14 thoughts on “Dark Gods – T.E.D. Klein

  1. CHILDREN OF THE KINGDOM
    Pages 3 – 23

    “Less than half a block can make a difference in New York.”

    We are enticed in 1977 by immaculately and evocative prose scenario following the narrator – who seems a trifle xenophobic and nervous of others threatening his life(style) – suffering a bus journey through the more unsalubrious parts of New York to where he lives with his wife Karen in the more salubrious. And getting his feisty Grandfather into an old people’s home that is reminiscent of a slightly seedy version of Aickman’s Hospice, two of the women residents at least being “well-fed-looking”.
    Granddad spends his time outside on stoops with types (including loose or inscrutable children coming and going to school) in the more downtrodden vicinity of New York, sitting with Father Pistachio who is translating his own book on the Gospel According to Thomas and other (Indian-Jewish?) theories that the narrator relates to a Hollow Earth.
    This Thomas, either a look back at Thomas Mann’s sanatorium or a preternatural prophecy of Thomas Ligotti’s scenarios — or, more likely, an apocrypha’s Doubting Thomas, I ask myself, doubting.

  2. Pages 23 – 47

    “…a neighbourhood can change in half an hour as assuredly as it can change in half a block.”

    The adjoining parts of this novella, too.
    From one moment dealing with his Grandfather, helping paint his room in the rest home, taking him for a haircut, but also upon the edge of Father Pistachio’s theories of Fortean diaspora of tribes. I sense hints, too, of ‘niños’ – as part of these diaspora and the hair-trigger city itself – giving abuse or, even, inviting abuse upon themselves to incriminate grown-ups or to echo civilisations doing this in serial numbers as part of their future? Upon the edge, too, of pools below basement washrooms, pools full of tapeworms and other creatures too dire to describe? Who knows? I feel infiltrated. Or about to be so.

  3. Page 47 till end of CHILDREN OF THE KINGDOM on page 71

    “Well, well, I thought. The Machine Stops.”

    Only connect.
    Except when the connections cease and all is black, a blackout when the “blacks” are out and about – and some “white’ scrawny creature, too, if you can but see them.
    I confirm that, just as with ‘The Ceremonies’ earlier (Rosie as a version of a hybrid-blighted Grandfather-Pistachio-thing under the drain grate?), I have never read this book before, so this is a genuine real-time review. So when I called it the hair-trigger city above, I had no idea. This is a very powerful powercut of a finale, details of which would spoil it. I sense from my memory that there really was a blackout in New York in 1977. And pistachio nuts to tread upon in 1979. And Young Ones that have come out since to tempt or taunt or taint some members, I’m told, of our humankind. Old Ones, too, one in particular.

  4. PETEY
    Pages 75 – 98

    “First the effect, then the cause — as if his mind held so many unexplored levels, mystery upon mystery, that he never knew the things it contained…”

    Arrival, Story of Your Life…?

    This first half — topped, tailed and intermitted by italicised inscrutability of illness and suicide of as yet unknown person(s) — builds from an engagingly theatrical social comedy of a house-warming party of a sizeable number of American middle-aged couples whom I, from Britain, would today call Republican voters (even Trumpists?), the house being very large, rambling and miles-from-anywhere, also like a stately home. Accretively, though, we learn of its decor and furnishings and items of fine art (more recondite than fine) and gradually we learn of the darkly strange backstory of the house and its owner. Tapestries of the grotesque and arabesque. And people drifting off from the main group. Readers, let’s keep together.

  5. Page 98 to the end of PETEY on page 128

    “Nothing about an extra trump, a spare, a bonus, a joker…”

    Things at the party later take the turn of archetypes and rituals, e.g. tarot cards or astrology, as the guests explore the books that came with the House, its cluttered Attic, the host spending most of his time on the toilet, and another guest sleeping and having a nightmare. It appears that the house was purchased relatively cheaply by means of a trick or Trumpery of dodgy capitalism, pretending there was a high road coming through the house when, in fact, it wasn’t.
    As to the ‘Petey’ undercurrents, is this a version of ‘piety’, and indeed there is a ‘DIETY’, not ‘deity’, on page 121. Or is it a reference to ‘pets’? Or things like the previous story’s ‘children of the kingdom’ now pickled in jars? Or is this word Petey a garbling of Party as a prediction of this very house-warming? Hints, half-hints, and an eerie sense of a scarecrow outside, things haunting this text with more weird and wonderful glitches that one can imagine literally coming out of the text itself. I wonder what that grey shape arriving at the end turns out to be? “He turned over several minor trumps,…”

  6. BLACK MAN WITH A HORN

    Pages 131 – 156

    “Ah, Howard, your triumph was complete the moment your name became an adjective.”

    …which is ironic when many HPL fans today in 2017 are being led against their previous idol through political correctness.
    This story is told as if for me – with a conscious overt decision to write it in real-time, by what might be seen as a politically incorrect narrator, with the story’s gestalt clincher as yet unknown even by him.
    Judging by the current age this narrator gives for himself — and I assume this narrator is E. Hoffman Price (known as a real-time HPL disciple) — he is telling of events from 1974 onward? The plane journey where he meets the missionary fresh from Malaysia, the connections he makes with Tcho-Tcho, the Coltrane LP cover, and the blacks and other races and a telling mention of a “Negro child” and “a rowdy group of half-naked teenagers” and other Puerto Rican children playing truant, even a mention somewhere of Sunni, and the central theme of a black man with a horn, involving coughed-up lung-tissue…all these things (and more) are entrammelling.
    I am eager to read more later about this Case of the Mysterious Missing Missionary. And to enjoy the engaging humour, too, earlier exemplified by EHP’s stated rivalry with a posthumous HPL, and his account of the incidents on the plane.
    Everyone is guilty till they are proved innocent, I guess.

    “It was, in fact, a thorny problem: forced to choose between whites whom I despised and blacks whom I feared,…”

    • I also enjoyed the easy chat between EHP and the posthumous HPL … and the intermittent HPL quotations as illuminators.
      And is the ‘CHarlie CHan’ character on the plane anything to do with the Tcho-Tcho. We deserve to know.

  7. Page.156 till end of BLACK MAN WITH A HORN on page 173

    “With Howard gone these more than forty years I still lived out my life in his shadow; certainly his tales had overshadowed my own. Now I found myself trapped within one of them. Here, miles above the earth, I felt great gods warring; below, the war was already lost.”

    But is it ever lost, till it is lost? I continue to relish the narrator EHP’s engaging old age and his relationship with his sister and nephew, in this unfolding scenario, that may never be resolved. The Jewish ‘shofar’ possibly as black phallus – and the Malaysian bogeyman for children called ‘shugoran’ as something fishy lurking in this book’s earlier pools under New York. All parts of a pattern of library research to solve the mystery and whether HPL’s own black face will turn up, pressed against your own window, although the story only implies that fear or, rather, hope. Perhaps you will not even see anything like that in it. And what about that man with a naked child or child-like thing lurking in his vicinity of the hotel, reminding me of ‘The Ceremonies’ and that book’s own library’s under-age acts witnessed by an adult. Was Carol’s dance a cha cha?
    ‘Death’s Herald’ and the ‘scuba’ theory, notwithstanding.
    Literature’s unique quest for xenophilia by aversion therapy, from HPL and his disciples EHP, TEDK et al, onward? The choice between fearing and despising resolved?
    Meanwhile, EHP still moulders away in a Florida bungalow? How will we know, unless he tells us?

    “The calendar on the wall tells me it’s been almost three months since I moved in. Somewhere in its remaining pages you will find the date of my death.”

  8. NADELMAN’S GOD

    Pages 177 – 202

    “…creator, almost singled-handed, of the highly successful Nobanana campaign…”

    My children in the 1970s once referred to a shopkeeper as the NOBANANA man because he often shouted at them when they entered NO BANANA MEN (they liked the sweets called banana men but such were often out of stock and he knew what they were coming in for!)
    Nadelman when he grew up to be a proper grown-up he worked for an advertising agency, and he was responsible for the NOBANANA drink campaign that made his name. But before that in his mad 1970s student days of occult interests…
    “The seventies were still young and Nadelman not widely traveled; this was the first man he’d ever seen wearing an earring, outside a pirate movie.”
    He visited a S&M club full of satantists et al. He believed in “ceremonies”, “preternatural power”, “Lovecraft, that sort of thing.” He now sees such obsessives as CREEPS. Read the paragraph about CREEPS, you won’t forget it, Well, I believed in those sort of things in the sixties as a student CREEP, and I’ve since grown up, too, I guess, but I still believe in preternatural powers embodied by my gestalt real-time reviews, beyond my control, almost writing themselves…..? Anyway, Nadelman did grow up, sort of, too, with his girl friend who went to that club with him back in the day, now his wife, himself a successful advertising man, but one of his student occult poems is rediscovered and used as lyrics by a rock band. And it entails someone called Huntoon, a fan of those lyrics, writing to Nadelman, inspired by them to erect the most outlandish and foul-looking sculpture on his mother’s rooftop, not ‘found art’ so much but a new god or God? An avant garde installation, too, as part of its look, I guess. But I have not seen the very worrying photograph of it that was sent to Nadelman, so what do I know?
    What I do know now, however, is that I ought to worry if anything equally outlandish has been manufactured by modern CREEPS out of DF Lewis’ 1000+ published weird and sometimes off-the-wall stories in the 80s and 90s…
    I guess this TEDK story takes place in the 80s…
    “guarded nihilism” seems “le mot juste” or deux mots. “a furtive god.” “pious do-gooders!” That piety, diety, petey…? A dictionary as a “bar mitzvah present from Aunt Lottie.” “Reality is never enough for some people.” CREEPS “In The Know.”

  9. Pages 202 – 229

    “Nadelman felt himself sliding further down the feathery slope to the land of unreason. First the creep believed the Rival God was actually real; now he claimed he’d talked to him.”

    In these later days of Trumpery, this text tells me “The lie had become real.”
    Huntoon haunts (stalks, in modern terminology) this novella’s family man Nadelman, as also does Nadelman’s past, but he can’t find his actual goto home, but, from his shorter-term past, he recognises on a train the girl from the erstwhile S&M club. And talking about longer- and shorter-term pasts, I have remembered that in the 1960s I created the long epic poem about the god Etepsed-Egnis in the collaborative ‘The Egnisomicon.’
    Snopake or Tippex needed to cover my tracks or mistakes?
    And there was a story entitled ‘The Hungerers’ in my Prime Books reprise collection ‘Weirdmonger’…
    “From the street came a squeal of brakes and, with it, the blare of a horn.”
    Nadelman’s own extensive scrutiny of his then real-time notes for his student poem actually frightens me, as does his need to hunt down the Huntoon haunting to its lair.

    “Grant the reality of a single spirit and you found yourself faced with an entire cosmos of them.”

  10. Page 229 till the end of NADELMAN’S GOD and of the whole book on page 559

    img_2783

    We see a line of sad old men on the boardwalk at the end, and they must once have been children, I guess. But which the Old One? Which the child it once was? Where its home?
    I needed at least a bit of the real me shown. But where else would I have found sanctuary? Probably not in a synagogue or even in any other church of god or God.
    Nadelman’s meeting with the Huntoons is CREEPy in its true sense. Including the backwards gramophone for hidden messages.
    Telling, too, are the feelings of guilt thereafter as to what Nadelman thinks he had brought into being, what he had brought into our world by the “Naming of Names.”
    I often feel the same about my own past work, except my guilt is less, I hope, because fewer people have seen it.
    Judging by what is happening today in our world — as I finish reading this book, this great book, this culmination of ceremonies and dark gods — the sense of the book’s guilt is felt even more strongly. And there is some incredible writing you will never forget scattered throughout, but specially that shown in the pages around page 244.
    Perhaps that’s why TEDK has had his literary version of the Silence of Sibelius (the latter lasting 30 years after his final composition.)
    He is still staying put, I suggest, “till morning.”

    “Today the world was changed, or rather, it was he who had changed; he felt as if everything he gazed upon […] were doomed to pass away with the dying light, and that the passing would be bitter.”

    end

  11. This gestalt real-time review, in tune with the philosophy of the whole site, is based on a single reading of the text alone and on anything commonly known, without extra research or anything susceptible to the Intentional Fallacy in fiction and poetic literature. Speculation, however, is allowed, such as the one at the end of the above review, just finished.

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