My previous reviews of TTA PRESS publications HERE
Stories by Kristi DeMeester, Rosalie Parker, Damien Angelica Walters, Sarah Read, Kirsten Kaschock, YZ Chin, Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam.
When I real-time review these stories, my comments will appear in the thought stream below. (My reviews are currently a little delayed because of domestic matters.)
WHEN WE ARE OPEN WIDE by Kristi DeMeester
“An empty space. Like me. Filled up with a terrible blankness.”
A semi-nightmarishly poetic backstory with yet no front. A girl’s first view of her perioding, and of her mother’s own abruptions of new life, epochs sort of tied together across the emptiness into which new life goes when untenable, monsters inside, clawing, transmigrating between blood and flesh, between daughter and mother. This girl’s later casual affair with a boy, or at least casual to him, then her mother’s later, perhaps too late, attempts at love and new life. And then the monsters fructify each other to create, by some law of averages, at least one new female life as a new candidate for emptied perioding. However abrupt, however semi-nightmarish.
Always to be new female life, alway to be mothers and sisters and daughters of or by these coming backstories, it seems …perhaps only one Father to nurture if not to seed from outset … for such life to take root each time it is so disposed?
A free-wheeling interpretation of my experience of reading this intense story, and the prospect of reading the others in this Black Static.
THE BODY IS CONCENTRATED GROUND by Kirsten Kaschock
“…the alien fragmentation of her form. Our form.”
This was not so much experimental but essentially natural, explosion, healing, explosion, healing, a story of two sisters (in tune with the previous story in many ways but particularly with mention of a twin absorbing the other twin in the womb) and a story of House Creosote. I LOVED IT. One of those stories that makes enormous sense of its own inbuilt gestalt real-time reviewing but is at the same time mind-shatteringky awakening to new dimensions of life’s backstory from the end forwards. It says more about life than life itself, making sense of life’s ludicrousness with a better, healthier, more explosive ludicrousness. Though ludicrous is not the right word. Except ludi- has a sense of a game? The different solutions to puzzles being manifold. A physical tabula rasa. Blank stares, private library, “half-there”, a scheme as “the reef of her” and the delicate moods of lawyers. And a father’s “malaphors” tending towards the poetic. The ricochets are endless in this relatively short extravaganza of words.
THE DREAMING by Rosalie Parker (and HERE)
“It’s half-empty on early summer evenings,”
The narrator drinking beer (a double bluff for gender I initially wondered and a spoiler to reveal here) tries to get the glass half full instead of half empty by changing life style and job. The new job: shaman, in gaudy costume (instead of what was drearily done before), exorcism and faith healing included.
In many ways, this is one of the most unexpected stories I have ever read, in a delightfully low-key and memorable fashion; it is contrary to my preconceptions and unconnected with any on-going gestalt I could perceive, thus disarming me perhaps disingenuously.
One of those sort of off-beat stories I would call a ‘silent juicer.’ Slow burner does not seem quite right.
“Things have a habit of unfolding in their own manner.”
“…gradually giving way to semi-darkness.”
Neither dark nor light, full nor empty. But wildnesses lurk somewhere, I am sure.
GHOST TOWN by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam
“The body was no good. Emily would leak right out of it.”
Another Stufflebeam gem. Beautifully expressed. Both dark and light, or neither. Kaschock’s ‘half-there.’
It is, in many ways, the other end of the birth-death spectrum to that in the DeMeester. A dam or stop gap of bloody menstruation and bodily minusculation in the latter, and similar but inverse situation in Stuffle and Beam’s nameless town on a nameless rotting river hinted to be the Styx, occupied by death walkers and body hunters. A poignant tale of Rae and her dead wife Emily who, as a ghost, still cares for her mother’s release into death’s birth, an old woman still living with Rae…
I somehow sense I am this story’s ‘old man’, and thus I shall end this damming or disarming of its flow by ceasing my review now, and let it cross to you.
ENDOSKELETON by Sarah Read
“She couldn’t remember what she was supposed to say – her jaw felt sealed against her words.”
A tale of a student researching the paintings and skulls and jars in an Alpine cave and overreaching one’s own urge to tamper and corner the success for oneself against the rules of such research. Thus overreached as tall gawky student, feeling as if her body were party to her downfall, a wild vision of being thwarted? And then the words seem to spill out in the latter part of this story – an obsessional, relentless, evocative flow, ricocheted from thoughts of a career thus destroyed and now, in righteous madness, remade as nightmare into a cave or cage of her own bones, a jar of marrow embedded in the mouth…synchronously laced with the ‘dreaming has entered my bones’ from the Parker story and the explosion, healing, blood cohesion, incohesion of women’s bodies empirically granted to the reader by the DeMeester and Kaschock.
A powerful gratuitous experience.
I have only just noticed that I inadvertently missed reading the Walters story in the correct order. I apologise for that and will read it next, hopefully tomorrow.
HERE, ONLY SORROW by Damien Angelica Walters
“I let him go, one hand floating up as though I could catch the razored words in the nets of my fingers,”
In the light of the world-famous Charlie Gard case (“It tasted of ashes and false hope”) as his parents, this very day today, finally let him go, this story inherits even more power. Not that it needs any more power, in its own plain-spoken way. A woman’s eye view of her five year old son as they both mourn in their different ways the death of her other son, his twin. Utterly heart-breaking, with wishful thinking as shadows transcending childish role-play. A telling echo of the “absorb one’s twin” in the Kaschock and other birth or death pangs in thr rest of these fictions so far. The hole inside of you from the Sarah Read. A tale that also taps meaning from a juice box, inspecting insects and other obliquities.
“With fingertips resting on his doorknob, I said, ‘Open or closed?’
‘Half and half,’ he said.”
TO DANCE IS FELINE by YZ Chin
“Have you ever felt like this?
I don’t give a shit if you’ve ever felt like this.”
This I-feline story of hyper-feral intensity and pungent or tactile scenes of uttermost survival apotheosises the birth and death pangs of these seven stories, this septet of female authorships, not so much this particular story’s mind-staggering gestalt Rat King, but more this whole publication’s highly prehensile and deeply poignant seven-storied Cat Queen creeping up on you “bit by bit but also all of a sudden.”
Less or more seriously, I cannot do justice to this Chin other than by quoting the whole substantive story here! It is one of those reading experiences that creep up on you in that way. The language is hyper-imaginative to the nth degree, and its animal themes crawl under your human skin. I ache to quote thousands of quotes from it. All I can do is sing! And dance! Figuratively speaking. Ferally, felinely, femalely, too.
The “curved cave”, “tunnel closing in on itself” and “everlastingly extending outstretched” of the Sarah Read, the bloating of birth as well as the ‘majesty’ of death, one’s own reactions as a territorial spoor, and please do compare the inspecting of insects from the Walters with the deceptive weight here of carrying by dead and alive components of the Rat King, plus the need sometimes to behave stupidly to become smarter, the fate of individuals within the whole, violence as a new standard for silence, and much more. Staying innocent until seven.
“…when an animal, black and strange like that, when it reaches seven…”
END OF MY REVIEW OF THE FICTION IN BLACK STATIC #59
My review of the fiction in Interzone #271 will take place HERE