12 thoughts on “All The Names They Used For God – Anjali Sachdeva


    “…the smoked glass will hide the ways her eyes shake.”

    An obliquely naive, illiterate girl travels tunnels and obscure pathways beneath the prairie towards what I might call nemonymous night via a journey by Verne. With white things in the dark. Haunting for me, and with her irises still shaking, she goes there and back to her home, Gretel without her Hansel, to where her Zachary has left, but with oblique letters, that she can’t read, between them. One passing boy squatter in her house reads one of these letters aloud, as she can’t read, but I wonder if he does read it right, because of wanting himself to be her new husband? Whatever, she knows enough to go under for good.


    “; what had appeared to be smoke was in fact glass fibers as fine as thistledown…”

    …a remarkable resonance with the quote I happened to choose yesterday for the first story in this book. Such synchronicities help to prove to me the inherent worth of a book. This one is a longer story (with certain indefinable hints of Nabokov’s stories that I happen to be currently reviewing here) of a widowed Danish émigré in America with his small daughter Effie, who grows up during the course of the plot. He has an industrial accident to his lungs, a magical realism stemming from his hawling in a steel furnace, and the diversifying business surrounding the quote above. Effie and her eventual employer take him to Egypt as ‘chaperone’ where his fulgurite totem becomes a dowser that promises to outdo even the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamen… well at least enough, in the first instance. As an old man myself, I know old men deserve illuminary stories like this one told about them. For self-stoical as well as altruistically rewarding reasons. Any ricochet of translucent splinters, notwithstanding. Holding one’s breath for what comes next in his life.


    “You like industrial chemistry?”

    I found this chick-lit story a compelling read. Written by a chick about a chick but from the point of view of the bloke, a bloke who had created himself anew following his ex who, as another chick, had not found him ex-citing enough. His new chick takes him trekking in Montana, and his cultivated bravado and her harmonising with the wolves outside their waysided tent…. but any more and I would spoil it for you. Even an old bloke like me can envisage, in another time, another world, going on a Picnic to Logging Lake, or even to Hanging Rock. If, one day, I ever manage to come back, I can wear it as a badge of fascination and pull the chicks again.


    “One might unearth almost anything with enough searching. Being a muse is mostly this — a sifting through of memories to find something of merit, hauling it to the surface where it can shine.”

    This is John, with snow or static inside his head, his work, as mutual muses, with an angel of feminine pronouns, and builds his own work, till the angel becomes a he? The different pronouns they call God? Blind or just seeing things that are more real than real, sometimes John accidentally writes his lines of inspiration on top of each other and thus makes them illegible to others as well as to himself as he forgets what he has written in such a state of inspiration. This work seems written as if it was always meant to be, an archetype literature that is perfect as you read it, but if left unread will remain inchoate. The ending with the calling of the maid is a perfect example of this. John’s backstory as a teacher, too, and his own palms are painted red with stripes, or left unread with them. Pinned upon each other like angels. Means justifying the ends. Harmonising with wolves? Glass splinters in the lung? The girl with shaken irises?

    “…, mining truth and smelting arguments together until he had built a palace of reason.”


    “, like my brain was trying to throw weight on the other side of a scale against all the madness that was happening around me.”

    The God in the title is Allah, I guess. The Abuja narration by a girl called Promise (brought up as a Christian, unless I have misread it) about herself and her friend, another girl called Abike, who, after being kidnapped as schoolgirls by Muslim men (Boko Haram?), develop telepathic powers of persuasion over men. Like telling one of their husbands to sit in the corner and recite all the names for God. Promise returns to her family one day, and discovers her small brother is now tantamount to a man. Her powers are tempered against men, as a new wisdom dawns, I guess. Power is not in creating submission but in sharing power, perhaps, whoever you are. Promise, one of the names of God as Goddess?


    “He dragged his fingers slowly through the water, imagining for a moment that he could feel the plankton in it, all the thousands of invisible creatures that float on the surface of the sea.”

    …as I do with this book, I feel, while hawling up, in this particular shape of water story, both a normal and abnormal dreamcatch. This will become, I am sure, the archetypal mermaid story that we shall all grow to know and love, telling of a relationship between a long haul trawler fisherman called Robert and a mermaid. Their physical interaction is magical reading, and if I gave you any sense of it, that would spoil your pleasure when first reading about it. And the huge shark she follows. And Robert’s wife back home dwindling in his affections, as a result. Poignant with emotions deeply fished. The real green man, called Mark, green in the sense of being a beginner fisherman, susceptible to seasickness and interference. All makes for a sleek story of some depth. Sleekness and depth, meanwhile, lead to the need of having small breasts; I never thought of that, till now. The optimal shape in water.


    “…and digging himself deeper until he dug himself right down into Gina’s father’s coal mine,…”

    Impossible to plotify this story other than by reading it as a whole, but it all seems emotionally honest, even though some of the characters deceive the other characters, deceive even themselves. The story of Michael and Gina, escaped from her father who had held them both under his financial thumb, this couple becoming a would-be Bonnie and Clyde? No, because one of them, scared of his own shadow, is seeking a Yellow House not a a Yellow Brick Road, a house with a red swing outside, a house housing Michael’s ex and his handsome little son with curls. But, Gina, when abandoned, is tended by a disarmingly altruistic old man, before she randomly by chance is due to be a waitress at a certain marriage feast….
    And it is the Gestalt itself that owns the emotional honesty, I guess, not the individual people who make up that Gestalt. A Gestalt that wants what it wants and has no mercy but to let its own real-time audit-trail pan out to get it. Circumventing human fickleness and any inborn sincerity trying to express itself person by person, transcending such fickleness?
    Gestalt, one of the names they call God?

  8. MANUS

    “One day the sight of someone with fingernails is going to be enough to make you stop dead in the street.”

    Manus, a word that, makes me think of hands that are like the small ones Trump waggles about as he talks with his puckered anus mouth! Think about it, if aliens visited Earth and they asked to meet our main human leader, they would have to be introduced to him! The one they get first, in other words! Maybe, all is meant to be. This is a story that you will not forget easily. Masters as aliens who look like snot. Their enslaving of the human race by replacing our hands with fork tines. A process in ordered piecemeal, one by one, until all are done. We follow, in this story, one man and the people he knows, his relationships, as each one is eventually forked, including himself (out of order!). All taken for granted, deadpan… except underneath it all, we rebel, or some of us do, some of us at first. All related to certain parts of all the previous stories in this book, now due — in the process of private exhibitionism that will clinch this story being tattooed on your mind — to be made Gestalt. The big picture. But can any one of us see the big picture. Well, yes, I guess. At your service.

    “The one that’s all of them.”


    “She starts peeling the dead skin off her arms, piece by piece like she’s stripping wallpaper, absentminded the way that some people chew their fingernails.”

    Del (Adelpha) is one of seven identical girl septuplets named after the names of the seven Pleiades and as born to parents who had a ‘mad scientist’ supremacy wish, but, in some eyes, they gain their punishment by dying piecemeal one by one, leaving Del as the last sister – in or out of Manus order? The sisters had thought they shared one brain: but they became a Gestalt of selves shrinking from within or peeling at the edges. And when Del — having given up being narrator as the last sister alive — passes the duty of narration to a man called Troy (as singular Story?), he describes being picked up by Del in her car, and his seeing that her own Gestalt of body-health is also shrinking from within. And peeling from outside as an under-the-skin hitchhiker-syndrome. A most poignant ending as she starts to die, still in contact with her dead sisters, on the beach. Made me forget forever that I became DeL as part of the Pleiades…. A fine coda to this otherwise unforgettable story symphony in this whole book. We now share the one brain or the one name of God?

    “; my fingers sink into it, and below them the shuddering of her heart.
    ‘This is what I feel all the time,’ she says, ‘only it’s the whole world beating.’”


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