15 thoughts on “Alectryomancer – Christopher Slatsky


    “She’d been rash enough to enter a stranger’s home—she simply didn’t have her head screwed on right at the moment.”

    A thirty something woman sculptor, wrapped by a telling genius loci of cosmopolitan London, put her dog out of the boyfriend manger because he refused her a child even if perhaps she didn’t want one anyway. Create one. Bit like Duchamp out of the walls, the Jungianism of heads, the cosmopolitanship of veils as if beneath we are all one person, moulded from wordclay, as this story is. Impressed. Yes, definitely impressed like a connecting passage between walls. Why have not got to this author before now? Now he’s got to me.

    “Simply the slight tweak of the predetermined. All set in stone.”


    “…while that species of ant bite was excruciatingly painful, these particular insects were not known to disfigure their prey.”

    Seems synchronously apt (and ironic in view of the above quote) that I should be reading this during the incipience of the Zika Virus with this deadpan assumption of truth via a description of an insectoid infiltration that not only affects the heads of humans and what lives like the previous story’s heads as suppurations in the walls or the ceiling here, but also builds a Jungian nest of insects as coterminous with humans, through the story of Lilly and her parents’ research into various religions, an inheritance that blights her dreams, entailing books that feel more as physical objects (their own feeling and the reader’s feeling them) than the books’ words and illustrations can account for, words and illustrations that are like turning logs over before the log’s wood is made into the paper pages of the book itself coterminous with what was found under that log, a crucifixion where the stigmata are as alive as living holes as living as the person once was who has the holes put into him. This review is deadpan, too, taken as read. As are the reverend sponsor’s ritual eyes wide shut.


    “Life was decades of standing neck deep in sewage and happiness is attained when the filth retreats to waist level.”

    The compelling and disturbing story of William who returns to work after bereavement leave, and finds things slightly changed both in the office and in the environment outside, then gradually more than just slightly. Deadpan again, this time each one with a hole in its bottom.
    A blend of Ligottian Corporate Horror and something quite else, something that I can’t put my finger on, something extreme that ever holds back from showing its full ‘extremeness’ as if you and it are in some sort of collusion. A family man who has been bereaved by more than just a loved one’s death (but that as well). I am sure I saw a lot of other things that you will not see – and vice versa.


    “Architecture is the simplest means of articulating time and space, of modulating reality and engendering dreams.” – Ivan Chtcheglov

    A real quote from a real historical person that is given at the head of this story.

    “Ghosts are just how a city dreams about what it used to be.”

    A real quote from a work of fiction, THIS work of fiction that is perhaps even more real.

    “Landscape of Open Eyes”

    See my ‘eyes wide shut’ reference fortuitously at the end of one of the individual story reviews above.

    A twenty-something couple study and explore the occult aesthetics of architecture, through dreams and connections, seeing cities as structures blending, I feel, the Lovecraftian non-Euclidean and the Danielewski-HOUSEofLeaves. The couple’s approach reminds me of when I enter then study/explore fictions as part of my own Dreamcatching review approach (and just about an hour ago I synchronously and uncannily reviewed here this fiction story: ‘The Future of Literary Criticism’)…

    And this feeling of synchronicity accentuated for me the power of this already powerful Slatsky work, as I begin to see in it many things like his faces that were once earlier heads on ceilings or walls now visualisations on the outside of buildings, and as I carry on through this story, as if exploring its structured building, I reach scenes inside it that are unwelcome and disturbing, because they are already there? Or because my type of approach to these areas of the story have made them there when they were not there at all originally before I started reading it?

    But I do my exploring without the drug of fiction, unlike the couple who are merely in fiction, created by it, and there they once utilised real drugs. This makes the scenes seem to me more naked, nearer, more frightening than if seen by them through such a false veil.


    “; all she had to look forward to was the very same eternal abyss that loomed before conception.”

    Two sisters, one recovering from show business acting woes and scandals, the other caring for her, mixed with visions of small girls like those earlier ones from this book looking up from sewers but now inside a toilet bowl, a mouth wandering about a face, faces wandering about landfills, but amazingly those sorts of vision have now become archetypes and not disturbing now as much as they did – as if I have been changed by this book not to be disturbed by archetypes that are already in my Slatsky set-aside of a sump. But I will NEVER get used to the powdery man! That vision, believe me, is immutably disturbing – forever.


    “Levi and Mariee were seven years old when they found the dead child on the shore.”

    “His sister understood them better than he ever could—where he’d seen nothing but tsunami nightmares, Mariee had glimpsed their history and faith, their needs and desires.”

    From here in the UK, I do THINK I got a vague broadbrush understanding of this story’s plot and its ethos (Red Indian mythology and archeological findings) and its place (Oregon?), its stretch of time from backstory to denouement featuring indigenous twin brother and sister – and I did appreciate some of its evocative language describing the hints of artefacts and transfigurations, its pepperings of mysterious scientific words, its ominous feel, its nightmarishness..
    But, overall, it was not really something I could grab sufficient handle on. Sorry.


    “He was discomfited by the notion that the apartment building had cultivated a disproportionate number of limbless tenants.”

    This is a perfect match for my gestalt of leitmotifs or fragments style of book reviewing, I feel, and the inter-connections between books as the Jungian-fed devices, here, dolls, phantom limbs, amputations, apartment-living angst, as Jarrod wanders through a theatrically styled apartment block as if a Ligottian version of an Alan Ayckbourn play with separate dramas that play out, eventually interactively, in the same timeline, towards a nightmare that makes the well-characterised loving relationship between Jarrod and Mark a remarkable trope of body and appendage, or child and doll.
    Three mentions of powder in this text. I keep my own powder dry. Cool, chilled out, as I wander my own benighted night of precarious politically correct or incorrect interpretations, not pulling my hair out…yet.


    “The unusual mineral color made him think of his projectile point collection. His elementary school library had a guide that helped him become adept at differentiating a dart from an arrow tip – though his father had always insisted the ones he found on the property were thunderstones.”

    Ian and his two siblings (recriminatory acceptance of each other) return to the house in the wild of some (God)forsaken land, well maybe not truly forsaken but only by God, where he and his two siblings suffered as well as stoically filled their lives under their father’s hard tutelage, or rather cruel than just hard — for that Father’s funeral. The memories, the boyhood fort he built in the woods, now seeming to accrete an ancient wall from some sinkhole amid after-echoes of that hollow paternal world, in a huge inner cosmogony of such passages and interconnections and the oblique coming of those denizens, if a hollow world CAN have denizens or a dysfunctional family have some mutant Gaia of reconciliation … denizens that fill his past or empty his future? That very obliquity makes this story hollow, too, but in a way that makes you welcome it as a gloryhole by entering it more easily, secret passage by passage, if not with conscious ratiocination, then with one’s own instinctive stoicism. (To count the head of cattle is to accept the impeachment into this storyhole of its containing book’s earlier heads and faces…)

    “Ian didn’t understand how sewage had managed to leak uphill from the septic tank into the barn. He said this out loud.”

    “Death was as mundane as bad breath,…”


    “Film has its own language. Like how we know what it sounds like when someone gets punched in the face, but it’s a completely different sound when it happens in a movie.”

    This is more than just a grotesque caricature of a horror film festival with rare classic gorefest films you always wanted to see or re-see, going there and seeing the unique ‘Film Maudit’ that outshoots any other gore film that even outgores itself, a legendary one with a gimmicky oscillator device akin to sensurround, a film that cores you to the soul with things far more personal than merely bespoke phobias that most people have. This story, equally, I truly believe, is a story that one day I won’t believe I could ever have read, and when I hear it has been reprinted in an anthology, and I reread it against my own best advice, I won’t believe it again that I have read it with its exponential increments of horror upon my soul threatening to incrementalise yet again some time in the future when I hear about it again on the horrid story grapevine – and so on ad infinitum, ad absurdum.


    This is full of Halloween to the gills, japes and role-playing games, and subterfuge to hide worse subterfuge, mass riots in Quito, Ecuador, powdered crucifixes in the woods, teenaged boys with bravado facing out what they thought were jokes or legends, and the ending has something really nasty about it, as if I start talking to myself right now and find it is not me talking at all ……or writing something down and find it to be what I am writing down now. And I won’t know what are the subliminal messages in all these theatrical and real events, because it says that somewhere in this text to beware such messages and none of them seem subliminal at all. And what about those collections of radios in the shed? Talking to each other from different wavelengths. And I have hit, with nothing but these facts about it, the perfect note in describing this story. Caught the dream and am running with it.


    “But I don’t remember so good on account my skull is thin. Likes loose snake skin.”

    Well, if I had thought this author had gone into overdrive before with what I consider to be some of his classics reviewed above, this one turns up with its Illimitable Garden, overdrive unoverdriveable, I guess, but who knows.
    This is a compost of people and raw emotions seen through the wonderfully adumbrated style of narrative language she speaks or thinks out on our behalf when you’re reading it, with past, present and future catalysed by a visit by a seemingly unknown woman, whom the narrator’s family seem to accept. A house with some stairs out of limit, plants and growths that become you as you become them – through her speech rhythms on the page. It is unspeakably evocative. Poignant, too, with unrequited love, family ties and the hope for others to return into or from the compost. I can’t possibly evoke it here better than that. Better that you should read it and never be able to forget it, like me. Bear the sad compulsions by sharing them with me.
    It also reminded me of the labyrinthine mulching underground passages of my Dreamcatcher preternatural interconnections represented by this site. This story, in this way, as just one example, also felt like a family care home or two-way hospice and I reviewed the latest part of another work earlier this morning: something also having that essence of dark succulence and sad care wandering home denizens like a family in the Tabernacle of Gold of Ophir as a whole. Highly mutually complementary. HERE.


    “Amy was well aware that she was more likely to be raped or killed by someone she knew than some random stranger giving her a lift. Didn’t accept many ride offers anyway; preferred to enjoy the scenery on foot.”

    Amy walks across the red canyon desert, a passage of dry rites and meetings, a ‘clusterfuck’ that makes her part of itself, having met some Manson-leaning folk along the way, racist leaning, too, talking of conspiracy fabrications of, say, moon landing or the Mars surface, that this desert perhaps resembles. Overall, a striking vision via her mind – and via the curse of pareidolia, as I should know. Ley lines and automobile junk-piles, a few still with their passengers. A haunting weird radio broadcast of a story that is honourably didactic by its paradoxical strength of truths and fabrications. To be corrupted by corruptions is just the start of fighting back at them?


    “”His brother would pocket a long piece of twine, loop it around a sunflower stalk, skulk as far away as the twine allowed, and then tug on it to make the plant’s head bob and sway. The misdirection fooled Rey every time.”

    This is exactly what this book does, and I sense this final intensely graphic, ‘smoking horse’ symbolic realism of a story of cockfighting IS — amid scurfy fields, where Rey forges his life against as well as with the power of his photographic backstory, itself a book within a book — and (other books within a book) the deadly secret side of Darwinism and the [[This Phainothropus head remains interred within the Earth’s inner core, surrounded by nested spheres of various alloys,]] (for me) a ##’Nemonymous Night’ / Azathoth at the earth’s core## syndrome — yes, IS an important story in the history of weird or hyper-imaginative literature, completing this book as part of that gestalt.

    “or if the words themselves bent into different shapes when he wasn’t looking.”

    …as I thought earlier with this book that it morphs against its own set-in-stone words.
    A book about “shared visions”, as this story describes them. And the cockfight itself is one of the best scenes you will ever read about cockfighting.

    “A portent of something incomprehensible.”



    “Incomprehensible machines evolving beneath our feet. At the mercy of time.”

    A study of gambling and fate.

    Eating a cactus’s foetus with a “preternatural appetite.” That is what it is like reading Slatsky. I am sure there was an earthquake in my head just before I decided to start reading this book. Or was it just after I finished reading it? I keep my powder dry.


  14. Pingback: 2016 in Summation | Christopher Slatsky

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s