Nightscript #6



Edited by C.M. Muller

My previous reviews of Nightscript and C.M. Muller:

Stories by Timothy Dodd, LC von Hessen, Tom Johnstone, Ralph Robert Moore, Julia Rust, Jeremy Schliewe, Dan Coxon, Charles Wilkinson, Christi Nogle, Alexander James, Francesco Corigliano, Selene dePackh, Kurt Newton, James Owens, J.R. Hamantaschen, Amelia Gorman, and Gary Budden.

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

23 thoughts on “Nightscript #6

  1. 92CECFED-B8B2-4B05-960A-5F0B7E9761E6DAUDA’S RETURN by Timothy Dodd

    As I sat down to review this story, having just read its words, it seemed appropriate that I was, by a Spotified chance, listening to piano music by Medtner. As the American narrator sets out to paint his missing Belarusian ex called Dauda who has now unexpectedly returned to him from a condition that would stultify the plot should I tell you of that condition which he found so easy to accept and then to paint. Nor should I tell you of his interrupting mother’s easy assumptions alongside his own memories of touring art museums in Europe with Dauda, listing the artists they appreciated, as he opens the tube of grey paint. A hauntingly dowdy story. Most books’ printed words tend to be grey, I guess. Not often do their front covers feature greyness, though.

    My previous review of this author:

  2. “In fact, the landscape of the island coastal town has the quality of a dreary watercolor: sky and coastline rendered in various shades of grey,…”

    As quoted from…

    The Patent-Master
    by LC von Hessen

    “Weird dreams are not in themselves unusual—is there even such a thing as a ‘normal” dream?”

    This is a some sort of classic. It felt as if someone with the prose and imaginative skill of a new Ligotti had written it although Ligotti would not have featured a mother of the narrator as a major character nor would she have given birth, by dint of an overriding Anti-Natalism, to the narrator in the first place! Yet, here we are, the narrator does exist, his body a “faulty meat contraption”, someone who dabbles in collages and other pretentious art-installations and he tells us of his mother of whom he is thus unworthy, a woman with a strong character, the arch diva of a complex philosophy movement as well as once being a pole-dancer with salaciously positioned bandages in the island coastal town, whereto he now goes to quench his curiosity about his mother. Meeting the man, the eponymous patent-master, for whom she did the pole-dancing, a new art installation, perhaps, far outdoing anything the narrator could accomplish. Far more to this potentially significant story than this review allows to meet the eye. Early days to make a judgment about its progeny stories yet to be patented.
    As an aside, I wonder if weird fictions today have the #covivid about them because I have become part of that long and lengthening #covivid as I read and review them — or because, with time now elapsed since #covivid arrived in the world, the weird fictions I now read and review have actually been written under the effects of such wild #covividness. Or both these things as a growing gestalt?

  3. 5CECB8CF-0A9A-4904-946F-F3BDE795B8A7 Let Your Hinged Jaw Do the Talking by Tom Johnstone

    “Eyes can follow you without moving, can’t they?”

    I remember the ventriloquism of Lord Charles and Ray Alan from the 1950s as well as when my own children watched them in the 1980s. I can remember Ray and Charles singing “I can’t stop loving you” together. And this story has similar memories of a backstory by the daughter of a 1950s marriage (a relationship then started in a Scottish dance hall), whereby she calls her Mum and Dad by their Christian names to help her plot along as a story instead of her real backstory, a plot that seems to have some mislipsynched thoughts of 1980s politics in UK as well as of her personal story about her parents and her uncles and herself that – if read between the lips if not the lines – is incredibly disturbing. Highly recommended to the reader who sees stories as I do.
    In mutually ‘beneficial’ synergy, too, with von Hessen’s puppeteered ‘mother’…even with deadpan Dauda, who must also have been someone’s daughter.

    My previous reviews of Tom Johnstone:

  4. The Best Thing About Her by Ralph Robert Moore

    “Thank you, God, for remaining unknowable.”

    Literature, for me, if not God, similarly addressed, too.
    RRM, as a storyteller, has long been “coughing up angels” into a toilet bowl, as this particular story now has it as a (prophetic?) symbol for our times. It seems so appropriate — after the dead-pan, and the equally dead-pan near-puppets, in the previous stories above — that real people are as dead-pan inscrutable to us as they are to themselves, even if they once managed to reach or read themselves at all. This woman, as a Samaritan parable, helps another woman on a bus, then gives favourite liverwurst sandwiches to her boy at home whose been in bathroom lockdown all day while she has been at work. An advent angel boy, I infer, with red hair arrives in their backyard who strangles her own boy …to whom she in turn gives the same sandwiches in the redemptive hope of her own son’s resurrection as a result. Then, I thought, this is not what the story is about at all. Yet it is what it was about for someone who once was me, until I differed within the realms of a single review! This is a worthy addition to the RRM canon, as it always would have been, whosoever the reader triangulating it. I have faith in literature as truth, beyond its fanciful disguises.

    My previous discrete reviews of RRM (3 pages):

  5. What Crows Mean by Julia Rust

    “The crows are speaking to her. People write the sound of crows as Caw, but Caroline knows better. Her crows sound like people. […] And gulls! They mewed and squawked and chattered, but Caroline never really understood them.”

    A wondrously plaintive account of a woman whereby we wonder whether she is alive or dreaming or dead. Drifting or dreaming or drowning or drowned. Still married to the one who mourns her? Or still mourning the one who married her?

    “It takes a long time for the smile to reach his eyes.”

    Or this woman becoming the child she once was or the child he with the smile once fathered? Or both still in each other’s arms without transcending the dreams around them?

    An inadvertently miraculous prophecy of a CO-vivid dream of each other, blending reality and fiction, as such dreams have begun to do for us all today. But perhaps not co-vivid at all, but rather a corvid or crow’s dream, or a circus trick of interpretation that brings back her childhood’s playing with toys while listening to crows’s cries become words, if not gulls’. Whatever sea comes to reclaim her, I shall need to re-read this haunting work to help disperse my own trapped dreams’ breath inside my empathy as a translation of its inner corvid caws. To see if it reached me in time. Or reached me, as a reader, too late.

    “….and she can spit out the old air in her bursting lungs, take in a breath. […] She’s breathing, she’s coughing.”

    My previous reviews of this author:

  6. A Postcard from White Dunes by Jeremy Schliewe

    “It was a piece of nostalgia inside a piece of nostalgia.”

    Trapped in nostalgia, and it reminded me to some extent of another new book I recently reviewed (here) which is in mutual synergy with this novelette by Schliewe. And where is the lighthouse now? The lake’s still there in White Dunes but disfigured, and a recent flash fire that has been in the news recently, and other awful things littering the beach that made me think the story was written by Matranga. On the face of it, though, this work was not written at all but lived through compellingly, a man who has made a minor impression as an artist building crafts materials, with dark undercurrents, into tableaux of towns and landscapes, and he suddenly hears on the wireless an old pop record about his childhood home of White Dunes, a place that, until we read later about it, he has not visited for some years. The record is that aforementioned trap of nostalgia and alongside him we research the clouded beginnings of this record that he remembers once owning as a child. I love sixties pop records for their nostalgia, amid my obsession for classical music in my current dotage. So I strongly felt for this literary slew of images evoked by a strangely disarming reminder of my ineluctably sliding into a future nostalgia, should I live long enough to still dare remember it or even to check it out via on-line searching, then reaching this review instead!

    My previous review of this author:

  7. Baddavine by Dan Coxon

    “But there was nothing, just the soft rustle of dry leaves in the breeze, a sudden, sharp caw in the distance…”

    Later a “crowd” becomes a mob, interwoven into the narration, with “crowbars” &c.
    The story starts with your, as the narrator’s, daughter hearing a whisper, a whisper that someone else in the local pub later corroboratingly describes to you as “raspy”, a whisper heard when you and your family were originally walking in the woods. Later upon pub talk’s grapevine, talk explicitly ignited by the landlord’s “cough”, there results the mob of locals running down the eponymous beast. The beast that becomes you? Only those who read your words here will be able to visualise the nature of that beast. The recurrence of a sudden loss of hearing now while an inexorable, possibly invisible enemy closes in on all of us, a sudden loss that is accompanied by loss of all our other senses, too?

    My previous reviews of this author: and

  8. Beyond the Lace by Charles Wilkinson

    “Even her walk altered from day to day, as if she were trying out various ways of inhabiting her body.”

    The rasp of outside life. The lace of net curtains. And I’ll leave you to judge this haunting trans-portrait, because, for me, “the complex clauses required to explain what it was the company did were stuck somewhere in the cerebral cortex”, even when “the rasp of tinny radios” et al — seeming to have died to barely a whisper from the nearby building site — has at least temporarily cleared the air, leaving the coordination of ‘company’ now as two, even if in more ways than one.
    Broadly, this is a tale of the stepfather of a schoolgirl, a man who was married to her now estranged and vanished mother, the real father having vanished earlier. See what you think.
    Beyond the lace, indeed — now also in more ways than one? Like being within that lace, too? Lace as enticing net to see through or net as cruel catchment amid the shifting static of self?

    My previous reviews of this author:

  9. The Gods Shall Lay Sore Trouble upon Them by Christi Nogle

    “I’m so sorry,” she says. “I’ve been living alone for so long I’ve come to believe I’m the only person on earth, apparently.”

    A wondrously unforgettable “crepuscular” story, having earlier just finished reading a story about Nest’s ‘twilight gates’ here. The cafeteria where customers and staff dwindle. A world of attenuation and involuntarily mutual plagiarism of characters’ thoughts, as we follow Marie amid genuinely CO-vivid dreams with her male ‘clients’ in some sort of Kafkaesque mental institution whereby she gives them lessons in the conversational art. In a world where distancing, perhaps, is dwindling such conversations or we are saying the same things on our minds to each other that we should otherwise have not known about was in the other’s mind. Yet, somehow I sense this story was written before 2020 started. And this book’s front cover again somehow comes into play with its sense of greyness and lacy sheen…

    “The baby might be almost a year old now, something like that, and the hair on his head has come in thick and soft and unmistakably gray.”

    The ‘new normal’ of births with people, as guinea pigs, dividing discretely from within the lockdowned cells of themselves? With a new silver or grey haired wisdom of precocity. I now feel I may indeed, as an old person, be morphing retrocausally…?

    “The dream is in black and white like an old photograph, the darkest parts of it alive with a metallic sheen.”

    My previous reviews of this author:

  10. A Photograph by Alexander James

    “Funny how I remember the drive more than the destination.”

    “No longer able to pluck distinct events from the river of time, my father would begin to wade upstream, seeking stability in the face of a terrifying present and an unimaginable future.”

    A telling portrait by the son, as narrator, of his father, as the latter dwindles in mind and body, at first significantly in mutual synergy with this Gaskin story that I read earlier this morning before reading this one. But, here, we also have factored into such a state of depleting existence a framed photograph of a home’s front entrance where the narrator and his sister were brought up as children, a photograph that is in his father’s ownership, an image that is both morphing in itself as well as then being blended by the narrator’s new perceived or physically checked truths as to his memory of its distinct dimensions. Photograph(s), here, as an evocative ‘objective-correlative’, not only of our own lifelong-triangulated memories, but also of those increasingly significant, if paradoxically more blurred, memories being played out, we infer, in the minds of our dying loved ones. Towards the optimum narrow-house of death? Or the yet inconceivable ‘new normal’ of self?

  11. The Owner by Francesco Corigliano (translated by Amanda Blee)

    “S has very peculiar tastes and is obsessed with his research into existential mystical communion, spiritual fusion with the universe, etc.”

    This is inner gestalt resurrection as optimal, a ‘box’ with a backstory, and one that is wielding highly descriptive scatological and eschatological effects, effects that tumorously transcend any vestige of sanity I had left before reading this self-involved portrait of it. Sent here as first keeper of it, but auctioned from whom and for what reason? It becomes slightly clearer if you happen to read it (as I just did by chance!) about an hour after reading this Heuler work. But not clear enough. And it may make me very wary of reading too much stuff like this and of my becoming intrinsically owned by it along with its horrors and then even more frighteningly as its owner, too! — an insider owning future keepers of it, eventually embracing, as well as embraced by, you all.

    “A lock, but without a keyhole.”

  12. Passed Pawn by Selene dePackh

    “Instead of the afternoon sun, an immense winter moon shone on the drive so brightly it sparkled. The cratered orb seemed near enough to touch. Gigantic animals paced in the shadows beside the road.”

    Obliquely rarefied, beautifully written, this story is the story of a man as brought up in these mountains, near the institution where they gave him a job caring for autistic children, an institution with a strange Wonderland’s reward and punishment system for ‘clients’ that now somehow resonated with his hunting trips in the mountains, set against the backstory of his dog Moe, as later replaced by a deaf cat with the same name. One of his ‘clients’, Rowena, with whom, before her death, he had related to in his attempts to help her, a girl also with a skin-colour-draining vitilago, is seen as reborn in the pure white buck he shoots, before depacking a pack of coywolves attracted by the smell of its meat, his own body gouged by one of them. This story is a sort of dream, that I thought I understood while reading or dreaming it, but now it seems to me to be a Corvid’s Covid brokerage of deeper dreams for old that I need to understand instead. One soul to be bought by selling another, a passed pawn, a transfer that I cannot now relate to, perhaps because I have rarely appreciated or even had pet animals in my life, let alone ones I loved.

    “He paused on a ledge to note a heraldic-looking mummified crow with partly open obsidian wings.”

  13. …and onward to the next story’s “Like a pack of cold, hungry wolves.”

    The Death Bodies of Kanggye by Kurt Newton

    “There are no ghosts. Only death bodies. You shut up or you be death body, too.”

    Or you become a ghost yourself? Who knows which is better? There are always sunny uplands beyond where the moon and stars stare down at you now. A gang of boys with oriental names, who dream of death bodies and take the police to where they can be found in the morning, including, one day, yourself. Mixed motives and no political correctness. An atmosphere well worthy of the classic horror stories that I now dream are still between the staples or stitches of slender ghostly pulp magazines, ones that crowded our honest nightmares, and now are somehow real inside. Time soon for all of us to sense the ever-pivotal importance of a place named Kanggye, with the KEY letters of the GANG inside.

  14. And from the coywolves and wolves in the previous two stories, to… “Between the edge of the field and the darkening woods, a line of coyotes.”

    Loneliness by James Owens

    “She has brought a large flat book with thick pages that she grips in her lap, her fingers pressed white around its edges, as if she is struggling against some force to hold it closed, to contain what is inside.”

    And gradually the truth or at least the half-truth wriggles forth like lines of moths from between these words. As we follow bereaved Wyatt returned to the house where his father has now died, the latter having left his words on the walls inside. The oldsters, his father’s ex-cronies, at the local store are on about “the old, good days” (note the order of the words there) and “ganging up” on Wyatt in symbolic packs of this book’s earlier near-death bodies and coyotes, and we all duly make old bones sooner or later. And his Aunt Mildred who leaves him with the flat book that makes him wonder which half of the truth he actually is. Not a book, after all, of words, not at all, but old photos of the two halves of himself instead. A back-to-backstory featuring his mother, too. And it is a quite original story, not necessarily explicable by ghosts, or death bodies or even by split identities, but by something else, something that makes you shudder with a disorientation of a potential new-normal of meaning. A trap pitting words against words.

  15. Victims of a Transitional Time in Morality by J.R. Hamantaschen

    “That’s just my brain pretending there was meaning when there wasn’t. “

    “Maybe if I’m being literal,…”

    Accretive holes here with stings are part of a new ‘Convexity of Our Youth’; there, in Fawver, they were orange balls; such holes and balls quite different from each other, yet with a mutual synergy, both a symbolic portrait and/or prophecy of what subsumes us all now in 2020. (I happened to write yesterday, before reading this story, about such literalism and symbolism here about ‘Flood’.) Meanwhile, this Hamantaschen work is a uniquely powerful and touching story of young love during schooldays, of a boy’s love for a girl amid such an onset of holes and the games these children played hunting them out, whereby, as the children grew older, mankind effectively tries to infect the virus with mankind’s own glutinous sting of killing, its Kingdom Come Through Heaven and High Water.

    LONG ROCK by Gary Budden

    “the clouds were on fire with a riot of lilacs,”

    The book’s coda proper, the final final story, with instinctive adeptness, at the end of this book in whatever order it happens to be read, either inadvertently or preternaturally. Containing more aspects of this book’s foregoing corvid or covivid context of prophecy. A brother remembering his twin sister’s fatal obsession with this history-disorientated, war-poisoned, tactilely sea-creatured coast. Growing up like the boy and girl, if not in the same way, who ended up hole hunting earlier, as I am still whole hunting, even now, at this belated stage.

    “This seemed apt. How could you not see the whole world was poisoned?

    “box jellyfish”
    …. giving a new slant to Corigliano’s ownership of his box.

    “chaos theory, an awareness of the interconnectedness of things.”
    …being an added irony retrocausal to the previously read Gorman work below.

    “burnt oranges”

    “Atop the sign sat a large carrion crow,”
    …as perhaps the true narrator of this honestly sea-haunting, memory-creating work.

    My previous reviews of this author:

    UNICORVID? The only creature in the story with a legendary existence beyond checking is a unicorn, other than by double-checking with the use of fiction.

  16. My previous reviews of the following author:

    The Whisper Gallery by Amelia Gorman

    ”Every fold, every curve, every concave secret.”

    This is a gloriously rich story full of plants and insects and characters who dice with diamonds on cards. It needs to be read several times for your sting thing to be able to tap its pollen. My strict rule over the years of gestalt real-time reviewing is to base my comments on a single reading of each work, to fulfil the real-time approach, often needing a similar triangulation of its semantic, phonetic, word-visual and syntactical coordinates by other readers of it. Still, even at this early stage, I recognise it as a singular reappraisal of this whole book, and more than just a coda to its symphony. Preternaturally and/or inadvertently so, perhaps.

    “Nasturtiums penetrate cracks in the small concrete patio where the soil is too weak to give way to flowers. They stay as sexless green circles with reaching veins.”

    “Colors assault me with their bold and uncomplimentary sprays because color, too, can be a weapon..”

    “bright orange cup-of-gold poppies are already spilling into their neighbors’ yard. However, I catch a rare sphinx moth hovering”

    “Weight of the sky”

    “There are messages passed like classroom lovers between plants and insects as well.”

    “this world of doppelgängers” and “doubles”

    “simultaneously proclaiming its sticky pollen to a passing butterfly, saying I am safe for you if not for them.”

    “an identical half sphere”

    “the moon arcs over the sky I hear every whisper from the blossom and understand what is happening. The language of the flowers reveals itself to me in a mix of scents, color, and even words.”

    “I feel privileged to be one of the only people to intercept these messages. Coming from behind the stars, but the stars too are their acoustic mirrors, doing their own golden apian dance across the night.” This one also echoing my concurrent review of XX here.

    “But it’s not a mirror at all, it’s a photo of a woman who looks just like me. Who has my face down to every pore.”

    Please forgive me for quoting so much above of this remarkable story, but I trust these choices of mine will enhance your own experience of the work itself, and to triangulate your own choices of wordings from it so as to dreamcatch or hawl its thus grafted essence, then, enhancing your own experience of the whole wonderful book, too, a book’s gestalt with which this work accidentally and/or magically and/or editorially resonates.


    The Gary Budden story reviewed above.