Black Static #39

BLACK STATIC #39: Mar – Apr 2014


Received as part of my subscription to TTA PRESS

Stories by Ralph Robert Moore, Tyler Keevil, Vajra Chandrasekera, Joel Arnold, Steven J. Dines, Suzanne Palmer.

All my previous Reviews of TTA publications HERE.


7 thoughts on “Black Static #39

  1. Kebab Bob by Ralph Robert Moore
    “Hard to take your own life when there’s a hot pizza in front of you.”
    Or a brand new unopened see-through pack of Black Static. And I’m glad I cracked into it and read this story, as if I alone brought it to life by my reading it but I know in my heart of hearts that others are even now reading it, too. I am no-one special.
    This is a special story, though. You sometimes feel you are a downbeat Beeblebrox threaded upon a silver carousel pole like a kebab. Or at least one of them. Choices that make reality as you choose them, bikini polka dots and volley ball ricochets of Fate. Yet the intense poignancy of the final choice is not so much suicide the prospect of which you once took so lightly but the deadpan acceptance of a lost love as well as a lost life. As I say, a special story – Somerset Maugham on a skewer. Thank you, Bruckheiser.

  2. Hot Feet by Tyler Keevil
    “On her desk was an airplane riding a metal stand.”
    This story gathered me in with a discovery by the narrator of a ‘shorn’ and ‘shoed’ human foot, but the narrator himself gathered me in more than the foot that he discovered gathered me in, with his interesting but deadpan characterisation of the characters who investigated what then turned out to be a mysterious series of found feet that hit the news, not a fetichism for him so much as as a takeover by even the words he used, words that extended into a wordplay upon the word ‘foot’, a wordplay that begins subtly to extend to other words, and a deadpan ending to the story that is satisfying in a very strange way, an ending that one can’t help extending, too. The readers, like the narrator, just “need to know”.

  3. The Brack by Vajra Chandrasekera
    “…the nagging itch in his missing toes.”
    This stone-nagging of spectral retribution stands on its own as a remarkably reader-haunting tale of death and life overlapping or sitting together on the same kitchen chair. The man and his two consecutive wives and his lost leg from the war and the yellowing paper of the clerk of semi-arranged marriages…so much tellingly told and untold in a brief text.
    It stands together as well as on its own. You were told earlier that toes have fingerprints making any footprint unique. And there were others skewered together rather than overlapping, the pizza succulently appetising, but here any food pitty dry or pithy. And all three stories, despite such variations, have been essentially deadpan…effectively dulled with the shorn pain from phantom limbs of self.

  4. The Toyol by Joel Arnold
    “The man studies her for a moment. ‘I have work for you if you want it,’ he says. ‘In Kuala Lumpur.'”
    A disturbingly powerful story of exploitative sex as the girls are kept tantamount in slavery. And Zeya filled with family past and future, literally, her granddad who talks, as in the previous story, with the dead, and, later, an accident of new bodyself generated by such exploitative sex, one of such living creatures often halted in their course by clumsy surgeons (cf earlier phantom limbs and deadpan skewering) … but her one returns not simply to talk to her like that who talked to her granddad back home but to suckle her. This incredible Toyol vision is only for those readers both soft-hearted and hard-hearted enough to be able safely to absorb the intense pain as well as appreciate the deep wide-spread poignancy of such a storm-visit of a vision. This is a helluva work. Dulled as well as acute.

  5. “Even the calliope music sounds more subdued…”

    The Broken and the Unmade by Steven J. Dines
    “‘I mean, how can ghosts exist? And how can anyone kill sixty million people? Without a nuclear bomb, that is. It’s impossible.’ / ‘I think it was six million,’ Thomas says.”
    The Broken and the Unmade, those skewered by what I described earlier as a carousel pole and those dismembered and now gassed, the tellingly told and untold; the deadpan ghosts so far seem to live and breathe within this magazine’s set of fiction rather than simply haunt it. Here, with the Dines trademark peppering by equally haunting and memorably quotable phrases, we have the criss-crossing of points-of-view of three generations interfacing and ghostly-overlapping with the Holocaust (cf that earlier storm-visit of a vision) – and the time-spreading single flashpoint of an impulse that cannot be denied. Dulled yet intensely acute. The survival guilt we all feel till a transcendence from becoming ghosts, too? Life’s funfair of evil versus good.

  6. House Party by Suzanne Palmer
    “He makes the pipes in the walls sing with his own heartbeat,…”
    Calliope or carousel silver steel pipes threading soul to soul, story to story, and this last one’s obversely poetic prose and its “the years of him have bred steel into her.” There were bongos in the first story and there are bongos in this last story. Here the ghosts don’t just intermingle with those not yet dead like they did previously but here are controlled by the ultimate ley-line of a literal houseghost that is Woman woman’s view of the archetypal man as pervader. This one gets his go-downance from the battle of the sexes as well as the spectral levels while in interface with life’s overblown nuisances like a student party next door … With bongos. A beat poem. Hanni’s stone in the teeth as much as in the archetypal student brain. Wife Cath, Husband Robert (Bob in the first story), Nosy Lynda, Woman woman or Reviewer Man suffering survivor guilt from Palmer’s storm-visit to my house. Notwithstanding the prose-rich panoply of overtaken dreamland, a good versus evil “she rides him, just as he’d ridden her” funfair, and more. Followed by pizza?
    “These creatures, with their shallow, moment-in-the-sun lives, are still capable of enough insight for wit; it is what makes them more than just food.”


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