9 thoughts on “The Visible Filth – Nathan Ballingrud

  1. Pages 5 – 11
    Such a short space of turning pages acutely to convey this drinking bar in New Orleans, and the living characters of its barman, his woman Carrie, specific customers like Alicia and Jeffrey, the types of regular it draws, then, the brawlers and the outcome of their brawl, even the living characters of the cockroaches that you would need to burn down to ‘their mother nests in Hell’ to fix. A wordfest with one click of the pen, is the impression,

  2. Page 15 – 19
    My breakfast this morning, reading this. Will the barman’s breakfast, in last night’s bar brawl aftermath. TS Eliot’s Hollow Men stirred to be reread just now, at least by me. From hollow men, stuffed men, to Will’s day of empty spaces, and the sex and text that texts him. Ballingrud’s text about these texts is spot on, a bit like a cross of Eliot himself and Hemingway.
    ‘Headpiece filled with straw’ with the teeth now gone?

  3. Pages 20 – 24
    “If there was something hollow underneath it all, a well of fear that sometimes seemed to pull everything else into it and leave him clutching the stone rim for fear of falling into himself, well, that was just part of being human, he supposed.”
    We remain with Will’s first waking hours, noir-immaculised artfully by Ballingrud, journeying into the morning after – and those left licking their wounds after the night before, including Will. Some wounds physical, some mental. Or both. Cheap shots and skirting the edges of infidelity. And even the reader fears he is being sucked into falling into something…. No spoilers here.

  4. Pages 24 – 31
    “It felt like a conduit of some dark energy, and he felt uncomfortable holding onto it.”
    …much as I feel about this chapbook, thin and neat as it is like a tablet.
    Maybe the rumours I’ve heard about this work is making me eke it out as I am doing, either to savour and extend what I sense is about to happen or in the hope that something may prevent me reading any more? It is like an OCD experience of an accretive version of Antonioni’s ‘Blow Up’ upon a modern implement.
    Impelled by Schopenhauer’s Will?

  5. Pages 31 – 36
    I’m still here. Can’t put it down. But can hardly pick it up, too. This is a stoical, human intermission. Beautifully expressed. And the word ‘beautiful’ means a lot to me. I don’t use it lightly.

  6. Pages 41 – 49
    “Something fundamental was about to tip…”
    And this text make it seem potentially even more fundamental from simply being within the text itself. Feeding on itself. I want to be one of Will’s now ‘sweetly dreaming’ roaches, oblivious of its ‘slow engine algorithm of fate’…
    But the text has left a pressing present for me. Not a past.
    I fear I cannot – eventually – not read this text, despite the ohm resistor of my review’s real-time. And my own fallible character, like Will’s, so neatly conveyed.

  7. Page 49 – end
    This is a bigger bite of text than to those I have been accustomed; couldn’t swallow it, but couldn’t not swallow it, either.
    I felt like one of the roaches, who I’ve decided are us readers; makes sense, ‘incurious and unafraid’, ‘antennae waving in bored appraisal’, until we come into our own at the end, knowing that our real-time eking out of this text was, like Will’s love life, not so much the act of a ‘listless child’ but more the not being able to do good for doing wrong. Reaching Erictus.

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