THE SILENT GARDEN: A Journal of Esoteric Fabulism


UNDERTOW PUBLICATIONS (My previous reviews of this publisher HERE)


Work by D.P. Watt, Brian Evenson, Daniel Mills, Angelos Koutsourakis, Ron Weighell, Nick Mamatas, Mesándel Virtusio Arguelles, Helen Marshall, Rudrapriya Rathore, Patricia Cram, David Whitlam, Marcel Brion, Marian Womack, V.H. Leslie, Reggie Oliver, J.T. Glover, Maurizio Cometto, Georgina Bruce, Kristine Ong Muslim, Rachel S. Cordasco, Edward Gauvin, Vince Haig, Sam Cowan.

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

27 thoughts on “THE SILENT GARDEN: A Journal of Esoteric Fabulism

  1. I will not be able to start reading this exciting book until after about a week or two.
    Meanwhile, I can confirm that, at a guess, it is 9 inches by 9 inches, and is beautiful and strong, and smooth, with about 250 pages, and a generous supply of interior colour artwork.

    by D. P. Watt

    “My soup had caught in the pan but enough was salvageable to keep hunger at bay.”

    Enough to scrape words off the bottom of the deadpan, but you need to follow highly detailed, sometimes absurdly itemised instructions of recipe when reading this text – to gain full benefit of its narration by a woman doing a favour for her ex-husband by arranging – in person – the funeral of his father in far-off Poland. Leading to rites of past passage. A pungent herbal pot-roast of post-fatal sex by means of a precariously pre-prepared unready-meal eventually made from dreamfully spilled spells and precise spices. Or so I inferred, alongside “…an ample garden, with many well-tended beds and borders, all carefully prepared for winter.”

    My many previous reviews of D.P. WATT:

  3. PALISADE by Brian Evenson

    “But why would you wall a garden in?”

    A page-turning narrative between the varying points of view of uncle and nephew, both of whom had been involved in a crime and somehow need to escape by canoe to a house on one of a lake’s islets. But is it the right islet, indeed the right eyelet, as pareidoliac faces appear in trunks of trees in the house’s “garden”, some trunks with deceptive gaps separating them into discrete trees? Also complex ferns as if adopted from the ingredients of this book’s previous Wattage. Creepy and haunting, it also has resonant synergy with a concurrent review I am conducting of Ong Muslim works (eg Pet) here. And how often do YOU do something as silly as the uncle’s disposal of the canoe, then deeming that you could not have been yourself? Reading this in itself might even be just as silly, you may wonder, as you finish it. The smell of sap, notwithstanding.

    My previous reviews of Brian Evenson:

  4. LINCOLN HILL by Daniel Mills

    “and Anna, dreaming, watched until
    her sister danced him past the mill”

    An effective poem to my eyes (strangely connected to another Anna as a sister in this review of The Dance of Abraxas here earlier this morning!) – a poem that perhaps exhumes a well-meaning old man like me…

    My previous reviews of Daniel Mills:

    I see myself only as a reviewer of fiction. Next, there is a non-fiction:

    The Politics of Performativity in Lars Von Trier’s ‘Dogville’ and Yorgos Lanthimo’s ‘Dogtooth’
    By Angelos Koutsourakis


    “It was like walking into a gigantic, horribly haunted abattoir.”

    “That people still clung to the pathetic chestnut about travel automatically broadening the mind amazed him.”

    These the thoughts of an alcohol-tempted Tour Guide on a coach trip in Sicily. When I went on such trips in Europe the Guide and the Driver jobs were alternated between two people or, more often, doubled out the separate duties within a single person, which might explain a lot here! The Guide here seems to be the one with the microphone, a non-driver, well, I certainly hope so. He is obviously well-briefed in the legends and he treats us, as would an academic panjandrum, with the rituals and monsters and myths, in rich arcane words, and with an effectively horror-twisted and sometimes puckish frame of mind, describing them with a Rabelaisian hilarity or under a sporadic fearful darkness of soul. He looks down on the group of tourists in his care and, for the most part, I laughed along with him. Especially about the Little Englanders who are now so into Abrexit! However, one of the tourists is an equally well-briefed man, an American, it turns out, and the combined rituals and scenes focus towards an outcome that fills the pages with a braggadocio of visionary grotesqueness as just deserts for a life’s marital backstory such as that of Punch and Judy, or for something far less trivial or serious, depending on your own temperamental point of view — as weighed in Hell? An outcome that made me think, as a reader, I might well be implicated if I slipped into labelled drinks of a certain kind before I finished reading this story, the state of my shoulderblades notwithstanding. One mention of DH Lawrence seemed too much of a coincidence to ignore, meanwhile, as this author was earlier today also named in Tweddell here within a potential conflux of similar theurgies.

    “If you fear, you will see devils. If you have made your peace they come as angels.”

    My previous reviews of Ron Weighell:

  6. UNDER THE CASKET, A BEACH by Nick Mamatas

    “There’s a specter haunting Europe…”

    A strong, sinewy, literary work in the sense of Malcolm Lowry literary; a woman visitor to a part of Greece in the hub of Euro austerity and boated refugees, a place where her ancestors lived; her grandfather; she is an American who is still essentially Greek, as she discovers, in a pattern of wine-washed bones of the linear dead and later sliced flesh for the olive GROVES, mercenary missions, easy fucking on the beach, presumptuous rites, and using all the hands available from sea or land or race to garner into or out of shallow GRAVES or even deeper trawling or hawling from or to those clinging bony hands at sea’s bottom – a wild dreamcatching, on my part, does satisfyingly snag such nightmares amid a collective human mulch of horror in that haunted Europe. I am still hawling… “Please believe this all makes sense.”

    This site’s previous reviews of Nick Mamatas:

  7. DD6564F4-10F6-45FE-83E8-1EB92A15BD03 THE OTHER TIGER by Helen Marshall

    “No women I knew of wrote poetry.”

    A story the stripes of which on its surface fur also mark its naked skin beneath. Where man and woman almost blend, and, despite the default war ever in the background, and the nature that distinguishes between one gender and another now begins to distinguish between each of those within each ostensible gender, as buoyed by the writing of poetry and the marks that each of us gives the other with whom we share such intimacy. All seen through the eyes of a new language evolved from instinct and verse by a woman who experiences these distinguishing marks as emotion, a handsome husband, her husband’s previous mistress when he is lost, and more insipid-looking soldiers… we all get lost sometimes and come back as another? Dark, sometimes sweetly naive and disarmingly deadpan, and thoughtful, and easily morphed by dint of word and inner image. And one’s name. And, oh yes, one’s inner skull or skeleton. “: sluggish, bottom-dwelling sturgeon.”

    “Night is falling too quickly for pauses.”

    My previous reviews of Helen Marshall:

  8. THE EMBOLUS OF CINNABAR by Patricia Cram

    “The man’s skin was draped over his bones.”

    This is a difficult, potentially satisfying work, as if born from Blake and Goya, seemingly couched by a soul emerging preternaturally from many elements of the fantasy and weird fiction writers who happen to have predominated my Gestalt Real-Time Reviewing since I started doing them ten years ago. I have had the general rule that any of my reviews are based on my first reading of a work. This work, in its strange, sometimes deliberately elliptical or constructively oblique, style of inspirationally rich language and its teeming images, might need 748 of my readings even to get close to it. Seriously, it needs more than one. So I leave it there.

    “Like this, over and again, earth and water seduced each other until a clear river was made that had, for its bones, sacred architecture, the splintered wood and nails of human worship.”

    Translated by Edward Gauvin

    “, ‘That’s exactly right. A city where there’s nothing but façades is a City of No Façades.’”

    I feel that this story first published in 1942 is obviously an important and substantive work of fantastical fiction in the Weird mould, many examples of similar work as by new authors having been published by Ex Occidente Press / Mount Abraxas during the ten years I have been Gestalt Real-Time Reviewing. To my mind, the translation of this Brion work is a special example that is unmissable. A highly inspiring, and, in contemporary times, potentially controversial, account of a visit by strange train journey to an even stranger city with a lacery of façades, a constructively mutated apotheosis of Ishiguro’s UNCONSOLED (my favourite ever novel), where the protagonist meets another man and an eventually transformatory little girl, and perhaps most importantly, the little girl’s doll. And, on the day of the Indonesian tsunami, tellingly an encroachingly synergous scenario of sea within the plot. It teems with images of dreamscape, constellation and stunning vision, and emotional growth. In a highly rich style with often a mind-staggering strength of dislocation and personal spirituality. It would be pointless to try choose between a multitude of competing passages to quote here, so I will leave it at that.

    My previous review of an Edward Gauvin translation:

  10. By the way, each work in this book seems to contain a telling colour artwork by various artists…

    NOX UNA by Marion Womack

    “Oh! Good! My books! Those damn things, there’s no one who can make head nor tail of them, and if you leave them to their own devices, it’s almost as though they breed.”

    A story that is a compulsion to read – unusually ‘page-turning’ bearing in mind its rich and satisfying, sometimes constructively cloying, style of narrative – and we follow the narrator, inveigled there by lucrative promise of a book-cataloguing job for an old academic, to the mixed emotions of the here evocatively conjured genius-loci of the university town where he once studied, a study period with inferred unrequited love addressed as ‘you’, and the narrator’s inferred academic shame, inveigled by Arnaud (Artaud?) a co-playwright now, it turns out, collaborating, on the eponymous (interactively avant garde?) theatrical production, with ‘you’… The outcome ends tantalisingly with the word “mist”, but I, for one, claim I missed nothing. All the books or old self-satisfied professors catalogued, possibly restrained, only part of the outcome. Avant garde, silent garden. Theatre of Cruelty.

    My previous reviews of this author:

  11. CORUVORN by Reggie Oliver

    For me, a slight story by this story magus. I sensed a tongue in its cheek about misogyny and human rights. As a QC, a man dreams he is a God and meets his female QC rival in real life who in the dream has become Thora, Goddess of Wind. Not much to redeem it other than the painting by Nicholas Roerich that illustrates it.

  12. LA TIERRA BLANCA by Maurizio Cometto
    Translated by Rachel S. Cordasco

    “, the star could be none other than…than…than…”

    A limpid but elliptically idiosyncratic real-time account by the Admiral about his ship’s shipwreck, leading to (a drowning death as?) a rapture of their ship now brand new and reaching a perfect desert island, followed by a meeting arguably with God as a meaningful, sometimes counterintuitive, transit of a star, and Angels.
    We are faced with the nature of cowardice from, choice against or submission to such things mixed with guilt for those dear ones left behind and whether the ship’s foreman — (a version of Christ who did not embrace Heaven but spurned it?) making the definite choice against the rapture — has helped the others reach this rapture, leaving them potentially with more guilt. But, unless I missed something, who was Carlos? Is this whole text a message in a bottle that someone picked up and translated? Left me a lot to think about the bottles I see on the sand but do not open.

  13. CONTORTIONIST by Mesándel Virtusio Arguelles
    Translated by Kristine Ong Muslim

    “The reward is the dislodged internode.”

    This Filipino poem is its own title! Words possessing a double-jointed gestalt. Gives a new meaning to the term enjambment.

    by Georgina Bruce

    “I never seem to know what you’re talking about these days.”

    But does anyone need to do so? I let this new tract of Bruisegina roll over me with frissons of expectation, a sense of meaning and meaninglessness, even with one meaningful typo that may not have been a typo on the first page, a language that sometimes made me think it had a narrative “stutter”, and it seemed appropriate to be a dream within a movie or a movie within a dream or another permutation of that, as David (Lynch?) and Laura (Dern?) (who collaborated on several films, thus giving me an urge to this perhaps crazy insight) seem to be movie-making here in the woods with antlers and bears and royal existences to seek, and with flavours of Red Riding Hood and the Three Bears, Kazuo Ishigiro’s hotel in The Unconsoled, work by Angela Carter and Caitlín R. Kiernan, Farjeon’s Martin Pippin in the Apple Orchard, this story’s own “Dreemy People”, and, of course, a Lynch type movie, plus sexual flows of light that the words infer from between the legs…and a basic yearning to transcend the movie where one lives or dreams.

    “Beautiful dead girls. Exquisite misogyny.”

    My previous reviews of Georgina Bruce:


    This beautifully produced and colourfully decorated journal is unmissable for lovers of Esoteric Fabulism, a term its own title uses. I knew it would become part of the destined Gestalt of Hyper-Imagination that perforce grows under my hands. Any book I tend to choose to buy is a self-fulfilment of my nifty knack to make choices for such literaripulations, if I say so myself. And I look forward to the next edition of this journal. In the unlikely event that I die before then, no matter, I will be living it for real, instead.


  15. Pingback: The Silent Garden – a review – Undertow Publications

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