Vastarien: Vol. 1, Issue 3

A Literary Journal, Grimscribe Press, Autumn 2018

My previous reviews of VASTARIEN here.

Jon Padgett, Editor in Chief.

Work by s.j. bagley, Kurt Fawver, F.J. Bergmann, S.T. Joshi, Michael Uhall, Brooke Warra, Rayna Waxhead, S.L. Edwards, Tonya Liburd, Sean M. Thompson, Desiree Zamarano, Michael Cisco, Emmie Bristow, L’Erin Ogle, Sam Schreiber, Dr. Raymond Thoss, John Linwood Grant.

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

20 thoughts on “Vastarien: Vol. 1, Issue 3

  1. five dreams of the red tower by s. j. bagley

    “. i blew out the candles on our table…”

    Just where that sentence is, there follows an empty space, like a blank part of a blank story, below the text of dream (four), crossed, in the edition I received, by the smudged streaks shown below in my photo – unchanged from how I received them, in this book, from Amazon – and on the next page, as shown in the second photo, is the text of dream (five), followed by striking artwork by Aeron Alfrey.
    These five dreams, in wholly lower case, as all dreams are, I guess, is a fine tantalising dark Ligottian finish to this book, at its start.

    by Kurt Fawver

    Another fine future-acclaimable fable for our present times by Fawver, this one as first discovered by Vastarien, by the look of it, now itself looming low or hawling the budding White Pines town perfectionists of wholesome American living into their nearby geographical black hole or pit, one with coordinates and perfect circle qualities that I seem to have somehow predicted in my earlier photo of Vastarien above… Hell and perceived Heaven in contiguity? The former wherein which darkness you need to sign off so as to live in the latter, at least temporarily. The relativities buzz in my head, as this classic emblem from our own particular cut of literary cloth settles in my head. Some of the rules of tradition, history and good living here set out seem hilarious.

    My previous reviews of this author:

  3. …and that Alfrey artwork seems to be an accompanying illustration of:

    THE MAD GERMAN by Michael Uhall


    …this being a seeming deliberate transplanting of ‘planet’ to ‘plant’, ‘plant’ thereafter holding the Goddess’s dream – as the eponymous gentleman (who told that tale of the dream to a young boy in the cantina) spends his time in (a version of Christ’s?) wilderness towards Ligottian nirvana, after previous debates with a Doctor about the nature of the soul.
    I then followed it up by reading on-line about the Aztec ‘Mayahuel’ myth.
    Fiction is nothing if not educational? Uhall —> Mayahuel?

    My previous review of this author:

  4. I FEEL BETTER NOW by Brooke Warra

    “But they did. And no one did.”

    She heard about another girl, one with only thumbs who became the greatest pianist in the world. And her bookish Mum giving birth to her in a pizza delivery van on the way to the hospital and the pizza boy became her Dad after helping deliver her in the van. And her bones out of place in her body. Her deformities echoing those of society’s deprivations and temptations. Powerful stuff culminating in mirror fragments of her face or self out of kilter or Gestalt …depicted by Yves Tourigny illustrating this splintered scene. As I said above for the bagley, a finish as its own start – here Anti-Natalism walking with ballet shoes. (But I still have hope the surgery will work after all.)

    My previous review of this author:

  5. Artwork by Toni Tošić (hauntingly soft-muddled faces?) followed by…

    THE GLOW AT HOME by Rayna Waxhead

    “Were they trying to give us their same muddled faces?”

    An interesting contrast, too, with the previous story that deploys another muddled face, but that was sharp-muddled not soft-.
    This Waxhead seems to convey something that I have thought about in a muddled way for most of my life but it has never been crystallised until now. The crudely muddled and bumpy, lumpy nature of the world around me, of the people, of the polarisation of Good and Bad, where Bad is in the Wrong Channel along with blood, full of all the things that bolsters the philosophy of Decadence. This narrator (an interesting comparison with the narrator in the previous story) is snatched from the world of the Right Channel (with cartoonish perfections of margin inside and outside) to the Wrong Channel of losing Big Mother and losing the Glow at Home. But, then, what has been gained by losing what was lost? A thoughtful scenario, haunting me with the dilemma of knowing too little or knowing too much. Best to know oneself at least. Anti-Natalism in ballet shoes again?

  6. CHRONOLOGY OF A BURN by Tonya Liburd

    “, the band-aid strips were peaches-and-cream colored. She’d never realized that band-aids were tailored towards a white person’s skin…”

    Rather than fading into the background, this is the third fiction in a row by the distaff about a distaff loner-through-mind-or-bodily-trauma… except they are loners no longer? But they are the run of the mill in our Trumpish and Brexit era? Fawver’s contiguous Höhle or Hölle? Here, Waxhead’s lumpy and bumpy and muddled become Liburd’s skin itself, the skin of a woman running a Literary Journal, the develop-mental nature of burns on that skin and the need for support of others (on-line or rarely real) when in cognitive crisis, when just getting up to go to the walk-in clinic becomes a major event of will-power, a will often defeated. As I earlier wrote above about surgery, maybe mind-therapy also works in the end. The new faith.

  7. THE BLIND OPERA by Sean M. Thompson

    “…visual art stronger than the sum of its parts.”

    A story about such visual art that thus describes itself. A cult film series akin to ultra-Lynch that evokes someone — trying to watch its fateful emerging episodes, involving another Uhall or Ligottian “Nirvana” in the desert — as fighting an attritional battle against outside inimical influences and guiltily unsettling solipsistic forces from within so as to continue watching them, even through into its second series!

    My previous review of this author:

  8. NIGHTMARES by Désirée Zamorano

    A brief story of a city whose citizens suffer a plague-cycle of nightmares – effectively described for us, should we remember it after we finish real-time reading it….remember it beyond Fawver’s township’s contiguous Hölle or Höhl, that is. Not Anti-Natalism so much as Anti-Mütter?

  9. Then a haunting poem by Emmie Bristow entitled ‘Nightly Senses’, preternaturally, by coincidence, echoing bagley’s candles I quoted above, and an aura of the previous Zamarano Nightmares, my own ticking fridge and Waxhead’s “cartoon smile”….

  10. An appropriate, even more muddled frightening face by Toni Tošić, followed by…

    THE NIGHTMARE MAN by L’Erin Ogle

    “We weren’t big on touching.”

    …the family, that is, parents and two girl sisters. Visited by a recurring Nightmare Man, both the sisters separately visited by something or someone honestly nightmarish, in tune with or now tuning to the full this book’s accretive nightmares, and the girls themselves are well-characterised, their school life, their sparely uncaring parents, and the sister who is the narrator at the inscrutable end is the one we have to believe, otherwise why believe the story at all? A short story disguised as a long one? This book, too? The various fictions feeding into each other, or at least touching, to bolster their stammer of truth?

  11. ENNIGALDI by Sam Schreiber

    “What you do know is that it is your touch that shifts his center of gravity…”

    Just one side of the binary dilemma of Ur or Our in the course of self’s path in life. One binary leading to another binary to another: towards the ultimate “immor-“ that I have long called Null Immortalis. Here the Ur is the eponymous Princess who founded her museum that this story unfolds in a tantalising ticking, not this time of a fridge, but of a clock radio, of Ligotti, Lynch, Borges, Escher, Robbie-Grillet, nemonymous or labelled, no map of itself the museum within but maps of places without. It even has Waxhead’s “cartoon figure”, as representative of, not Ur, but Our, our Our, this book of stories, a curation within a curation, Padgett-wise. History not happening, but written. This major work is one I need to continue working at. So far, just one iteration of You. If not, Me. Rescued from the train track.

  12. A substantive non-fiction article, with much background reading and countless footnotes, Trauma Narrating, by Raymond Thoss, discussing Trauma Therapy and the pros and cons of ‘telling one’s story’ during therapy. In tune with Ligotti, I note that I once told of becoming the Träumtrawler, which is Traum as dream not trauma…

    My previous reference to this author:

  13. Followed by a meticulous artwork by Michael Hutter, not a stammer but a stutter, in keeping with the previous fiction of the Ur Museum…?

    FOR SHE IS FALLING by John Linwood Grant

    “She does not want to be touched like this and makes it clear with her nails.”

    “, all manner of horrids.”


    “Uh, there was an incident by the rail line,…”

    Thrown herself onto that earlier binary line? Jump-Nancy, Jennifer or Huldre or someone else, this is both Trauma and Träum therapy, as we follow such an amazing coda perfect for this book’s symphony of fiction and non-fiction, whether intentional (or not) to be so. Metal boxes as suicide machines (see my other review, of a jump, finished yesterday here).
    Vastarien is whence you jump to not from. For good or ill. Ligotti studies et al.
    Testing patterns, as ever.


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