6 thoughts on “Abyssinia – Damian Murphy

  1. I am sporadically breaking my reviewing sabbatical by dint of a brief nonce…
    Luxuriously upholstered book with quality materials, guessing about 13 inches by four, marker ribbon, all generously designed with artwork etc, stiff paper and even stiffer dust jacket, and illustrated endpapers.

    Pages 7 – 10

    “The lingering scent of tobacco suffused her senses as if it were a holy incense.”

    That unspecifying-specifying ‘a’ seems significant in that initial quote from this book. Also the fact that there are several lower case letters on the first page that one might expect to be upper case makes it seem this was deliberate, not accidental?
    This is Petra — during her stay at this well-characterised, Poliakoff-like hotel with her husband Dominik, note the k instead of c — crudely surveilling the guests list (even scrying the hotel’s walls with her fingers as to a map of locations within the hotel grounds) with regard to finding more about a woman whom she had seen at dinner sitting opposite “an oversized doll attired in antiquated military regalia.” (Synchronous that I read this morning here about a ‘ceremonial military uniform’ walking without a body in it!)
    I am already captivated – as, from experience, I expect to be – by a new Damian work.

    • “It was reported in Broadway yesterday that the new production of “Abyssinia,” in which Williams and Walker … Augustus Pitou has renewed his contract Chauncey Olcott for a term of two years.”
      Re: The Worm Has Feathers

  2. Pages 10 – 16

    Piers like barges, a ‘found’ book with lemniscate dividers, a tacit complicity with the hotel, Fiore / Fiume, D’Annunzio …… Petra and DominiK — (cf (Detective) DenmarK elsewhere in EUROPA and Golgonooza where European areas are being traduced?) — continue their incredibly intriguing surveillance in real-time of Celia and her cracked (ventriloquist? ) doll now called not Olcott but Karl Reginald von Lobkowicz, and the ‘exalted wine’ of combining “an authority higher than one’s own, and […] a tendency toward personal autonomy.”
    Gestalt real-time book reviews are made for books like this one.
    Or, conversely, books like this one, these days, are now being made simply for being gestalt real-time reviewed?

  3. Pages 16 – 28

    “The blemish burrowed like a seed into the rich soil of history, lying unseen for several decades and fully coming to fruition…”

    Comparisons, balances and tensions between the portraits in the hotel rooms, say, the white and black horse, and more – the hotel representing a telling structure of historical Europe in these days, I guess, when we read this book, these days of potentially renewed European mania. Instead of rooms with colours as in Poe’s Red Masque, we have European themes. Blended with dark plum smoking aromas, Damianish bureaucracy as an elemental force, the Damianish delicacy of touch on meaningful pages and omens, that ‘blemish seed’ above “a potent lamentation”, a gazebo, a thought on comedy, and a bowl of figs …each fig as if a cig shared between potential lovers…
    But the mind-drilling remembrances of these pages are the man about whom Petra has an Abyssinia instinct (presumably the country not the title of the first Broadway production only involving black performers), and above all the perceived relationship between Celia and her doll ‘husband.’ The latter relationship represents a seismic literary event which must one day be filmed for the cinema, I reckon, scenes that are breathtakingly special.

  4. Pages 28 – 37

    “The vision hovered on the edge of comprehension; faint, tenuous, yet accompanied by an inexplicable certainty.”

    …as, via Petra’s own sensitivity, I touch the hotel and its accoutrements, running my reading finger, as she does her real finger, down a random page toward its significant find of homily or wise saw or arcane message. And with this method I land my finger on a page in this section, finding by chance the words “lent a vaudeville character to his narration.” Meanwhile, I watch the incident with the magnificent beastliness of a real horse in the hotel, listen to the doll’s account of an amorous affair, follow the game Petra, Dominik, Celia and the doll play with cards and matchsticks, and learn, through the doll’s words, about the Thomas-Mann-like sanatorium where he was a patient,

  5. IMG_3620Pages 37 – 51

    “It vacillated between the attractive and repulsive forces of two opposing stars, the white horse and the black horse, The Apostate and his wife, and a host of other influences as yet unknown to her.”

    …and between the miscegenative sides of incest, and, eventually, between the competing black and white pieces of a farewell game of chess. But not before, our act of following Petra in her guided administration of sacred rites, involving the key to Abyssinia, whereby hotel portraits seem to activate as real entities in the intricately perfected intensity of a Damianish benighted quest through the threatened no-return of the hotel’s inner and outer pathways. With, in these final pages, the blatant heresy, twice, of it’s instead of its, in a careless token rebellion against the otherwise tightly bureaucratic rules of this book’s entrancing game. But above all the poetry of ‘holy blood’ in one’s reading veins.

    “, never failing to grasp the finer points of a given proviso or subclause.”


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