27 thoughts on “Resonance & Revolt – Rosanne Rabinowitz

  1. I read the first story in 2009 and below is a copy and paste of my original real-time review in the context of the music fiction anthology Extended Play edited by Gary Couzens…


    In The Pines – Rosanne Rabinowitz

    This is a story of connections through music, aptly suiting my everpresent ‘Only Connect’ quest with my book reviews. It’s the turn of folk music here, later towards discordancy and dincopation, within three areas of time: 1875, 1973 and 2015, in each of which finely-etched plot-scenario this novella-length ‘tour de force’ forces us as a feminine spirit gradually to pack ourselves with new literal-realities of self and myth and monster … to journey, to gather experience, to move on with our own version of Rabinowitz’s “dissonant symmetry” / “etcetera etcetera“, Mackowiack’s ‘invisible connection’, Iain Ross’s ‘broken future’…

    As previously with ‘fight Music’ (here, ‘fight Mathematics’?), I dare not dwell too long on quotes and details or else I shall be writing a review as long as what I am reviewing! The story itself is rather like its own sung-of train, its body of carriages still leaving from the station even when its front engine (its head) is a great distance away in the pines. It’s still moving. In all senses of moving.

    [Just one aside, the thalidomide pine-needles remind me of ‘the children of the earth’ in ‘fight Music’ and ‘Night in Tunisia’.] (7 Sep 09 – seven hours later)


    “‘Unfulfilled desires transmit themselves across the years in unfathomable ways…’ – Greil Marcus, Lipstick Traces”

    Wow, this is a major story, I think. Unread by me till now. It’s a slow burning portrait of Evelyn, studying Mediaeval History against the odds of fashionable study, now here in Bohemia away from her slowly declining relationship with a man back in Britain. She is studying the repression of the Adamite-Pikart sect, possibly sexual libertines and love feasts. The atmosphere of place here feels spot on, with some telling observations of character and history. Effectively the palimpsest of history and all repressions. The GESTALT of history. She meets Jan, whose own penis-prisoner she begins releasing, alongside her own arguably bi-sexual palimpsest helped on its own way by a previous dance with locals and by a woman from Evelyn’s study of history pervading her simultaneously. The erotic charge is beautifully and subtly progressed. This is a story one must continue dwelling within. It is so utterly rich. And there has also been for me a strange and quite remarkable synchronicity. Just before reading this story, I finished watching – episodically over the last week or so – the nine hour film SHOAH. About ten minutes from its end, in an interview, a point is mentioned that the word “Jan” was used as a significant password in respect of the Warsaw Ghetto, a point that is questioned and then confirmed again….and, so, now here with Evelyn, her view of the enfolding gestalt of history takes on a new cathartic meaning for me. My still enfolding gestalt of literature. And, in this context, I recently real-time reviewed ‘The Good Terrorist’ by Doris Lessing (here) which may or may not take on a synchronicity, too, when reviewing Resonance & Revolt?

    “Sometimes, it takes a stranger to show you a different side of a familiar place.”

  3. 72D52303-ECEE-48E0-8972-54EEAFDC4B31


    “‘If the fabric of the universe originated in this explosion, we are all cut from the same cloth,’ he said. ‘We only need to uncover our common threads.’”

    Another mighty story I would have wished I had read before, but now I am glad today to have the destined rightful pleasure, receive its precisely momentous message, its unprecise poetic diffusion, too, and its now emerging ‘entwinement’ within this book’s gestalt. This author’s bell rings out, with each newly provided tongue and literary torque. Crossed tongues, like fingers. Or another Cross or Crossing. A cross with the Pikarts, where the hero here ends up as an old woman in Bohemia after the revolts and ‘Good Terrorist’ communes of the Middle Ages. Now told from old age by a middle-ager, a middle-anger? The story of this hero Seraphine from the Harelle, as Revolt in Rouen, to Beguinage, and her sexual entwinement and spiritual troilism as well as historical entwinement. Wonderfully glowing, fighting stuff of story-telling, educational, too, dare I say? Lady of the Snows / Lady of the Sorrows? King Fatso / Quasimodo? Hungry Wall / Trumpish Wall? Thinking aloud, ringing allowed.

  4. “Alice’s ‘loaves-and-two-fishes’ soup, the first woman messiaH? The soup she readily, endlessly shares, unlike we grasping readers who never share anything unless with an ulterior motive,…”
    From my review of Lessing’s ‘The Good Terrorist’ wherein Alice “evolves her soup”, a squat’s or Revolutionary commune’s possibly spiritual, idealistic and pragmatic ‘sustenance’ as it were, in 1980s London.


    And now we have RR’s important and well-characterised story with its Jewish version of this objective-correlative ‘soup’ in post-Odessa early 1900s. Raizl, her name, a feisty Jewish woman’s literal equivalent of that ‘soup’ for the commune that attracts otherworld aliens to the revolutionary cause and its depicted battle, aliens helped arrive by her Wellsian brother Samuel’s Jewish (heretically tangential) machinations. But is these aliens’ help unequivocally welcome?

    “Life is not just a bowl of chicken soup.”

    “the crumpling of the sky”, the leaping of the road, golems, what-was-meant-to-be versus what-was-not-meant-to-be, prophecy versus free will, religious war versus class war, looking into the future versus dealing with the moment’s need and cause…a Jewishly complex and still resonating work, laced with some stirring SF.

    “Raizl shudders with guilt for surviving, sorrow for the friend she lost.”

  5. I read the next story in 2010 and below is a copy and paste of my original real-time review in the context of the fiction anthology NEVER AGAIN edited by Allyson Bird and Joel Lane.

    Survivor’s Guilt by Rosanne Rabinowitz

    “Who says words can’t change things?”

    As a perfect complement (complement, not compliment) to the previous story, ‘Survivor’s Guilt’ is an ingenious portrayal of nostalgia in real-time, nostalgia again tinged with the dream and nightmare of past political activism Europe wide, and today’s version near the Thames, but so utterly poignant as past and present stare at each other head-on with little recognition on one side, in fact distracted… It is tantamount to an activist’s ‘Molly Bloom Monologue’, here with an accessibly shining yet narrative stream of consciousness within the memories together with a real believable vision of the present moment playing out in front of the narrator and intertwining with her form of memory’s monologue. There is also a very clever brief touch that emerges from the Horror genre that gives a needful oblique resonance.  This story, for me, honestly should win literary acclaim given the right exposure beyond the Horror genre.  But that is endangering its own built-in activism of spirit, the spirit of being simply itself without fear or favour regarding what praise and whence such praise is given.

    “…like listening to music full of defiance, made all the more powerful by notes of loss and melancholy.” (28 Sep 10 – another 2 hours later)


    The above indeed also resonates with THIS book’s previous story, including the music reference quoted!


    “A rhythm comes into my mind, made of all the rhythms…”

    Made for walking into a Dunsanyan vision or into a different, equally real version of the South London genius loci that pervades some of these stories. Whatever the age or temperament of the reader, this is a captivating, empathisable portrait of Yvonne having to leave her home because of enforced housing changes that can dictate the movements of those who still remember being part of the Poll Tax riot. Yvonne’s Rosannation as transcendentally singular first person narration with one of her exes present to give moral support, as Yvonne’s succumbs to the need to downsize, but potentially grows bigger with spiritual fulsomeness as part of the disencumbering process. The off-fashion pink boots as a deliberately perverse anchor. A stridency re-envisioned by the window’s once child-like mis-angled shafts of a dreamt safety from this otherwise inimical world.

  7. I read the next story in 2016 and below is a copy and paste of my original real-time review in the context of the Joel Lane tribute anthology SOMETHING REMAINS.


    THE PLEASURE GARDEN by Rosanne Rabinowitz

    “They still raided gay clubs in those days. The police wore gloves, ‘protection from AIDS’. Fools. He once saw a copper wearing washing-up gloves.”

    Rosanne’s evolved fragment becomes an evocative summoning of the cranes as the girders of a cat’s cradle genius-loci of South London, now and then. THEN, when Daniel, as a young man, attended the Pleasure Garden club; he met someone who NOW seems to have outlasted beyond the club’s demolition, and beyond 30 years of his own invisible wear and tear, hauntingly glimpsed from a train between Clapham Junction and reaching further South or West, as Daniel returns to the area, an area that has changed over the decades, of course, as Daniel has also changed; people do outside of fiction. He tries to contact a woman with whom he used to be in cahoots on sexual-foraging quests for each of them in the old days. From the Hot Desking work, today, NOW, he is doing on WEEE, the electronic waste that simply adds to the attrition of reality, a bodily desiccation as if part of some cyber-industrial dereliction, I guess – and Daniel reaches some Lane-like choreography (amid the ‘crane constellations’) with a music mix of old times and wrought passions, with not a diaspora but a regathering, a regathering, each to each, for this book, amid the still recognisable fragments of the Pleasure Garden…

    “He picks up a fragment and holds it close to his chest.”


    “She’s heard of people disappearing into this tower’s labyrinth, a rare place of disputed ownership, disputed boundaries and undocumented comings and goings.”

    A story first published in 2014, this is an inspirationally futuristic or alternate world, Ballardian vision of I guess a London tower block, not with Grenfell cladding, but as a working farm of afforested, wall-clad plants and vegetables and a roof garden, amid a controversy of agri methods following the ‘second crash’ – and with a derelict helicopter up top and a mysterious door with a ‘crowd-funded’ opening to all manner of open questions and methods to reconcile these conflicting malign and benign factors. The backstory (“one of her boots with mud from the old farm stuck on the soles”) of Lenore, the main protagonist, is central to these factors as she is taken on a guided tour of this tower block, a cross between a socialist squat or commune as in ‘The Good Terrorist’ and a series of cottage industries and a piecemeal cosmopolitan carnival. As I say, inspirational, as well as controversially thoughtful, and an SF vision for its own sake, with Boris now a footnote in history.

  9. The next story was first published in my own edited ‘Horror Without Victims’ anthology (2013) and below is a copy and paste of what I wrote about it in my ‘Rationale’ of that book:


    Lambeth North – Rosanne Rabinowitz
    “Those grubby streets looked like another place entirely as the rising sun began to fill them with its light. I was sure those streets could change to something else – oh, dunno, canals filled with that light … if I looked longer and willed it.”
    This starts as an engagingly believable reunion in South London of three modern middle-aged women, recalling their younger partying days, mixed with banter about the pros and cons of North and South London, remembering, too, one of their group who had died of cancer … And the gentle rhythm of this narration creates further believability in a sense of Arthur Machen’s ‘Fragment of Life’ vision of London’s transfigured streets – stemming, here, from decorative tiles created in an erstwhile era. “‘Yes, between the boundaries of the known places, you find other places, special ones,’ said Elaine. ‘But I doubt if you’ll find them here.'” And there is much more that the story will tell you, with a palimpsest of time’s layers and interconnected sketching. This is all very powerful; seldom am I transported so significantly by fiction; I am not sure how it works so well, but it does. With an uncanny sense of not being rushed, it seems perfectly timed. And, also, we have a connection between the social ‘victims’ of different eras, transcended, I feel, by a healing Horror Genre that derives from a sense of the numinous like much in that genre.
    Unstuck is better than getting stuck in the wrong place.”

    And from that healing, we reach toward further curing….


    “Keep trying. Find the pattern . . .”

    A story published in 2005. The colour as well as the shape of water. The colour of pearls, too. And the patterns in bracelets and brooches, the folk who find folk who’d disappeared or “accused of helping terrorists.” This is the tale, too, of a young albino woman, Sarah, who was called slug or ghost at school, now with “useless” inputting of computer data in so-called youth empowerment job in a portacabin, finds a wan, sickening baby albino like herself abandoned in the wood, carefully left in blanket nest. It turns out to be a boy baby, the baby, she wonders, of the pale girl child whom 8 year old Sarah met years ago near her childhood den or fort? This is effulgence, if water-coloured, and is poetically conveyed with many meanings for Sarah and us, for Machen’s White People, I guess, pearl-white hair highlit with gold, singing pearly faces as she wakes. The wrong people will now know things, not those who secretly help lostlings? “It is like seeing the colour of water, inside a toilet.” Find the pattern in this motley. Achingly ungraspable. Left lost to be found again. And again. Slug or Ghost? Pearl or Boil? Resonance or Revolt? Now at last in this book, both.

    A different story by this author whose back catalogue is so rich is not included in this collection resonates, for me, with The Colour of Water. Below is a copy and paste of my review of that story from my ‘Rationale’ of “The Horror Anthology of Horror Anthologies” 2011 –

    The Pearl and the Boil – by Rosanne Rabinowitz
    Opening this book again was like splitting open a fruit, perhaps the slightly over-ripe fruit that she enjoyed most.  The paper was thick and smooth, edged in gilt.”
    This substantial story exquisitely evokes another anthology book that cross-section a life – as in the Mathew, and as in Dorothy in the Lovell story, here, aptly, then, the heroine “ready to set off on its ‘amber road’“!  And, as in the O’Driscoll, this story’s thumbnail descriptions of the various stories in the anthology make them so real and acheably readable.  There is a cinematic approach (for me) to the passing life of the protagonist, Cora – interchanging between third-person and first person synergy of self-narrative.  Foiled by her sister, she tells us about the pearl and the boil (so obliquely as well as clearly symbolic of the story’s book, this Ha of Ha book, any book, and all books’ thread of ‘ominous imagination’ (mine, not the story’s expression)). All this sinuously wrapped with books-within-books ad infinitum as in mirrors, a note left in a book (like a message in a bottle, or a prisoner in a cell?), plus dreams as a version of Russian Roulette (pearl or boil?), even a brief mention (by simile) of that “old-fashioned movie star” from the Kirby story… There is a central scene, I guarantee you will never forget. A sensitive vision of group sex that, at least partially, involves the anthology book itself, as an object and something, ‘in media res’, to be read aloud from. Sensitive, but erotic.  And the final pictures none of which cohere with the real picture. Meanwhile, I sense the back cover of the Ha of Ha book actually depicts this story in some way, although the artist would not have read the story until he received the book.  The woman’s hair. And her head – is pearl or boil?  A truly memorable, poetic, provocative story by Rosanne Rabinowitz. [If I say so myself, this review is full of superlatives, because, objectively, these stories, by various independent authors, are all superlative.  Not my doing, it was theirs. I was vastly spoilt for choice when choosing them.  And I think the book’s set theme was, in hindsight, utterly set-fair for garnering superlative stories, for which I do claim credit!] (23/8/11 – another 3 hours later)

  11. Hi Des, thanks so much for this review!
    After leaving it so long to do a collection, I now have enough material for several so some of the stories that don’t appear in R&R are likely to crop up in another book in the near-future… 🙂

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    “Massssk up!”

    A stirring and believable portrait of a Cuts demo against Cameron and co, clashing with police and their potential kettling of you. From the viewpoint of a woman demo-er in counterpoint to rhythmic South London Dubstep and her memory of The Darks of her childhood trapped in a garden shed. That is one palimpsest. (Cf The one of The Dubs in Harwich, Essex, Essie, for this reader). Her other palimpsest is, while climbing in the demo’s takeover of a tall building towards the rooftop, she needs to mask up to prevent future detection. And she manages by chance or magic to pick up the Peak hat or visor of a historical Essie woman demo against Peel and the Blue Devils, through which mask can be seen today’s “familiar Tate” as the old Panopticon prison it replaced. This palimpsest leads to a whispering synergy with Essie as they go round the latter day Tate filtering the paintings therein. But, as ever, there are the rhythmic DoUBts amid such of Time’s Rosannance and Revolt, I guess — doubts, though, without which the good fight could not continue? “Every meeting is an important meeting. Every demo is the one that’s gonna topple the state. But once you go . . . you realise you could’ve stayed in. And there’ll always be another demo.”

  13. I read the next story in 2014 and below is a copy and paste of my review of it in “Horror Uncut: Tales of Social Insecurity and Economic Unease” edited by Tom Johnstone and Joel Lane.

    Pieces of Ourselves by Rosanne Rabinowitz
    “His gaze settles on a stone box on the top shelf. It’s made of smooth grey stone, inlaid with patterns…”
    This is a substantive exquisition: stemming from a believably experienced cuts demo and its resultant police ‘kettle’: serendipitously blending, inter alia, Bestwick’s earthstone holes with flesh as bodies and Williamson’s every cut is another bodily destructuring toward whole-‘sale’ vanishment, but here Rabinowitz’s work — of accretively obsessive, self-harming shavings and skeins of skin from the male protagonist’s body and the memento stone box where he collects them — becomes a highly sensitised vision of something beyond the cuts, a vision that rationalises the demos and fights against the cuts as part of a pattern of his past life, austerity further pared, his exes, his travels, his thwarted ambitions, the patchwork people, his “Feeling bolder”, a sometimes clear, sometimes confused vision that enticingly is the potential core of the horror uncut ‘book bloc’. For me, the Platonic Form of Library. Or a shimmering Mauro wing. Flecks on marble.


    “; my stomach lurches.”

    The title spurred me to keep this real-time going. Keep these review dogies rollin’. I used to watch the Rawhide series on telly when they were first on and the first episode of Dr. Who in its own real-time of broadcast before knowing what was in store for me. And the Dadd painting above morphs each time I look back at it. Meanwhile, this brief story is a tantalising conundrum of time and ironically astrological machinations despite the author herself perhaps disbelieving them. Meanwhile, it is an amusing extrapolated satire on the social welfare interview with its own incentivising amid Dalekspeak. And its involuted sanctions against claimants.

  15. I read the next story in 2015 and below is a copy and paste of my review of it in “Soliloquy For Pan” (Egaeus Press)


    THE LADY IN THE YARD by Rosanne Rabinowitz

    “So where was the lithe leaping boy?”

    Look to this book’s earlier ‘lithe tenant’?
    This accretiveness of a satisfyingly leisurely story settles around Suzy, around many aspects surrounding her life, many androgynous objective correlatives, telling of her missing three toes on one foot as a result of an accident, thus bullied as ‘Mutant Sue’, seeking transcendence or meaning amid the influence of her Jewishness, interest in mythology and science fiction, while living in a run down area where the derelict swimming pool eventually transforms into something like Jonathan Wood’s under-lake. Those aspects involve, inter alia, a book within the book like the previous story, a singing wisteria, cannabis joints, flutes, Peter Pan, Panisca as the female Pan, listening to late night radio, a Lady with mutable wings, cavorting with mixed-sex naiads, Wyndham’s Chrysalids, eventually reaching a healing of her arguably syrinx-like toes by a rapprochement with these aspects. But is healing worse than the original wound, as even a miracle of such healing condemns her with its own suspectness of mutancy?

    A still-resonating ‘dying fall’ of an ending, still reaching toward its own gestalt from these many barely graspable aspects, a gestalt within the book’s overall gestalt, an overall gestalt which is also still forming within as well as beyond the traditional shape of Pan himself.

    “Wee wee wee all the way home.”


    “Oh no, I watched my friend make this and nothing got slipped in. But you might taste clouds in it. It was grown in a cloud forest, apparently.”

    A nifty tale of a sexual relationship after dancing with special coffee the morning after. A man who works under managementspeak and bureaucracy for the local Council makes a few smalltalk ‘faux pas’ against the freedom of those who made the coffee in the Latin American clouds, and is sent off to work in his office of incessant complaint phone calls, sent off by his dancing partner with a flea in his ear and a flask of the musky brew like a dogie bag. I can taste it now. Its pangency comes off the page. Not with head in the clouds, but a medicine for the mending of our further progress in global altruistic ways. Amusing with easily quaffed didacticism.

  17. I read the next story in 2013 and below is a copy and paste of my review of it in “Rustblind and Silverbright” (Eibonvale Press)

    The Turning Track – Mat Joiner and Rosanne Rabinowitz
    “You should collaborate…”
    An inspiring story of love become unrequited by death and the tickets we need to reach requital again via the Train, almost, I sense, the Platonic Form of Train, an infinite train like that in the Rhys Hughes story with its ticket’s didcott a leminscate. This is an engaging scene, somewhat theatrical (like Beckett’s Godot?) mingled with an approaching Train toward the station where the protagonists wait, a collaboration of “layers unfold, surfaces invert” with “leys and nerves” as the landscape of this book comes to a final closure with the arrival of the slipstream Train as double-decker or endless snake or a coastal liner or floating in the Silverbright sky…
    Signalman Charles Dickens who was trying to finish at last his Mystery of Edwin Drood? The book like leaves on the line, or lines on the page, or tickets to where we can all reach our terminus (I live near a seaside Terminus station).
    “But he knew.”

    Whichever Train you choose this book is its Holy Grailtrack.

    Resonance & Revolt. From Didcott to Didactic, a grail or Rosannation for socialist outreach but made even more palatable as percolated by truth and inspirationally infused by the book’s creative tapping of histories, myths and alternate visions, transfigured from rustblind through to silverbright. Some very important stories in this book transcending any didacticism. And a gestalt of them all that will be enduring. And a book cover that sings out with all these things.


  18. Pingback: Resonance & Revolt & real-time reviews – and some rugelach too | Rosanne Rabinowitz

  19. Pingback: R&R review roundup | Rosanne Rabinowitz

  20. Pingback: Resonating & resonacting | Rosanne Rabinowitz

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