Stories by Reggie Oliver, Jonathan Wood, B. Catling, Avalon Brantley, Daniel Mills, Brendan Connell, Andrew Condous, Martin Hayes, Ray Russell, Colin Insole, Mark Valentine, D.P. Watt, Damian Murphy, Michael Siefner, Paul Wallfisch, Ron Weighell, Chris Mikul, Richard Gavin, Thomas Phillips, Carl Abrahamsson, Andrew Liles, Supervert, Charles Schneider, Thomas Stromsholt, Timothy Jarvis, Alcebiades Diniz Miguel.

When I start real-time reviewing this book, probably in November, my comments will appear in the thought stream below….

28 thoughts on “BOOKLORE

  1. BOOKLORE – A Passion for Books

    This Zagava book is generously supplied with several gorgeous full-page colour paintings that appeal to my Tate Gallery tastes of yore. It is a large-size handsome artefact, numbered 87/170 in seeming indelible pencil. Well over 200 pages.

    I normally real-time review only fiction works, but much of this book, at least, seems to be non-fiction. Enticing non-fiction galore. Let’s see how I go…


    EPITHALAMION by Reggie Oliver

    An engaging unmissable account of a visit (to a place quite close to where I live) by the author and his wife Joanna to an old lady connected with the author’s famous aunt who was named Stella Gibbons, well, famous to me. I will not rehearse the circumstances of this visit as that would spoil your reading about it, but it does end with a candid and touching reference to Joanna’s own later dementia… in hindsight a background to my favourite story written by this author (Flowers of the Sea) that I was very proud to have first published in 2011.

  2. This book edited by Alcebíades Diniz Miguel and Jonas Ploeger.

    Illustrations: Erika Seguín Colás

    Design by Jan-Marco Schmitz


    by Jonathan Wood

    …and that is just what it is. The apotheosis of book collecting, and the books one finds, the power of books themselves, as portrayed by an author who seems to tap secrets beyond the reach of most of us, judging by his fiction works I have reviewed in recent years.

    “Nothing mattered and nothing matters now, save for the religion of books and the calling out across the shores after midnight for lost volumes and lost friends, seeking out their rightful owner and companion.”

  3. STELLA C by B. Catling

    “There is much of Schwitters and Duchamp here.”

    This short pondering upon Harry Price, is itself knowingly infected by his pros and cons as a psychic researcher and concupiscent man, blending, perhaps appropriately for this book, fact and fiction, as well as “a disgrace of intention and forgetfulness of desire”. It synchronously hints, too, of my last week’s visit to THE LAST WORD IN ART exhibition in Cheltenham that I have already mentioned in my reviews (particularly here.) The power of a text properly sited in its proper book is more than just the text, by reading and dreamcatching taken into overdrive?

  4. A DEAD MAN’S HOUSE by Avalon Brantley

    “But the books!
    Take one up, reverently, and bring it to the table, like a loved-one’s body, like a bride, one who just might still be alive.”

    This is an absorbing, instructive, meticulously descriptive wandering by a widow through her late husband’s old books, a wandering conducted for the reader’s own felt personal benefit. Even “impossible books”. Impossible temples?
    Just to pick out one from many things. The binding of some from animals, and a few Ex Occidente Books seem to have had the hard covers treated like animal skins?
    I will not reveal the startling ending of this otherwise delightful prose journey of book-wandering.

    “But Will will out.”

  5. Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose 1885-6 by John Singer Sargent 1856-1925
    by Daniel Mills

    “I lived and dreamt between the pages”

    As I do between the pages of this author’s own book, till I pick it up again….
    This, meanwhile, is a rhapsodic account of his older childhood reading book: Seidensticker’s translation of THE TALE OF GENJI, interleaved with the later birth of his own daughter from ultrasound and beyond…
    Needs to be read several times to enhance its twilit beauty…

  6. THE AVATAṂSAKA SŪTRA by Brendan Connell

    “Sound of Melodious Roaring Thunder Setting Forth the Ornament of Self Assurance,”

    A symbol for our times?
    This is a theme and variations, by a fine word composer of our own times, portraying the discovery of this Buddhist Sūtra, giving it its rightful prominence within a book about passions about books, to be read during a tea-drinking ceremony, I would guess. Or while drifting with clouds.

  7. COSMIC ODYSSEY by Andrew Condous

    “A space travelogue dictated from some unborn tongue by the chrononaut and astronaut known as Captain Udeis or Nemo.”

    This author has become a mysterious haunter of my reading in recent years as demonstrated by the link above, and his bio here does little to dilute the mystery, thank goodness. This story – full of al obscure words, so obscure they seem like neologisms – tantalisingly gives me a vision of ancient books that cohere animalistically with their curators, especially in this Parisian library. And drawn from this vision is an ostensible SF book in 24 Chants, written in Ancient Greek allied with ‘Czech flesh’, whence we are later treated with its extrapolations both in cigar-smoky spoken word and the narrator’s later encounters – and with relevance to the narrator’s childhood. I somehow suspect that I have the only copy of BOOKLURE with this Condous work in it.

    “In fact written by Václav Jaroslav Pinkava (aka Jan Křesadlo who was born in Prague in 1926 and passed away in Colchester in 1995).”

  8. FISHING FOR THE PIKE by Martin Hayes

    Or is it a tench?
    Whatever the case, I am sure I have heard of Cliff Twemlow before, as I used to frequent (still do, now and again) a discussion forum that showed the cover and gave this description of his pulp horror book THE PIKE here in 2010:
    I also watched CORRIE in the early 1960s, and I possibly saw him on it then!
    I enjoyed this article as a consuming account of Twemlow’s life and of Hayes’ passion for Twemlow’s PIKE….And I loved the circumstances of the synchronicity of Hayes buying the paperback in the first place.

    by Ray Russell (R.B. Russell)

    “The celebrated event at the heart of LE GRAND MEAULNES is a ‘fete’, a party stumbled upon by the hero of the book, Augustin Meaulnes.”

    A personal appreciation, of the Alain-Fournier book, that has encouraged me to seek out and re-read it. A book that has stayed with me as a title that reminds me that I loved it but, till I read this essay, I had not remembered anything about it except that one scene embodied in the quote above. A book on a nearby bookshelf somewhere in my home , so close, but till now, un-reattainable as an re-requited love…a go-between to my youthful reading.
    Meanwhile, I have now enjoyed the deep relationship with this book that Russell describes, the foibles and skills involved in this relationship, his impulse to make his own translation of it, and his ultimate belief in unbelievable coincidences.

  10. THE BOOK OF UNWONA by Colin Insole

    “And what other poems, histories and mythologies were missed and ended up stoking the fires to provide pies and roasts for Tudor banquets or stopping the bungholes of a beer barrel?”

    This is a book-stopping essay. A WHAT IF? of ancient book survival and how our British lives post-Saxon pre-Brexit would have changed if the opportunities of preservation had been taken, for example in one book transcribed by one called UNWONA. This takes on particular force with the essay’s theory that when ancient man lost his books about the past, he lost his future, too.
    An essay that matches the overall BOOKLORE title perfectly. And now having read it, we can move on to the next essay…

    Playing the Glass Bead Game
    In Memoriam Reiner Rolff
    by Mark Valentine

    “They are sometimes made in sand for the waves to erase, sometimes made with leaves for the wind to seize, and sometimes formed with stones and pebbles that look lie there by chance.”

    I feel this immaculately engaging essay says as much for Herman Hesse’s Glass Bead Game (also important to me in my youth, I suddenly remember!) and as much for Reiner Rolff’s attempts to recreate the Glass Bead Game itself as it says for what I consider to be Mark Valentine’s own potential legacy as a great exponent of literature. Not that was his intention.


    “I was barely able to see through the windows, stacked as they were with books, all of whose spines faced inside, as though they were not meant to entice customers inside, but rather block their view.”

    A novel as a short story with picaresque-novel type chapter headings, and ‘our protagonist’ finding a bookshop while randomly exploring an unfamiliar town. This is classic D.P. Watt for any long-term fan (as I am) of his work.
    This one also fits the Jungian-connective/collective as well as fragile uniqueness ethos of my ‘gestalt real-time reviews’ (as well as the loose-leafed version of the ethos of DPW’s own puppeteering preoccupations.)

    “‘You know, in thinking about stuff, and changing the way you look at things. You don’t need some special book to do that, just every book.’
    ‘Every book,’ I said, still not following.
    ‘Yes, any book,’ he said…”

    by Damian Murphy

    “Thus is the temple constructed in the mental landscape of the reader, a task which necessarily must be completed before the rites can proceed.”

    A striking description of a personal ‘passion’, in a secular as well as a spiritual sense, for a book, in this case: TOPOLOGY OF A PHANTOM CITY by Alain Robbe-Grillet.
    It is what I hope in hindsight I bring to books with my type of reviews, as I know books – of a certain preternaturally transcendental or hyper-imaginative cast – can bring structures of faith to myself. And this essay is the first time I have seen such a phenomenon brought to reconcilable fruition. Read it and see.
    And, much to the frowning of mere shallow book lovers, I also admire as well as echo the marking-up of such books with personal ‘graffiti’ and/or the altruistic leaving of such books in public places for others to find as ‘found art’…even ‘found faith.’


    An engaging account of exploring the ‘traboules’ of a foggy Lyons, along with his understanding wife, and, on a financial budget, seeking antiquarian occult books as part of his avid collection. With a sense of angst in departures delayed or missed and blurred pursuing figures discerned, he is tempted into purchasing the eponymous book as a presumed bargain, a book with a text, if not itself, prefigured as having a “distinctive daemonic smell.”
    This Siefener text itself seemed to me to harbour a “cone zero.”


    An essay on the author’s passion for THE ALEXANDRIAN QUARTET by Lawrence Durrell. And, inter alia, he says of Durrell –

    “No other writer that I know of makes as convincing a case for an atheistic worldview infused with spirituality and the magic of love.”

    So that’s where I get it from! You see, I read this QUARTET of books when i was about 16 or 17 some fifty years ago. I was then entranced by its prose style and my then one-off experience of it changed my whole approach to literature as I continued to grow up. Its narrative technique of converging possibly undependable narrators also grabbed me. It is now good to know what else might have rubbed off on me, like its interconnection with other facets of life as absorbingly demonstrated here by Wallfisch.

    But I am reluctant to re-read it to confirm these things either way. You see, until now, my main connection with Durrell has been a striking quote from his Avignon Quincunx books that I appreciated when reading these books much later in my life. A quote I have often drawn attention to on-line ….

  16. THE BOOK AND THE LABYRINTH by Ron Weighell

    “As to books fatal to their readers, accident plays its part, from obsessed collectors crushed under an avalanche of their purchases to mites that live in books and can kill librarians.”

    And this essay is rightly serious, too, in its fulsome study of the effect of books as a powerful preternatural force that supplements the words within them, a force seemingly inimical or constructive as well as sublime, dealing, inter alios, with Machen, Milton, Browne and “the assurance of John Donne that the scattered pages of humanity will one day be gathered up in that library where every volume will lie open to one another.”
    And more overtly arcane and spiritual books.
    I have long tried to foster this element of books in my interconnected labyrinth of gestalt real-time reviews, and thus tried to eschew ebooks in recent years. Indeed, Weighell’s own ‘book’ Tarshishim (see my link above for my review of it) is an example of this phenomenon….but as Weighell himself more than just or justly hints, the dreaded proof of this phenomenon by its nature is only in the reading, and then it is too late!

    “Every book has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens.” —from ‘The Shadow Of The Wind’ by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

  17. IN SEARCH OF STEDMAN by Chris Mikul

    “I was amazed, overwhelmed. On any sensible critical evaluation, this was appalling stuff. And yet, and yet…there was something strangely wonderful about it,

    I am not impugning the thoughts behind this excellent essay that are relevant to today’s events. but their description of eccentrics “blazing their own trail” goes a long way to EXPLAINING the importuning effects of such phenomena in our world…
    And by understanding such things, we can either harness or destroy them…
    Meanwhile this is an engaging and often amusing description (with example quotes) of the author’s quest for the books of literary eccentrics, such as Amanda McKittrick Ros and William Nathan Stedman.
    For me, bad and good can transcend each other, but it is important that the right direction of transcendence is clearly chosen.

  18. J.R. HANSLET’S ‘ALL OF THEM WITCHES’ by Richard Gavin

    “…womb and tomb. Conjoined by the blackness they wield,…”

    Although one of this book’s shorter essays, it expands illimitably – between the margins of that conscious conjoinment – with the effect of a book sought but never found.

    And these unforgettable lines that I hope the author will forgive me quoting here: “I confess that a good portion of my existence has been spent in pursuit of such darkness, of these hinterlands of whisper and shadow. Whether this inclination is righteous or malignant, whether it is a symptom of pathology, karmic debt, or some other cause du jour I cannot say.”

  19. THE SINGULAR CEREMONIES by Thomas Phillips

    “The night seems to him one of quiet howling.”

    …or hawling? Dreamcatching? Gestalt real-time reviewing? This intriguing, richly word-textured essay seems in itself a real-time review – and as the text, via self from self, looks at a book of a book (TED Klein’s CEREMONIES from POROTH), I real-time review a real-time book review. An uncanny experience, one that has urged me to buy this book and read it for the first time, perhaps real-time review it.
    A pluralising experience,

  20. TANGIBLE EVANESCENCE by Carl Abrhamsson

    A very engaging essay on why some books call to you again and again. For me, this is coupled with how to keep books you enjoy banked in some memory or dreamcaught. Abrahamsson’s treatment of Ernst Jünger’s ON THE MARBLE CLIFFS and Yukio Mishima’s SUN & STEEL is fascinating, and I learned a lot as I have not read them. Also, his seeing these two books as one book is certainly attuned to my own gestalt real-time reviews as a growing interconnected labyrinth. And I agree with him that the process of such labyrinthisation may entail the danger of destroying the books’ “magic”. For me, so far, it hasn’t, but actually increased the magic. So, rest assured, Carl, and thanks for such a thought-provoking essay,

  21. A FUTILE PURSUIT? by Andrew Liles

    “My collection of books fuse together to make one personal narrative, the collective intelligence and creativity of all these individual authors makes one unifying whole,…”

    A concept that underlies my gestalt real-time reviewing since 2008… and I have great fellow feeling with this essay – for several reasons – as we follow its author from his toilet to his ‘mucky cupboard’, seeking and eking out, as he puts it. To find the one book he has been asked to name as the book of books.
    I loved it, and the type of writers he toys with, before he decides he cannot choose between his children. Hope that is not a spoiler.

  22. 120 DAYS FOREVER by Supervert

    “Texts are bootlegged in droves today but there is something unique about doing it to Sade.”

    A well-argued text – via Kafka’s harrowing Penal Colony – where text can really hurt and create something other than what it means, towards there being two adjectives taken from Sade’s name, rather than just ‘sadistic’.
    Sadean: a form of Masochism from deliberately reading words, such as this essay?
    Also an intriguing study of the relationship between writing and crime. A moving feast that is crime, in fact. So interesting, it sort of diluted the Sadeanism!

    by Charles Schneider (previous reviews of this author HERE and HERE)

    “If the sun shined up from the earth, how dreadful things would be!”

    Alone worth the entrance price into BOOKLORE (which is named within this piece), Charles Schneider has here provided a true, fulsome, meticulously evidenced, compelling, inspiring and (in the end) worrying (good luck with the ending, Charles) account of a book that he once sent off and many years later, by some fascinating paths of coincidence or destiny, travelled back to him via the synchronicity of the Internet. Naming names and featuring a magus who inspired Charles’ own youth, this essay presents a magic synchronicity that I hope will rub off on my own gestalt real-time reviewing wherein I, too, strive for such a quality of quest-and-discovery. This essay seems so far to be the most added-value ingredient to my own quest….

    by Thomas Strømsholt

    “Literature is a most precarious thing.”

    Precious, too. And this absorbing essay – about a Zeno’s Paradox of a bibliographic hunt for THE SPIRITUAL HUNT (a spoken-of book that arguably no-one has ever held in their hand) — deals with both precariousness and preciousness, a love for a writer’s work like Rimbaud and his poetry to the point of cherishing a lifetime’s battered books with his poems printed inside and ever seeking another precious work by that poet, one that always will be even more precious as long as you are seeking it.
    The people-precariousness such as that of Verlaine’s wife, notwithstanding!
    (The ribaldry of Rimbaldists is not relevant, but something I somehow conceived while reading this essay!)

  25. AS A STRANGER GIVE IT WELCOME by Timothy Jarvis

    “…the library, a room, part of the house having collapsed into the waves, open to the weather, to spindrift from the sea. The three walls that still stand are lined with shelves filled with mouldering Conrads and Ford Maddox Fords.”

    …an image that stays with me amid this relatively lengthy essay that explores (in some detail) the strange byways when reading the novel MORE THINGS IN HEAVEN (1947) by Walter Owen. Many allusions to historical background and other writers such as Iain Sinclair, Shakespeare, M.R. James, Borges, plus mention of unnerving synchronicities with the essayist’s own book of novelistically interwoven tales: THE WANDERER.
    I am not sure if the final upshot of this essay is fiction or fact, or both; I leave others to decide.

  26. A SPECTRAL PEOPLE by Alcebíades Diniz Miguel

    “There exists a particular type of person that seeks to rescue old and forgotten books from death, from dramatic destruction by fire, from melancholic decay and insidious oblivion.”

    A timely essay on the the three ways of finishing a book, as this essay does, in its own spiritually textured way of obliquely bringing forth to our attention the writers in this very book who have used it to safeguard their passion for certain books. They will become spectral people no doubt one day, and live as the books themselves, I sense, for which they were saviours. The act of writing as saving a text, not deleting it…
    I hope that my ephemeral method here of deploying the book, as its lore unto itself, has been able to exploit such spectral ephemerality to further the immanence of the reading mind.

    As an aside, I predict there will be another fine book like this one in time’s immemorial dreamcatchment area and that book will have at least one essay in it about BOOKLORE itself as the book cherished or sought after most.


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