27 thoughts on “Mr. Suicide – Nicole Cushing

  1. A Novel of the Great Dark Mouth


    “Take things step by step.”

    As I always do.
    Couched as an addressing of ‘you’, I am engulfed, in a single breath, by your thoughts about means justifying the ends when you are a ten year old boy, thoughts about a brutal and severely unnatural event, if you choose to enact it, an event that will otherwise help the rest of your family as well as you.
    Schnittke once talked about transcending artistically the “puberty rites of serial self-denial.” But I doubt if this novel will have anything at all to do with Schnittke. Worlds apart. His family and yours – like comparing chalk and cheese,

    • After this review was finished below, it has been suggested that the review itself gives too much away, for which I am sorry. You may wish to read this review after you have finished the book.

      is something I inserted at the beginning of my review HERE of ‘The Death House’ by Sarah Pinborough, and I insert it here, too, but this time, ON time!
      The very nature of real-time reviewing, with certain types of book, means sometimes it can run close to the edge of the land of spoilers…

  2. II

    “Yes, everybody considers murder, even if just in a fleeting thought. But few do so, in any serious way, before puberty! (And as for suicide—”

    From the age of ten, year by year, I hear your conversation with Mr. Suicide, and both your characters develop, like your bookishness and interest in films like the Seventh Seal where you mistook him for Death itself, and both of your no-nonsense approaches, his message of hopelessness, yours of simply fighting back, despite probably agreeing with him. I admit how you spurned him without denying that if you wanted to use him as a lethal weapon, you would do so, and with honesty and dignity.
    You defend your teacher friend, too, despite Mr.Suicide’s cynicism about the extenuating circumstances of that teacher’s death.
    This is genuinely explosive stuff, without being far-fetched or Ligottian / anti-natalistic.
    As explosive as a first symphony or first novel?

    “That’s what humanity’s like: always trying to convince itself that breathing isn’t a waste of time.”

  3. III

    “Blinding, perhaps, offered some of the same comfort suicide did, but without quite so much fear attached.”

    I don’t think I have come across such an honest driving force of a crazy audit trail as semantic assembly line made to seem compellingly understandable, as you as a sixteen year old fly talkatively by means of those who infer your talkative thoughts by this narration, as you fly by the seat of your pants – even to the extent of inadvertently exposing yourself to one of those strangers you were taught to avoid – as we follow the logic of blinding yourself as second best to submitting to Mr. Suicide who, in any event, seems, by his absence, to be biding his time. This is because you got detention at school for not reading Oedipus Rex properly or something like that, amid the equal madcap shrieking of your trailer trash mother (if only you had followed your instincts vis-a-vis her when you were ten!)….
    The ritual of this attempted blinding of your eyes by various means is probably unequalled in all literature and its subsequent ‘out come’ – and seriously, despite the shocking nature of some of your actions, this your narrative-assisted novel could, subject to the correct exposure, be a new popular literary force, a new Wasp Factory phenomenon, go for it!

    I’m now off to listen to Oedipus Rex by Stravinsky as some form of obeisance to this text’s reading experience just now.

  4. A few minutes after writing above yesterday, I found a dying wasp on the floor…. Well, it looked like a wasp. That gave me a shock. And I did my best for it.
    From Dreamcatcher to another Catcher, one with its cover torn off…

    IV & V

    “While she was at it, she also confiscated a couple of paperbacks—your ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ and an old Harry Potter book.”

    Your relationship with your mother reaches explosive catharsis (hopefully a catharsis) and you encounter a policeman you predict with time’s certainty you will meet again, however reluctantly on your part. And a Hellfire teacher who tears into your books while your backpack and toilet paper remains static and absurdly meaningful, like a form of ‘readymade’ art like Duchamp or ‘prepared’ art like Cage, I guess… And your accomplice who calls you ‘you’ continues to couch these events in a way that is significantly provocative and page-turning. Although I settle for slow motion reading as I appreciate your emotions pent up tightly till I release you again by reading about you.

    Of course, in recent days, there has synchronously been a controversy in the news about Harry Potter and a few other books causing mental illness…

  5. VI & VII

    “I can gut it out until I get out.”

    Negotiating your late teenage, cleaning the bath for your Mum….Irritating Mr. S by resisting his “off-ramp”…Mr S whom your brother can hear talking to you, which is probably the most frightening thing of all.

    Negotiating insanity is far more difficult, at any age, I guess, not only when you’re a callow youth, and reading on these pages interpretations of your thoughts via a pecking order of minds such as the freehold author who must have tipped over the first domino in this domino rally of leasehold ‘YOUs’ into a philharmonic moto-perpetuity… But there are, I claim, at least two ways open for any reader of whatever age to halt the relentlessness of this strident tocsin, this false tontine, avenues of escape, in fact, that are subtly and perhaps intentionally embedded in the culprit-text itself:
    “So all of this was a joke? That had to be the case. A sick joke, surely.”
    “I’m not like this. I’m not like this at all.”

    Laugh it off or say it isn’t you at all.

    This is a genuinely can’t put down book but that is NOT a blurb I want to give it. Especially after I read just now the soon-to-be notorious section of text describing the contents that you see in the magazine your brother gave you, the magazine with the black centrefold. You know the one I mean. Avant garde ‘found’ art, or what?

  6. VIII

    “It wasn’t that you stood on the lowest rung of the ladder. No, you weren’t even on the ladder. You were the one in the shadows, looking at the ladder. Looking at the ladder, and wanting to kick it over.”

    And that seems in tune, if atonal tune, with my observation above about a pecking-order and tontine…as you break taboos as well as the real and metaphorical hymens of callow life.
    This is another notorious-to-be section of text, spell-binding, but tantalisingly awful to read, if those are not contradictions in terms. It is as if this is a foolhardy participation in an adventure playground of literature, one with no health and safety rules preventing you from crippling yourself. I am intrigued by the growing sense of a concept evoked here as ‘perfect monster’. I wrote recently that a book was near perfect because near perfect is the nearest to perfection one can ever reach.
    Perfect perfection, I now ponder, would be an aberration in itself, another taboo breaker, a crippling condition…and if you take that to its inevitable conclusion, I think you are beginning to suss this remarkable book. Both you the reader and you the read about.
    And you the interpreter of you who’s read about? Interpretation as creation itself.

  7. IX and X (up to “Slowly, you picked yourself up…”)

    “If you were to go mad, you wanted it to be the sort of madness that took you away from the house. Not the sort that tethered you to it.”

    You turn 18, you brink up to the midnight whereby you would turn 18, you converse with your brother, who lurks, somehow, where he shouldn’t, before you take the decision to follow some inchoate concertina as inverse tontine or audit trail towards some monstrous perfection in conspiracy against the human race, involving meaningful coincidences and synchronicities, just like my book reviews hope to be, but you sense your coincidences are meaningless, I guess, like finding in a random library book a biography of a Russian composer written in the 80s, significant to me, meaningless to you, but making us sort of counterparts or compatriots in dreamcatching, while leading you along this domino rally of randomness and free will and fate towards a strip club or something far more significant than an ordinary strip club, that is meaningful to your proclivities, if not to mine, with a truly fascinating glimpse of philosophical anti-natalism but one that is more a nipping in the the bud rather than the importuning of someone like Mr. S.
    There is an insidious flair of a narrative freeholder’s prose with dark references to other figures beyond the scope of Mr. S, references that sound as if they will become intensely haunting, given your (and, thus, my) envisaged onward path within the still developing context of that prose.

    “These were not People of the Ladder. Like you, they were people who lingered in the dark a few feet away from the ladder.”

  8. Rest of X & XI

    “…the blare of three competing strands of music strangling each other in the hot, humid air—the sickening motion of it all, the flow of bodies back and forth like waves on a river.”

    The nipping in the bud phenomenon as a theme-and-variation upon anti-natalism (a phenomenon in this form that is original to this book, I guess) is extrapolated fascinatingly – as is the ‘shoehorning’ into life as part of sex between the damaged, as all humans are damaged, however much they are otherwise physically crippled?

    When the history of literature is written, just before all literature itself is nipped in the bud, it will have a place of significance and notoriety for Chapter XI in this book. You will never forget it, although you will probably want to forget it. Be warned.
    This is your scene with the old derelict and the mouth of darkness like a darkness having fellatio upon your body as a whole, but that is my only scratching here the surface of the text. No doubt irrelevant, but the dedicatee of this book had many authorised clinical deaths in his later life whence he later recovered…

  9. XII

    “To escape life, you must first escape society.”

    A capsule section of text about your threefold path as a theosophy-like triangulation of coordinates towards a passport into what I call a nipping in the bud. But you have different words in the text for such a pre-empting of the importunings of Mr. Suicide. But I suggest an easier route towards fulfilling the text’s description of the so-called threefold path, i.e. the socially unacceptable act of simply reading this book as an ostensible entertainment.

    • Today, on a more rarefied level, I wonder if the retroCAUSAL anNIHILation represented by my view of nipping in the bud paradoxically entails the necessity of some root Holy Relic for which the human body is the Reliquary?

  10. XIII & XIV

    “It was like there was a giant finger in the air that was about to flick over the first in a series of dominoes and each click-click-click of one falling after another brought you closer to the end—”

    I promise you that when I used earlier in this real-time what I thought was my own domino rally comparison, I had honestly no idea that the above passage was coming up later in the book!
    Meanwhile, I do feel a similar uncanny fate about this book, a feeling of not knowing whether your rite of passage has actually become your (the reader’s) rite of passage, riding upon constant edges of your tempting fate to bite back at you by never having had a fate in the first place by becoming retrocausally a nothingness, while erotically rubbing up against damaged flesh or disabled limbs or, even, Ligottian mannequin plastic, fatefully tempted, for example, on a bus, by a woman with accordion scars (cf the concertina tontine or domino rally)… Creating a boner as Holy Relic?

    “You still were not one hundred percent convinced you weren’t going nuts. But you were comforted by the Mouth’s observation that people who went nuts were not usually aware they were going nuts.”

  11. XV & XVI

    “Don’t exist… I don’t exist… They’ll open this door and won’t see me here because I’ll simply wish myself into nonexiste—”

    Your words here will haunt you, I guess. Words that follow a stunning ‘plastic vision’, a striving towards that nipping in the bud, for which we all strive, knowingly in rare cases – or unknowingly: being in common denial.
    The conspiracy, too, of those around you, become tantamount to cartoon characters and suchlike, palming off existence’s crimes as YOUR crimes. A very powerful experience, reading this text, assuming you read it when OUT of that common denial.
    I am reminded of Ligotti’s story here that I happened to revisit earlier this very morning in a pre-set pattern or tontine or ladder of revisiting all Ligotti’s stories that has been going on for me for weeks now, a story with these words:
    “: the world thrives on its faults and strives, by every possible means, to aggravate them, while at the same time to mask them like a congenital deformity.”
    That does not diminish, of course, the complete originality of this Cushing novel, that I see has more to be read before I finish it. An originality that I am sure compels reading by anyone interested in all great general as well as genre literature.


    Three short sections – where you grapple, in custody of this text, with a dilemma between nothingness as never-having-been and sheer plasticity of life. A striking avant garde truth.

    All to the backdrop of the discovery of your perfect blasphemy against anti-natalism, although you don’t use those words to describe it.

    As I said before, this is a ground-breaking FIRST novel and can be usefully compared in parallel with its dedicatee’s own FIRST symphony (described here). As an aside, I just noticed in that linked Wikipedia, a reference to this symphony’s “garbled radio transmissions” that evoke the concurrently real-time reviewed ‘Creeping Waves’ book with which I have compared (above) the Cushing novel!

  13. XX & XXI

    “Two someone elses, really. I don’t know if I should do that or not. I mean, you’ve got to admit, it complicates things.”

    You and you.
    A thoughtful ending where you are either the most insane person who ever lived or someone who transcended insanity with something beyond insanity. The scatology of eschatology. The sudden purpose of not wanting to abandon or annul YOU who have been borne upon and born from this book.

    This is essential reading for all you readers of
    general literature like Roth and Updike
    horror genre fiction like Ligotti-Poe-Lovecraft
    philosophical pessimism or anti-natalism
    avant garde or absurdist dreamcatching….
    No mean feat.


  14. Pingback: Kunstreligion | DREAMCATCHER: Gestalt Real-Time Reviews of Books

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