10 thoughts on “PURGE STATUS – Shawn Mann

  1. I have just read the first half of this story, and one thing that strikes me is that, having firmly believed that the large part of success stems from ‘WHO rather than WHAT you know’, the fact Lew Flier (a presumably anxious, socially inept loner) is able to obtain a fruitful job interview – at the towering, lowering cube of glass housing Kessel Management in the plot’s disrepaired town ambiance – as a result of the contacts of a psychiatrist, his long-term psychiatrist Dr. Ticay…
    Even if I don’t know where that now derelict sentence of mine was going, this story text itself – about a near derelict town with an amorphously changing business plan at its centre with the building mass and its staff called Kessel Management – flows story-tellingly well from the point of Lew’s encounter with a stranger in a hallway who mumbles about defects of that hallway and, later, defects before his own self-destruction, and, later, the now ominous or weirdly philosophical ‘Engineer’ in the Kessel cafeteria, someone who impels me to ask myself why it is me reading this and nobody else reading it? How many chances or synchronicities of fate and forked pathways meant it was me reading this chapbook today and not you reading it, not even some chap only very slightly different from me, i.e. NEARLY me?
    Dr Ticay, meanwhile, reminds me of those Ligottian doctors who inhabit areas like this town and this Kessel Corporation. But only nearly so.
    The book’s cover, one of the most striking covers that I have seen for this type of fiction, evokes the huge cube wherein the ceiling has merged into darkness away from Kessel’s office lights, and makes me want to savour and finally fathom the status of this chapbook, stopping halfway, as I have, so far, to purge its near inevitable continuation. (But it is already printed so how can it possibly be even slightly NEAR inevitable for it to continue as it is frozen in print before I get to read it?)
    TICAY and LEW FLIER, for example – will these names’ letters later de-anagrammatise?
    Forgive me, but all these thoughts ran through my changing mind as I read through these few pages, readying myself for the rest.
    Notwithstanding all that, Lew Flier represents a meticulously delineated character study of the anxious loner and the nature of his anxieties, real or imagined, amidst the above scenario of tawdry township and attempted self focus before dissemination.

  2. The second half of the story has now been read and somehow what I have read makes me wonder if I am the same reader who commented above on the first half a short while ago. I can now remember the accreting gestalt of vines as threads or leitmotifs in that first half, ones that failed to be mentioned by ‘myself’ above and have now come home to roost in this second half as something more amorphous like the metabolically plaiting or shadowy machinations of Kessel itself.
    I wonder if it is possible to let slip plot spoilers about this second half if it is not the same text as you are reading alongside me or have already read – or due to read in the future because you love the sound of this chapbook based on my review of it.
    Meanwhile, the words ‘Purge Status’ cast their long sinuous shadows upon what I see as the nature of reviewing. Its retrocausal element that I have often mentioned since I started such book reviewing in 2008 – and the quandary about whether real-time reviewing EITHER affects the way you look at a text when knowing all the time that you are publicly reporting on it while you are still reading it OR affects, however unfeasibly, the text itself in a proactively and/or retroactive way!
    This particular text, by its very nature, embodies that very quandary. A Kafkaesque-Ligottian weird Corporate Horror tale that works very well on that level. But also a metaphor for the modern condition of a zero hour contracted employment-baited individual with his own vulnerable issues and management’s shadowy involuted nepotism, becoming one foul symbiosis. Nobody gets a clean bill of health, not even the reader, ESPECIALLY not the reader who becomes part of that foul symbiosis, too. Of course, that’s not a spoiler. Nothing about it can be spoilt whatever anyone says about it.
    I am glad I have read this relatively short chapbook – it has caused me to come out of myself. Leaving someone else trapped inside the self-devouring text that happened to be the one that was read. I am not sure it would have worked like that IF, before continuing to read this hardcopy text, I had not ceased reading it halfway and brainstormed my public electronic thoughts about it. This would still be the case if nobody was reading my review at the time I wrote it or even if nobody EVER reads it.
    Whether or not all the above considerations make this decidedly good weird story a great one, and whatever the unknowable intentions (by dint of The Intentional Fallacy) of the freehold author himself, indeed whatever the intrinsic truth of the matter, at least one self-status has been truly purged by the experience.

  3. The publisher of Dunhams Manor Press has just told me on Facebook –

    “The author is working on a book analyzing each story in SONGS OF A DEAD DREAMER. It will be out in hardcover later this year.”

    So that eases any worry about him. And I am glad his reviews will be coming out as planned.

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