13 thoughts on “The Quarantined City – James Everington

  1. “—the two local political parties are at each other’s throats again, despite supposedly having formed a unity government for the duration of the quarantine.”

    I forced myself to finish reading where I finished reading – in hindsight. I so much craved to continue, but determined to eke out this book, one so self-evidently – already! – up my Dream Archipelago street, except it isn’t the Dream Archipelago. It’s a city quarantined, but why? Protecting those outside the city obviously. But from what in this city? Quarantines, unlike filters, do not work both ways, and the city is surely not being protected from those outside it … as in Brexit? But the original version of this book seems to have been in 2015.
    We follow Fellows, the male protagonist, a budding writer of what I imagine to be Dream Archipelago-like fictions, and I am enraptured by this pungent genius loci, his vision of a child ghost, his café existence, the old and new money before and after some post-quarantine currency change, his befriending of a Lesbian (he is not gay himself), and his search for an author’s work, an author by the name of Boursier who seems to be an inhabitant of the city… (Bourse, French for purse or for their stock exchange?)
    How much more strongly could a book have snatched me away with its plot and adept style? Well, I don’t know; I might be Boursier himself. You never know. Aberrant thoughts, I suspect.

    So far read up to: “Taking another swig of the beer, he begins.”

  2. “…so could he somehow have been mistaken, until Boursier made him see it?”

    I am caught up in fiction affecting fiction, as Fellows reads a bit of Boursier and seeks the right currency to buy more in old-fashioned zines, I guess. A vision of an entropic motorway service station inside the fiction inside the other. Not zombie-like so much as sluggish and dusty. Cars breaking the rule of which side of the road to drive. As this author breaks unwritten fiction rules with having names similar like George and Georgia (as he had Katya and Katherine in ‘Paupers’ Graves’)… and the most haunting ghost, too. Can a ghost touch you, the ghost of a child? Caught up, yes. But want to read it sluggishly, to suit its cross-currents of mood. Not that sluggishness is a bad thing or even real when seen in hindsight.

    So far read up to: “But that is another thing he can let George distract him from confronting for the moment.”

    • I am just beginning to wonder, wander in my mind, whether, yet again, I have serendipitously happened to choose two books simultaneously to review in synchrony or synergy or symbiosis with each other, this one and ‘The Wanderer’ by Timothy J Jarvis here, utterly distinct from each other but mutually revelatory.

  3. “Shake his treats!”

    “It’s, it’s a yowling sound isn’t it?”

    Yowling, as frequently as in the concurrent Jarvis?
    This starts off ‘Twat hot’, as I shall call it. A recurrent word from this book itself and from Boursier’s fiction within it, and the condition of weather that seems to come with the territory of questionable quarantine. Print seems to slide off things like newspapers, off quarantine-protesting pamphlets, turning grubby. Like old currency. Outside of this book, collectors of banknotes relish their tactile grubbiness and wrinkled fading, the evidence of passing through human hands of history, and other conditions affected by climate, heat or rain…
    The next Boursier fiction he reads is full of rain in contrast to the telling heat in the text outside of it, and a making new, a cleansing by rain. The slipperiness of flensed identity as a man seeks for a beloved cat in the rain then returns to his woman…
    The pages of fiction as a sort of hard Boursier currency, softening, then less like money…? Approaching untactile Bitcoin? Such as the flensed or cleansed version I happen to read?

    So far read “and shrieked back.”

  4. “George!” he calls again. He has never really noticed before how close the name of his cat is to that of his only friend in the city;

    And I notice the similarity in the names of Fellows’ ex and the waitress in the Carousel café. This is becoming even more entrammelling of the reader in general. And particularly for a gestalt real-time dreamcatcher like me – where stories have often seemed to affect real life outside that story, and vice versa. In fact the more years I do this activity, the more strongly this effect seems to happen. Not cause-and-effect, but a preternatural synchronicity, as above so below, as in a book so outside it. But now, as a result of Everington, I am actually wondering whether this phenomenon is caused by cause-and-effect after all! And I am gratified to allow a shudder of mixed feelings at such incipient understanding.

    Read up to – …something else in this city different to how he remembers it being.

  5. “There are rumours that the inhabitants of the Enclave are manoeuvring to be excluded from the quarantine, leaving the rest of the city to its fate; how that would even be possible when they are all as sealed off as everyone else Fellows doesn’t know.”

    This is amazing stuff first published in 2015 about today in 2017 somewhere outside that text as well in it. What or who is quarantining or brexiting what or whom?

    A few hours before reading this section I posted this tweet:

    “quasi-mystical” as it says in this section. I prefer ‘preternatural’.

    This section is a striking portrait of the Enclave, a posher part of the city, yet still the city. A telling concept for this exceedingly hot weather today (for our average clime), hot outside where I read this and try to change things by dint of a concept that fiction is stronger than reality itself.
    A whole party of us readers triangulating the coordinates of the inimical gestalt towards a more benign one. Some more hopeful and trusting than others.

    Read so far up to “He begins to read.”

  6. “(Stefan didn’t read the papers but he was aware that they’d recently become more like he remembered in his youth: slimmer, black and white, sombre headlines with all hysteria edited out.)”

    We listen to Fellows read ‘Spot the Difference’ by Boursier, a very disturbing tale, worthy of Aickman or other weird writers more well known than this author. It tells of Stefan and his twin daughters, and Echo the imaginary friend of one of the daughters, and the book where you have to spot the differences in two pictures, and the things that Echo makes to take across the border, always with differences. The carousel like one fused piece of plastic. AMAZINGLY, earlier this morning, before reading this Boursier story, I read and reviewed Ghahwagi’s Wollstonecraft here with its own carousel, a carousel with differences to note from Boursier’s carousel, and much talk in the Ghahwagi of similar borders as Boursier’s and Everington’s, and a newspaper headline saying: “A NATION WITHOUT BORDERS IS NOT A NATION.”

    Now read up to: “‘Spot the difference Daddy!’ Alicia said excitedly.”

  7. “Was he a twat? I bet he was a twat. You should never meet your idols you know…”

    I feel like a twat. I have just reached sections of this book that confirm in me that some books can change overnight, even the bits I have already read. I have felt this over the years of doing gestalt real-time reviewing (and I have actually said so, within them), felt this with books of paper pages, not only with those of electronic pages.
    This book is its own möbius section. The city changes within the book, but the book itself changes arguably more than the city, as I enter another Boursier internal story, one more experimental than the others, about an exorcist and a man who I feel is a bit like what once must have been a prophecy of Trump, someone who thinks he is doing good… with a wife who suffers him.
    …so that fellow Fellows can get rid of the ghost in his house?
    He has met Boursier, you ask? I forget.

    Read up to: “Fellows turns the page as if expecting more,”

  8. “Does he really believe that fiction is so transparent in its workings, that allegory is nothing more than X = Y?”

    It’s more subtle than that, I guess, like real thoughts needing triangulation rather than straight lines. Like routes spoken by an alien or faulty sat nav? Like the word ‘Alzheimer’ (a word conjured for me thus obliquely by this text) now meaning a fizzy alcoholic drink, or at least sounds like a brand of champagne?
    Exorcism is like a sort of quarantining of Alzheimer’s. Taking the ghost-that-is-you and leaving just the body. Or being captured by Kafkaesque guards during the East European plot in an ExOcc book?
    Boursier’s fiction of exorcism was like a combination of the champagne and the faulty sat nav, leaving not a ghost but a cripple?
    Frightened and disturbed by the aftertaste of this text today. But at a level I can more easily allow to be forgotten along the natural courses or channels of attrition. Or between one day of opening this book to read it and doing the same the next day.

    “The cat hisses and yowls again as if it can’t stand the sight of the child.”

    Read up to: “…and he imagines he sees a body laid out on the concrete.”

  9. “He didn’t understand people who didn’t read.”

    But, while in custody suspected of having got his hands inky while preparing protest pamphlets, he reads the next Boursier, one with running themes from the others, like paprika… reading now…

    “This is the Boundary Stone,” said Mr. Read—

    And a story of serial foundlings or changeling boys in a city that once had plague borders…

    “He felt different to the day before, but also as if more than a day had passed; like he had crossed some kind of border in the night.”

    But there is a lot more I am deliberately not telling you about or I have already forgotten. (My original purpose in gestalt real-time reviewing fiction books was not only for hawling out connections and meanings in an experimental way but also as an aide mémoire for myself as my mind had always readily forgotten books soon after reading them, and with the onset of age this problem had got worse….)

    Now read up to: “Just some tourist stood gawping at the cabs.”

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