16 thoughts on “Greener Pastures – Michael Wehunt


    “I can’t say what it is bleeding in that rock, but I know how it pulls at you.”

    Tug or pull like planetary transits? This book has similarly been pulling at me for the last few weeks, without my being able to open it because of some earlier vow of sabbatical. This rich sump of a story has made the wait its full weight in blood, as an aged woman, astonishingly aged, thinks of her recently deceased sister of similar age, as she revisits that part of the mountain where they’d once slaked a thirst for blood by its fall, or its inner-body weltering, as said unsaid, by menstruation or simple metabolism – linking to my own obsession with the pulling of astrological harmonics upon the earth and the unhallowed Earth (only hallowed by man’s superstitious buildings) and earth’s own hollow core or nemonymous night here filled with that bloodspring’s source or “some god beyond my tongue” (Azathoth?).
    This story’s mountain “bloodfall” is the first such in literature, I sense, even beyond that hinted once in Mann’s Magic Mountain. You may also sense certain things to be tapped from this text, just as truly as I found other things in it.


    “Her prose read like it burned in her blood and spattered out of her.”

    As Onanon has anon embedded, Amanda has an Adam. This is Adam’s story, an accretion of writerly images that almost seem to make the text suppurate with a blend within his own creative writing of sexual initiation with a young woman as well as motherly love from one now in a nursing home (much of my own time these days taken up, along with my wife, visiting my own Mum in a care home, even while the sabbatical trickled away till now) – and you need to read this story to experience how it seems to fit neatly after the first one, also to appreciate the textured interweaving of words, “Looping migraine phrases”, a map of prose where guiding landmarks are selfies as well as tropes that create a motherhive. It is as if such writing is onanistic yet with a swarming at its core whence emanates a powerful parthenogenesis.
    I have only touched on this text’s hive of possibilities.


    “How long you been hauling?”

    In the “middle of nowhere”, two truckers in a light-diminuendo truckers’ diner discuss such middles of nowhere where they suffer the atmospherics (respectively a small daughter in media res of “the daddy things” like a little piggies’ blown-house-down story-telling and a second nursing-home mother for this book so far), atmospherics of these loved ones materialising like communicating ghosts. You always think it’s greener on the other side, as my own mother might often say. Perhaps it is somewhere inside?
    Tellingly a “white heaven” within an inverse tontine of darkness. Subtly devastating.

    “I gotta take a leak.”


    I read and reviewed this story HERE nearly a year ago and this is what I wrote:


    “…and how this shape comes to be repeated through nature and the world, on and on. / He thought about that repetition, outward from the circle of his own vision,…”

    A story that hovers between exquisite and unbearable. One that, if you have been married for 45 years so far to the same woman, as I have, you will never forget. Whatever the joy and however little or large the guilt that underlie such a seeming ‘repetitive’ or oscillating or circular aeon of love and fallible existence. You may never forget this story, anyway, in anticipation of what might be felt one day. A sensitive, stunningly written portrait of a man widowered and his own tussling with guilt or self-justification – constructively and variously reminding me of some of the themes of Steve Rasnic Tem and Joel Lane, but, I do sense, without truly knowing, that it is quintessential Wehunt, a discreet music that I have not listened to before but hope to do so again. It also shares the recurring angelic transcendences or transformations of much of the rest of this book, so far. As an afterthought, I wonder about the use of the word ‘widowhood’ in the first sentence. A typo for ‘widowerhood’ or a genuine attempt at expressing the strobing between his own death and his wife’s from each point of view, to ignite this recurring threnody of words that follows? I sense the latter, as an oblique premonition of the final scene’s cumulatively ambivalent oscillation.


    “Green growing on everything.”

    Not necessarily here the best green that nature can supply? This is another mighty text, as powerful as hell. A story of two oscillating halves in tentative synergy. Do not go lightly into this story. An ingeniously numinous poetic allusive elusive texture hiding hard nuggets of existence within it. A woman hears the atmospherics, as in Greener, of the ghost of the old black man opposite, his horn-playing jazz, his wife and a rite of passage when beaten himself till seeking refuge into the crawlspace of a square hole – with a tabby cat, perhaps. Or something else like a grave. Nothing will explain what I mean because nothing within it will explain what IT means. But you do simply KNOW it. As with the woman’s own rite of passage with her father’s real, life’s hard-knocks of a Faustian visit or another ghostly atmospheric visit as foil to the other more kindly one? Whatever the case, the ways her father once had with her echo on, almost now welcomed against the grain, it seems. Until both halves of the heart of this story slowly join together…till something living from it, a softer nugget, suddenly twitches inside you. Sometime you have to trust a reviewer not to spoil things or make them better than they are.
    Some stories have hidden stories inside, like cars.

    “Most folks wouldn’t have gone hauling themselves through the dirt toward that hole,…”

    (I have decided that, by the likely nature of all these stories, I can only deal with at most one of them per day.)


    “…it’s clear the film is trying very hard to avoid being a straightforward production.”

    …like this story, like my act of dreamcatching itself? This is very frightening, especially when real-time reviewing a story telling a story of a real-time film of a real-time film, thus obviating the risk of this just being another HOUSEofLeaves, Blair Witch Project, “Lynchian obliqueness.”
    A group of self-styled “horror nerds”, with ‘rules’ according to the conduct of their regular ‘film haunts’, approach the house itself shown in what one supposes is the original film’s house, as found by them in Internet searches. Then upon realising everything “was going meta”, to quote this text, I realised I myself was actually going BETA. The whole thing, when seen like that, is very frightening. Not only because of its array of interconnected and layered-house horror scenes (brilliantly hinted at, if not fully described) including the wooden crown and the crawlspace opening like that under the earlier Maison Blue, but also because it is the ultimate leitmotifs-into-gestalt of horror … for me, horror’s Wordsworthian ‘Child is Father of the Man.’

    “Probably looks green to you, huh?”


    “…but others answered its shock and lay somehow blinking at the fading day.”

    …in parallel with this book’s earlier strikingly original ‘bloodfall’, this is an original fall of women from the sky onto the roofs of this community called Twin Firs (breaking the roofs in the process), falling like rain as Angels de-winged, only for them later to gradually build a red spire themselves, the ultimate shock totem. This is another story you will need to travel far to forget, powerful, fable-like, with the beautifully named Daddy Pardon, and Fen’s liaison with one of these ‘fallen’ women…until he leaves for greener pastures (with or without her, you will need to read this amazingly visionary story to discover). Also from the sky to fall as potentially to litter the land as victims seems to blend Peaks not Firs (another Lynchian obliquity?) with ‘To Your Scattered Bodies Go’ and the film ‘Witness’. But essentially its own original sin upon the brink of ‘confessional’ sex.


    “It has a steeple tipped with a cross that seems bent except when I look right at it.”

    Bent by “an angel trying to get home”, or when an angel first fell to earth, I wonder?
    This is an unbearable threnody of self, following attempted suicide upon loss of fiancée, with a thread that is sewn through with a yearning Christianity. It has some intensely poetic images concerning perched birds, TV snow and much more, including the brand new legend of the burden and the footprints that you will never forget. The ease of summoning freshly memorable phrases is stunning. More told will not spoil something that can never be spoiled, but I don’t want to risk it.


    “She’s frightened. And she’s frightened of how he isn’t.”

    The nub of marital life together: the need to synchronise fears as well as joys.
    In her fifties now, this significantly childless woman is beset with the objective correlatives of unfulfilment, these including a literal Exorcism of her husband or at least depicted literally enough here for us to believe it is literal, and the accretive growth of two oak trees that her husband planted from scratch, then decorating them into this story’s own eponymous gestalt of leitmotifs as well as light motifs like Christmas. An extremely powerful story (I know I keep saying such things vis-a-vis this collection, but this story is particularly so) where the fruits of Exorcism are transposable to greener pastures, or a strange trajectory of IVF?
    One is given the possibility of learning more about marriage in this richly textured and visionary story – a story perhaps with an inscrutable muse of which or of whom even the author is unaware – than one is likely to learn in a whole lifetime of marriage’s dance together.


    “His life was full of almost.”

    A Mexican, maritally-estranged, almost maternally-bereaved migrant in Delaware, who has lost his small daughter after her playing on a clown-headed slide in the playground, a woman hoarder next door who had lost her sons on a journey – but that tells you absolutely nothing about the stitched-together nuances of this story, nuances that the text projects upon the white screen of your mind, a screen you must prepare for yourself before reading this, yes, powerful story.
    His dream of a ‘to your scattered bodies go’-type vision in the sky and the undreamed footprints outside his apartment, and the disturbing vision of multiple time-bifurcated versions of the lost ones are all strongly abstracted upon your screen, and effectively projected from this incredible book’s hinterland that I have been experiencing in recent days. It is as if oblique-significantly the clown-head is the burden of the footprints, and the hole in its head the pinprick distillation of all the images. (The moon’s phases, unspoken astrological harmonics?)

    “He thought of a blue moon, in the first moments of eclipse by a hint of green beyond.”


    Someone, unsolicited, entered a post on this thread at the other bookend, the beginning, above, saying this is a perfect book, and in many ways, he or she is right. Checking back, however, I see it says “near perfect”, and indeed that means perfect, because perfect can never exist.
    Humanity imperfectly pits itself against its own cyclic predation by itself — using the instinctive power of Gaia or those astrological harmonics I mentioned just now or, here, in this final story’s relatively “brief coda” to the whole book, the discreet music of cicadas as representative of those same harmonics, perhaps against the “bigotry” of the generations portrayed in this story.
    Yes, “near perfect”, that earlier life “full of almost”….
    This reminds me — with the book’s burdened footprints and this story’s straight line walking — of Richard Long’s artwork, an example here and his ‘line made by walking’, too, employed as the “faithful compass” of this story’s protagonist, his loved one now being dead by childbirth, but her ashes still preserved in the hollow of the pillow and to be buried, I wonder, in his dug hole, not beneath the house of the Blair witch film nor Maison Blue, but the one under the tree now dug again, not as mock IVF, but as a sanctity of exorcism. An eternal hope, with the miscegenate child near smothered by a quilt but retrieved forever by that exercise of release and confirmation. One positive step in our path towards that “green darkness”. But of course never perfectly positive.

    I shall now privately read the book’s story notes for the first time, and my review ends here.

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