19 thoughts on “The Parry and the Lunge – David Mathew

  1. I am not starting this novel as yet, but I have already read the short PROLOGUE: about a character called Stephen who is seen, with mixed feelings, by the narrator as persisting to come back from the dead…
    Who knows if I will keep coming back to this novel, even when unwelcome. I promise to try to avoid spoilers, rest assured. Meanwhile, I set up below the headings of the text after the Prologue, ready for when I do come back.

    PART ONE: THE PARRY

    EYESITE
    I

    (Starts about Hannah)

  2. Sections 1 – 4
    This starts brilliantly. Witty, too, full of literary conceits, So pleased my confidence in this writer has paid dividends already. Only up to the top of page 8.
    I need to eke out this book, and judging by its size, it may take the whole of the rest of my life to do so. And if it’s written in blood that will also allow the author’s blood to renew itself more easily and he will be able to finish writing it before I do.
    I love the sound of Hannah, the periodic ‘male attention’ given to her, her joke about getting into Hell, and her female friends as her unknowing diaries.
    And the quote at the beginning that seems to promise “illusory motion reversal”….

  3. 5 – 7

    “And that’s it: they start laughing properly, in the way that only close friends can, or will allow themselves to.”

    Hannah and her female friend (or diary) called Sam. You know. This is very good stuff. I am extremely impressed by the wit and lateral observations, its unique but accessible style and thought patterns, I really am. This might be a bit of an insult, as someone might say to me – what else did you expect? Well, I don’t know. It has been many years since I collaborated on a couple of stories with this author, and we have sadly not been much in contact since then. And I am genuinely taken, so far, with a potential literary greatness here that deserves far more attention than just mine. An imagination of ballbusting proportions, if not dream biplane/bipolar/jumbo jet ballasting, and a restaurant in Milton Keynes that, if it is not attacked by a gang of nerve agents, it should be! I am reading it in my Lounge, and this reading of it promises to be a real Party.

  4. 8 – 10

    “Hannah’s eyesite at this moment consisted solely of the darkened nostril of the Beretta, lined up to her forehead’s worry lines.”

    My private Party in the Lounge with this book continues, as we follow Hannah and Sam on a two-person hen holiday (with hen party sort of feminine desires for Paraohs perhaps) in Egypt seeing the sights, the tourist sites, the Book of the Dead below, and a crook as a highwayman (the ‘homophonic namesake’ of Hannah) suddenly in among their coach party on the coach itself with a Beretta, nostril no doubt leading to its lung. Just one incident among many.
    “Where she’d risen her backside from the chair in order to execute the lunge she now sat back down. Her pulse twittered.”
    These sections represent the end of Part I of ‘Eyesite’. My own I-site for the duration.

    • I said this above: “And I am genuinely taken, so far, with a potential literary greatness here that deserves far more attention than just mine.” I think you can now take this as read whenever I proceed with this review in coming months. A done deal. I will not keep repeating it, but I am already confident that it should be inferred alongside everything else I may say.

  5. II
    1 & 2

    “He’s smoking his cigarette so close to the filter that it tastes like venom.”

    Roy’s Bible Street Cars, no longer in Bible Street, and some possible scam with a niece collecting her aunt’s car after repair, and I gain some insight into how such car mechanic firms code the carkeys the customers leave with them. I have always wondered about this. The method seems akin to some oblique one underlying my gestalt real-time reviewing….
    We gain knowledge of Roy. I remain captured by this book. No hope now. Must read it to the end. And I am only up to 34 of 805 pages.

  6. III
    1 – 4

    “: because carrots have vitamins and help your eyesight, or so he’s been told.

    We now get to know James, an engaging character of a schoolboy who writes wordy letters to his dead dad, and one day steps in on his stepdad’s ice cream stall at the car park, and is approached by a policeman…he has a sister Louise who hardly remembers, it seems, their real dad. (I happen to conduct gestalt real-time reviews at least partly to help me remember what I have read. I am an increasingly forgetful septuagenarian, you see.) I love the expression ‘sad waters’ that James uses about the noxious bathroom at home. I also noted the word “hyperthymesia” which, as with this book’s earlier “remanent” and “homophonic”, at first is easily mistaken for a more common word. As with ‘parry’ and ‘lunge’, too? (I know someone who seems to have a few aspects of the hyperthymestic syndrome.)

  7. IV
    1 – 4

    “…the double-barrelled shotgun of her surgeon’s nostrils and nose — the former of a prodigious circumference —“

    The story of or by Dorothy, a 58 year old writer of plays and novels, now in hospital, treated hardly with respect, now recalling the last visit to her agency firm when the normal agent was off sick herself, again not treated with respect. You know, the style in this book is so utterly addictive, making several giant authors (that many of us may deem inaccessible) accessible and beautiful at last. If I mentioned names of these greats of literature you might be put off, so I won’t. Here, we have swimming through eyesight and eyesight given a ticket to tour, a knowing Dread, and the word ‘perspectivize’, and “reforming into new patterns like swallows in urgent flight” (see the gestalts from my happenstantially concurrent review of Murmurations here.)

  8. V
    1 – 6

    “What’s strange is — the news isn’t on the news.”

    I might have a slight ghost in the night hutch as a septuagenarian reviewer of books, but now things are nicely coming together for me in this living area of a ‘hutch’ of Tom as narrator in Leighton Buzzard with his North London born Sabrina as his lover and cohabiter, as she plans a ‘quincunx’ hen party outing, with some of the women I have already met in this book, although I am seriously worried that I earlier imputed Dorothy’s age wrongly. Tom seems haunted with that earlier Stephen coming back, a suspicious death reported in the local news not the national. Or fake news “…from planets far beyond technology’s eyesight,” I wonder. Or are some trying to “convince their own memories” as to what did or did not happen? That earlier hyperthymesia, notwithstanding. The text even refers somewhere to the concept of a reliable narrator, as if there may be an unreliable one lurking somewhere else. Ah, there are so many rich passages here that I could quote from or refer to, but then this review would risk being longer than the book! Many wonderful rich single words, too. I am perhaps overdosing you with my reactions. Suffice it just to quote something from it that is comparatively plain and simple, viz. “She is talking into the darkness, not even necessarily to me; just talking for the sake of talking. Taming what they are that live in the night. I am frightened.” I am frightened, too – frightened that I will have either over- or under-estimated this mighty tome by the time I reach its eventual gestalt. Future conditional verb, there. I am confident my spatula won’t melt, though.

  9. VI
    1 – 4

    “Me lungs are singing.”
    “The room is the same as before Mum. Nothing’s changed. The lounge…”

    …is forbidden to the home help and is also without clocks.
    From mention of a septuagenarian in this review, we reach a gentleman character in this lounge who is at least a centenarian, Annette’s father, whose list of his own illnesses give us another array of rich words, as he begs for a cigarette from his daughter. She is one of the aforementioned quincunx of women due for an outing together. She seems old and decrepit enough (even with her colourful sex life that we learn about) for my previous assessment of her mate Dorothy’s age to have been correct after all?
    This may be becoming a whodunnit about that aforementioned suspicious death of Stephen, as well as containing some of the most brilliant character studies you would need to go far to match in the annals of fiction, and, so……, I will be more abstemious in future regarding what I say about the plot in case of inadvertent spoilers regarding this story and its genius loci of Dunstable, Leighton Buzzard, Milton Keynes etc

    “Hannah and I have found a great restaurant in Milton Keynes. Called Profit.”

    • An interpolation, chancing my arm to parry towards a later lunge, a quotation to die for…

      “From the cosmic point of view, to have opinions or preferences at all is to be ill; for by harbouring them one dams up the flow of the ineluctable force which, like a river, bears us down to the ocean of everything’s unknowing. Reality is a running noose, one is brought up short with a jerk by death. It would have been wiser to co-operate with the inevitable and learn to profit by this unhappy state of things – by realising and accommodating death! But we don’t, we allow the ego to foul its own nest. Therefore we have insecurity, stress, the midnight-fruit of insomnia, with a whole culture crying itself to sleep. How to repair this state of affairs except through art, through gifts which render to us language manumitted by emotion, poetry twisted into the service of direct insight?”
      from ‘The Avignon Quincunx’ by Lawrence Durrell (‘Constance’ 1982)

  10. VII
    1 – 4

    “How copacetic of you, Royker!”

    Probably one of the most interesting storylines, Roy’s Bible Street Cars, and the girl who effectively pinched a car by subterfuge, and now delivers unbidden a nerve-agent (?) pizza to one of Roy’s employees. And Tom as narrator in The Leper pub with Roy. I really do think this book gets even better and better as it proceeds. If this actually becomes an exponential progression, I almost fear where this book may be heading!

  11. EMPTIES, 1: ‘NO TORSO TO SPEAK OF’
    1 – 18

    “Maggots in his maggot.”

    You know, I keep getting scared that this book is ever about to fall apart, lose interest for me, explode my earlier high hopes about it in my face. But it ever proceeds and seems to get even stronger, if with more things to think about. Like: was the earlier reported death the same as Stephen’s death now, Tom’s maggoty uncle…? Other than that nagging matter, Tom as narrator is crystallising in my mind, his backstory, a current stalker called Caitlin writing letters to him, Sabrina’s reaction to that, and much else. It is as if I am merging with this book by symbiosis, entering something called “The Room: the long lounge-cum-dining quarters, which also served as my father’s office” (cf my mention of the Dysfunction Room to which — astonishingly, in hindsight — I hyperlinked much earlier above). And a haunting vision of an intruder in an “Empty” room.

    “The book I was reading had grown hot to the touch,…”

  12. FEAR IN FOUR WATERS, 1: THE CANAL
    I
    1
    Empty-handed, Hannah demonstrates a ‘lunge’ to her fencing group, then thinks about looking forward to ‘lunch’ with the girls at Profit, later talks to Dorothy (whose age I got right originally) about a ‘launch’, and later they ‘lurch’ forward. Hannah, Hurrah, Hallelujah! She finally agrees with Dorothy putting her in the new novel, the earlier novel having been rejected by the agent. No spoilers, there, I think. Oh, except Milton Keynes has a lot of roundabouts, but that was a fact I knew already from experience!

  13. 2 – 5

    “Here he comes again.”

    Or ‘Here Comes Everybody’, as it famously says in Finnegans Wake. A saying for our times, even if without the internet. I follow the quincunx (quimcunts?) on their meal out, Dorothy beset by a seemingly mad female fan of her books, a fan imputing what she looks like rather than any author photo she’s seen, I reckon, and the restaurant combines hilarity and worry, for me, and I wonder if all hen parties are like this. How would any man really know? And the approach of that homophonic thief from that coach in Egypt. I have grown increasingly accustomed to preternatural synchronicities galore when gestalt real-time reviewing, but these scenes surely take the ticket, if not the signed receipt. It is as if the characters AND the reader are becoming claustrophobically coincidenced to the gills. This is stifling, swaddling, anxiety-ridden stuff, and I hate it, he “whitelies.” Don’t get me wrong, this is highly accessible, page-turning stuff, too, flowing like surprising silk.

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