27 thoughts on “Creeping Waves – Matthew M. Bartlett

  1. PROLOGUE and SPRING THAW

    What an opening pair, hit for six. The words seem to begin to flow perfectly without effort – a fluid nonsense that transcends nonsense itself, as WXXT opens for broadcasting again. You won’t cope, though, unless you choose which pair of blighters whom to read this with, or to listen to this with. But you’re the one broadcasting.
    As you did before here.
    I won’t talk again till I’ve finished.

  2. Just come back momentarily to say the next section RAMPAGE is just that. In fact several pages ramming into you. As maggots come out of its goatmouth we go in to from where they’ve left, as a man goes on his own rampage, killing in revenge, I guess. Back in Leeds, I am ready to go with it all. Let the pages’ horns ram and ram and ram, I say.

  3. Reached the beginning of MASTER OF WORMS without yet started reading it. The sections I’ve read today in this book seem to link into sense streams that could easily send the reader so horribly mad – to the extent of my reviewing them for you afterwards being pointless; even to say that is pointless.

  4. MASTER OF WORMS

    “Under the now-bright blue sky the body lay on the grass, arms stiffly up, grey slacks jerked down at an angle, revealing a crooked expanse of white hip peppered with brown acrochorda. The body frowned heavenward.”

    You will nevvvvvvver read anything like this slice of text mulch unless you read this slice of text mulch. The exhumation of a corpse from its grave and what the corpse’s family does to it in retribution of its prior humanity before putting it back, the feasted pig-laden post-wake with descriptions that will make you even sicker than this book, then the corpse’s own retribution of its retribution… but don’t just believe me.

  5. Up to, but not including, NIGHT DOG –

    Vernon Golden a run of the mill messiah keeps turning up, two ancient pre-Internet selfies of a man and woman looking nakedly from the white page, a recipe book with the last seven pages stitched up, and a woman who takes young boys to her bed.
    There is no way I can do justice to the experience of reading this book. I have asked DF Lewis to resume next time with proper real-time description-interpretation-evaluation, as I am no good at it at all.

  6. NIGHT DOG

    “The night dogs were unusually aggressive. I shouted at them, kicked them away, smacked at them with my hands. They whined. They yowled.”

    Stuff of stuff, nobody gets close to this sort of stuff except possibly Paul Meloy.
    Dogs with their eyes shut… Islington Crocodiles…

  7. / up to and including THE MEN

    “Whenever I murder a woman,…”

    As I said when reviewing the forerunner of this book, reading this is like sliding a pointer along a wireless dial, to which I used to listen as a child in the 1950s, picking up stations on Long, Medium and Short Wave, never knowing what I was going to hear.
    Since last year (and flagged up in that earlier review of Abomination), I am in hopeful remission from my illness thanks to hospital radiotherapy (37 days last September/ October). But really I also thank this RADIOtherapy of Bartlett, now giving me a second belt-and-braces dosage by CREEPING WAVES of it, together with memories of REVIVAL by King, that seems to have been the awakening call of the process of drawing attention to my disease and here of Messiah fiction (Vernon Golden) and Ligottian Corporate Horror considerations of job attrition that probably besets or did beset the author of WXXT RADIO waves judging by these inchoate sections of hopefully healing text for himself as well as me?
    I shall therefore put this book in My Dysfunction Room along with its prequel.

  8. / … INTERSTATES

    “….this is Big Boppin’ Clodhopper Clem, spinning the hits, squeezing the zits, bruising the tits, bring on the worms, bring on the nits,…”

    Such station calls intersperse the all hell breaks loose prose, where prose takes on a new living force found nowhere else in quite this form. Imagine scatological and eschatological taken to the nth degree, then further! Makes me even feel good to be an old man among the old men in these sections, including the one spotlit in a pince nez between, I imagine, a state of disease and a state of health, both states basically understated and overstated SIMULTANEOUSLY!

    “I dance out from the median…”

  9. /… RANGEL

    “What Gaspar had lost was not as much a person as a mystery—the full person his sister was going to be… or, if she was alive somewhere, was.”

    This is a tour de force, worth the admission price alone, your joining Gaspar on his return trip to Leeds, Mass., where wxxt broadcasts with goats and other suppurations: a place that will figure like Lilliput, Barchester and Cranford will figure in your literary memories. He lost his sister Rangel one Halloween in Leeds where Halloween really WAS Halloween, or at lest it is NOW, you can imagine, but now he is a married man elsewhere, but goes back to Leeds to find his sister – and finds new Halloween nightmares and visions that will stay with you, and a ‘woman costume’ that those two words alone do nothing to convey what it is, and how easy or difficult it is to climb out of it, or climb out of this story. Thankfully a new channel is tuned into when this one slips its hold on the transmission band, upon your hearing a conversation through the static about sloppy noises at a funeral which may or may not be connected with Rangel, more a phone-in than anything else that I may have dreamt or thought I once heard read aloud in two different voices or one voice pretending to be two different voices. Enough to send you mad.

  10. from Oscurità to My Brother Earl

    “Have you ever been in the midst of a conversation that seems perfectly sane, normal, even mundane, and without warning it takes a turn into starkly surreal territory, and you realize you are in the presence of a madman?”

    That’s what some of the books that I Dreamcatch think of me, I guess!
    This reminds me of two other books I also Dreamcaught this morning – the mutual melting and hardening in a Michael Griffin work HERE and the deadpan mutual conjuration of a rocky boulder HERE in a Leena Krohn ‘novel of sorts’

    “I tremble and go taut as Earl bursts through me,…”

  11. THE EGG

    “… it must have been the Experimental Music Hour. From the speakers emanated a voice reciting something, backwards; deep, sonorous, with that sort of rhythmic sound somewhere between lisping and inhaling, the same few words over and over, indecipherable, speaking over a three-note tune played on an out-of-tune piano, while far off a woman cried,…”

    Excuse my quoting so much. But this discrete written work of some substantiality is another one worth the admission price alone. And I actually love music like that, as a mutant form of classical music. I have loved it for years, and I was serendipitously listening to music of this ilk while reading THE EGG.
    It is a story of helping chickens hatch good eggs by means of music and this is a fable about what sort of music, I guess, you should use. A man and his wife and son twiddle the knob and allow some of my favourite music into the chickens’ ears, I infer, and the consequent fowl audit-trail is then made to seem so natural, yet so utterly bizarre and mind-screwing, you wonder how any sane person could possibly hatch it as a text. And what hatches is indeed a spoiler in itself, a causality dilemma about chickens and eggs worthy of Aristotle and Hegel. I kill, therefore I am. I besmirch the page, therefore I am a sick yolk.

  12. Donnerstag Donnerstag – the new call signal of WXXT, whatever day it is, in my version of the book. That music they played the chickens was by Karlheinz Stockhausen, no doubt. Even the sound of his name gives it away.

    / up to and including LITTLE LEEDS

    “You’re listening to WXXT, Marconi’s nightmare, the bane of Leeds, the soundtrack that’s a death rattle, a last breath, an eaten scream. Today is no-repeat Thursday.”

    Wait till Eric comes, another catchphrase, another call signal. These sections are ripe with our bodies opening and shedding in a Bartlettiana of greengurgleglaucous pus and gristle, needing black gloves to handle them, and none of what I can say here can possibly give you any clue as to the nature of these texts. It’s like foolhardily entering an adventure playground of weird literature with no health and safety rules where your worst imaginable nightmare becomes a sweet dream by comparison to it.
    Little Leeds is a sort of tented city near the real Leeds, and one must not forget the book is slowly building up a gestalt from these eschatological episodes of ultra-scatology.
    A diseasecatcher real-time reviewing itself.

  13. The Purging of My Uncle’s House (The Time of the Black Tents)

    “‘We’ve just heard Slinky Salvatore and the Under-tones’, a DJ said, his voice a ventricular rasp, as though decades of brown cigarette smoke had accumulated in his vocal folds like an eclipse of moths.”

    If THE EGG and RANGEL were each alone worth the entrance fee to this book, then this one is worth alone the entrance fee to the book within the book, the secret sick place beyond the sick places that have already been penetrated. Beyond the black tents, to the house where my dead uncle lies in state, to the very basement of books that I as a 13 year old boy retro-exorcised to be entering the furthest reaches (so far) of this book, to experience visions of my family that surpass even the darkest interpretation of the Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young (of which Young I am one), a veritable scato-Dickensian interpretation in-extremis of Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder, and some!

  14. /up to and including THE WEIRD HOUSE

    “Humanity itself is a washcloth. A disgusting old washcloth in an abandoned house. It’s hard as bark and it smells bad and it’s caked in the filth of sin. And we must not simply wash away the sin. We must muck about in it. Engage with it. Before one casts aside one’s garbage, one must wrestle with the deep down questions: What is this, really? Is this useful? Is there anything here from which I can learn?”

    Sorry for quoting so much. One of the most striking images in these sections, a washcloth with all manner of foulnesses sitting proud upon it – and someone sensuously using it upon their face. The above quote and other factors in this book unite in context with – and draws a particular complementary comparison to — another work here that I also happen serendipitously to be real-time reviewing. Serendipitously is probably the wrong word, though! Serumdipitously, perhaps. Pusdipitously? Two incredible randomly synchronous works that both break barriers where there never before seemed to be barriers at all because no-one had reached that far to discover such barriers or to see if they could be broken at all.

    Another striking scene in these sections of CREEPING WAVES is a baby stew bubbling…. and Is there indeed anything here from which you can learn? From Radio WXXT’s “plump, tart tongue in the ass-hole.”

  15. \up to and including MAMIE

    “This is WXXT, radio for the profoundly unsound.”

    One remarkable scene in these latest sections is a Priest’s encounter with a wooden Christ inside his church. Reading this book is like reading something both profane and profound, so consumingly profane, the profundity is absorbed more easily.

  16. /up to and including The Ballad of Johnnypants Gorsted

    “He likes to hide in clothing racks at department stores.”

    That is one of the habits of a character in these sections, and later there is the character Johnnypants who hides things in his own clothes!

      • From the Wikipedia about Alfred Schnittke’s First Symphony;
        “Western musical history is re-created as a barrage of garbled transmissions, a radio receiving many stations on one channel. Despite its veneer of goofiness, this triumph of planned anarchy has a simple and serious effect.”

  17. /up to and including THE STREETS OF LEEDS

    “The Leeds Ghost Walk “Good evening, and welcome,” said Merrie Thornbuckle, “to the Leeds Ghost Walk. This will be an extra spooky, um, version, due to, well…”

    …to find the ghost of Bernice Whittier, of all names!
    And a staggeringly described Mouth on Vernon Golden’s arm that astonishingly might relate to the Mouth in Cushing’s ‘Mr. Suicide’ (subtitled ‘The Novel of the Great Dark Mouth’), although there is no way these two Mouths were CONSCIOUSLY related by the two authors, but only via the autonomous synchronous thread of garbled radio transmissions from Schnittke’s First Symphony?
    Some more mind-breaking passages in these sections of the Bartlett, plus some stark photographs likely to haunt you, and more WXXT call signals worthy of, well, of WXXT.

  18. / end

    “…when they meet a man who speaks in the same voice they hear on the radio late at night when they are pretending to contemplate suicide.”

    “His mouth was wide, almost preternaturally so.”

    Please be advised that the quotes I have made throughout from this book are in no way intended to be representative of the utter power (grotesque, hilarious and genuinely haunting or frightening by implication or connection) of the rest of the book I have left unquoted.
    Here, among these last sections, we have a stunning image of a carnival, that eventually returns us with abruptness to the quiet of a non-carnival and the wooden Christ and its mutually incubic priest. And towards a rare book emporium that threads the other threads, leaving us with THIS rare book and its “real Leeds”. All sins and signs are here.
    If my Dreamcatching process was invented for anything it was invented for the type of book that this one and its predecessor macro-uniquely represent. Gathering the leitmotifs into a gestalt. A book that makes the word ‘gestalt’ sound like an old-fashioned wireless of my 1950s childhood or one with a heavy-duty cell-battery.

    “The music from the organ grew louder, began to pick up in tempo, to morph into a raucous march.”

  19. “Consider again Stockhausen’s LICHT and, for example, Schnittke’s FIRST SYMPHONY, […] Could Schnittke’s FIRST SYMPHONY be a distant reflection of KUNSTRELIGION?”
    — Victoria Adamenko (from ‘Neo-mythologism in Music’)

    Cf The story ‘The Lure of Devouring Light’ by Michael Griffin reviewed here.

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