8 thoughts on “Seduction of the Golden Pheasant

  1. Copy numbered 28/81. Luxuriously upholstered book with quality materials, about 10 inches square, 54 pages, marker ribbon, all generously designed with much artwork etc, dust jacket, and embossed hardback cover.

    My previous reviews of Damian Murphy’s work HERE.

    My previous reviews of this publisher’s works HERE.

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    Pages 7 – 9

    “…Séraphine Cloutier, her face-mask positively owl-like above her elaborate white party dress.”

    An extremely intriguing start as the masked guests are invited in for the party by Séraphine, and she effectively gives them carte blanche for stealing items from her chateau. There are rules to this ‘game’ which I will not cover here for fear of spoilers and I am excited to continue reading this book (a temptation I shall temporarily resist, a resistance for its own sake) to see if I can steal anything from the text without anyone noticing. I also wonder whether this ‘game’ is a tontine – or whether it has 81 prizes, one for each of us.

  3. Pages 10 – 14

    “in the grips of a sublime intoxication.”

    …a description of a photograph of a younger Séraphine as seen by our eyes In this visit to the chateau, our eyes being those of Valérie, whose father, originally accompanying her, fails at his own theft task. This point-of-view’s description, too, of the chateau and its masked denizens is one of sublime intoxication in prose. It really is.
    Until we leave along with Valérie. Which of us successful, I will leave to your imagination. If any.

  4. Pages 14 – 20

    “She mingles the streams, intermixes the tenets of one faith with another.”

    A blend of temple with temple, chateau with chateau, Séraphine’s son with Valérie’s father, a single and singular wallpaper intermixing and re-triangulating coordinates within itself, conversations over tea and Taoism, Viet Nam, and what was thieved or not on the night of the party. Increasingly intriguing and character-building. Even the prose style is syntactically syncretic, too.

  5. Pages 20 – 30

    “Below appeared the name of the author, which meant so little to her that she immediately forgot it.”

    ae49736f4cae8dc080c029fc36b3d702But this book’s author, whether the name is remembered or not, produces, for me, work that grows EVEN better and better the more I read of this author or the more this author writes new and newer works about these rarefied books that are created within such works. No exception here, as V receives a book (not the thing thieved by her, but freely borrowed from S’s chateau), a book that transliterates with the temples in her own chateau’s wallpaper. V is not a yellow wallpaper woman, but a woman far more destined to have thieved, with the arguably knowing nod of its owner, something I shall keep from you until you read THIS book that will entrammel something inside you, not your heart, soul or spirit, but something perhaps even more significant. You learn to handle these “logographic” things the more you read this author. And the more they actually handle you.
    The characters interact either in person or by some sort of ‘homing pigeon’ between book and book, temple and temple, woman and woman, father and father, and there are the “cherished cigarettes” handled, too…

  6. Pages 30 – 39

    “Séraphine appeared a third and final time in the theater of Valérie’s dreams. They swapped identities back and forth several times within the course of the dream, having grown so intimate as to comprise a single entity in two phases.”

    A golden pheasant as another objective correlative or leitmotif emerges at some point in these gestalt synergies of mutuality between woman and woman, temple and wallpaper, perhaps as an overdone version of the homing pigeon I earlier suggested. Perhaps I should have suggested a magpie, too, In view of the invited thieving? Indeed, this text grows superbly overdone, and it does not seem to matter HOW overdone because the rarefied concepts such as ‘Pao’ or ‘luminous gnosis of the ancient adepts’ actually make you the reader feel you have become one of the ancient adepts yourself. Nor, somehow, is the ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ scenario of luxuriance by impending séance offputting. Nor the arcane or pompish rituals. Nor the recurring incantatory images such as S’s self-admitted “ridiculous entrance” after which “She placed the cigarette between her lips and partook deeply of the rich, dark smoke…”
    I leave the text for a nonce just as V defies S’s instructions by wandering off from the séance et al. You may feel I have abandoned V, just to report so far these events real-time for you, so I intend now to hasten back there.

  7. Pages 39 – 50

    “To breach the temple uninvited would incur a definite consequence, a penalty by means of which the exalted heights of anonymity might be attained.”

    Via such, for me, essence of Nemonymity, I am back, by the skin of my teeth and health, alongside or within V, where “The sense of trespass was almost overbearing.” Almost. The gorgeousness of prose,too. “Nearly laughable” as the text itself slips in. Nearly, but never. Along with V’s growing contempt for S’s son whom she meets again, and his cynicism regarding his own mother and her over-doings. I sense at one point that V is the pheasant herself being hunted by S whom V has abandoned to the so-called séance (comprising all us 81 readers which the book itself somehow gives us such status within its text, with our showing various characteristics, but perhaps too many for a single séance?) – until I see this phrase: “Valérie passed between them like a peasant…” (My underlining.)

    “statuettes of birds”, “flitting like the wings of birds in flight”, “a rare bird in the night” … I am sure I myself have instead become the homing pigeon for this book? Yet the message I bring can never be definite as to the outcome of whether there is any doubt of there eventually being, at the end of this long night, a vicious battle or loving clinch between the two women, temple within temple, who photographed by whom, in this probably ever-resonating book once you’ve put it down. I must return to it eventually in the guise of moral-veering Valérie, as pheasant or peasant, or the reader “who, by means of cunning and acuity had gained the upper hand in their own interrogation.”

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