‘Tilt.’ Think about that after you read my thoughts below…
    Annie enters a lonely windmill and meets Bonnie. This windmill feels like an oblique forerunner of the VanderMeer lighthouse. And, as an aside, Mathew’s word “unchristian” here is indeed the correct spelling of “unChristian”.
    A collaboration with Lawrence Dyer
    “Nothing like confronting yourself to gauge your bitch rating.”
    “‘We went in there to watch evolution,’ the other me said, ‘in real time!’”
    This story may send you mad in the future. Meanwhile, back then, this is an amazing portrait of a woman and her shopping and yearning for meat, this woman being a daytime shopper and the other woman (but still herself) at night, and they finally meet up, the same woman, bitch-confronting, amid a COinspiracy of agents and watchers called Quatilati Veris Ba, some physical fragmentations, a man called Utterson, some giant hedgehogs that travel on buses, and a supermarket trolley that may be your other self disguised then getting you into trouble with the store security by following you out with no checkout being done. Send you mad in the future? Well we’re all mad scientists already, I say! Meanwhile, again, best way to watch evolution in real-time is to read this story then look at the seascape paintings of Dyer, of which I have become a fan in more recent years.
    “They’ll put that on the gravestone marker for this whole village. ‘They didn’t know how much was a dream and how much was real.’ Assuming of course there’s any difference anymore; and I’m not sure there is.”
    The story of a modern couple, living in this village, beset by a shooting loony in a hideout, a career-minded husband and wife shot from the skies of their dreams as if they were pesky pigeons. But was this shooter the local farmer or someone who had already been shot down from the sky getting his own back? As I read this, I truly felt as if I was watching an award-winning film adaption of it.
    “two pins of whiteness […] This River has more stars than there are numbers.”
    Eventually, a poignant story of love and sweet regret. I thought at first it was confusing with both characters on London Bridge being he or him or his. Which was Sweet Tooth and who was dreaming of the eponymous rivereyes in the whiter shade of pale of Celeste (I happen by chance, to be listening to Procol Harum’s famous song as I write this, Tony Blackburn having just called it the summer of love, when I first met my future wife while this song was playing); a nostalgic memory of a wasp bite, I have one, too. Her face will burst just ghostly. I have my own aerial licence now.
    “Today’s blood donation had been the worst yet, that zealous trainee ferreting his needle around in her bicep, gouging for a vein, like a helpful but incompetent electrician wielding a screwdriver in a fuse box, probing for a spark.”
    Twins sisters who were once in alternating symbiosis with a man. And now one of them with their own sick mother. Some contacts are disposable, others not. But can twins have different blood groups? Do intruders only want to steal bruised vegetables and external gardening implements? Well, yes, if that is the path of least resistance into the vein, I guess.
  12. “This River has more stars than there are numbers.” — RIVEREYES
    A collaboration with D.F. Lewis
    3B211349-F0E0-4B94-AD83-C5FD50DBF3C2“He dreamed of a star. A star that would look in-place on top of a Christmas tree, but it was embedded into the cushion of the night, slightly wonky. “
    We are all part of a series of parhelion, I guess, one star drowning, the other not. This is a story of drowning by numbers, an accountancy exercise where one column is balanced, the other not, a synergy with the fallibility of spending and saving, sometimes illicitly, each column made up of capsule chambers, each chamber emptying of air till you manage to escape to the next. None of Chambers’ Lethal Chambers, just meaningful connections and coincidences. Sometimes just random references that one of us does not fully understand nor can connect into the gestalt. And so we go on. And I presume that, since this story was written years ago (and I now have no idea which of us wrote what in it), the universe has become a multiverse. And I am still not dead.
    “You’re working for Des Lewis.”
    No worse cunt than Des Lewis, I say. And there is mention here of another “fucking windmill”. A non-existent one, this time! No tilt left today in my träumtrawling.
    Those who love this book will love this story, if they’re not the same thing anyway! They’re keeping my girl friend hostage, so I simply got to say that about it.
    “He sniffed back an oil slick of mucus.”
    I can’t actually believe that I must have read this story before, having published it in Nemonymous in 2003. It just now came up completely new to me. And it is a genuine classic, that ought to have been better known, and should be anthologised again and again. A story of an old man getting mixed up in his grandson’s video game as a French assassin, a game merging with other members of his family. It is that great. Also predictive of what I have become since 2003!
    “The rattling of his joints; the shortness of breath. Memory problems — and a frequently insistent bladder…”
  15. I reviewed the next story here: in its then context, as follows…
    “The way that Mark ignores the bitch makes her want him more: she italicises her body on the back seat.”
    An ingenious, crisply written, nonchalantly amusing, bound-to-be-underrated story with a completely surprise ending. Not a long story, but a full plot. With glory-holes in their full glory. And cottaging at arm’s length. And a smooth trade as antidote or supplement to the rough.
    Aptly it also has a puppy – and a pub called the Doghouse – as a follow-up to the previous story!
    A collaboration with M.F. Korn
    “The four televisions being always on, and tuned to the 24 hour news channels. Occasionally he thumbed the remote, but only to find new angles on same world events that everyone else was panicking about. He watched everything simultaneously.”
    A telling tale of an OCD agoraphobic, suspicious even of his own shadow, I guess. The multifarious dangers of life that could take his own life. One day, uncharacteristically he is tempted to go to the aid of a dog stuck in someone’s car outside. The thoughts and wrangling of his mind are evocatively conveyed and the eventual outcome is a dressing down, so to speak. Should be anthologised and reantholigised as a potential classic story. It needs to be be put out there, at least. As for me, meanwhile, I felt like that mutt in the car. Perhaps every reader of this story feels the same.
    Melttimes, too, and seriously this is — possibly, arguably, once all has been read and all is accounted for — Mathew’s short story masterpiece, with sex-digging and shape-shafting, as coupled, nay, tripled or quadrupled, with identity floes calved from mixed-race icebergs of human-bodily parts. Starts deadpan and ordinary with a suspected burglar in one’s flat, and ends believably, not unbelievably, wild. Believe it or not.
  18. No, the previous story, although a potential masterpiece, is not Mathew’s best story that I’ve read, because this is…
    “Purple bruises appeared in the air — the air being dense and heavy — and Belswain saw in one of these bruises the little girl’s face:”
    Now and again you read a new story (or new to you, at least) and you know straightaway it is something special, one to go straight into your canon of favourites. WORTH is about a man who accidentally knocked someone over in a car, and his father as passenger took responsibility of having been driving it. Later, when in the Utah desert, he encounters a man who had once captured an alien in a flying saucer… well, that only tells half the story; it all fits beautifully, utterly poignant as well as quirkily literary, and you know now why it must have been destined for you to read this truly great story while you were still concurrently reviewing two books both with PAREIDOLIA in their titles! (here and here)
  19. A WOUND
    “I’m sorry, she repeated — over breakfast, over joints, and as we queued for surfboards and for seafood. I’m sorry. As we bussed to the airport, as we sank rum doubles…”
    A different bus journey now, and we need to scry the pareidolia of this text, a relatively short text unbroken by overt signs of changing scenes and times, a bus journey possibly reminiscent of one with different lunges and parries of destiny — love, disappointment then anger, exploitation, plot and counter plot, all leading to an ambush of meanings. A potential soup of panic. All wounds usually bleed. One’s hand trapped in the till or the groin or a slipped spine.
    A collaboration with Lawrence Dyer
    “Watching me watching myself,” Flynn explained. “Taking the pieces of my past — my real past — and twisting them into dramas for you. Including this: right now.”
    As if I am the book that I am gestalt reviewing, the book that is me, but reading it for the first time in real-time. An amazing work, perhaps worth as much as WORTH, about the eponymous Irishman forced aka gratuitous serial killer of the woman in a pet shop who dodges his bullets by becoming his daughter. All for an audience watching through the implant in his eye. But it is even more disorientating, and I wonder who watched the watcher watching himself, who was tattooed to fix the identity of whom, who dyed the manthew.
    “She clutched a teddy bear to her thin chest,”
    A glimpse of Aristotelian entelechy in angels, angels named here perhaps for the first time (and maybe angles, unless the latter be typos?) while desires by angels for newly different raisons d’être can too easily eclipse such a strict hierarchy of intrinsic purpose. As happened with the Duke of York, a fact that culminated this week in my own real-time. Plucked his fruit too early in the Orchard.
    “Opening the book arbitrarily I started reading halfway through ‘Coriolanus’.”
    Randomly listening to Radio 3 earlier this morning, the Coriolan Overture by Beethoven came on. Had not heard it for years. This story, dare I say, is another work that can sit shoulder to shoulder with any other literary classic story. It is that good. The story of a boy, from his point of view, who at 12 had a road accident and found himself sadly depleted, browbeaten by parental forces, given a speech therapist, trying to walk, managing, at 15, to talk with his own fingertips, finally talking them into something as catharsis or purging…
    “Advance, my fellows!”
    ― William Shakespeare, Coriolanus (my own quote from the play, not this story’s)
  23. BLAME
    Many throwaway lines in different family whorls at an insufferable wedding anniversary reception where two brothers and their sister attend, with talk of various tangled relationships and new babies. Could have thrown it all away without diminishing this book, I guess. But that would have removed the sole reference to Clacton in literature.
    A collaboration with Paul Meloy
    “I’m thinking about the sea, about drowning, about all sorts of shit.”
    A man who spurns this woman surely should expect what he gets in return, catch his death, in fact, have his luck docked. His privileges cancelled. And he does. And so do his mates, one of whom is “drowned in his over-sized suit and clown-cloppy shoes.” Psychotic DIY, “not every day that a maniac nails your entrance door shut.” It as if some people have leverage on your own gestalt, The ability to rejuggle the past, for good or ill, whatever the Klee print on the wall.
    “That is why I have doused my body, from head to foot, in cold water. As some of it dries, it’s like floating, or falling, from the sea into the clouds.”
    “‘You’re their engine. They think you’re going to help them come back.’
    ‘Nose-first,’ said Mick.”
    Ghosts, that is.
    Starting with a noxious smell that only one of the Sapphic couple (Tina and Mick/Michaela) can smell, a rogue rat near the tall-boy being suspected, but it turns out to be what I infer to be Gogol’s nose (cf William’s Bridge here a few days ago: One of the couple dreams of Rapscullion as a giant rat then as the second policeman, if not the third, come to investigate. Hello, hello, who knows what this is all about!
    “It took great mental energy but she was free to float, and into the big wide world she ventured, using her mind as an engine.”
    …and I now know that Rapscallion was due to become a prelude to this story as an engine for a ghost. This ghost is Diana, a depressed actress who takes her own life and then mingles with another woman via a planchette. The latter transcribes Diana’s autobiography, inter alia. A story from the point of view of the ghost. That’s how fiction works, I suddenly realise. Becomes more than just fiction.
    “…is visited by the second police officer…”
    If not the third?
    On the cover of this book, I recently noticed this written: “’Panic Soup’ is my third and final collection of short stories.” I happen to know that this author is relatively young compared to myself and I would like to know how he knows this is his last collection. Or I suppose there could already be an old conniving ghost whose words the author is transcribing here — or the author himself fully intends to commit dignitas and this incomprehensible story is his way of doing it, drowning in Gangullus…

Nox Pareidolia

Nox Pareidolia

Nightscape Press 2019
Edited by Robert S. Wilson
Stories by Paul Jessup, Kristi DeMeester, Christopher Ropes, Duane Pesice, Don Webb, Greg Sisco, Matt Thompson, Michael Wehunt, Alvaro Zinos-Amaro, Lynne Jamneck, Dino Parenti, Kurt Fawver, doungjai gam, Daniel Braum, Sean M. Thompson, Elizabeth Beechwood, David Peak, K.H. Vaughan, LC von Hessen, Brian Evenson, Amelia Gorman, Carrie Laben, Wendy Nikel, Andrew Kozma, Annie Neugebauer, Gwendolyn Kiste, Dan Coxon, Zin E. Rocklyn, Laird Barron, Steve Toase, S.P. Miskowski, S.L. Edwards.
When I read this book, my thoughts will appear in the comment stream below…

45 thoughts on “Nox Pareidolia

    “Kit knows these dead people. He’s coded with some of them, shared space, shared monitors, yelled at each other in assembly. He stole a kiss from one once. Now she has a bullet in her head. Her name is a wound.”
    As I go through this book slowly, I shall have to be wary of my own customarily attempted, tempted Pareidolia-in-Text via Gestalt Apophenia! Yet, here I FELT, in this apoplectic, apocalyptic Text, at least a breaking-news religion of death with new Nursery Rhyme words that if they endure will be like HPL’s Cthulhu Azathoth and Yog Sothoth. I won’t write down here this Kit of new cosmos names from the Text. They need to be read FIRST as part of the Kit Experience, his schooldays friends now animal masks in this new cosmos religion of guns, voids and annihilation, his sister, his sister’s friend, who once watched him sleep? I need to let the whole thing percolate in my aged brain then to factor it into future Nox Texts to pareidoliate…
    “You are a ghost, they are all ghosts. Embrace death and take them all down with you…”
    My previous WOW! review of this author:
  2. IMMOLATION by Kristi DeMeester
    “I went home alone, and shredded bits of paper and fed them to the cat. After twenty minutes, she coughed up a single sheet, scrawled top to bottom in my mother’s handwriting.”
    And this story is the result, I reckon. But which of them is the goddess, the mother or the daughter? And who immolates whom?
    I think I may have now already grasped what Nox Pareidolia means. That you can never grasp its meaning.
    My previous reviews of this author:
  3. 7970289D-B372-43CD-8C4A-F7F0A505129B My stories in NOX magazine:
    Wasted Meals – Nox vol 1 no 3 1993
    The Presence – Nox #4 1994
    Don’t Give Your Heart To The Balloon-Mender – Nox #5 1994
    Attic Seas – Nox #6 1995
    Nygremaunce – Nox #7 1996
  4. HER EYES ARE WINTER by Christopher Ropes
    “the final aloneness of knowing and having no one else who knows.”
    The most idyllic Cardinal narration of being part of a religious siblinghood at House Exspirivat whereby a Catholic feel is concerned with what I have long called Cathrianism, mingled with studies of such authors as Aickman and Tem.
    “The afternoon bled into a sickish purple night. I roused myself from a fitful contemplation of Robert Aickman’s ‘The Inner Room’ before dinner time.”
    “I had moved on to a new tale, ‘A House by the Ocean,’ by Steve Rasnic Tem. It read like poetry, each word melting in my eyes and trickling through my veins.”
    This work will possibly be my comfort, a masterpiece as spiritual Spore after I have long pondered its Repos as repose, the narrator’s daughter, his liking for tall women, his relationships of hope and hopelessness, being mocked by others as well as bearing his own self-criticism and altruistic love amid the specific others in the house if not yet the Others. The ceiling stains in the empty, if not inner, rooms, and the writing in the snow, as Autumn becomes today Winter in my real-time. At least my gestalt real-time reviewing will enable me to redial or repareidoliate this story in the distant future, making my distant future at least more certain if not definite… “writing this, so that anyone who finds this house knows what happened.” Null Immortalis.
    My reviews of Ropes:
    of Aickman:, and of Tem:
  5. There is an excellent piece of artwork for each story so far and just as one example, this is the one for the next story:-
    by Duane Pesice and Don Webb
    “Why were the photos a threat?
    Why was weird a threat?”
    The title a photo size. This is a story of a feisty young woman called Carol Joyce as the narrator who supplements her pocket money by working at the local Fotomart in Peoria at an era when photographs needed to be delivered to a place so as to be developed. This narrator herself is developing, and amid her heady feistiness of tone there’s an education underlying her style whereby she self-consciously uses such a wordy word as “quotidian”. She also helps develop a fellow male student’s lumpy carrot, but primarily she becomes involved in suddenly appearing in photos she develops, some of which shows where she knows she was not there to BE photographed. Morphing somehow into some sort of photo contest featuring camera booth girls. This story expands the reading mind and ends with a flourish, developed from negative to positive to weird. And I am currently factoring this work into the DeMeester story above, and vice versa. Wordy words become pareidolia as image, or as the Ropes had it: “each word melting in my eyes”.
    My previous reviews of these authors: and
  6. BAG AND BAGGAGE by Greg Sisco
    “A suitcase is a little piece of home. Often it’s the most important parts, the only parts you can’t do without even for a little while. The stuff that matters. You don’t lose it without pain.”
    Plan A is self-annihilation, awaiting the next train to fall under. A potentially successful literary experiment here mixing train station announcements with the intermittent trans-ownership discovery of an abandoned suitcase the innards of which represents the baggage of your life so far, whoever YOU are. Homophone or saxophone, were you once a Jazz musician who’s lost your civil partnership to an uncivil one with your own self? Plan B as a bottle of whiskey or a gun or the piano keyboard with four hands upon it, or I may have made up that last bit as that was what I saw in my own real-time as I looked up from the screen where I am writing this to another screen. Next Station of the Cross along and I’ll open my baggage again to see who I am and whether I should go back to Plan A. Life itself is one long benighted Pareidolia or Apophenia of the carrier soul in all of us, a gestalt I guess. You must agree.
    I’ll tell you later if the experiment worked, assuming we get separated again.
  7. “…as the last curlew drops its songstone into sepulchral silence,”
    – from ‘Wandering Pianos’ by Tim Lebbon and DF Lewis (a collaborative story in ‘Blood from Stone’ 1999)
    And my favourite darkest music, THE CURLEW, a song cycle by Peter Warlock
    No wonder I enjoyed –
    THE DREDGER by Matt Thompson
    Starting as a run-of-the-mill horror story of a man working aboard a Dredger boat on the canal, and the curlews that’s beset him, or he them, as Coleridge did the albatross, and the legends told by others of such an earthy, mulchy place and his activity there, it becomes a brilliantly described experience, a recriminatory Pareidolia of Stone. Pareidolia, like some filters, can work in both directions of flow, I say.
    My previous reviews of this author:
  8. HELLO by Michael Wehunt
    “…the essence of the Weird Fiction Loner protagonist, living alone and thus lacking corroboration for the subtle and unsubtle strangeness infecting his life.”
    What I say about this ‘story’, I say seriously, of course. Its first half is a genuine masterpiece of a story disguised as gestalt real-time reviewing an anthology, a lost and rare one, where Lionel Richie’s eponymous song is the eventual gestalt of three new stories within it, one by Kirsten Mester. It is chilling, literary, avant garde, creatively linguistic, horrific, horror-anthology studious, a sense of REAL horror, but when, halfway through, real people like John Langan, Kristi De Meester, Scott Nicolay, Ellen Datlow etc. started appearing in it, it ceased ironically to be real at all!
    The first half of the Wehunt stands alone as a masterpiece.
    “They strengthen the whole of the trio, they copulate and make strange frequencies. And I believe the eight classics packed around them are meant only to camouflage this.”
    My whole ambition is to make connections within and between stories (synchronicities and coinspiracies) such as the first half of this work does. If I had not started years ago the process of gestalt real-time-time reviewing as a form of ‘real’ fiction as well as of reviewing, this story would have inspired me to start doing so today in 2019. Perhaps it has done so already – retrocausally.
    When I edited and published ‘The Horror Anthology of Horror Anthologies’ in 2011, there was one story that had this within it –
    “Can you recall the lasting effect of the most deeply disturbing collection of horror stories you’ve ever encountered? The narratives join hands…”
    And regarding the above quote from this Wehunt shown above, Ellen Datlow recently produced an Anthology entitled ECHOES where she included two old classic stories in a similar relationship with new ones. (My gestalt real-time review here.)
    My previous Wehunt reviews:
    “As you watch the cactus, the cactus watches you,” Jeff continued.
    I understood this wildly brilliant, beautifully close-ordered botanical/ art-Aesthetic wordiness of a couple and their co-rivalry in the their new Gaia or garden and so forth, but how can I prove to you that I understood it? That it means far more than you can conceive of it before reading it? It was more an osmosis, for me. A running jump. And based on what a real couple have publicly released on social media, I do not think I am being too mischievous if I extrapolate from that information to this, even if erroneously, there is a grain of truth, a respectful obeisance to Jeff and Ann VanderMeer here? A leap of faith, a chance synchronicity, an eternal fictional truth, a creative art-filmic morphing of facts. Or nothing of the kind, her name here being Judy. One notch of Pareidolia too far.
  10. LIES I TOLD MYSELF by Lynne Jamneck
    “I’m afraid I don’t pay attention to conspiracy theories.”
    Intriguing, potentially gestalt-forming, catafiles about cataphiles and cataflics, catafiles containing interviews involving the death (manslaughter, murder or suicide?) of a woman in the catacombs of Paris, and how they affected one police woman investigator, but where lie the lies, above or below? Or as above, so below? Selves versus selves, as already adumbrated in a number of this book’s previous stories. Mester versus DeMeester/DeMeer? My whole review regime, perhaps, is one long Conspiracy theory versus or via COinspiracy and COincidence. Once you are taught the ropes, you can climb them. But do they hawl up from here or down to there? Questions obviate the lies.
    “…they say when you talk about something, you make it real. You give it life and it becomes part of you.”
  11. THE UNKINDNESS by Dino Parenti
    “The evening before, Jason had crafted for her an origami flamingo, the best he’d ever made.”
    A superbly written story. They seem to keep on coming in this book, it seems. Worthy of being written by a Flannery O’Connor reincarnation. The writerly manoeuvres of a pair of ravens who leave marbles in a birdbath after gorily killing a cat called Othello that Jason saw every day on the way to and from school… A story of this awakening 12 year old boy whose mother died from an infection after giving birth to him. A story of how he sees his father, comparing the latter’s large hands and his own small origami-plying ones. And his witnessing his father’s interface with women (“Local nurses, waitresses, housewives, bored and ravening.”) And both their interfaces with Charlotte, a young woman, housekeep and Jason’s ‘baby-sitter’… But it is the pair of ravens and their doings that are this story’s soul, a TS Eliot-like ‘objective correlative’, a literary device that I now have been myself awakened to see as a form of pareidolia…
    This book’s earlier curlews, notwithstanding. Dies Irae Parentis.
  12. MERGE NOW by Kurt Fawver
    “‘Coincidence, coincidence, coincidence,’ he repeated to himself,…”
    Is it a coincidence that Chisholm, the name of the main protagonist here, has HOLISM embedded in it as a result of crashing its last six letters?
    “They wove a deep and abiding pattern that was almost religious, almost mystical.”
    My patterns with books result from gestalt träumtrawling, aka holistic reviewing. I dare not tell you of the nature of what pattern emerges in angst-ridden Chisholm’s busy commuting life in the city. That would be a spoiler. Suffice to say, bar a final quote quoted within the story itself below, that indeed this story itself is in blatant tune with what happens IN it — suddenly crashing into all the other stories that preceded it and, no doubt, disrupting any stories that are yet to follow it!
    “the blindfolded, seeing the answer others cannot see and gnashing their teeth in fear and ecstasy, do the great work of the eschaton. They will prepare the roads for its coming.”
    My previous reviews of this author:
  13. when we were trespassers
    by doungjai gam
    “Most of the windows in the living room were boarded up except for one on the side of the house. From where I stood I could see the sunflower patch we hid behind earlier. I admired how they stood, tall and strong.”
    “I imagined that if there were such a thing, this place would be shoulder to shoulder with the ghosts of junkies mourning their final hits.”
    And that’s the beginning and end of this story, as well as its end and beginning, the meaning of nothing. The red bloom of a hit. A wasp bite versus jagged glass in the scales of first and last avoidance. A derelict house – as a couple, John and a woman called Blair, break in, ostensibly for him to seek the closet of meaning, and finding nothing except a continuation or/as an end. The previous story’s rear-end crash took all the meaning out of this one, but something remained: and that something is the fact that something always remains, beyond either altruism or selfishness. Isn’t Jack just another version of John? Merge now as gestalt.
    There is a series of oblique meanings to the word Pareidolia so far in this book. The other Pareidolia book that I am concurrently reviewing seems to convey themes-and-variations on the dictionary-definition of Pareidolia. Both methods are worthy. Presenting, shoulder to shoulder, the Pareidolia of Pareidolia.
  14. RUM PUNCH IS GOING DOWN by Daniel Braum
    “I’m in a water taxi speeding away from Belize City, catching spray, sitting shoulder to shoulder with a dozen travelers licking the Caribbean Sea from their lips.”
    Shoulder to shoulder, again. Reader and story. Joint with joint. As we follow Rum Punch protagonist (called that because he bought everyone in the bar a rum punch). A well-conjured, well conjured, too, genius-loci as Island or split or caye near Belize in 1986 of sea horses and underbelow caves that you can hawl down to on a rope. Like the closet of nothingness trope in the previous story. Now a trope become tropical. “I find undecided places conducive to the liminal.” Many characters, including the reader, reach here on a boat, with later random huts to sleep in, random meanings to cull, all of us with our backstories. Some of which backstories in others’ minds we learn about tantalisingly. Lost loves and why, and new found ones, even a sea horse in an aquifer. Or did it appear in the jar of water parthenogenetically? There’s even a crocodile with a woman’s name to eat up the one called Hitler who had said to the protagonist’s face “You’re the one who’s been Jewing up the place.” But as in all Platonic caves, we only know the shadows we think we know, I guess. Some live on.
    “Running away feels more like truth.”
    My other reviews of this author:
  15. Pingback: Träumalising… | The Des Lewis Gestalt Real-Time Reviews Edit
  16. UNMOORED by Sean M. Thompson
    “The old man’s never going to get any better, that’s the elephant in the room.”
    A rotary phone that no longer works, a Polaroid photo that needs to be pulled out and shaken, this is a realistically disarming virtuality of Alzheimer’s as an increasingly slippery experience of memory-and-now and of who I am. And who you are. How do I know it is realistic? I am an old man myself and at least I vaguely know.
    I invented the word träumalising today after an earlier one I invented: Träumtrawler as a title for the way books can be read and reviewed. Not based on trauma as trauma so much as on Träumerei (Schumann) aka Dreaming. Pareidolia and apophenia as words need, in perhaps confused hindsight, the word träumalising for them to exist at all, I guess. Words always mean something.
    “Names. Mean. Nothing.”
    My previous reviews of stories in this author’s name:
  17. JUST BEYOND THE SHORE by Elizabeth Beechwood
    “I head over to the green shack on the north end of the ferry terminal, the one with the neon sign flashing B*A*I*T. I remember it from before. It’s not just a bait store, it’s groceries, too, even though the sign doesn’t say that.”
    Die Mer or Mother, is Meredith the equivalent Rime to Coleridges’s dire-fortuning albatross or a saviour angel allowing narrator Stephanie’s due rhapsodic fulfilment by sea’s seal? An engaging story as, 19, she travels back to the distant island (here a well-characterised genius-loci) where supposed drowning had taken her mother, and a force called Meredith had once promised more than just death to Stephanie. And, free will or not, an unmoored Orange Star that needs the slightest nudge for its amorphous life to fit some eventual destiny of purpose … or pareidolia…
    “, and I clamp my hands over my ears and squeeze my brain so the thoughts can’t take shape into words that will echo in my head. I can’t let them take shape.”
  18. THE SCHOOLMASTER by David Peak
    “Hundreds of glass prayer candles glow orange throughout the night.”
    And the harvest moon, too, glows orange in this now archetypal vignette of the undertow of fire and darkness at the earth’s core with which the beasts beset our young, and the later strictures of education to banish such an undertow, the beast in ourselves, although, I infer, the teacher once relished it in his lessons. Those pareidoliac shadows in the Platonic cave of Braum again? The shape of Azathoth?
    My previous reviews of this author:
    “Maybe people don’t become attractive to you until you need them to be.”
    “, everyone’s cigarettes killing everyone else.”
    Affected me more than I, as an old man, can exactly tell why. An atmospheric terroir of old chance stones and rocks and crevices the glaciers brought to the woods and its township, life a diminuendo tontine game or a series of ‘sardines’ games, not of hide and seek. Blokes, drinkers, stoicisms, unserious barmaid flirtations, and people and relationships coming and going in their life, three of them who remember the deadly diaspora of fellow kids during one such ‘sardines’ game. Marsh gas? Or some deeper pattern that needs scrying? They determine to establish that pattern of once future diaspora since such a past, whatever the diminuendo music of a ‘dying fall’ that they themselves now face, in stoical supine waiting in the woods. Even now at the age of 40-something, they consider themselves older than they are.
    “You think you’re old?” the old man speaks up, loudly from his stool. His face is red and he is shaking. “What are you, forty? I can’t finish a beer before I have to piss it out.“
  20. HERR SCHEINTOD by LC von Hessen
    “…gently but firmly pressed down on the man’s right eyeball with the pad of his thumb. It briefly depressed into the socket, then popped back into place without flinching or protest, the pupil a sullen black pit. In the flickering lamplight, a vague thumbprint emerged.”
    A startlingly, unforgettably evocative, often gorily tactile and putridly olfactory, sometimes concupiscent, account of a sort of funeral parlour indefinably years ago, where corpses are kept for as long as possible to outlive any ambiguity as to whether they are TRULY dead. The outlandish outcome is a natural derivative from what we learn about this place and its openly living officials or its clandestinely undead denizens and visitors, Phossy mouth and Corsican salute, included. It is the scrying of such ambiguity of existence and corpse-effluvia that underpins our own eschatological pareidolia, I guess
    “Given time, he supposed, one could grow accustomed to anything.”
  21. 4D8F001D-E516-4FBB-87CA-11697F85693D THE ROOM ABOVE by Brian Evenson
    “: if it is not human, it is pretending to be.”
    I uncannily feel as if I am this man. The room above being my own brain in this (what has turned out to be) obsessive review-site body itself from which I ever hear a preternatural voice, every day, so sometimes I go out and take brain photos, including my own varying shadows. I REALLY should pay attention to the rather over-size quote below from this story and do away with this site, its overweening singular voice in my headroom above!
    “I should get out more. I should try to meet other humans and converse with them. I should be entertaining. I should memorize a series of jokes that I can tell in the cafeteria as I eat my lunch. I should do everything I can to make myself believe that my life resides somewhere outside of the bedroom, somewhere outside the house. That the house is a place I go to sleep, to rest, and that it has nothing to do with me.”
    My previous reviews of this author;
  22. SINCERELY EDEN by Amelia Gorman
    “To your left a tall pale man calls an elevator. You hear it ding on the tentative third floor, then the second, then the ground, but then it chimes again and again with too many floors for this squat building. Each ding is more distant than the last.”
    One of those stories where you end up saying, hey, where has this story been all my life? As if found in some forgotten P.O. Box of the mind. Exquisitely written, you enter the mind of a woman in some unknown German city, a mind with layers like the storeys of where she lives and the smaller storeys of the cubicular delivery-hatch for post near the building’s entrance. It is ironically already the internet age, true, but still with an array of ancient spires and buildings, here in her fifth floor flat in a five floor building, hints of art deco in its air-lock entrance and where there are damp stains to read on her ceiling, pancake shapes, a face seen in the red cracks of a hand, strawberry parables to scry, and the gradual onset of an old friend’s postcards signed with her name of Eden bringing different emotions to share. So many implications and interstices twine, with an eventual visionary scene far more lasting than her momentarily lingering dreams after sleep. Here there was no Evenson room above.
    My previous review of this author:
  23. WILD DOGS by Carrie Laben
    “but it turned out that nearly every car in Montana had a cracked windshield. Someone had told her in workshop that it was Montana state law; they couldn’t pass inspection without a cracked windshield. This was a joke because there were no such things as car inspections in Montana, but”
    A rumbustious and witty account of a sort of hen party at a bar in the wilds of Montana, and I had to scry what happened amid images of roadkill, a plate of battered gizzards, a horny man too free with his shots, the women’s wild dogs left in the back of a car in the car park, a coitus interruptus and the confused slapstick of horns and antlers and so forth. Even a hint of an earthquake to match the earlier cracked windscreen, but what did the crazing depict?
    Not my thing, but I somehow loved every minute of it!
    “…staircase in bright reds and yellows. Dust dances before your face, drawing you forward like fairy lights on a forest path.
    This way, it says. This way.
    Obedient, you follow.”
    An archetypal story, swaddling enough a story to stir my literary tastes. Archetypal as such in providing what you expect from such a moody-roomed story, as a young woman enters it, privy to where the key was, and eventually privy to the lock of hair to which it was also key, made privy by the eponymous deceased when she was not deceased. A house with perfectly couched words to describe it and to swaddle you. No surprise, looking back at that quote above, it actually started with the word ‘spiral’. More a moody möbius, I guess.
  25. SALMON RUN by Andrew Kozma
    “Documentaries had ruined us for real life.”
    A man as narrator with a knack for evoking the numinous fears within us all, yet he also seems simple-minded and lacking understanding of what he describes, as if something has taken him over, some force like an over-arching author with presumably more omniscience than the narrator, or perhaps a documentary fly on the wall camera. The narrator man with his wife Harriet driving to the hospital to see her father who had been taken suddenly ill, but had he really been taken ill and was he still at home after a day of gardening? It seems even the author can not explain why all these people in their gridlocked cars like Godard’s WEEKEND traffic queue (as I inferred it to be with even more omniscience perhaps than the author himself) had been called to the same hospital on false errands. And then held behind an emergency incident such as a crashed balloon on the motorway. Crushed intentions. A fish stream with no fish. No way out. Slow diminuendo of purpose. Gridlocked cars tailing off or tailgating off into nothing except, at best, into visionary coloured scales. No point to say more. Other than, perhaps, that it was the story itself that made me say it no more.
    My previous review of this author:
  26. THE LITTLE DRAWER FULL OF CHAOS by Annie Neugebauer
    “I imagined the bubble was exactly centered.”
    From that still point, that crux before the crash, this becomes a rollover from a jigsaw gestalt to “a thousand little pieces of unrelated detritus”, from a couple’s OCD towards a bookshelf where – heaven forfend! – books were now ordered wrongly, perhaps deliberately so, together with a drawer where oddments of untidiness were stowed but a drawer that becomes a Narnia into contra-Gaia, with vomit transmigrated between the couple, without much chance to establish that vomit’s nature nor to scry its potential pareidolia… and much else paralleling our own teetering life on the brink of disorder, here demonstrated by the well-characterised loving couple, May and June…
    The experience of this work is not in what happens in it but the experience itself of reading it.
    Cf the couple in the Zinos-Amaro.
    “But what about how we wanted real careers and how babies spit up everywhere and how kids are dirt machines?”
    My previous review of this author:
    Anywhere is better than here, I wanted to say, but kept quiet instead.”
    Should I allow the nightingale to dive in the water, rather than soar into the sky, to expunge the million years old stars themselves, or merely expunge their reflections? My question, not necessarily this story’s, but, whatever, whatever the nightingale decides. This tantalising story is about a 40 year old woman who works menially in the small community, with no durable desire to leave for the city and the wider world. A contemporary woman – quite close to her when they were young girls in this community – returns having been rescued by members of the community from a death cult. “….shortcutting down a nearby alley and escaping into the day that seemed too bright to hold something as strange and obscure as her.” The eventual outcome and the renewed relationship between the two women are haunting, arguably blighting, as the woman rescued shows no sign of explicit gratitude to the community that rescued her. But which community now reflects the other, which the death cult?
    “shipwrecked from a world that might no longer exist […] how to close my eyes and smile…”
    My previous reviews of this author:
  28. FAR FROM HOME by Dan Coxon
    “He’d never had sex with anyone taller than him —“
    A truly compelling story of a man travelling on his own by train from England to Cardiff, Wales for work in an art gallery near the hotel he had booked, representing a break from his wife, one with mixed feelings. If I told you what happened you would not need to read it and you must read it. I insist. Suffice to say, on the walk to the hotel, there is an exterior mural that has weathered and effectively become pareidolia as an image. A mural strangely also viewable later from his hotel room – in a hotel worthy of the ominous Hyde Hotel of yore. There was a pink suitcase on the train earlier and later pink vomit, if I recall correctly. A visit to a bar with waitresses and some beer as strong as cough syrup. And noises from the room next door not the room above. But I have missed out the most important item that connects this whole story. You need to need know that to focus the whole picture.
  29. BIRDS by Zin E. Rocklyn
    “, dreaming of a sky so black, no one could see me fly.”
    Creative and constructive miscegenation, from a girl’s point of view, I guess, important that guess, as a striving for gestalt, or racial gaia, as she absorbs her older sister like a hybrid magpie, or an angel with sprouting wings, and with dark poetics of were-birds and were-serpents, and a predatory police officer. Mentions of mother-suckling and a father, too. Bare rumps, sick as disgust’s “muscle memory” of some previous stories’ vomit in this book, and a boy she takes home as if a lost fledgling.
    Reading as tantalisingly tentative trial and error, where you come out more whole. As if what you piece together mends you, too? Just as “Sometimes what you break, breaks you.”
    Perhaps the essence of nox pareidolia? Night scrying.
  30. From “dreaming of a sky so black, no one could see me fly” above, ironically now to ‘nyctophobia’ below…
    STRIDENT CALLER by Laird Barron
    “The perfect place to host a dinner party and then watch the guests vanish one by one.”
    Roll with it. Strident like ‘Wild Dogs,’ so I give it a chance. Young man Jesse Craven (with his pit bull Artemis) — seller of his sex to those who want blowing as men or rejuvenating as women, I guess, and he gets tangled up with Deborah, 75: with interesting backstories and a country house to die for, and her eponymous recorder as flute sort of summons up Satanics and perhaps an angry cuckolded husband. And to give a reason for this work to be in this book: “A man’s silhouette receded toward the heart of the disk, slightly hunched and dragging an inert, possibly canine-shaped object.” Pareidolia in Motion.
    My previous reviews of this author:
  31. EBCD4D8D-C595-4FC0-9F3A-5575E6F91788 THE TASTE OF ROT by Steve Toase
    “All the time I walk between the tables, the owner watches me over smeared varifocal glasses.”
    “The letters slide off the paper, diluted ink staining her skin.”
    A remarkable rapture of rot, where the world has been inundated, and the narrator seeks his sister in the city, also visiting the library and a cafe. Relatively short work, but remarkably there is too much to tell you what you can see in it through a critiquing varifocal towards pareidolia, a pareidolia even in the form of smell as well as taste, sound and sight. A new sense, perhaps, to add to the other senses, with fiction transfigured. Spores creating galaxies as devotion. Null Immortalis.
    The early development of my various theories that preceded or coincided with the November 2008 start of my gestalt real-time reviewing – for example this blog post by the luminary Matt Cardin in January 2009:
    Also in 2006: (Magic Fiction) (Fiction as Religion) (Initial thinking behind this site)
    Perhaps, all these years later, this story presents a most important staging-post in this quest.
    My reviews of two other stories by this author:
  32. VENOM by S.P. Miskowski
    “….beyond the amber circle of illumination cast by her desk lamp, and gazed into shadows against a far wall. There appeared to be a central area more opaque than the rest. The longer she watched, the more distinctly she made out…”
    Made out what? This story tells you. A strikingly disturbed portrait of a woman working in a mental health institution, and the trials and tribulations of such a job, her once mentor called Waverly, the reduced financial support for such treatments, and her own mental health infected by visions and a patient who becomes in her eyes the gestalt patient. And what that patient said he once found inside his shoe.
    ‘Oh, what a tangled web we weave…” Sir Walter Scott
    My previous reviews of this author: and
  33. My previous reviews of the next author below:
    “And there, amidst the barking of their voices and the venomous glare of the sunlight off their guns, the boys did what all hounded animals do.”
    Combining the flying in the blackness of the Zin E., here in the intriguing Edwards with “you only see the howling black just outside your patio doors.” And the out of body floating in the Miskowski, and in the Edwards the sky as the means of rescuing you from the firing squad, to escape upwards … but the ‘you’ here, instead, is a woman studying the Gardner coup in Antioch, corresponding with a woman who claims not to have shot the hooded figure of Santrich in that historical massacre of an event – and, along with her partner Chris, this ‘you’ is studying the writings of Santrich (a cross between a Lovecraft and a Magic Realist?) — “Santrich was far more than a shade of someone else’s terrors.” Factoring in, also, the previous studies of other literature including the “not-so-gentle subterfuge of Julio Cortázar’s ‘Axolotl.’” (I reviewed the latter in 2011 HERE.)

  34. And I continue to study this Edwards story itself as well as the whole of this important anthology in a similar open-minded way as ‘you’, fathoming whether I shall ever get to the bottom here of the aesthetic, religious, political, historical and literary-noxious mythos of pareidolia, ‘NOXious’ being the word that has now suddenly, as I write this in real-time, been derived from reading the Toase above, earlier today. And — by dint of this massive book in particular, as assisted by a shorter Pareidolia anthology simultaneously by chance arriving within my purview — I have understood for the first time what I have been doing for the last 11 years (Gestalt real-time-time reviewing) is only made possible by the alchemy of something called pareidolia as assisted by my own perhaps pathetic apophenia.