The King in Yellow Tales, Vol. 1


THE KING IN YELLOW TALES, VOL. 1 : by Joseph S. Pulver, Sr.
Lovecraft Ezine Press, 2015

I have just received this book as purchased from Amazon UK.

My previous real-time review of ‘The King in Yellow’ by Robert W. Chambers HERE

…and of the work of Joe Pulver as linked from HERE.

I intend to real-time review this book and, when I do, you will be able to find it in the thought stream below or by clicking on this post’s title above.

36 thoughts on “The King in Yellow Tales, Vol. 1

    An achingly recurrent tontine of a poem in Dim Carcosa, I say.


    “What comes after the lost song?”

    My answer is: The Last Song.

    A threnody of ‘Dissolution’s endless melody” – as are the Four Last Songs…

    “It’s a marvellously important advance beyond the tonal and graphic subtleties of Richard Strauss.”
    as Robert W. Chambers wrote in his ‘The Common Law’ about this very poem that hadn’t yet been written then. It was just waiting to be asked, I guess.


    “Too frightened to look back, I never saw her last look.”

    This CASian short short, mixed with CATHRian entropy in ancient ages as man’s loved ones are chosen, involuntarily becoming brides for those higher in the pecking order, never to be seen again. With fear closer than one’s shadow, this tale resonates in tune with the poem just read, aptly another form of tontine. Death, meanwhile, is the ultimate prize in a parallel pecking order of sacrifice.



    “Have no fear, Sweet Princess. I’ll find you. I’ll find a way through this maze of lies. I’ll find the road to Carcosa.”

    Escaping, I sense, like I shall have to sense, rather than KNOW (how can any reviewer be in the author’s brain?), from a Tarr and Fether type asylum, from a Dr Archer, but who knows which the doctor which the patient, which the author which the patient reader, where a book, like this one, is also like a Tarr and Fether type text, and you don’t know which you are as you do not give up seeking one’s loved one from the previous story, by unlocking the tontine… To reveal more unrequitedness here in sharp, abrasive prose urban noir, with phrases that join brain with brain by a mixture of phonetics, graphology, semantics and syntax. But all with the security of meaning that one feels from the resonation with the original Lethal Chambers whence this sensibility was transferred here to The King in ‘Yellow Tales’.


    “The line of questions comes.”

    Question after question, as before, with Fredric’s “financial holdings’ calling… Imagine a tontine (where the sole survivor from a group gets the whole prize) that has now turned from such urban noir ruthlessness to an ancient city’s tocsin on the point of ringing with another choice of whores, engorged on scents after the freeing of nipples. As Dr Archer’s other patient Susan (who it is hinted is to hold dialogue across these eras in this trilogy’s third part with the patient from the first part?) joins a rich panoply of images – suicide chambers, masks, sculptors, dances, unbuttoned buttons, demons, angels et al – a panoply that takes hold of your brain as if the original book of a King in yellow text has become entangled with it in some fuckin’ avant garde swindig. The Carcosa Syndrome, notwithstanding. A shameful patrimony.


    “We will sit in the Room of Yellow Curtains before the fireplace and with the evening painted all around us we will read of the thirst in times past as the wings of black moths whisper their melodies to us . . . And we will play as angels and demons play . . . Come home from your star-chasing in dream-time. I offer you my hand.”

    Beautiful… This third part of the trilogy, I return to my real-time review of this author’s ‘The Orphan Palace’ HERE and everything I said there comes home to roost in today’s retrocausal experience that also features Dr Archer and this trilogy seems to have been written earlier. Even the reminder of my mention, in that real-time review on 29 October 2011, of the evil Jimmy Savile, written by me on that day he died before we knew he was evil. Time knitted with time, a Cardigan has buttons to unbutton to reveal Archer within, Susan knitted with Cassilda, Fredric with Carl, mask with mask. The Carcosa Syndrome.
    Amid this foul-mouthed text there are many gems erupting like pearl-shaped nightmares. I love this text as much as I hate it, even while I sense some pulverised distillation of RWC’s KiY being jabbed into my ageing brain.
    Which of us will survive the tontine first? Those ‘whispering bells’ as the tocsin or toxin from the Orphan Palace?

    “How many times in our sessions did I tell you a person can change his or her mask, for it is merely an expression posed above the neckline, a script or color if you like, we change to suit the needs of the day, but our eyes never lie?”

    “The next question appears.”


    “In and out of grey open wounds those trying not to die call cities; ”

    There is something that makes Pulver prose pulverse, set out on the page like accretive poetry, one staccato line after another, while earlier they had spread and coiled from line to line like freed enjambement, like those lines of questions towards tontine’s end. Here, we feel we are choosing not deliberately but in some other form to go from one bit motel to one bit motel, reading a continuous serial of separate diaries in bold print from brassy vocative whores, as if the bold print of the page numbers, KING IN YELLOW TALES I and JOSEPH S. PULVER, SR. become implicated with the main text. Follow the directions, one says, I recall. Something about this pulverse that makes you think you’re missing something while you’re reading each story but when you finish you feel replete with full meaning as if by skilful osmosis, if that’s not a contradiction in terms. Choices, questions, triangulations of coordinates, leitmotifs making a sudden gestalt, that approaching tontine’s end, via tocsins, toxins, testes, townships and tensions. Motion by stopovers. Or motels.

    • Synchronously, HERE, the day following the above review of The Last Few Nights in the Life of Frost, I have reviewed a poem by Robert Frost in the real-time review I happen to be concurrently conducting with this one. Perhaps this is an indication that there is some mileage to comparing The Great God Pan with the King in Yellow?


    “; its text more than stirring, almost hypnotic.”

    This is truly exquisite, exstatic – I think the more you delve into pulverse, the stronger the osmosis becomes, if that’s what it is. This story has sheer moments or shards of literary synchronicity deliberate as well as accidental; not only is it imbued with the soul of RWC’s KiY but also with a book I’ve read and reviewed very recently HERE, another book with ‘Vol.1’ actually embedded in its title on page, cover and spine, but now, with my having read about the ‘raw waterfall’ in this story, the pervasive rain, and also with Pulver’s whole book’s style of textual graphology, and much more that is slowly dawning on me, I suspect that The Familiar, Vol.1, is familiar with Chambers’ KiY as well as with Pulver’s work, and it decided – without its author’s conscious collusion? – to help embroider that ‘world’ together, different though each input is. Chambers and Pulver with avant garde masks on.
    The continued picaresque unrequited-love and wandering — from a mad viola composition to a procession and a tavern etc., through torment and torture (words used in this story) and another line of questions towards its beginning — are all shaping this book’s gestalt. Its ever-recurring choice (“in crashing repetitions”) of who survives not only the wandering but also the rich reading of it. Or am I just chasing shadows?

    “Atmospheres of possible sprang up like civilizations only to fall into ruin.”


    “The way the lines sit on the page.”

    That familiar textual graphology again and, here, a haunting theme and variations upon viewing Last Year at Marienbad – yes, on a rainy afternoon. The same rainy afternoon.
    You as Uoht, the tontine’s prize, I suggest. Mirrors and guns. Black stars.

    “(Then–) Vivian? (once crossed the room . . .)
    Then–) Delphine? (once crossed the room . . .)
    Then–) Clarissa? (once crossed the room . . .)”

    “The choices—a hundred silent autumns on her lips . . .”


    “Cordelia Pierpont Buchanan’s face was flushed, her eyes moist with salt tears. Outside, beyond the patterned lace from the Continent which accented the windows of her comfortable home, rain from thick gray clouds hid the vista of bright-flowered Washington Square.”

    THIS has long been my vision, now re-ignited by that above quote, of Cordelia’s Face – (can you see a face HERE, as I can, lightly imprinting the glass of the framed picture? (and please also read the attaching comment stream to that old post of mine)). And, indeed, this new pulverse I’ve just read seems imbued with John Cowper Powys as well as Marcel Proust, but, above all, and the strongest such imbual so far in this book, it is imbued with the King in Yellow, a book of its play with French title now being used as a weapon (a book with a dangerously preternatural gestalt that a DREAMCATCHER real-time review like this one is required so as properly to tease it out), a weapon in the tontine being fought between Cordelia as CASSILDA and Denis and E—- and the other Bohemian sculptors and hangers-on all of whom, with one name or another, populate Chambers’ Music of words….

    “Cordelia walked along the manicured promenades, from fiancé’s grave to fiancé’s grave to fiancé’s grave, placing a single, wilted yellow rose upon each marker.”

    [Above story read and reviewed while listening to Richard Strauss.]


    “Yet another dream broken. Yet another lover unfaithful.”

    This engaging poem with that once repeated refrain seems an explicatory coda to the previous story. It pleasingly seems to confirm my general interpretation.

    “for Michael Cisco

    “Three years of his life chasing it. Pushing other things, the things of friendship and life, aside, he moved further towards the edge. Before–THEN . . . There was a morning of bells.”

    The Tocsin for the Journey of Torment and Love’s Unrequited Tontine continues, with a sense of Eyes Wide Shut towards Proust’s Parasol Villa or Poe’s Masque house in Marienbad or Carcosa. There are too many phrases or sentences I could quote as examples of the ever-resonating Pulverse. Each one to cherish, chew upon or spit out but do I have time? This is Yester Park; the King en Jawn not Jaune (see ‘Yesterfang’). Also this is Pan as Shepherd of the Leapfrog not the Lea.

    “Every soul loses small pieces of itself on the way to The Rendezvous.”


    “Shadows chilled in endless hours reached for flesh and bone.”

    Sometimes, Pulverse itself seems at ……………. a distance. But that adds to Its numinous ability to change name for name, face for face, mask for mask, in this eternal questine. Yes, QUESTINE. You heard it here first. A line of questines makes a complete tontine.
    And this story is at such a distance that, when it comes back at you, it has longer to pick up lethal speed. Full of mistiaeval interactions and underground chambers and the theakerine spider past which one cannot see.


    “All the blind spots of The City filled with chaos metamorphosed into simple struggle for the fragments trying to outrun the tomb, and every minute–day after day after day–losing speed . . .”

    Like the spaced-out ellipses in this book’s typesetting often running from line to line.

    “…a heated experiment of phantom soliloquies…”

    Someone has looked at my Cordelia’s Face post linked above and told me they can now see her face. I have looked at this story and I can now see its lower mask. I have yet to see this book’s face upon the arrival of this story’s ‘repairer’ – also a repairer of leitmotifs into a gestalt shape that means something?

    “From each death The King’s misery narrows.”

    “It’s a network of hard lines and bitter deeps, a clenched masquerade drifting until it comes upon a heartbeat.”

    “This is The Night of On and On, the end of errors. It eats light and weaves it into stories of rain.”

    My advice to new readers of Pulverse: the more you read its texts, the more you get out of its yet-to-be-read-texts along the path of your own literary tontine. This book is bearing that out. I am still absorbing this story into the sump. It’s full of lines that hit you. And scenes that shock you and remain tantalisingly on the brink of catharsis.


    “I remember the / whisper of a petticoat on my / fingertips . . . There was no / frost then.”

    A Pulverse-drama between Thale and The Masked Stranger that sporadically reminds me of verse drama by TS Eliot (who surely must have read KiY) and of the ferryman scenes in Kazuo Ishiguro’s new novel The Buried Giant (surely Ishiguro must have read Pulver) and something completely its own source where even KiY cannot reach to read.

    • And incredibly (later)…


      …this work – under the hand of BORIS YVRAIN in the company of DR. ARCHER – produces sculpture worthy of the world of the Geat God Pan and that ‘interpretation’ of mine about the ‘tattered cape’ sentence in ‘The Yellow Sign’…and much more.
      I wanted to quote bits from this astonishing work, but decided I would have to quote it all!


    “Before the shrine 5 came. Then 6 became 9, 2 more over there. & 5 off to the left near the maw of the alley. Now 20 or more waiting.”

    This is Susan –> Lily, off in the noir Ginsberg HOWL urban alleyways, eager to not only hear but also be deafened by CASSILDA singing earthcore-heavy music with her group ‘The Society of the Yellow Sign’ or SYS for short. Avant-parodic tour de force of whole and broken words that, often bold-fontly, hit each other as well as hitting you. No review can outdo this text with its own text. Not even this one I’m doing now. Imagine something that I can’t make my words imagine off their own back and you have some idea what is in this Pulver text. Everyone of us living on the whole globe seem to be earmarked by the text’s manipulated lethal tontine.
    This work is beyond even its own “complex amalgam of pagan delirium and death.” Beyond even the worst unimaginable acts imagined (or identified and criminalised) by today’s Social Media. It is beyond PANIC and HAVOC. Dare I say, without irony, it is beyond anything conceivable by fiction itself!

    “Where flap the tatters of the King . . . / The coiled thread unravels–“


    “…and I believed in nets and remedies. I was quick to reply about the consequence of crime and argue necessity and the value of living beings.”

    Indeed the sky will not fall … until it does.
    This feels to me like a touching, wrenching threnody upon personal family matters as both variously illuminated and darkened by a number of references or ‘objective correlatives’ – provided by the text of the King in Yellow book – used not as executive toys or rosary beads but as transcending DREAMCATCHERS.

    “I left. There were graves to dig.”

    “(for Karl Edward Wagner)”

    “One more for the line. One more road to push it out on. Let it walk. See how far it would go. And if it lead anywhere.”

    Like those earlier serial diaries from motel to motel, totem to totem, we follow this non-stalker who follows a woman and she turns out to be a missed out paragraph, or is it him?, via various pages of a book, some blank, where the words themselves are the noir journey that he negotiates between littered exhausted vowels, Hikdred Catsigne typos, Macbeth’s margins, unbuttoned nipples of vocabulary, the synaptic syntaxes, the Danielewski (brackets).


    “Why does she fear the stars? / They’re too far away to leave scars.”

    A telling parallel to the previous story, I guess, where the letters, vowels, typos are here replaced by a universe of stars and moons for the woman’s follower or ‘questiner’ to negotiate. As Above, So Below. This is the totem of the tontine, I say.


    “Let my skin be your road.”

    …and that toward this story’s end presents, for me, a sort of retrocausal coming together of stalker and stalked who then go on dates – but who is whom, with changing names, underpinned by countless KiY objective correlatives. The previous two stories’ ‘writing in the stars’ in interface with ‘the writing as letters and typos’ (in this story the chosen typo is the poet ‘Rikle’) here become the writing on her flesh. I think she realises he is a famous writer who plays in the KiY world with his words. Yet there is the most incredibly described BLOODcrash at their interface after which she ends up in hospital. This book’s tontine is relentless. As is the language relentless. Here in this story the words are in overdrive, with thousands of richly crepitating phrases, just one of which you would genuinely remember forever if it were alone on the page and not crammed together with other such vying memorable phrases. The fact they are writ on her flesh is an added diversion, too.


    “Everything out here looked like it was once headed to someplace else. It just never got there.”

    Lying in another motel room, the man is now old, like me, full of regrets about that multi-named woman whom this book often calls CASSILDA, regrets that the writing hasn’t yet found its optimum surface to be enscribed about her or on her.

    “Then close got closer and things got blown into a million pieces. Rock yer baby. And she rocked you. And there was paper. And scissors. No one won. And a million miles had passed.”

    With that core passage, tonight, I sense the book ends? The rest is coda? Or empty ebook? We shall see, another day, when I pick up this seminal book again. A book, if it were smaller, would fit into my pocket wherever I should go.
    Should I get to the end of this book, tomorrow, or the day after, or never, I will be the winner of its tontine, because the stories, each of them one by one, will have expired, gone into some sump called memory, the line of ‘questines’ ended, and I will be left standing, alone, with all its spoils in my head. And you will be gone. All manner of things will be gone.


    “In their silent midnight shoes . . . they discard the frost.”

    My morning after. “Troubadour sweet.” Perfect grace. ‘Under the face under the face.’
    As I now enter beyond or behind the mask of this book, I have found this book’s face, but have I reached the face under the face? We, as part of its continuing questine or tontine, need to scry this hypnotic text of staccato refrains or incantations. Hollow-men TS Eliot filled with Pulverse.
    And grey distances in the rain. “Soft yellow blouse unbuttoned . . .” As well as the spaced-out ellipses, we now happen to be given, to compensate, as it were, many unspaced-out full.stops in this text. “”

    “Lips touching. Ears, lost in the ritual of echoes. Ringing from the distant dust.welcoming dust.”


    “Toying with the wet footprints she leaves being letters or changing into them. Neon maybe, red or orange with blurry green borders? They may spell vacancy?'”

    In these rough sketches or rushes for a Pulver-kaleidoscopic story about David Lynch by name himself approaching a writer who admires Lynch’s ‘Inland Empire’ to work on the rushes and rough sketches for a cinema film of Chambers’ ‘King in Yellow’, I am also reminded again of ‘The Familiar’ Vol. 1 by Danielewski (2015) with all its single Ulysses-like day of constant rain with its texts that often look like rain and its small Alice in Inland? And pre-Pizzolatto finger-plucking in this 2012 published story (I am a true literary detective as well as dreamcatcher)… “After del Toro’s hit with Lovecraft, David said it was a good time to do something from an old weird fiction writer, but he didn’t want horror-horror. You know how he loves to get in people’s heads.”
    [And they served some damn fine coffee in the Tontine Coffee House I’m told. My past view HERE about TWIN PEAKS and FINNEGANS WAKE may be relevant.]


    “The night, colored with the throat and roads of goodbye, had come. It brought rain and other things . . .”

    An apotheosis of reconcilement physically and spiritually between this book’s distaff and its spear.
    Survivor takes all. Eye of the tiger.

      by Edward R. Morris Jr. and Joseph S. Pulver, Sr.
      “For Adam Niswander, a truly inspiring voyager!!!!!!!!!! !”


      But not until laying myself open to an extensively rolling madcap Coda to this book, a collaborative Yellowpunk whirligig of Tesla, Moby Dick, Jules Verne, youthful Southern Reach scientific politics and what I see as my own concept of ‘CERN Zoo’ as a Large Hadron collision with my even madder, now derelict ‘Weirdmonger Wheel’ complex and with a ‘Nemonymous Night’ journey toward the self … All written in a pidgin form of multi-graphological Weirdtongue!
      Loved it.
      Yellowpunk, you heard it here first. Well, perhaps not.

  24. This book is Lethal Chamber Music striated among an earthcore-heavy tonnage of semantics, phonetics, syntax and graphology. I hope, by reading the whole review above, you will ‘get’ my enthusiasm for its unique pantheistic gestalt.
    It is only God who can win a tontine, of course. Not an individual deity, but a singularity of tattered-mask PANtheism constituting all us animal-humans, warts and all, cosmic nightmares and Proustian promenades alike. That is God.


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