Vastarien – A Literary Journal Issue 2


Volume 1 Issue 2 : Summer 2018

Grimscribe Press

Matt Cardin and Jon Padgett, Co-Editors-In Chief
Dagny Paul, Senior Editor

Cover Art: Yves Tourigny

Contributors: Giuseppe Balestra, Justyna Bendyk, Ashley Dioses, Amelia Gorman, Jill Hand, Ksenia Korniewska, Serhiy Krykun, Øyvind Lauvdahl, Carl Lavoie, Rob F. Martin, Christopher Mountenay, Joanna Parypinski, Max D. Stanton, Julie Travis, Nicole Vasari, Tim Waggoner, Charles Wilkinson.

When I read this book, my thoughts will appear in the comment stream below….

20 thoughts on “Vastarien – A Literary Journal Issue 2

  1. 317E7ABD-54A8-4A2C-B2AD-9F30C7EFFBED

    My review of Issue 1:

    As I said there:
    As with my all my gestalt real-time reviews over the last ten years, I shall be concentrating on any ostensible fiction works, as I consider myself primarily to be a fiction reviewer.
    Meanwhile, with my interest, since 1967, in the literary theory of the intentional fallacy — and with no personal association with this book, other than being a long-term fan of Ligottian works — I shall try to keep a beady eye on the rest of this book, too. As well as on its future issues.
    My previous critical work on Ligotti fiction linked from here:

  2. This book has 150 pages, with some tasteful single blank pages between items and a few black and white pieces of artwork, and they commence with artwork entitled Moonlight by Carl Lavoie, and then…

    COMMENCEMENT by Joanna Parypinski

    “—one more piece of a puzzle that will never be completed, for each time you gain a new piece of information, the puzzle expands infinitely…”

    And so I sense the pages will expand or even retract as we progress through this book as if by Zeno’s Paradox? This story, meanwhile, promises to haunt me with its Academy in the desert, the cactus of last orientation, two siblings’ star charts, and one sibling seeing the other graduate in a place where ego is sham and knowledge itself is not so important as the pursuit of such knowledge. The journey to this Academy is tantamount to the Academy itself. A triangulation of its sometimes difficult coordinates, past and future or even beyond time’s dimension. Ever healing and morphing. All readers must bring their own star-nav markers, markers commensurate with spiked endings or still expected commencements…beauty, ugliness, strangeness in the eye of each beholder.


    “I know it will be a vast improvement over the clumsy, jury-rigged mess that evolution has given us through its haphazard trial and error.”

    Jury-rigged uterus, though, is preferable to “uterine jerky”, I say, unless I lost the plot somewhere! The plot, if fiction plot it is, can be trawled from a substantive tranche of letters to the US Patent Office in the 1950s, from someone we get to know better and better from making inferences about his letters and the ‘mad scientist’ or Frankenstein obsession he has about transcending what he sees as the drawbacks of accident-prone pregnancy as a parasitic relationship. I will not go into his backstory brought up by an old Jesuit and the dreams or truths relating to that. Nor will I tackle here the suspicions of the letter-writer’s misogyny, and issues which may have bearing on Ligotti’s Anti-Natalism, and much more. Suffice to say I found it hilariously entertaining as well as a dreadfully serious portrait of madness, if madness is what it is. No mean feat. I will not reveal the nature of the last piece of correspondence, other than quote from an earlier letter: “Never show a fool a job half done.” The man’s name, by the way, is Henry Tobb. To be or not two be, I wondered from the beginning.
    Not forgetting the tin eyelids.

  4. Artwork THE FROLIC by Giuseppe Balestra…

    Followed by two four-line stanzas of a poem THE CRAFTER OF THE WORLD by Ashley Dioses. Effective enjambment, rhyme and assonance that I satisfyingly experienced – then re-experienced with further food for thought and reverberating contemplation, “the souls of Man and Mer.”

  5. BEQUEATHING THE WORLD TO INSECTS by Christopher Mountenay


    An essay of 14 pages to which the above is an introductory taster, I hope.
    To my inexpert eye on such academic endeavours, this seems to be a very worthy article with footnotes (many of them ‘ibid’!) and a substantial bibliography.

  6. TRIGGER by Julie Travis

    “…pieces of a jigsaw decades in the making, that completes here,…”

    My trigger for you is that this is a suicide told in real-time by the one who is doing it, not unlike the archetypal drowner’s drowning thoughts, but far more powerful from this angle of motivation plus the act of dying…and from its gestalt of the world’s backdrop, as well as from the personal backdrop, in more ways than one. Unique, I suggest.
    Dropping towards the centre of the earth.

    Meanwhile, my review of this author’s collection recently completed:

  7. THE MASTER GARDENER by Nicole Vasari

    “So it was something else: the sheer clutter of pointless human endeavour the mass of them represented, the ubiquity of mediocrity.”

    The strange phenomenon of gestalt real-time reviewing is somehow embodied and personified here, I suddenly decided in hindsight, having finished reading it. And its intrinsic soul now vanished, as with the painting in this now remembered longish workmanlike story about a large bequest of bric à brac and various items of workmanlike art to a Museum by a woman who had collected it … but then there is this singular painting that the narrator at the museum finds amongst the clutter… and if I tell you more, it will spoil it, as it was somehow constructively spoilt for me. Not so much the Dorian Gray syndrome but something remarkably new to literature’s clutter that needs a different name such as Henry Spinther to differentiate it. Inscrutable and haunting, it might be the work printed in the painting’s own painted book? Two different conversations, then, and two different stories. “So it was something else:”

  8. PARASITIC CASTRATION by Amelia Gorman

    “suck on my armpits, my tongue, my neck”

    Free verse, I gauge, often has such enjambment as a way of working something loose, not splitting the atom as such but worrying and teasing at the joint where the sense of least resistance occurs in a sentence, thus creating parasitism from synergy, via a barnacle.

  9. Next is the artwork ‘The Town Manager’ by Serhiy Krykun (where the mouth-opening is still big). Needs to be seen in the whole flesh. Then…


    All my many reviews of Charles Wilkinson’s work HERE – hopefully exhaustive as to his complete canon.

    THE NOVEMBER HOUSE is a puckish example of his work, to which we are made to pay attention because its ending is equivalent to, if not the same as, closing all our senses except our unblinking sight involuntarily focussed, for a “perpetual November”, on reading it! Or did I imagine that? A man called Mr Plant whose mouth-as-opening is accretively reducing in size, who is also bugged to take an alcoholic drinks delivery by a Mark-Samuelsian firm, here called Ferryman, with his painstaking inability to go upstairs or downstairs when once upstairs. And there is a pub called the Bag of Nails outside of which it has “started to rain, thick lines of freezing iron.” A wild Kafkaesque Beckettiana, that becomes painful in more ways than one. But there is no escape. “What is to be delivered will be delivered.”

    [My earlier ramblings on “Perpetual Autumn” relevant to Ligotti, to Death’s Zeno Paradox, to Null Immortalis and perhaps to this story itself? including the comment stream. Please also see my various “November” findings when reviewing the VanderMeers’ THE WEIRD anthology.]

    by Rob F. Martin

    “…with special emphasis on the aforementioned closing shot.”

    I am a fan of Twin Peaks, Series 3, and I found this article provocatively fulfilling to read.
    I hope one day someone will focus on the use of Penderecki in this series.
    Not connected with this article as such but only with reading its title this morning, it just struck me that ‘anal’ is embedded in ‘analysis’. Never realised that before.

    My previous review of Rob F. Martin:

    by Jill Hand

    Stemming happily from the pungent smell of new paperbacks during childhood, this is a mature examination of the work of Shirley Jackson. I am woefully ignorant on this subject-matter, but the essay seems to be a well-researched one with footnotes and bibliography.

  12. “Drowning in Being”, artwork by Øyvind Lauvdahl.
    A striking illustration, the mouth resonating with the Charles Wilkinson story and the title and overall image with the Julie Travis story.

  13. …and that same artwork is also a damn fine accompaniment to –

    HOW TO BE A HORROR WRITER by Tim Waggoner

    “What the hell was that? […] What the hell was that? What the hell was that?”

    Not sure the second person narrative here is autobiographical, but the woman who asked that was certainly not on the wagon! (Google those last three words if they represent only a UK idiom and you live elsewhere.) This, like the Max D. Stanton work, is both hilarious and seriously philosophical, but now we also have fear and fright and depression added to the sucked-away cocktail. The attrition and entropy of life’s experience evocatively described here as a vital part of addressing the title’s inferred question. And the ending is brilliant and appropriately deadpan – which also sort of answers my question about autobiography, any vacuum’s autoeroticism, notwithstanding. And it is a strong case for Anti-Natalism … other than for the fact that, with such a tenet taken to its ultimate extent, you would miss out on reading works of literature like this one. And on the wonderful Vastarien that gave it birth.

    My previous reviews of this author:


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