A fearless faith in fiction — Employing a Kantian or Jungian sensibility and an ‘intentional fallacy’ consciousness — Various passions of the reading moment — Walter de la Mare, ELizabeth BOWen, Robert Aickman and many others old and new — Please click my name below for this site’s navigation and my backstory as intermittent photographer, writer, editor, publisher & reviewer.
THE ANNIVERSARY by Ruth EJ Booth
A tantalising pearl of fiction as love’s requital – a pearl to scry, to smile or to gurn?
FOR WHOM THE DOGS BARK by Ralph Robert Moore
As a 70 year old myself, on the coming cusp of feeling as old as Hans Zitter feels in this story, and having a few years ago taken my elderly mother for cataract operations on her eyes and now cataracts maturing in my own eyes, and having seen men in my garden pretending to be barking like dogs, and having memories … wait, I did not go to prison where I was violated by other men, my memories do not include beating up someone who was harassing my family, nor following a girl at the seaside, but at our age others’ memories somehow seep in from elsewhere and become yours, or should I say, mine. A very effective and frightening and shocking mélange of memories, and things happening now, this precise moment, things that are about to become memories, I hope, because, when you are without memories and you are nothing, even bad ones are welcome. Memories that are me. Me the only gestalt of everything left. “My name is Hans Zitter. I live at 513 Humming Drive.”
THE BOOK OF DREEMS by Georgina Bruce
“That inky black lake in the centre of her head, sucking at her memories.”
…and she eventually and paradoxically uses it to write out this consuming fury of a story, in which uncharacteristically for me I include an author bio at the end of a story as an intrinsic part of that story. Strange how this author’s work often makes me change my critical ways. I actually fear its spate of images or felt nightmares (so many here to spend in this work that still crowdfund my mind and to which I cannot do justice or give free rein) will either escape my grasp or turn on me like one of the previous story’s ‘dogs’ if I do not do justice to its inchoate meening. A dog here, too, and a similar sucking in of memories, this 22 year young woman’s memories and their gaps between and their forced march from dream to dreem, misspelling as a form of nightmare. Her man is 25 years older than her and has concocted a SF future moon travel scenario, a moon that comes back to bite her. I ended furious, too, full of her memories, empathy rampant. I now know what it is like. I already knew, but not to this extent. And the dog gurns. Funny how gurn looks like gum in this misspelt, misspelled world. Gums as part of a mouth. A broken mouth with puppet strings. No pearls there. “…or even with the gum. Dogs like to chew things, she guessed.”
cf Kiernan’s “mnemonic rape” that i picked up when reviewing ‘The Red Tree’ last night here.
DO NOT GOOGLE by Andrew Humphrey
…”into the chipped beige paintwork” of a Wetherspoons pub, and the nature of working in an insurance company’s grey building, the disparate characters one meets and loves for whatever goal, the things one does with or against the grain of what is expected or is lawful, as if we are all potentially part of some death or ‘mnemonic rape’ by Google, whether in English, Cyrillic, Latin or whatever. Led into this story from nowhere and back into nowhere, if I told you its plot and about its narrator and such disparate characters in his life (one character being “forty-five, going on thirty, going on dead”), then the plot would be spoilt by some curse that will destroy me or empty my mind. Or yours? I dare not try, other than utter the homily “Horror stories, mate.” Oh, the ending, if interpreted the way I interpret it, is one of the best endings ever in one of the most taken-aback plain-spoken tales I have read for a long time. With someone “in a light beige jacket…”
Cross-referenced with concurrent Interzone here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2017/11/17/interzone-273/#comment-11081
A SMALL LIFE by Carly Holmes
“Fish nuzzled the water’s surface from below, ghostly shapes in speckled bronze and silver floating up through the murk.”
Were they Tench? And meanings float up, too, through the river of this powerful story, through its riparian renewability, always a new river to touch the next time you touch it. Written in a linear literary style with the feel of the balanced stars of Lawrence, a style that I often admire, evolving, though, into a non-linearity, whether it be of this review’s earlier assumption of man harassing woman or now vice versa? It’s you, not me. Daring to face the curse of Humphrey’s Google temptation. Pearls for teeth. Men pretending to be dogs. Meanwhile, this particular story starts with a striking description of seeing the land differently from a boat. And of the seemingly healthy gestalt of a boatful of men in coxed and coaxed unison. The aspirational gestalt of all the books I continue to review, as separate from their authors. The ghostalt then created by an impingement of a single woman, with all that event’s sexual implications. The male narrator’s fight with alcohol while trying, forgive the cliché, to find himself, together with the act of minding his own business, with slippage back and forth. Then the, for me frightening, human-shaped landscape glitch or monster as symbol or something pretending to be thus, as if imputed to be born from the author herself? The at-arm’s-length of the literary intentional-fallacy made closer and closer to self? A mighty work.
TANCHO by Mel Kassel
“She had pruned her garden without mercy, and she knew to drive toward the deer you were about to hit, not to swerve.”
I did not start the review of the previous story with a question about Tench because I had any inkling then about this story and what it was about! (“Is it a Tench?” – a long-term crucial question for me, with several past links at that link, a question originating from John Cowper Powys’ “The Glastonbury Romance” (1933)).
I had, of course, not read this final story when I wrote the above review. I am as equally amazed as you also may be at this synchronicity. This TANCHO story, in itself, is a striking vision of a woman being ‘drowned’ by a man to act as some dialysis network to breed the most valuable koi fish of all, the tancho. The actual mad-scientist mechanics of this process and her eventual revenge upon this man is a perfect coda to the Bruce and Holmes stories, that it’s-you, not-me counterpoint to today’s sexual exploitation scandals. There are some beautiful as well as disturbing descriptions in the Kassel that everyone should read. An apotheosis of some complexity that we are all only now beginning to understand. Not pretending to be dogs, but fish. Put “Tancho”in Google, I dare you, I tchah you.
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