7 thoughts on “The Felicity of Epigones – Derek John


    “It was a copy of ‘We Do Not Die‘ by Shaw Desmond…”

    A neatly down-in-the-mouth vignette about a rainy car boot sale that has the essence of blunted and depleted goods… And this my exegesis of the story’s exegesis of such exegeses.

  2. I read and reviewed this story here in 2012 and I show below what I wrote about it then:

    Le Frotteur des Livres – by Derek John

    Gentlemen readers at our magificent Bibliothèque Nationale had begun to complain of the pages of certain rare and valuable volumes being glued together by, and I quote: ‘an unknown organic substance’.”

    This is the ultimate hilarity concerned with books (unless the remaining – as yet unread – stories in BOOK contain something unexpected).  Ebooks (the ultimate invisible books) eat your hearts out!  But not only that, this story is stylistically brilliant, too, for those with a “fetish” for words and inserts (literal ‘inserts’ touched upon in my review’s intro above), possessing a seamless synergy, as it does, of three exquisite prose mannerisms that I, for one, have relished for most of my life: i.e. French Literary, East-European Weird and Lovecraftian Tentacular.  What more could I want?  Just further attritionally culinary ‘food for thought’ concerning the 20th Century’s wartime “bonfire of the vanities” towards a new slant on books becoming invisible… And to crown it all, it takes Blake’s aforementioned “invisible worm” in BOOK to perfect synchronous lengths! (2 Aug 12 – 1.00 pm bst)

    Sounds like another exegesis as attenuation or, even more rigorous, excision?

  3. I read and reviewed this story here in 2013 and below I show what I wrote about it then:

    In Our Deep Vaulted Cell by Derek John
    “Charles Myerson was in his early fifties and a modest inheritance had recently enabled him to take early retirement from his position in the civil service.”
    …although the civil service has little to do with whether Charles ends up as some sort of glorious saviour or miserable victim or failed saviour or ecstatic victim, or some or even all of these things.
    At first, I thought this lengthy story of a British couple setting up in an Italian ‘castle’ with a hidden chapel and a mixture of High Church holiness and sinisterness as backstory was very well written as a prose text but, as a plot, contrived, workmanlike, linear, if sometimes compellingly page-turning, true. But the aftertaste makes me think it is more than that, especially with the sexual-religious threnodies by this same author within the plot of his novella THE AESTHETE HAGIOGRAPHER which I judged (here) my actual top favourite book of all my reading of new books during 2012. And I now have a decided frisson that this luxurious TRANSACTIONS OF THE FLESH book with its black ribbon marker and spy-hole is indeed Derek John’s missing church Monstrance from this story and the Real Presence or Host within it is what I have just read.

    A spy-hole in a book’s cover as the ultimate exegesis?

  4. I reviewed this story in 2010 here and below is what I then wrote about it:


    Oblivion by Derek John

    From the strung-up puppets we just read about we have here at the beginning of this story the most striking ‘hanging’ scene I think I have ever read, including: “And now here I am, trapped six feet off the ground like an abandoned marionette…”
    This story will be loved by all MR James fans – with a tinge of Algernon Blackwood mysticism – giving a new slant on Immortality and the meaning of the phrase ‘Null Immortalis’ together with an ingenious (historically real?) conflation of ages and dates on gravestone inscriptions. Just an aside: I wonder if the climax was due to the Asbos he earlier irritated…? (4 Aug 10)

    I was very proud to publish this story in Nemonymous 10, an anthology where there needed to be at least one character named Tullis in each story.
    And I am pleased about its exegesis of the expression Null Immortalis, eventually resulting in my writing name for all the entries on this Dreamcatcher site of real-time reviews.
    Such Dreamcatching, I now feel, is the ultimate interpretation or exegesis of literary texts as Kunstreligion.
    (The spine of the Null Immortalis anthology had Megazanthus Ress instead of Megazanthus Press.)


    “Films, as everyone knows, are never shot in sequence; there is never any narrative in production.”

    This, for me, is a creatively deadpan inversion of the still anonymous “Vanishing Life and Films of Emmanuel Escobada”, an inverse exegesis as archivism, too, where a missing film director becomes his own secret epigone. The felicity of epigones, not a paradox, but a necessity for art to exist at all, with all the Jungian currents between artists or, as I have almost always called them, the synchronised shards of random truth and fiction.
    A story that is itself a Dreamcatcher, gathering leitmotifs into a gestalt, one that tells of a Director’s efforts (cross-sectioned through the tribulations of his own life and the developing stages of technical filming) to send piecemeal to the Film Archivist narrator his filming of “The Life of Count Potocki.”
    Loved it.


    “There can be no justice after this war. Both sides have fought like animals.”

    Very stylish prose about the brutally random-seeming scorched-earth policy at the closure in Austria and elsewhere of the Second World War, indeed even towards the core of that scorched earth “with its renegade dinosaurs, pomegranates and mermaid-crowded seas.” It seems appropriate that I read this story today, when it seems that Austria is about to vote in a far right-wing President for the first time since then…
    It tells of the Gustav Klimt paintings’ fate amidst this end-game of the war, including a solitary British soldier trying to get back to his sweetheart, but instead of cutting an excised or exegetic spy-hole in the book somehow, instead, snatches possession of a frayed fragment (depicting a woman’s breast?) of one of these paintings as an intangible relic of the war. There is much in this substantive work that I can’t cover here but it all blends in with an instinctively telling climax to this book’s gestalt, to the sound of Wagner’s music and a vision of blackened dugs and an Orgie, of a subject model of a portrait embracing herself in that portrait, with none of the Klimt prints in chronological order, of course, in tune with the previous story’s Bak and this story’s Bäcke… and the aircraft once as an extension of the pilot’s body now become a bucking bronco. All comes together, and more still yet to come together as “…a rising organic accretion of generations…”

    This is a truly beautiful bijou or pocket book with 188 pages as a Keynote Edition restricted to 275 copies, illustrated by Hans Rigo Kluger.

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