Elegies & Requiems – Colin Insole

**My gestalt real-time review of ELEGIES & REQUIEMS by Colin Insole will appear in the comment stream below as and when I read this collection.**

A book purchased by me from the publisher and received today.

Side Real Press

All my previous reviews of Colin Insole work linked from HERE

All my previous reviews in total linked from HERE

I have just realised that my two immediately previous real-time reviews mentioned serendipitously that I am a sucker for Requiems! Hopefully a good omen.

11 thoughts on “Elegies & Requiems – Colin Insole

  1. This is an unusually gorgeous book, with highly polished Santiago Caruso pictures ensconced and set like jewels into the front and back covers, plus smooth yet sturdy paper pages that are almost glossy in their own right. Over 440 pages. Mine is numbered 55 of 300. I can actually feel the exquisite fiction already by object-osmosis…

    The Golden Birds of Mariston
    “Medlars were dropping and bletting on the wet grass, their caramel spice filling the air.”
    This is a rarified account of a harbour town (once spicy now mundane) and its nearby city, a strange alternating shuttle of the modern and the ancient, Byzantium and something, I guess, like Birmingham, the spicy and the mundane, real history and non-history, a cross-section of the rooks and bejewelled birds in clockwork cages as we reach out, with the townsfolk, for, say, ghost ships and other rituals. Today of all days, too, with a comet crossing our own skies. And those of this story, too. And I guess a once laddish Uncle astride such a comet, like upon his old Lambretta? A story full of sadness and beauty and yearning … and a budding Hakluyt as narrator?

  2. I have already read and commented on the next story – and I have copied and pasted below my past comments (from here where it saw its first publication under my own imprint):

    [[The Apoplexy of Beelzebub – by Colin Insole
    Arguably similar to a scenario in ‘It’s Only Words’, here in an evolving context, “words were slurred and jumbled.” But “the heirs of Sarah Gamp, smiled slyly and dreamed not of snuff, gin and cucumbers but of cigarettes, pizza and pinot grigio.”  This is a Peter-Ackroydian(?) cross-section of a tree-bole city, its horrors, its twentieth century twists and turns, rings and curlicues. Once in a lifetime, one comes across a story that has a dog-fox – a page that foxes as paper-pages do, and with words that fox you. A once-in-a lifetime reading experience. I can say no more. I know other reviewers have tried to come closer to it than I. But even having read it many many times, I still dare not even flirt with it. I do not say that lightly. “I feel that you have unearthed a story of such cruelty, horror and tragedy that it warrants a place in my special anthology that takes shape even as I speak.” (20/8/11 – another 3 hours later)]]

  3. The Premonition
    “‘You see every penny as big as a cartwheel,’ she said.”
    A highly ingenious poignancy of a love triangle centred on the Isle of Man in erstwhile times of storms and wreckers – involving fate, the neat needlepoint focused deftly on puppet clothes by a girl-to-woman, and blessings. Crossed love and misinterpreted emotions – and best intentions sinking on a vessel that has good and bad aboard, intended and non-intended passengers. All of us puppets with invisible strings tugging…Or over-large hands inside us or sticks waving us about like flags. The Isle of Man – and Woman.

  4. I have already read and reviewed the next story – and I have copied and pasted below my comments from here:

    [[A Calendar of Cherries – Colin Insole
    It is only now and again one can reach towards a book like this, towards a story like this – genii of Weird Literature: as they are turning out to be in my book, but they may have been that since time immemorial for all I know, and I know very little, certainly not enough to do this story justice. Please forgive, in this clinging, word-offering story’s instance, the choice by me of a longer than normal italicised quote: {“And it seemed that shadows, flattened against the ground, followed us. They shunned the daylight and moved under cover of bushes and dustbins. The nest had emptied and, as we crossed the threshold of the school, the parade of flattened transparent things traipsed behind him into the classroom. They breathed not through their heads but by drawing air into their sides. And they stank.”}: a passage that typifies this story in one way but doesn’t in another way, and there are many more passages (similar and different) where that one came from: about those men in this story who came home from the Great War seeking their erstwhile homeliness and custom but stationed themselves in ‘the rooms above’, a new world where the nightmares do cling: and there is no way I can convey to you the fecundity of images, the moths, horses who spoke: and another father’s ‘Homecoming’: the Poster People (those who now follow something called ‘facebook’, I wondered, so unworthy of such Homecomers?) and much much more. You will either survive reading this story, or you will not.  {I sought out my own story ‘The Lurk Descending‘ (published 1993) and shook my head in comparative dismay: not what I remember it to be.  I am not cherry-picking this story by Colin Insole, nor should you, I suggest: it should be read in the order of stories given you by this book. Nor should you take two bites at it. Make sure your first reading of it is the only reading that counts. Fix it on your reading calendar and, when that date arrives, take a running jump at it, by assuming you will never be able to read it again; take it for what it’s worth straight off, and be satisfied for small mercies. Nobody should be asked to read it twice. “…the rhythms of time past.”  (20 June 2012 – 7.05 pm bst)]]

  5. Ancestral Rooms
    “She has forgotten you and will sleep now for centuries and dream the visions and nightmares of dolls.”
    You will never forget this story, should you ever read it. I guarantee that this work is something so special, so tenuous, so deep and dark, for me to wake up to reading it this early morning is, I sense, stronger than falling asleep reading it last night in bed. That may sound paradoxical. And it is.
    I have tried to write such stories, and failed.
    This is Undercliff, and the women have rituals of nightmare-diverting with passed-down dolls, ‘The changing and passing of the generations’ laced with ‘necessary humiliation’ … (And the men are side issues, mere ‘rooks or poor songbirds with dull plumage or blundering daddylonglegs…’) The ending is so devastating you will be even gladder you woke up to this story and didn’t fall to sleep with it. An overused term: ecstatic, but here, with this story, it takes on its darkest, most exquisite sense. An overused word: exquisite, but here, with this story it takes on its most transcendent poignancy.

  6. I have already read and reviewed the next story – and I have copied and pasted below my comments from here:

    [[The Princess of Phoenicia – by Colin Insole
    “That afternoon I sought solace and consolation in ‘The Hall of the Whispering Puppets’.”
    ‘Solace and consolation’ as in a Schubertian Grand Duo of history and legend – or Author and Reader. Reality and Truth, each not necessarily the same thing at all. Pontius Pilate and Christ.  You know, when you sense, as I do, that you are one of the very first readers of this story, let ‘alone’ one of its first public reviewers, you feel indeed alone with it, tantamount to the first reader and reviewer, tussling and grappling (in that Grand Duo) with portents and elements of Russian History, the stolen Madonna, her (blood-permeable?) jewels  and many other symptoms of belief (logical and superstitious in solace and consolation), a belief in undercurrents that politically explain or poetically ‘sing’ (by a lost balladeer) of the duo of conflict and tragedy from 1904 towards a large part of the 20th century through the eyes of blended tales within a tale: and I think I counted the tales properly: nine. If not nine in truth, certainly in reality. The extra odd one being the tale that contains the four duos.  But one author and, perhaps, only one reader – steeped ‘in soul’ and in time’s lonely, sometimes unscryable, audit-trail of truth and reality. This work makes the ‘synchronised shards of random truth and fiction’ passé. Meanwhile, the story’s  duo of style and language is exquisite. (21 Jul 11 – three hours later)]]

  7. This review will now continue in the comment stream HERE

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  8. 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

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