By Quentin S. Crisp

‘L’Homme Récent’ MMXV

I have just received this book as purchased from the publisher.

My previous reviews of this publisher’s books HERE.

My previous reviews of works by Quentin S. Crisp HERE.

I intend to real-time review this book and, when I do, my thoughts will be found below or by clicking on this post’s title above.

A review by Des Lewis

8 thoughts on “THEBOYWHOplayedWITHSHADOWS

  1. image

    This book is luxuriously upholstered with thick sturdy covers of living hide cut into by a sort of Pierrot engraving with Crisp eyes, stiffly dust jacketed around them with a differently crisp cream cover as decorated with a sketch of what I take to be the author busily writing. The sixty stiff quality pages within are generously peppered with all manner of engaging eccentricities plus the text itself. Plus three pull-out artworks.
    My copy is numbered 25/85.


    Pages 1 -15
    An intro and the first part of ‘Gooligars’.

    “When people dream now, they dream of things that will be the end of the very beings who dream.”

    This is beautifully typical Crisp immaculate prose, telling, I guess, of his own childhood home. (I shall call the protagonist Q.)
    Q’s father’s story, that he tells Q in real-time, of ‘The Gooligars’ is now discussed, including why its intended ‘moral’ had the opposite effect. Absolutely fascinating – a retroactive (a word that the author himself uses) direction-finder or triangulation of coordinates revealing, I infer, Q’s rapprochement with the uncanny or the weird…


    [ Apologies for my personal references evoked by this first section of the book’s text, references that I describe below….

    It has suddenly occurred to me that the author is about my son’s age, and I once read aloud to my son a story entitled (inkblot) by Gahan Wilson. I can’t now remember my son’s age at the time and perhaps I will never know for certain whether my son blames me or credits me with the effect of that story: but I do relate this event to the ‘half-shapes etc’ effect (up to page 15) of ‘The Gooligars’ as described by this book’s author today if not, necessarily, by its Q protagonist himself at the time. Like those of Q’s father, my intentions were, I recall, good ones. At least Q’s father made his own story up himself, while I used somebody else’s, but I did also make up stories for my son and daughter, like the telephone stories of Harold Basil Clumperdink. And the Daddy Lewis shows on tape (that my son has since preserved digitally.)

    Q’s description of his childhood home reminds me of my own in the early 1950s: Olive Villa, Walton on Naze. But I was an only child, if not only a child. ]

    • An enticing gallimaufry of perceptions in prospect. I hope to continue reading this book today. Meanwhile, I’m singing the “In Gilly Gilly Ossenfeffer Katzenellen Bogen By The Sea” song from my own childhood. Made famous by Max Bygraves in 1954.
      Those interested in the current IS phenomenon should read that Gahan Wilson story.

  2. Pages 16 – 21
    Final part of ‘Gooligars’

    “They were Glunks that — for me, at least — could not be unthunk.”

    Whoever owns this book is privileged not only to absorb rare finds of Q’s priceless prose but also to learn about and have kinship with Q’s pre-secondary school development as reader and writer, including his symbiotic relationship with ‘the shadows’. The connection with his father’s account of the ‘Gooligars’ is absolutely fascinating.
    Three previous appearances of the word ‘gooligar’ on the Internet appear HERE.
    [As an aside, without my ‘gooligarring’ it on a search engine (which seems like cheating to me), I can say that I have never heard the name of Richard Lewis as a writer of horror fiction. It was the name, however, of my Welsh grandfather…]

    Pages 22 – 30

    “Lovecraft was entirely right to concentrate his effects by minimising human tittle-tattle.”

    So, Lovecraft would not have had much truck with the Internet, I guess!

    I understand and appreciate what is fascinatingly described here as Q’s first exposure in his early teenage years to Lovecraft. Written by a later Q. [My own first exposure to HPL is described HERE in the recent obituary of Michel Parry, referencing a time when I was more in my mid-teenage years, but a first exposure just as significant to my imagination as it was to Q’s.]

    Despite the relative brevity and scarcity of this text, I recommend that all scholars and fans of HPL should read Q’s take on Q’s take on the nature of HPL’s fiction and how those takes bear on the difference between Horror and Weird Fiction. I find these passages truly eye-opening.
    Also the connection with childhood’s earlier ‘plasticity’ of shadows, with his father’s ‘Gooligars’ and with his writer father himself sheds a startling slant upon this whole subject.
    “(Insert ellipsis.)”
    I have not much time to continue this review for a while, but before I go, let me tell you that the cup of tea and teapot at the beginning of this book (together with another quote from this section of text, viz.: “I am already too prone to digression. I will leave that for another time.”) all felicitously tell you a lot about the older Q, if not the younger Q, in addition to what is garnered from their collaborative treatise so far on Lovecraft etc. – or so I infer without direct hard evidence.

  4. imagePages 30 – 44

    Q: “I am afraid what I am about to write will contain a number of spoilers (implicit or explicit) for those who, for instance, have not read ‘The Shadow Over Innsmouth’, or Ligotti’s ‘The Last Feast of Harlequin’, or my ‘Ynys-y-Plag’, but I cannot write this essay without them.”

    I am often felicitously engaged by Q the elder’s easy conversational style (as if over a cup of tea with each individual reader) dealing with sometimes complex or sophisticated matters for the intellectual human version of ‘Deep Ones’ about matters deeply genre as well as literary. This is indeed a special unmissable essay, both straightforward and ground-breaking, majoring upon a study of the Shadow Over Innsmouth story but with Shadows in the plural now, as with my showing here the Jones book. This study is in revelatory interface with, inter alia, Lovecraft’s atavistic themes, Lovecraft’s arguable racist didacticism, Q’s relationship with Gooligars, with his father, Buddhism etc. imageAnother interface, that I would like to highlight, is what Q calls ‘Iaiaiii’, fear of self, but I would query which self? It is perhaps no accident (although I thought it was an accident at the time) that I have been referring in this review to Q the younger and Q the elder. And this relates to my view of Proustian selves (that tea again!) and my own concepts of Nemonymous Night. But I cannot go into all that now; perhaps another day. Suffice to say, that in doing these real-time reviews since 2008, I have come to the conclusion that there is something preternaturally dangerous about such a dreamcatching process (or about the books themselves that one uses for such a process). For me, this remarkable essay has given some new food for thought as to why this should be.

    I again apologise for my own personal reflections during this review but the book seems intent on pulling these out of me. As well as earlier mentioning my son (who is the same age as Q), I would now like to make mention of my arguably relevant relationship with my own father and the collaborative fiction work we wrote called ONLY CONNECT. Unlike Q’s father, mine was not a writer as such. And this book was the only fiction he wrote – late in his life, as it happened.



    “Even if the very worst of the scenarios related to these topics do not come to pass, there is a vast, dark eschatological shadow over the human soul at present,…”

    This essay or essay within a gestalt essay IS that ellipsis that I have placed at the end of the above otherwise incomplete quotation from the text. The text elsewhere in this book, after all, told me, the reader, to “insert ellipsis.”
    This is either a coda to the book or its essence. More likely both, I say. It is a sometimes conversational, sometimes directly scholarly, sometimes poetic, treatise on Ligotti, Lovecraft, Death, Life’s Purpose or Lack of such Purpose, Anti-Natalism, Despair or Suicide, A Gate and its Gooligars or Shadows, a study of Self as Bus or Gif, and much more, some of which items I inferred rather than KNEW were In the text. I see the above ententacled ship rather than a South London bus, though!

    It is unquestionably an important text, essential reading for those interested in Horror and Weird Fiction, in the World’s perceived trajectory, in Art, in Religion, in the Challenge and Response of History, in personal Legacy and in Retrocausal Riddles…
    It is also important to me in the pecking-order of selves and scions.
    “Nonetheless, I will return to the Ghost of Weird Fiction Future after receiving, here, visits from the Ghost of Weird Fiction Past […] and Weird Fiction Present.”
    As to the riddle that one leaves behind, it seems fateful that I visited the cinema recently for the first time for many years during a weekend break with my wife and saw MR. HOLMES with Ian McKellen, a film that has great bearing on this book, it turns out, as well as being a film that you should NOT miss seeing. A landmark film.
    “But each of us lives and dies eternity.” (Sic)
    In conclusion, this book’s text is one that is not a Gif of Q but a Gift of Gooligars. A gift you should cherish in itself for what it is or is not – and for the single multi-portmanteau word (akin to the book’s multi-portmanteau single word title), a wholly upper case word left on its final page, page 59.


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