My real-time review of
RUSTBLIND AND SILVERBRIGHT: A Slipstream Anthology of Railway Stories
Edited by David Rix (Eibonvale Press 2013)
A book I have purchased from the publisher.
My gestalt real-time review will appear in the comment stream below as and when I read each story.
Authors of the stories: Andrew Hook, Allen Ashley, Aliya Whiteley, John Howard, Daniella Geary, Nina Allan, Joel lane, SJ Fowler, Anon, Rhys Hughes, Marion Pitman, RD Hodkinson, David McGroarty, Danny Rhodes, Christopher Harman, Steve Rasnic Tem, Charles Wilkinson, Gavin Salisbury, Douglas Thompson, Jet McDonald, John Greenwood, Andrew Coulthard, Steven Pirie, Rosanne Rabinowitz, Mat Joiner.
Tetsudo Fan – Andrew Hook
“We would be like Godzilla…”
I have always enjoyed fiction by Andrew Hook, but this is genuinely the most powerful I’ve ever read of his. It tells, with remarkable detail of empathy, a Japanese scenario of railway involving a young male train-spotter (my term not the story’s, but significantly more noble than the reputed geekdom we often think of with that term, thus setting the tone, perhaps, for this whole book). It is a story of a rite of passage, sexual, role-model soulful, where we readers can look down like Godzilla (or like my own ‘gestalt’ of this book?) upon a real railway and an imaginary railway paradoxically as one. This is unquestionably one helluva stunning story, with an amazing Japanese feel.
On the Level – Allen Ashley
“Directed by the guy who did Giganticus…”
This story – beset by youthful cussing amid a laddish review of life and its tributaries of time – is nevertheless expressive and compelling, involving an obsession – from growing up with end of garden rail tracks – about level crossings that tellingly act as backdrop to this book’s second sexual rite of passage — with the protagonist’s schooldays relationship with Alissa/Lisa/Lissa/Liss and an explicit reference to trains as metaphor, while self-made performance music ambitions negotiate the history of rock and pop tracks about railways …. and an ambitious Christopher Priest-like SF vision involving global train tracks as a career in later life.
There is a decided poignancy with a music’s dying fall at the story’s end and, at its beginning, some modern ‘Railway Children’ relating to passing trains with youthful orgasms rather than waving cheery flags. All seemed to come together satisfyingly.
My previous review of Allen Ashley work: The Somnambulists.
Caveat: This book contains about 365 pages of stories interspersed with non-story material presumably written by the editor. With my real-time reviews that I started in 2008, I always form a gestalt from the fiction material alone in the order it is printed. I thus will not be reviewing the non-story material and will only be reading it when I have finished my review of all the stories and poems. This review therefore may give a certain impression of the book different from reading it as a whole from beginning to end as printed. This may sound daft or pretentious , and it is indeed a possible problem, but I have decided to remain uniform in my review approach to fiction books following my interest in the Intentional Fallacy since I first studied it in the 1960s.
My previous reviews of Eibonvale Press books:
TALLEST STORIES – Rhys Hughes
DEFEATED DOGS – Quentin S. Crisp
The Wandering Scent – Aliya Whiteley
“The world skims along on the tracks of such automatic responses;…”
…and, continuing the previous story’s lifetime of effort towards its dying fall, here we have a miniature children’s train and its life-retiring driver Tina/Rita, a train that is a cross between Stephen King’s Blaine Mono, Rev W Awdry’s Thomas the Tank Engine and the train ride that goes along the Lower Prom near where I live, all amid a highly poetic texture of regret and fulfilment, a sense of this book’s true ‘slipstream’ (now no longer a literary genre but a way of describing railway fantasy), a slipstream that is on the brink of a ‘Golden Age’ or a Mystic Promise beyond the tunnel…?
To the Anhalt Station – John Howard
“It’s as if it’s his whole life, and it depends on those stations.”
One of the most atmospheric first paragraphs I’ve read for ages, as the obsession of the railway spotter in the first story is taken to the nth power of Berlin, an obsession that can be cooled by ordinary life or romance with a good woman, but here the palimpsest of past railway stations infiltrates the present architecture of time and words, building again the railway quest, resonating with the Liverpool Street Station of WG Sebald’s ‘Austerlitz’, surviving the division of a city like Berlin… Immaculate prose, immaculate aftertaste.
Some of my previous reviews of John Howard work: The Silver Voices – The Defeat of Grief – Secret Europe – Numbered as Sand or the Stars
Death Trains of Durdensk – Daniella Geary
“All our greatest writers and artists and musicians are dead after all,…”
An engagingly eschatological extrapolation of trains as moving memorials, trains that seem to trundle along the border between truth and fiction, so skilfully done, so enticingly built up, it becomes an archetype that seems so natural now it’s in the open. I started life with a clockwork train that went on a circular track and now I am nearer death, this story has effectively exhumed it and wound up the key again for me.
Vivian Guppy and the Brighton Belle – Nina Allan
“Given the chance, there’s nothing we like better than a good story.”
This is veritable page-turner of a good story (almost of novella length) – one that I will remember where I was when first reading it, like I remember where I was when first reading the classic ‘Calmahain’ by Sarban many years ago (there a ‘model boat’ not a ‘model train’) – a reading that is a knot in the wood that makes existence as real as a real book (like the encyclopaedia in this story as well as the story’s rare German-related toy train), a model of, from, for childhood … but not only that, resonating as it does with the previous two stories regarding death and the architecture of memory (“Would your father’s sister still be your aunt, even if she died before you were born?”) and we had trains before as coffins now as accidental weapons of death from a childish strop, and the last story ended with ‘mind the gap’ and here we have Vivian’ s ‘horrible gap’ following his ‘gap year’…
It is the story of a girl with those childhood memories who later becomes the woman equivalent of those earlier ‘spotters’ in this book, but here an internet ‘train tracker’… Think: more than merely toy passengers within a diorama of a model buffet car and you as a sort of ‘giganticus’ or ‘godzilla’ peering in at them; think: suspended disbelief and CS-Lewisian memory and fantasy blending in an extremely haunting way; think: the train tracker’s ‘idiot twin’ inside that makes a client still a client even when he talks to her about the memory of his little sister’s ‘pussy’. Think this and much more and an ending that will hang about even if you hang it away… It is not the last time you will have heard of this story title, I predict.
More of my reviews of Nina Allan work: Never Again – Dadaoism – Black Static #18 – The Master in Café Morphine – GHOSTS (Crimewave Eleven) – INTERZONE #230 – Black Static #29 – SPIN a novella by Nina Allan – Black Static #34
This real-time review now continues HERE
Alternatively continued here in three further parts:
Pingback: Arriving at Platform 1… | The Eibonvale Press Blog
Pingback: My choice of the best THE MERCURY ANNUAL / PILGRIMS AT THE WHITE HORIZON by Michael Wyndham Thomasbooks first published in 2013 | DF Lewis's Gestalt Real-Time Reviews