A fearless faith in fiction — Employing, since 2008, a Kantian or Jungian sensibility and an ‘intentional fallacy’ consciousness — Various passions of the reading moment — Walter de la Mare, ELizabeth BOWen, ROBERT aiCKMAN and many others old and new — Please click my name below for this site’s navigation and my backstory as intermittent photographer, writer, editor, publisher & reviewer.
THE MUSIC OF THE FOXES
“Now the clipping of a fox’s claws is a lovely thing,…”
The first of what appears to be many vignettes. The language and the evocation are hand in glove. A special language with its own unique quality that no review can reconvey. Clipped poetics then smoothed out like a magic trick, I loved the bit where the vixen walks a zebra crossing.
THE HYACINTH GIRL
“The burningness of drowning; the cough and cough and cough of it.”
I have only read two of these rhapsodic vignettes and I can already tell they are something extremely special. Rarefied and yearning. This is the unrequited stance of the hyacinth girl herself, and with her eyes never shutting this is the perfect contrast with another vignette called ‘Closed Eyelids’, I read elsewhere a few minutes ago, and also reviewed. As regular readers of my Dreamcatchers will know, I am a passionate but passive absorber of synchronicity and serendipity in literature!
From the recurring coughs of drowning, we now reach the relentless barking of a dog…here not only an anguished description via the already dependable expression of strikingly poignant synaesthesia from this author, but also an echo of stories told to me by someone I know who very recently had to live next door to a dog regularly left alone, suffering the sound of its similar sounding suffering, a situation that was eventually resolved as satisfactorily as possible, but one that was in hindsight a haunting metaphor beyond life’s surface meaning, beyond God Himself.
THE LITTLE BOY WHO LIED
“dry as bibles”
He is snapped for snapping….and his snap then mounted with sticky corners, I guess.
Another clipped poetic is delightfully full of words like cracks, pricking, slick, snapped, break, shattered, ripped, shorn, crackle, grate, sharp, edges.
Like a spiky nursery rhyme in prose.
HOW THE DOG LOST HIS WINGS
“Below the dog, the petty affairs of men and creatures,…”
I was wondering whether it is significant that ‘dog’ is God backwards, especially, here, when God later stitches back a rabbit that dog tore into rags.
This book, so far, is an accomplished vision of the ribbons of reality, sliced, then examined by prose poetics, “weightless as razors.”
Due to a family illness, there may be some delay in completing this review.
“; it was the devil of a job, what with the craning of the big hand and the quivering excitement of the little one,”
A provocatively amusing fable where God is depicted as a sort of boozy Heath Robinson, whereby any chance creations (the one here is brilliantly characterised) are, I infer, naturally selected (my expression, not the fable’s) by the more intended creations known as ‘beasts of the field.’
THE HOUSE WARMING
“They pretended to be God;”
God now as a Heath Robinson effectively hatching out filial offshoots like lanky angels grown overnight from boy babies in a box given him by a goatish Satan…
This stopped me in my tracks. This is, after all, not a literary poetic book alone, as I had assumed, but it is also representative of the type of absurdist or horrific stories I often read … as if whatever books I instinctively pick up defiantly hatch out into ones I NEED to read.
PIGEONS IN THE TIME OF PANIC
But this is Norwich, not Paris, I guess – a striking vision of pigeons around a giant rocking horse in Anglia Square and vandal fire, that may not be Norwich today. I remember as a child a slowly twirling knight on a horse with a flag saying Anglia…
“God’s forgiveness was raining through the roof, dry as a sucked hymn book…”
These texts have some of the most wonderful turns of phrase. This one is a sense of a boy’s out-of-body experience in tune with a lost or dead pigeon now found flight again, and, also in tune with the previous text, soaring above the headmaster with his arms outstretched like an umbrellas while he scolds the pupils at Assembly. Well characterised and full of more sharp things and coughing.
DOG’S NIGHTMARE I
“…but in his dream, dog was as vile as a monster.”
That is his own dream…
When I started this book, I didn’t know what to expect, but I didn’t expect a work that matches and equals the type of hyper-literature to which you are accustomed being cohered by me hopefully into a gestalt from its various leitmotifs. I still do not know where this particular gestalt is heading, but the above vignette constructively reminds me of Paul Meloy‘s work.
“…the test card girl smiling secretly with her clown.”
….knowing that birth and death are voracious, and reincarnation, too, monstrously on both sides of the fridge door.
Archie (Andrews) was not a clown but a ventriloquist dummy…. That is, probably unintentionally, relevant to this memorable vignette.
AFTER IT RAINED
“God’s kitchen was growing vague with smoke. In time, a whiff of fire came crawling out of the cremated beans, ran its tongue along the greasy workshop, and sidled up to the oven glove.”
Rag tag and dogtail after the deluge, from an ark with a bark, I guess. Escapist God despairs at what he can’t control…
This chaotic fable with no moral in sight.
“The garden was as lush as cancer,…”
An effectively disturbing vignette of Rebecca and her mother subjected to an exponentially accretive plague of scissors. This book’s sharp things again. Like Meloy crocodiles?
“I tried to remember what she looked like, how she had been.”
For me, an intensely poignant, and currently perfect thing to read, bearing in mind my own maternal bereavement a week or two ago. I can’t pretend to know how, but since that event the normal course of my pre-listed and simultaneous real-time book reviews have been full of such a loss.
“Tenderly coaxed by knives,…”
Meat in the opposite direction of this review’s gathering of a living gestalt from leitmotifs, meat being cut into separate living pieces, more living than the original animal whence they’re cut.
As gloriously gory as this book CREEPING WAVES recently reviewed, a book that resembles FATES OF THE ANIMALS by dint of its rare methods if not by its intrinsic subject-matter.
And here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2016/03/26/pereat-mundus-a-novel-of-sorts/ another soulmate book.
“…line of poetry that makes your life make sense.”
And that is itself such a deceptive line within its prose shell, a shell that is an unmissable nightmarish vision of the Cheshire Cat.
INSTRUCTIONS (FOR A GAME)
“nothing and nothing”
Follow these instructions at your peril.
Yet another book I am concurrently reviewing that has similar series of vignettes being drawn gradually into a gestalt: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2016/04/29/conflagration/#comment-7200
If you have ever thought about the nature of angels, then you should read this.
Suddenly, as a child, growing out of Santa Claus is an experience that diminishes to nothing in comparison to this remarkable low-down on Angels.
Fates of Angels.
DOG FINDS OUT WHERE KNIVES COME FROM
A couple of paragraphs that evocatively chime with one of the main leitmotifs of this book. The title also chimes with my comments yesterday about the cruel nature of growing up when discovering Santa Claus does not exist – or the place where babies come from?
A truly striking visit to Starbucks.
And the nature of madness from within or from without?
As a brief encounter or a long memory of a brief encounter.
Waiting for the next pigeon post piggy-backed by a gull?
DOG’S NIGHTMARE II
“corner to corner”
Coughs and corners, I wonder when Dog wakes he finds himself to be God, and vice versa?
“He has a hangnail; he puts his cup down with a slop and he digs his teeth at it, catches the edge in his mouth and rips it away. A small bubble of blood gathers at the quick…”
The quick and the dead?
A rook is a trusty tester of guilt and knows what he has done, whom he has killed.
A ‘padrika’ in a parallel universe is a word for that type of hangnail, I suggest.
“I used to have a name, you know;”
Dog like God, so Rats like Star?
More sharp things, coughs, and cutlery.
DE LA VIANDE
“There was a tiny intake of collective breath as the lid was lifted.”
Imagine a meal brought in by a chef, one that is worthy of applause. And a surprised gasp, too.
I feel much the same about this ‘De La Viande’ section itself.
“My daughter slipped through my life like a ghost, like the half-seen reflection of some other child.”
A daughter named Victoria.
A slipping through, too, like a hot spoon through lard or forks of water streaking the window?
This is exquisite material, and ends with locks being pecked out.
It is tantalisingly difficult to form a gestalt from this book so far, because each section as you read it tends to make the others become part of their own form of The Disappearing in evanescence,
MAGPIE FALLS IN LOVE
“So he rummaged through his own left wing, felt the quills as sharp as drinking straws,…”
I think it should be an owl that woos, but here a magpie woos the beautiful young girl, a sad, eventually hopeless, unrequitedness of love, till a tweet tweet breaks the self-mutilated silence.
THE ORGAN PRESS
You will NEVER forget this portrait of wild flowers pressed into a medical textbook.
If you read nothing else in this book, read this.
Like a shampoo advert or this review!
More nefarious angels to witness a woman’s well-characterised mishaps.
AFTER VAN GOGH
I suggest there is more poetry in this prose about your birth than in any poetry.
THE BLACK WOOD
A very touching vision of inside a large Tesco supermarket in the small hours of the morning, a sense of responsibility for the till girl. A black wood with crows that it becomes around the various shelves of food. It is a staggering vision to read. This book gets better and better – if that were possible.
A truly devastating portrait of a daughter as imaginary companion or imp of the perverse to her mother OR the mother has Alzheimer’s thus making both or one of them effectively FEEL imaginary.
Dog or TV, notwithstanding.
A portrait of Satan’s Daughter.
As engaging and well-intentioned as this book she is in.
TEST CARD F
This is genuinely one of the most frightening short shorts I have ever read.
“The lino in the kitchen was hard; I felt safer there.”
A vivid account of sinking into everything.
A compelling book is often said to to build and build – this one is also compelling by appearing somehow to unbuild and unbuild.
SOME LAST REQUESTS
“Let’s go all avant-garde!”
Imagine death of oneself as an extrapolated corpse of a magpie?
Perhaps this is the turning-point where the book starts building again instead of unbuilding?
An accretive birth – false alarm or rebirth? Truth or mirage!
Whichever, the description is like a breaking skull and melting foam…
HERE, EVERYTHING IS STILL FLOATING
“; hear your moments sheared off one by one.”
This book seems to be a vision of cut and paste.Scissors, rock and sodden paper.
ANTI-CLIMAX (OR THE END OF A GAME)
“swills in spirals, sinking very slowly.”
“witness to the shining of puddles”
Witness, or wetness? Cf my concurrent review of a puddle here:
“but the fates take pity”
This short piece might ironically be the climax of this book?
It seems to be some sort of telling summary?
Several sections yet to read, though.
THE OPPOSITE OF FALLING
The suitcase man as a symbol of today’s Brexit.
“It has been filled to its oblong skin with metal things: knives and forks, bagsful of nuts and bolts. […] It is, was, ballast, it tethered him to the ground like the opposites of wings. Now he is ready to die, to lift forever from the earth, to find the place where even the angels would suffocate,…”
“His rockers are broken. He does not mind.”
Of more substantive size, this alternating, rocking to and fro of dual eras, surrounding the extraction of a lilac, deserves at least consideration for best short story of 2015.
Dual fates, too,
THREE CHILDREN ARE MENACED BY A NIGHTINGALE (AFTER ERNST)
A menacing story of nightingales taking the ‘singingness’ of our children to give to their own young. Before Ernst, with a chicken twist and a palimpsest of sound.
AT THE SHOW TRIAL
“The blue deer stretches out his voice at the air between the branches, wet as blackness, thinner than thinking. Hummingbirds flit like wild ideas, counter-notes to the sky’s gigantic pulse.”
If you think that is a truly great opening to a vignette, imagine what it is like when the whole vignette builds and builds beyond that.
WINTER AT HOME
A very moving piece, especially for me perhaps because I lost my mother while reading this book.
It is also the fructification and desiccation by sharp things, here the combined harvesting of icicles and eternal hibernation by ice, paradoxically blended, as the produce of my own approaching winter at home.
“Rosa stood back and gazed upon the face of God. His great cropped head was prickly with hair the colour of fibreglass.”
Sounds like me!
This the story of God’s cleaner named Rosa, the cleaner with Dyson of God’s house outside of which there are are always pickets. Sounds like a metaphor for today in Brexit Britain – a land founded while I have been reading this remarkable book.
Sounds, too, like a ‘dying fall’ coda for the whole symphony of words. A holiday as an ending.
God, Dog, Pigeons, sharp cutlery, provocative visions in a startlingly unique poetic style that is literally unmissable, because if you miss it you are no longer you. And more.
And, oh yes, Angels, one of whom eventually the cleaner herself becomes or tries to become, to be no longer Sub Rosa.
Sounds like phonemes and morphemes clicking and clacking on a Van Gogh roof.
This book just this minute cross-referenced here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2016/06/15/lanterns-of-the-old-night/#comment-7519
…and later cross-referenced here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2016/06/03/datura-or-a-figment-seen-by-everyone/#comment-7522
And again later here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2016/07/02/color-plates-by-adam-golaski/#comment-7726