A fearless faith in fiction — Employing, since 2008, 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.
I guess at 12 x 10 inches, 48 pages, gloriously thick-boarded upholstering and well-illustrated. A wraparound to die for with potential masochistic paper cuts from this and the stiff pages … my copy numbered 6/100.
April 6, 1862 The First Day
April 6, 1862 Night
April 7, 1862 The Second Day
I read this novella in one sitting. I simply had to. It would not let me go. I want you to have the same unforgettable experience. If you want to maximise the chances of having that same experience as me, then do not read my review below until you have indeed experienced the novella itself. In one inevitable gripped sitting. Even telling you this might spoil the experience! Then when you are ready, jump this gap…
I read it with my spectacles off, my eyes close to the giant stiff white pages, refocusing easily on the print, pages that I turned compellingly as I soaked it all in. Or pages that somehow turned themselves when I was ready. The heavy handleablilty of the rest of the book almost feeling alive within my hands. I do not exaggerate.
It starts off as a merely (merely!) powerfully written account of the Battle of Shiloh, narrated by Henry about himself and his twin brother William, fighting on the Confederate side. Judging by my meagre knowledge of the American Civil War, it faithfully followed its historical frames of reference. Did I say powerful? The terrifyingly attritional and relentless battle scenes are absolutely incredible in their depiction. I felt I was there. But, later, when gradually emerges the vision of clinging demons and a retrocausal green substance (retrocausal as radiating from the book’s eventual ending) leading to an almost erotic cannibalism, then all the bets are off. You would not credit the tactility of the words and their transcending quality. I cannot do justice to it all here. The poignancy of brotherly love and sacrifice. The religious sense then permeates, I would suggest, even the irreligious reader with a sense of its own spiritual if ghastly truth. But whose God is yours – “an uncaring God”, “an unlikely God” or “the Yankee God” (just to name just three on page 18) and on whose Altar does He work?
An unmissable major work.
“Please God let this be a memory, and not the present.”
My previous reviews of Philip Fracassi: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/tag/philip-fracassi/
Cross-referenced here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2017/12/27/the-drone-outside/#comment-11383
Cross-referenced SHILOH with FALLOW here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2017/08/05/the-three-rhysian-tartari-of-the-nineties/#comment-11475
I’m fascinated by the Civil War Des and have done a lot of reading on it and visited a few of the battle sites including Vicksburg and Shilo. A good introduction to the social and political context and causes of the war is James McPherson’s Battle Cry for Freedom, and Ken Burns 10 part documentary The Civil War. Two contrasting fictions about the war are John Calvin Bachelor’s American Falls, which explores the roles of secret service agents in the conflict, and Daniel Woodrell’s novel about the guerrilla war along the Missouri/Kanasas borderlands, Woe to Live On. Your review – and I read all of it, despite your advice – has made this a must read for me.
Cross-referenced to Avalon Brantley here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2018/05/05/drowning-in-beauty-the-neo-decadent-anthology/#comment-12526
Cross-referenced with The Greatest Folly here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2019/11/13/a-miscellany-of-death-folly/#comment-17504
Remarkable in that I had cause an hour earlier by chance to mention SHILOH to its author as a comment on one of his recent Facebook posts!