A fearless faith in fiction — Employing 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.
Pages 7 – 20
“Anticipation was the same as anxiety.”
I have become a fan of this author’s work. Simply that.
Well, I follow this character study of a young man called Benny who seems to blend a number of factors that make him uniquely him. Followed and pestered by busy-bodies who want to meddle in his life for his own good. He has a cursed life, in many ways, Asperger’s or OCD, perhaps, anxious absurd dreams, and so forth. But he also has a blessed life, being given free access to a therapist by one of the pestering do-gooders. But that does no justice to how all this is told. The witty turns of phrase, wise homilies and objective correlatives. There, I have just used an expression I usually keep in my head, being afraid to appear pretentious or simply confused about their meaning. And no justice, too, to the characters involved. And now upon the page where I have reached in the middle of this story, where the cover image is the latest busy-body on his sleeve. Climbing up towards his face, under the gaze of the therapist. And the internal artwork illustrations, so far, by artist NICK GUCKER are highly complementary to these my thoughts about the text, the text itself climbing up toward where it might like to reside in my head, if not for these images in the spaces-between so as to save me by making me afraid to continue beyond this point?
How to exemplify what I mean about this story’s accomplished style? If the author and publisher will forgive me, upon those dim shores where I see them standing beyond the text… I will quote a typical example of how happy people need to keep reminding all of us, as well as themselves, of their happiness. This leads to a simple deadpan ingenuity of fiction expression: “Benny thought of the newly happy as a frayed wire, compressed by duct tape and sputtering with a current they couldn’t handle.”
A frayed wire soon becomes afraid wire for me, I find. Crossed and unearthed.
(This chapbook is signed by artist and author, and is numbered 132/150.)
Pages 20 – 33
“Through tunnels and sewers, night clouds and falling leaves, he had a dim awareness.”
The mirth that can move the earth.
Sometimes you read something, and you know it works, but not HOW it works. The best way to work.
Whether, here, it is EITHER some retrocausal-gradual version of Kafka’s metamorphosis instead of a sudden forward-linear version OR a fabulous instinct from that shamefully pretentious ‘objective correlative’ expression I used earlier: an instinct where a fantastical thing happens for real, a language metaphor having taken physical passage upon me, a living metaphor, where I am the 43 bus and the passengers all different bits of me, a therapy by accidental blatant unmasking of utter self-absorption where ‘therapist’ becomes the rapist full stop dot period end.
It is, I suggest, none of those things. It is something quite else, taking you by the positive scruff of the neck. Just look at the stag’s head, its antlers at first tumescently stiffened wide apart as shown in Gucker’s depiction of this stag upon a breast, then, at the end, its antlers finally poised nearer, tantalisingly about to touch each other, wire to wire, like God’s and Adam’s fingers upon the Sistine ceiling shortly to complete their circuit.
And the front cover image, I just noticed, seems to bear out that theory!!
Thanks again for this lovely real-time review. I appreciate it. – S.P.