Just received my purchased copy of this book.
Edited by Peter Coleborn & Pauline E. Dungate
ALCHEMY PRESS 2016
Work by Allen Ashley, Simon Avery, Stephen Bacon, Simon Bestwick, James Brogden, Ramsey Campbell, Mike Chinn, Gary Couzens, Sarah Doyle, Jan Edwards, Paul Edwards, Liam Garriock, John Grant, Terry Grimwood, Andrew Hook, John Howard, Ian Hunter, Tom Johnstone, Mat Joiner, Tim Lebbon, Alison Littlewood, Simon MacCulloch, Gary McMahon, David Mathew, Adam Millard, Chris Morgan, Pauline Morgan, Thana Niveau, Marion Pitman, John Llewellyn Probert, Rosanne Rabinowitz, Nicholas Royle, Lynda E. Rucker, Steve Savile, David A. Sutton, Steve Rasnic Tem, Mark Valentine, Joe X. Young.
My long-term on-going page for Joel HERE.
Hopefully as amends for not being involved, for whatever reason, in this book, I intend to carry out a real-time review of it in the comment stream below…
Does it include the fragments and notes that the writers were working from?
Not sure yet.
“If some of the stories are not rigorously perfect, it doesn’t matter. Each of them has been written as a tribute to a man they regarded as a friend; a friend whose presence is deeply missed.”
I intend this slow-motion review to be my own such tribute to Joel, along with my Joel page linked above.
I have just read Pauline E. Dungate’s introduction where the above sentence appears. It is a fascinating and admirable account of the reclamation of Joel and his literary accoutrements from his abode.
There are example photocopies of Joel’s handwriting in this book but as far as I can see there is no systematic attempt to link fragments with the various authors’ adaptions or continuations. I will report back on this as I go through the book fiction item by fiction item.
Admirable, too, that proceeds of this book are due to go to Diabetes UK.
I decided not to include Joel’s originals — some of which were mere paragraphs, some A4 pages or more. Including these would have made designing the book more difficult (for me at least). I compromised with the merged scans of Joel’s notes. They (the notes) will be donated to the SF Library in Liverpool in due course.
Makes sense. With the anthology based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s notes they were included, but they were very short (e.g. “Lois and the bear hiding in the Yellowstone” or “Driving over the rooftops on a bet”).
JOEL by Chris Morgan
“Not death, then, but immortality.”
I refer to this finely touching (and half-harshly realistic!) tribute, not because it is among the book’s various introductions, but because it is set out typographically as a poem or free verse. I loved and reviewed Joel’s poetry and free verse.
List of ‘introductions’:-
Foreword by Peter Coleborn
Introduction by Pauline E. Dungate
Joel by Chris Morgan
Not Dispossessed: A Few Words on Joel Lane’s Early Published Works by David A. Sutton
The Conscience of the Circuit by Nicholas Royle
There are a number of photocopies of the Lane fragments, this one being a palimpsest. You will need to buy the book to see all the others.
I intend to read and review each story in this book on a rough daily basis.
Any links to authors’ names will be to my previous reviews of their work.
EVERYBODY HATES A TOURIST by Tim Lebbon (The Reach of Children)
“…passing tables laden with empty bottles and glasses and surrounded by people who were all starting to look the same.”
Jenny as narrator is starting life and work anew in Birmingham and she visits her friend Emily, the only person she knows there. This is a frightening portrait of alienation even from a friend, with a scene in a dance club that will stay with you. That alienation is itself subsumed by an incident in the city with flashing lights that “were mostly blue.” And suffocated by cloying visions of other people having sex. I’d say a text worthy of the infusion Lebbonane. Alienation as a paradoxical blend of outward dispersing and inward swaddling forces?
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THE MISSING By John Llewellyn Probert
“I switched the computer off. That was what you were supposed to do, wasn’t it? Switch it off and on again to make it work?”
Something thus remains; something to restart.
This is an important story, I sense, in the book’s context, a story that was bound to appeal to the likes of me, with someone discharged early from hospital after cerebral trauma, taken by taxi back to a disarming blank memory, a potentially blank home, a blank hobby, all of which should have meant something. A hobby about films. Even the friendly taxi driver can’t really help.. The film THE MISSING – a reference to a film directed by Emmanuel Escobada? The bleached stills of monstrous creatures and bandaged children, notwithstanding
CHARMED LIFE by Simon Avery
“It was like sleeping with someone made of shattered glass.”
If you read some of my past reviews of Joel’s work, you may see the expression “Lane-like” to describe the stories being reviewed. I never meant that in a facetious or critical or, even, a ouroboric way. It was just a statement of fact, as cuttingly frank as the relationships being adumbrated, the bleak environment being carved, the haunting diaspora of souls and bodies often brought on stage as a finale. It was an obsessive and incantatory feel I meant by “Lane-like”. All credit to Avery, when I say that this powerful, touching text is the quintessence or apotheosis of what I meant by Lane-likeness.
It tells of your being discharged from psychic care after a brutalised separation from a partner, back to the scene of that trauma. You were the brutaliser, it seems, but now via, some awareness of self as a discrete being like a shadow or reflection, there is a difficult catharsis, after the self dares you back into the dangers of that dark and drugged world whence such relationships are formed. There is far more to it it than that, and I cannot do justice to it here. But it is a scenario where Lane-like becomes truly ouroboric, this time. A clinching catharsis.
Another example, too, of this book’s turning on and off to reboot or heal?
As an aside, I am proud to have published three of Joel’s stories, one of which still remains uncollected, as catalogued here: http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/title.cgi?1145262
Many thanks for this, Des. Your reviews of my work always mean a great deal to me.
Would it be ok to post this review on Facebook?
ANTITHESIS by Alison Littlewood
“: strobe lights echoed the chest-deep duff-duff-duff of the bass.”
This equally powerful story is in fact the baseline or bass line of the previous story, an anthem of antithesis, a theme and variations on an original theme, where the rediscovery of your ex with that ex’s new boyfriend in a rock pub called the Night Side is a tension not only between musical notes but also between believing that the good forces you sense as a “presence” of angels or guardians are on your own side and then believing they may be on the side of the night’s side against you, as you try to grate away the face between him and you, another self that created a new Ouroboros…
Or that’s how I see it in the evolving context of the book. Something not “averted” but brutally transcended. The allowance of the guardians or witnesses, notwithstanding. And today perhaps we are those witnesses by dint of this book.
DARK FURNACES by Chris Morgan
“No longer was steel strip being rolled and coiled, then chopped up and pressed into small anonymous shapes vital for industry. It was a semi-urban district with no name, no clear centre and no live music.”
A threnody of “sudden passivity” as well as a convincing but constructively oblique tale that is based on a theme and variations from Joel’s ‘Where Furnaces Burn” book, whereby pensionward-tiptoeing policemen — despite the tale’s believable narrator policeman’s best endeavours — nod through suicides as simply suicides, and witnesses’ and/or suspects’ facial expressions hide the significance of a haunting Goth girl’s dire entropy upon all those young (and older?) men that she happens to deploy her scrawny self upon…
Ultimately a text that is deadpan passive in itself, as a metaphor of our times, with dead bodies ironically called dark furnaces…
BROKEN EYE by Gary McMahon
“Everything was rushing in and pulling away at the same time:”
That Littlewood/Lane ‘antithesis’ again. That Lane-like Diaspora or Ouroboros, both of which I have already mentioned in this review . As if the word ‘night’ explained everything. A tower block and orgy as both Diaspora and Ouroboros, invited and spurned to join their wall of suppuration and passion, in various permutations, amid the dereliction of the direly endemic urban existence pervading Joel’s visionary fiction. And one of those sorry souls who multi-collects the video boxes as old-fashioned creatures themselves audibly shuttling along with their once spooled or spoolable nightsters depicted within, coming to life to confirm the life we’ve left others to share, after unspooling them from the twisted towers of flesh…
You can always depend on McMahon, when at his best or, even, at his less than best. But the optimum McMahon is when he is both those things, in “simultaneous attack and retreat”, as here.
Cf ‘Alienation as a paradoxical blend of outward dispersing and inward swaddling forces?’ that I mentioned above in connection with the Lebbonane work.
My previous Gary McMahon reviews: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/746-2/
STAINED GLASS by John Grant
I have always found this author’s work compelling with crisp turns of phrase, a narrative drive and panache.. And this story is no exception. But its brainwave is that the story holds, as a vessel, the secret of a darker canalised pungency of a Joel Lane fiction, like this story’s own described brandy balloon-glass is that same vessel holding a drink with the taste expectation of what it is meant to hold…. It is as if the crisp narration configures the characters from the fiction its has distilled, for example, the Thatcherite poll tax, a train journey through the Hell of Bosch’s dark furnaces, and a scrawny woman called Ellie threading herself through a panoply of reincarnated memories reflected in a singled narrative mirror’s “synchronised shards of random truth and fiction.”
Ellie, too, for me, is that scrawny Goth threading the above Morgan story’s Dark Furnaces.
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As an another aside, this is my gestalt real-time review of Joel Lane’s edited BENEATH THE GROUND anthology. This book was published by Alchemy Press in 2003 (their first publication?) and my review was during 2009 when I think AP was dormant and awaiting its resurgence more recently?
THE INNER EAR by Marion Pitman
“music distils experience,”
With music being my favourite art form, this beautifully thoughtful poem about the positively pervasive predominancy of sound really convinces me.
THREADBARE by Jan Edwards
“I would much prefer coffee, with a slug of brandy, […] The stoneware mug, the one with the moulded dragon curled around the belly, is tactile, almost animate when filled with warm liquid.”
…which echoes powerfully Grant’s use of ‘vessel’ to contain Lane, and it is the taste as expectation that counts. And I was completely disarmed by this story, by its utterly chilling Tarot session where past recriminations and broken affairs are transcended or made more bitter, a way of seeing or ‘reading’ things via the vessel this time of occult prestidigitation, as well as, later, by the real images in the texture evolved from the woman’s workaday loom, but also pareidoliac images within the snagging, teasing, worrying weft and weave, an effect that resonates with her evocative dreams of coldly urban Tyseley…as led by a fox to someone else’s lair or its own earth? The earth and fire of actually fulfilled recrimination?
Thank you for your kind comments.x
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THE DARK ABOVE THE FAIR by Terry Grimwood
“‘The Last Time’ faded away.”
A paean to ‘Not Fade Way’? And ‘Something Remains’.
This, for me, is an evocatively seminal fiction work upon the Mods and Rockers phenomenon in the early 1960s, of which I was a direct witness. In fact, I now live in a seaside place where one of the biggest ‘battles’ took place.
Here, it carries a convincing genius-loci of seaside fair and at least a poignantly tentative tinge of the Capulets and Montagues motif in the believable characters of the Narrator as the Mod and Simon as the Rocker….
And a dawning retroactive ending with, for me, the musical ‘dying fall’ of the Animals and Stones in palimpsest
This review will now continue HERE.
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