Black Static #44


I received BLACK STATIC #44 as part of a subscription. I shall real-time review its fiction in the comment stream below as and when I read it.

Stories by Simon Avery, Priya Sharma, Jackson Kuhl, E. Catherine Tobler, Tyler Keevil.

My previous reviews of TTA Press publications linked from HERE.

11 thoughts on “Black Static #44

  1. Going Back To The World by Simon Avery
    “Muscle memories: how these little things wait forever in your limbs, waiting to be put back into action.”
    This is a simply told novelette, with easy-to-swallow words and syntax; it flows compellingly, like some inevitability, something you need to follow to the end as soon as possible, whatever happens around you while you read it. So allow a space in time for that. Meanwhile, the text surprises as it unturns; it feels more complex than it actually is, as is the curse of a life that took wrong-headed decisions about itself with the help of those living it, in retrospect, a marital break up, a loss, easy highs, as, now, the ex-wife returns to the house where they spent their married life and he is now dead, the haunting not of him but something else he called back into being, the marks on the walls, the arrival of the ‘other woman’, the enduring presence of another. And the slowly realised stoicism of outcome for all three parties, each a simple surprise, as is the yearning to mend what is broken by one’s own breaking out of the ground of the past along with that very past. Perfectly creepy, yet perfectly something to hang on to. The screaming roots.

  2. The Absent Shade by Priya Sharma
    “…no idea just how important, how long a shadow those days would cast.”
    You will need to read this original and charming Charwoman’s Shadow tale of tea and Proustian cakes, in order to see quite how clever the words in that quote from it actually are. This is a sinuous, sometimes sexual text interweaving a boy and the boy as man, within the striking ambiance of Hong Kong, with jealousies of women as mistresses and servants, as well the boy’s with mother and father and the one who taught him to cast independent silhouette shapes upon the walls of time. A telling tug upon the fast-vanishing tail of one’s otherwise slowly fleeting life, or a tug upon that of others. As in the previous story, we believe there is always something to hang on to.

  3. The Fishers of Men by Jackson Kuhl
    “; for him there was no anticipation as intense as watching his line bob in the water like a plucked guitar string, no tension as suspenseful as winding the reel, no release as powerful as landing his prey on the planks of his boat.”
    …as Kuhl has certainly allowed me to do, with some challenge, by landing this his story, deeply and satisfyingly block-paragraph textured, and I haven’t yet fully clinched its ending, something to do with consumptives and vampires, but part of me at least sure knows that this story is some original casting of a Steve Rasnic Tem ambiance of ageing and achievement amid life’s losses. I even started to yearn to go fishing which is no mean feat as I have never been interested in going fishing before! And the turns of phrase, the home truths about the pecking order of supply and demand as the creation of reservoirs fills land with water, even to the extent of creating by-products of old sheds as desirable lakeside fishing cabins! This whole close-ordered text is steeped in pragmatic old age, and that’s where I am at. Loved it. Beautifully expressed. And, as an added bonus, the fishing-line tugs that I felt within Kuhl’s words serendipitously echoed the tugs with which I finished my review of the previous story above!
    (Cf my simultaneous review of the current Interzone and its story entitled ‘The Ferry Man’ that I read and reviewed here an hour or so ago.)

      • It is as if to become the fisher of men entails inundation and premature aging, undeadness, with water on the consumptive lungs, here vampires, and now sweet water after inundation and zombies in the next story which I have just finished reading…

        • Sweet Water by E. Catherine Tobler
          A tale of St Louis which a quick google shows had severe flooding in 2013, but reference to Hurricane Zoe and New Orleans has me confused, as this story drowns my ability to review the end of the previous story and the beginning of this one. Yet, I am entranced by a hurricane transforming into Zoe then to Zombie, and by the curse with Avery’s breaking out of the ground let loose by red lipstick here on a tomb, the stick-like mobility in the boneful waters, this day of the dead, and the seeping skeletal consumptiveness, as we almost accept as normal these visions. Needs to be re-addressed. I need people commenting here to help me. But you can’t help me before you’ve read this pair of stories yourself.

  4. Samhain by Tyler Keevil
    “As if she was going under, her mouth filling with water.”
    Quoting that is cheating, though. Trick and Treating. This novelette is not about inundation, but what it does is tug out probably the most detailed, the most deeply felt meaning of modern Halloween for parents and children … And for others that tap into it. Modern, but steeped in its past. Glen Hirshberg plus. Like the Avery novelette, it is deceptively simple, convincingly compelling, laying traps at the start of the Keevil with a depiction of three youths … Who do later turn up. A suspenseful tugging between start and end. It is really frightening, and even more frightening because the outcome is still working itself out beyond where the text ends. Two novelettes in BS44 about childless couples, or at least couples who end up childless, other than the still developing outcome of a dead child’s return or its impending first arrival. This one is a hypnotic tale of a man with good intentions, transcending the candy, hoping to substantiate his familial roots in an American Halloween now transported to England, where things seem flatter, and tricks and treats need teasing out by him, encouraged, even by inviting strangers to enter one’s own house…
    It is only in this Keevil that you will realise for the first time that it is particularly the young ones among us who are encouraged to ‘guise’ as the dead for this trumped up commercial festival. ‘A moment of clarity’. Nothing is fixed, all is fluid, even the imprint of Halloween films, with wrong endings, different twists. And there is one point where I felt very very sad upon reading something perhaps unintended in: “His wife, noticing this, turned to him and said that she was sorry more children hadn’t come by trick or treating.” Tugging out the shadows. A fine finale, still resonating, even as I write this.

    There is much else of interest in each edition of ‘Black Static’ to the Horror Arts enthusiast in addition to the fiction.

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