I intend my next Gestalt Review to be based upon the above books by Michael Wyndham Thomas that I recently purchased via Amazon, instinctively sensing that they would be to my reading taste or that they would awaken a reading taste that I didn’t yet know I had!
THE MERCURY ANNUAL (2009): Part 1 of ‘Valiant Razalia’
PILIGRIMS AT THE WHITE HORIZON (2013): Part 2 of ‘Valiant Razalia’
Both published by Theaker’s Paperback Library.
My real-time review will appear in the comment stream below as and when I happen to read the books. There is no guarantee how long this will take and how regularly updated. Although my track record with such reviews from 2008 has, I think, been a good one, there is no accounting for the pressures of so-called normal life intervening!
THE MERCURY ANNUAL
Pages 7 – 23
“If the planet had somehow half-created itself, then it must pay the price for its own presumption.”
This section is headed PROLOGUE. And if I didn’t know to what I was exposing my reading mind, I surely do now. This is a puckishly meticulous-careless construction-in-portrayal of a planetary system and its attributes, inhabitants, near neighbours, customs, portrayed as a tentacularly claused imaginarium written by half a ‘botch-meister’ and half a genius, I guess. But it works for me so far! It somehow manages to hold my concentration which the act of reading it requires exponentially – and I am swept along by the Logos of its Creation or Mis-Creation with all manner of wild urges to never believe anything like this could ever have been created, including the medium of this Imaginarium: the book itself. I can actually hear Peter Jones narrating it, but that gives the wrong impression: it is also Diderot, Swift, Dickens, Jack Vance, steampunk, as well as the Douglases Adams and Thompson… But again it is none of these, something else altogether.
I feel like the book’s ‘pitiful cuckoo’ settling into a reading-nest to which it needs to acclimatise. I am confident that I will succeed in this as I am no ‘plunge-head’.
Pages 24 – 27
I’d add another name to the list above: John Cowper Powys … as we home in on what I guess are the first characters: emerging from daubs of paint, a modernist work of Art, in an incredible, unsurpassable passage that possibly out-Powyses Powys – drawn into how Powys first introduced John Geard in ‘The Glastonbury Romance’, or possibly other characters. Razalia, under umber moons, seems to be a genius loci where I want to spend some time….
Pages 27 – 34
Well, I was bamboozled about staying in Razalia unless this is now some Razalian alternate world that resembles our own world where a man is uxoriously urged to ‘see to’ his collection of comics in the loft to ease family sleeping arrangements. This is now Virginia Woolf or Elizabeth Bowen, but I feel at home here, too, as well as in Razalia. A man trying to get past a certain letter in the alphabet of duty.
I don’t intend to recount this book’s plot any more, but just to lay back and let the text flow over me – it is a good, possibly a great, book, I can already tell – and I shall be back here from time to time with my impressions. How has this 2009 book avoided my gaze heretofore? Odd how things can pan out, judging by the circumstances of my discovery of it.
Dear D.F. Lewis (is it Des?): thank you for your response to The Mercury Annual so far–I very much appreciate it. I hadn’t realised that I had Diderot, Swift, Woolf, Bowen and Cowper Powys along with me for the writing journey, but they’re all favourites and it’s flattering indeed to have those references. Best wishes; as I say, hope you enjoy the rest, Michael
Thanks, Michael. I can already be certain that your books are ideal reading for me. I truly relish the prospect of this forthcoming reading journey and of reporting upon it here from time to time.
Thank you, Des
Pages 34 – 44
“What good’s that tangerine now, Gareth, with your finger waggling in it?”
I can fully empathise with Keith (the comic collector) as he sorts his MASSIVE collection into some sort of order, alongside his realising that the uxorious demand of ‘seeing to’ them means getting rid of them, but the nostalgic memories as he skims the comic’s stories and the role-playing along with their characters and scenes obviate such concerns of loss as they mix with sounds outside the attic, of kids’s skateboards and a cricket match, and Keith’s thoughts of George Philpotts who runs a Wonderland shop nearby (who may take the comics on?), a shop like those I’ve known over the years while living in Clacton-on-Sea, together with the hearty sense of characterisation and almost pungent-stream-of-consciousness within meaty paragraphs of the authorial style that is so perfect for my brain and so I wonder if I may have inadvertently pinched the author’s brain – well, at least during the time I’m reading his book, so I shouldn’t read it all the time so as to give him the chance to regroup in the intervals between, I guess, e.g. with his intervening visits to Razalia. I am brainstorming here, but this book MAKES you brainstorm! I have uxorious demands on me, too.
Seriously, this is great stuff. A reading treat.
And following that, I realise I should have mentioned earlier ‘the gaps of pure white’ in Razalia… I must have been ‘think-bleeding’.
And the Razalian Sun, too. What a character!
The Child is Father of the Sun? (Keith, Niall.)
Pages 44 – 51
His daughter, though… She adored his comics, because…
“They took the word ‘possibility’ and painted it in fairground letters; they shattered the word into more meteors than the universe could hold and then put it back together, bigger and bolder than before;…”
Pages 51 – 56
“‘Go easy on that tweeting,’ he might say,…”
By thus sorting his comics for clearance, Keith comes across editions of the Mercury Annual. These descriptions remind me of the annuals in which I took delight in the early 1950s, when good always triumphed. Pictures as well as ‘sustained prose’. I sense the sustained prose of what I am reading now about such sustained prose – I can’t put the book down! – has reached some sort of trial transcendence of ‘forsaken midnight’, or should that be of ‘horizon’s farewell’?
Pages 57 – 65
“…’voidlings’ — amoeba-shaped fragments of space,…”
I suppose it is significant that today, this very day that I am reading this book – the day of BBC News reporting several long-lost episodes of DR WHO from the 1960s having been discovered in Nigeria, or is it Ethiopia? – I learn of finding Razalia again, the unfinished planet, not in the area where it actually does exist for real in some space of ‘forsaken midnight’ (interesting to realise that the words ‘gap’ and ‘space’ are sort of synonyms) but discovered by the chance discovery within the text discovered within Keith’s loft as he sorts comics and remembers discussing with George over the years the conundrum of exactly where they had lost Razalia, and, in turn, directly as a result of that, now, today, discovered by me within the very text of the sustained prose discovered within the book about Keith and George that I am myself reading.
In 2002, in ‘Nemonymous Two’, I published the world’s first blank story. I don’t know why I just thought of that, but, overnight, while thinking of this book, I did.
This real-time review will now continue in the comment stream HERE
Alternatively continued here in four further parts:
All of my WordPress sites marked private can be accessed by all WordPress Users by inserting their normal details and clicking ‘request access’.
Reviews also available in print: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/rtrs-as-books/ and their second copies are shown at http://weirdmonger.livejournal.com/
The parts of this review:
1. https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2013/10/10/michael-wyndham-thomas-the-mercury-annual-pilgrims-at-the-white-horizon/ (this one)
”The hauling business wasn’t necessary,…”
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
Pingback: The Portswick Imp – Michael W. Thomas | DES LEWIS GESTALT REAL-TIME REVIEWS - established 2008