12 thoughts on “Some Will Not Sleep – Adam L.G. Nevill

  1. Where Angels Come In

    “Nana Alice smells like the inside of overflow pipes at the back of the council houses.”

    The inferred creator of this text seems to be the person of whom to be scared most! By the way, my Nana was also called Alice, a most important figure in my life. This is your telling to her – in hope of her salvation (from both directions of salvation) – of your boyish trip to the white house on the hill (far scarier that the real White House with its new potential tenant?) – an archetypal house of horrors, with fiddled kids and their dolls and statues with hearts in their hands and old people with sticks not to assist old limbs but BE such limbs, yes, a cornucopia of visionary terrors each single one of which could have made on its own a great horror story about nothing else. That’s what I mean, it’s overdosing on tropes so that you sick them up to allow yourself to overdose all over again – and again. And it somehow works.
    A mockery of subtlety, a one-fingering at the nightmarish overlap, because each nightmare works discretely if not discreetly. And just one example of its strength is in the pissing down the legs through rushing this act as well as the piss making your legs wobbly with worry from within. Not only the mind gets scared but each and every other single bit of you does, too. A literary experimentation in mass vulnerability targeting. Each piecemeal fright denying in defiance their own eventual gestalt of fright. And that is possibly the most frightening thing of all… no pickering or choosing.

    “Even taking slow, reluctant steps got us there real quick. And on legs full of warm water I followed Pickering up to the doors.”

  2. The Original Occupant

    “I noticed another configuration of horseshoes nailed about the porch canopy, to protect the entrance of God’s house. If indeed these primitive iron symbols were used to ward off evil spirits, then why would a crucifix not suffice? Perhaps, an irritating voice cried out inside me, because a cross is not recognised by eyes older than the origin of that symbol.”

    When does a gentleman’s stylised even hackneyed tale of terror told to another gentleman over dinner and cigars become a tale of true terror irrespective of who tells it and who listens? When it transcends its own satire of the Blackwoodian genre on the cusp of a moment of genuine panic in an isolated cabin in the furthest reaches of Sweden. And when it is also a tale told about events between mutual friends where the storyteller becomes part of his own story about his so-called friend, making us wonder who IS the original occupant of the story and which the outsider looking in, whether shod like a horse or unshod like some other terrifying beast – or the man himself, no longer civilised let alone gentle, in relentless pursuit. Only trees can make the noise of wind when there is no wind to make its own noise. Gentlemen and their talking, too.

  3. Mother’s Milk

    “Each back door faces the milky pasture and leads into a kitchen.”

    Seriously, I feel spoilt, to read such a seemingly archetypal, yet original, classic of fiction at such a price; it seems as if it surely must have grown over the years since it was first published with ‘buy one get one free’ teats deliberately to suckle me in. To join me to its curdish fount. The main protagonist in fact works in a supermarket warehouse or something like that with another who return at night on the bemused bus to a genius loci that eventually becomes a blend of the first story’s earlier white house on the hill, here with a red roof to match more than one such house, those Swedish red houses in the second story…and those earlier limbs like doll’s ends or sticks here attached to milky mounds of a Mother figure and other such suction and agglomeration, a teasing love of a family around you as well as something perhaps more suspiciously sticky, whence to escape. This book, so far, has that sense of playful connivance with our own love of ‘revelling in vulnerability’ that I once publicly called the Horror Art of Fiction. Whence now goodness needs to be mined or hawled gradually from Nevill’s teasing vats of dark imaginative irresistibility. Perhaps some will still be able to sleep, like me, but some may not.

  4. Yellow Teeth

    ‘There’s plenty of things you can see without light.’

    You never really expect to be exposed to a story – here a relentlessly and incantatorily driven story of some significant length – where you seem entirely to forget you are reading a story at all. But you did forget with this one. It went by like a flash of ineluctable truth.
    And when you feel utterly wrung out after finishing it, you feel as if you have REALLY been faced — during the last hour of your life (extended to weeks and months of the plot’s timeline) — with believably incremental circumstances of sheer threat and personal horror that anyone could meet in normal life … and even when those circumstances get out of hand in wild proportions at the end of the story, such extreme events make you feel that you’ve been through those FOR REAL, too.
    I won’t tell you of ANY of those circumstances because this story, out of all stories, truly needs to be read from cold and then to be experienced like a virtual reality, this being the only time I can envisage mere words conveying what virtual reality is likely to produce from an as yet uninvented virtual reality device of the supremest quality with a full-blooded surround environment of private visions, sounds and smells detestably within one’s own potential synchronicities of stored-up life now disfigured.

    “Yes, it was like a record being pushed backwards against a stylus.”

  5. Pig Thing

    “Sandwiched between his sister’s vulnerability, and the innocence that he recognised in himself, and his older brother’s courage, that he admired and tried to copy, Jack’s task was to stop Lozzy crying.”

    Three English children abandoned by their parents in the bungalow built recently in the well-conveyed New Zealand bush, and the tension between such migrants and that bush’s people, and the fact such people’s opacity (pottery et al) and bloody offspring spoor or more of this book’s hung horseshoes of defence shows they took any thing for granted. It serves to make this a creepy, laid-back acceptance of what instincts bring disguised as monster…
    It’s like watching, while insulated or screen-deadened, opacity’s bloody breaking news back in the reader’s home?

  6. What God Hath Wrought?

    1848 Utah

    “He smelled of mule, years of sweat, bear grease, pipe tobacco and shit.”

    “They’s work to be done. Whether it be the Devil’s or the Lord’s, who can say?”

    “One of its stick arms was twisted backwards and flopped across the ruin of its exposed spine.”

    A “whore’s cunt” and a Hill Cumorah and an Angel Moroni and a Great Dead Sea and a Great Awakening, this is a mighty work that works with real history as well as against it, as if the diaspora of those days, that new Zion, those fair-skinned Nephites, that Brigham Young and the ‘Prophet’ Lehi – are denizens from the rest of Nevill’s stories, not just the zombiesplatter that this tale allows them, along with the soldier dragoon’s Old Wristbreaker sword seeking vengeance for his sister being taken on this diaspora of the New America where Trump, I infer, now brays loudest of all, as part of this unforgettable mayhem of crushed skulls, blasted innards and matchless Nevill crepitations of semantics and phonetics…
    I sense that I am the old prospector smelling of shit and mules who comes back into this story to find that God is only one letter short of Gold, not basalt.
    Just waiting for the black carriage coming to collect me. And I wonder – and will one day write an essay on – what this work says about history yesteryear and breaking news today. Some will DEFINITELY not sleep.

    “And the Nephites had organised themselves but four months before his return from war, to travel in a long wagon train to the Promised Land as the Day of Judgement was all but nigh. Because Lehi’s congregation needed to be in place at the Great Dead Sea to escape the persecution of the apostates, the Gentiles and the already damned, who comprised a multitude so vast that it included anyone who was not a devoted and servile follower of the Prophet Lehi.”

  7. The next story I read and reviewed in 2013 here and this is what I wrote about it then:

    ———————————–
    Doll Hands

    “Inside my stomach I feel a sickish skitter.”

    This story of a sheltered property and a banquet for its strange residents is not in one of your crazy cruel nightmares but in the real future. However, it is like a crazy cruel nightmare, not unlike a painting by George Grosz.
    Told by the one with the big head and doll hands, this story shows that the residents in the home are quite normal in what you would expect for a crazy cruel nightmare, but if it’s not a crazy cruel nightmare, which it patently isn’t, then these residents will certainly haunt your future crazy cruel nightmares about such a banquet and its caterers and its living provender and such provender kept behind from the banquet for you to deal with when you wake up…

    “Whuff, whuff, whuff, they went.”

  8. To Forget and Be Forgotten

    “I thought the world mad. Desperate and cruel and stupid, endlessly repeating the same mistakes with terrible consequences.”

    I said earlier in this review about another story: ‘Seriously, I feel spoilt, to read such a seemingly archetypal, yet original, classic of fiction at such a price;” and it seems that was not to be an exception. The exceptions, in fact, are the other ones that are not so. This one is so archetypal it seems already part of my reader’s DNA without my realising it till now. A solipsistic individual, who wants to mind his own business and not have others to mind his business, gets a job in an Antwerp block as nightwatchman. The building is like a ship liner that might have ballrooms and other Art Deco of yore, but eventually it seems to grow chintz and more utility rooms out of sight with aged stick-limbed residents, after months of his loving the job by simply watching monitors. The whole throughput and outcome are original, too, but with supporting aura of Poliakoff and Wyckoff.
    Elements, too, of Ligotti, Aickman and Charles Wilkinson.
    Shadows, noises, room numbers, being trapped in an old photograph, and much more.

  9. The Ancestors

    “I didn’t want to move here and I was scared of the new school. But since I made friends with Maho and the toys it isn’t so bad.”

    img_2708Another story that digs deep into my reading DNA, perhaps planting something there as make-believe to prove it was ever there. A story of children’s rights and parental punishment by recriminatory abuse upon adults as replacement for this world’s abuse upon children, with a not so imaginary ‘imaginary friend’; a Japanese tinge to the people involved, but I suspect the toys are cosmopolitan, toys that more than just haunt the old house whereto the protagonist child as narrator has been moved against its child-like will and about to be moved out again against the same child-like will. With bits of terrifyingly conceptual parts of tiny lifeforce stuffed up the chimney-flues as stop-gaps or more planted evidence to prove adults are fiddling them back down again…?
    And the narrative child’s imaginary friend whose endless lengths of hair is a material swaddling as a complement to the endless heavy rain outside the house.

  10. The Age of Entitlement

    “To think I once regarded the sea with fondness, its fragrance and bird calls producing a sense of comfort.”

    The gems keep on coming. At first I thought this was a theme and variations upon the long-term Platonic relationship of St John and the narrator in ‘The Hound’, where the hound here is the sea – and in many ways it is and it is.
    But it is also a story of a couple’s relationship with a far more ingenious twist in its tail, a devastating, memorable twist, a twist I cannot divulge here – a beautifully constructed and prose-styled work of fiction that could easily find its place in an anthology of best short mainstream or literary fiction in any year of the near future, AS LONG AS its staid editors can critically see past their attitude to the story’s all-consuming lugubrious horror of a dystopia in that very near future – taking place upon the English couple’s trip to Normandy, where the Second World War’s residue imbues the text with the near-abandoned towns and derelict buildings with impressionistic statues of the dead – and far more, to the seething background of an entitled nature of the sea, a sea and its rocks that are the passive-aggressive fulfilment of some retribution for a severe personal disentitlement, and a future that is already in regress towards the Dark Ages.

    “He was content to lie among the unkempt graves of five thousand dead soldiers whom no one has the energy to honour any more, after all that has happened so quickly in this world.”

  11. Florrie

    “Frank was overwhelmed by an unwelcome notion of age, its indignities, its steady erasure of who you had once been and the recycling of your tiny former position in the world.”

    This is the perfect coda to the dark symphony of this book, the saddest part of the book. The sweetest, too. I have been going through such frank flurries of regression for a few years now, a definite accretive preparation – for the nature of death not being able to hurt too much when the time comes. An attrition that is also an attraction. You will have to read this story to see if you can resist the onset of your childhood era and its accoutrements of product and entertainment, all brilliantly conveyed here, and then live in that era as an old person, the thrusting person you thought you still were now gone, no longer with the modernistic need to be clinically minimal with decor and furniture. About time you became a human being again, before it is too late, because as you die is as you will ever be thereafter, I guess. Death is no bully. Not a gutting, but a retrenchment. Some will sleep peacefully, after all.

    The striking thing about this landmark collection is the diversity of movements in its dark symphony. The chintzy harmonies and the atonal nightmarish clicking. And variations between. But it has the irresistible soul of a single unique composer, a retrocausal force digging original-but-archetypal tropes into your reading DNA, making you believe those tropes or trappings have always been there – like Florrie’s off-the-wall bits and bobs? – clinching their gestalt-in-hindsight.

    That is the end of my review, and I will now read the author’s story notes for the first time, but I will not come back here to report on them nor to allow them possibly to retroact on what I have already written about the stories above.

    end

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