28 thoughts on “The Clockworm – Karen Heuler

  1. The photo below first appeared in one of my reviews in 2013 HERE.

    36b7c045-5216-4580-ac43-1dfce02c457cHERE AND THERE

    “She seemed to think through her fingertips, always reaching for shapes that she could use to build her bridges.”

    The inspired and up-spiring story of Nola Poterri, from childhood onward into age, a story that affected me deeply. What a magnificent start to this book! From outset, she is obsessed with building bridges, layers of them, from point to point, centre to centre, miraculously described, towards an invisible bridge and paper ones, building sometimes to the chagrin of neighbours, later with their gratitude, and with the perhaps equivocal support of her father, but enduring the lack of support for women as civil engineers, and as beset by sexual abuse. Infrequently described deadpan, sometimes magically. The yearning machinations, as I see them, towards bridge-nirvana are implicit and explicit in this story, a story that serves as a wonderful fable for my own gestalt real-time reviewing and other literary bridge-building over most of my life…

    “I see a point and I see the links to the points that constellate them. I go for the ones with the most links. They’re obviously the strongest.”

  2. Pingback: “I see a point and I see the links to the points that constellate them. I go for the ones with the most links. They’re obviously the strongest.” | DES LEWIS GESTALT REAL-TIME REVIEWS - established 2008


    The second proto-architectural story in a row with a girl’s full name starting it, here Audra Donchell. e6bc6b92-20e8-4287-bace-b34524d6a3f7 Another story which seems invented for ‘hyper-imaginative’ as optimal hawling (“They worked for two days that way, barely speaking, pushing in lines and pulling them out, sewing the island, tugging at it, patting it and pushing it.”) – here hawling the worst of this world’s gestalt or gaia into the best! An inverse reclamation of plastic that made me think of a Dream Archipelago of peglegs and eggs. The turtles and prosthetics, notwithstanding.

    “I wanted to see the eggs,’ she said finally. Her voice was soft; she didn’t want to seem egotistical,”

    “‘I suspect I only got permission because of my arm,’ she said and flexed it. He looked impressed. ‘That must be handy,’ he said.”

    “They told their stories, one by one, what they lost and how they had gained a replacement.”

    “: all connected, all synchronous.”


    “You need advice from someone with more connections.”

    The recurrent story of mothers and daughters, here of Gina and her mother, one growing, the other eventually dwindling out, a deadpan (or deadjar?) random curse harder to fight than a deliberate one. Connections? Gina’s tether to her mother is described exactly as my wife has recently described her onset of back pain; the toes missing are exactly like my own toes gone numb and stiff in the last year or so, and the description of skin hawling is, for me, a sort of holistic or gestalt healing… An affective tale with tugs upon it by Ocampo and Lispector? A stoical moment in literature.

    “I lose, too, when the healing doesn’t work.”


    “It was no surprise that the footsteps came towards her. She had the power. She wanted to help.”

    A deadpan, deceptively simple text of Adele, now a social worker, and the ghostly footsteps of her departed mother or whatever force it is – and Adele’s backstory of being abused by her father, and a form of voodoo that eventually arrives and the striking, shocking conceit of an eventual army of ‘erect men’ as a paradoxical pathway to destruction of man’s evil world?
    This, for me, is either a fabulous work to remember or utter rubbish; nothing in between. I am keeping my powder dry. The proto-architecture of bridges etc, to that of other erections.


    “They already knew the vessel was unlike anything seen in novels or film. It was boxlike and clumsy.
    A door opened and out stepped two black females.”

    a4b14854-0515-453f-8a74-47e2ff8090eaExcept, notwithstanding the diluted tornado, it was the one from Oz. Ozone ecosystems, or not. This is a whimsical stream of consciousness that hangs together like a story that belies any belief in randomness. An amorally fabulous ricochet between equably stoical aliens with a long view and our human race with all its foibles of self-seriousness alongside endemic entertainment tropes. One thing that struck me is that if we received such aliens and they want to meet our main leader, we shall have to introduce them to Mr Trump! The giraffes strike me as bridge-like creatures. Pity they are dying out. And the talking kittens resonate with those in another book I am simultaneously real-timing: Kafka on the Shore by Murakami. Political correctness will never be the same after reading this Heuler hoop of a story. Am I beginning to catch on to the unique nature of this book?

  7. I AM

    A story of Holly who, after a party fling with a male scientist, becomes party to all manner of Proustian selves created by a Mad Science related to Egg Island and its plastic and 3D printing. Ground-breaking concepts extrapolated to brainstorming lengths, relating to elements of identity legal and/or self-felt, and of frightening eschatologies and of having dealings with other versions of oneself and of whether (I personally infer this additional thought) Holly merely has a holiday from Holly upon a hangover?


    “What a world Missy lived in! Conspiracies; lies; nothing real was true and nothing true was real!”

    A story of getting on with irony. Manipulated reality TV shows, inveigled bodily implants, pre-signature cancers, heat signatures, invasive neighbours, Missy’s invasive woman friend who does not implant her, but supplant her. I scratch my head and find signs of an implant that this story has left there. Whether it is a tumour that will spread further or a wonderful literary conceit with equivalent potential, remains a Misstory.

    Meanwhile, at this halfway point, I will suggest that anyone who enjoys this book will enjoy another book I reviewed here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2018/04/10/welcome-to-sugarville-j-j-haas/ and vice versa.


    “Seeing a new patient is like opening a new book.”

    A perfect paranoiac vignette to read straight after this Watt story, as I just did – a preternatural random accident! Their two women characters (one a character in the Watt, the other here perhaps the Heuler Hawler herself) needed such a solipsistic writerly diagnosis and healing plan to give them strength. Give me strength, too.


    “A boy fell in love with a girl, both aged three.”

    An astonishing essay on the eggs of the eponymous insect creating a swaddling, irresistible love between humans, animals and things, including perceived planetary bodies … towards a Gestalt or cosmic Gaia of love?
    A window cleaner trying to reach out to a gargoyle with which he fell in love…. as another example. A kiss and bodily twist beyond human capacity? Give us strength.


    “I admit I was lonely; it is why women all over—good women even, women of quality—fall in love with men who are acid, who are destined to corrupt one’s belief, one’s sanity, one’s sanctity.”

    An ingeniously tantalising story of Jack Figaro or Figueroa, dependant on what name is finally given him, a character whom the female (I assume) narrator creates in a written work and brings him within interface of Alice, another character whom she creates. Whether these characters have free will or not, I shall let you decide. Whether YOU have free will, my imaginary reader, is unknown to me, but whatever the case, please let me assure you that this story is a landmark read about authorial ‘Intentional Fallacy’ (see Wimsatt, in whose literary theory I have been interested since 1967); it is a classic story, I would go so far as to say. Subtle and complex, and intellectually inspiring. With social or feminist implications. As if the author has opened a door by chance when I simultaneously opened another door by chance from the other side of the corridor where we live…. (Also a portrait of how minor characters sometimes uncontrollably take over works as one progresses with writing them, as I often found in the past.)


    “‘It feels like I could fill the room with it, lift everything up, kind of explode—only I hold on to the explosion.’ His eyes got internal.”

    The perfect story of a man, as beset by national utility spies, who is self-sufficient in renewable electricity – and of his relationship with a woman. The best word for this relationship is ‘synergy’, although the story does not use it. Hope this review of such a style-crepitating story is not too glib.


    “But once they meet up with a clock, it changes everything. They work.”

    …and once one of these clockworms becomes a whole book’s title, as here, it spreads its gestalt power throughout, extrapolating, brainstorming, metaphorising, hypothesising, hyper-theorising, from pure science to mad science and back again in oscillation. Indeed, this eponymous story of invented worms (descriptively, if not prescriptively, designed differently for optimising a change in Time within either digital or geared timepieces), is a meeting between two human beings to discuss clockworms, author and reader, or the two characters themselves created by the author for the reader to read about, and I wonder who changes most or who changes first — the author’s brainstorming of the characters and their inventions within her mind (as this her book’s further extrapolation of Wimsatt) or the reader’s brainstorming as represented by this review?


    “‘I think that’s Bach,’ Tony said, surprised.
    ‘I was thinking Chopin,’ Renee answered.”

    They were both guessing, it seems.
    Two people — who are not an item and who earn pin-money by trialing new medical drugs — enter the equivocation of this work’s title, both the eventual chemistry between them and the presumably mad-scientist chemistry that created it. The drug, this time — for which they are separately interviewed about its perceived effects on them — is claimed by the author to create lust as a side effect. Lust, represented, I infer, by the Eve’s snake myth, snakes that they then see increasingly infesting Manhattan thereafter, tellingly seen in blind spots or at the peripheral edges differently from when seen head on. I gather that it is not lust, in fact, with which they are predominantly infected or blessed (blessed as some may think if love takes them after the sex), not lust but happiness, a synaesthesia of pure unbroken happiness, a phenomenon ever ungraspable, depending where and/or how you look for it. And only a few days ago I happened to write a brief prose piece called ‘Seven Days of Happiness’ (posted at that time here), a piece that I find mutually synergistic with this Hawling by Heuler. Pretentious, moi? Well, it’s in what takes me, not in what I take.

    “He was tempted to write down the word ‘happy’ and spend time thinking about it.”


    “If I were in the world, the two of us would be all over the place.”

    A bit of a non event. From the vantage points of two twins Tonia and Vivian, one of whom had survived with the other inside, descriptions in two alternate worlds with the other one inside, each with a mentally-challenged girl as a third party friend, one who surreptitiously carried scissors in her pocket.


    “Her mother wanted to make curtains but she still couldn’t use the scissors with her left hand, she held them all wrong.”

    A tantalising tale, as if we need to cut out Grace’s mother from this mother’s new dwindling self, a self with a leftside stroke, then encroaching dementia. Sharing her once childhood cut up games with her own mother, the daughter’s POV is then helping her mother in building a house, a sort of doll house that had a memory of a vanishing child, the lost Penny – to try and cinch sanity for all of us, because this story seems somehow to infect the reader with dementia, and her daughter the POV becomes ours, slowly dwindling, like the Penny. The daughter’s father increasingly keeps a low profile, the reader, too, busy busy on other affairs, other books. Better get back busier on this one?

  17. EXILE

    “At the end, she saw that all the bones were connected, for he picked up one and they all came together, and he stacked them and then shook them out, and they fell very neatly into place.”

    Yet, I am being led astray again, as in the previous tantalising work, but now even more so — along with another daughter with another father, this a step one, one intent on his affairs, yet she, along with the reader, a reader, like me, who tries to connect things, if not with bones, like another man she meets in his house when on her way back from exile towards her stepfather, but she hits a man in a car in the fog and then she has to follow vultures on foot to see whom she had hit or to resume the steps of the dance with the leading man’s hand so tantalisingly on her back…. or hers on my back, led a real dance!


    “The tall Oriental mirror had proved to be the curse of the Lewis family.”

    Perhaps this seems to be another non-event because it is outweighed by stuff that puts it in a worse light, and if it was in another book, it would be a better story? A woman coping with the family curse as represented by the mirror, by the poeple within it (equivalent to the earlier clockworms?), a strobing of cause and effect within the realms of fate. Looking within it is to see your own path to destruction, a mirror that, even when she splinters it into several mirrors and windows-acting-as-mirrors, becomes instrumental to her husband’s infidelities against her with another woman. Or are the infidelities with her against his real wife? Her name: Agnes Lewis. Or at least her maiden one.


    Following the previous story, another husband and wife – here in the tourist jungle – losing themselves in rivalries and mutualities. So unsure of its intentions, I become unsure of myself! (Wimsatt’s Intentional Fallacy again? If so, turned into its mirror image, with an author doubting the intention of a reader? Called out, at last!?)


    “She looked through it and saw she had no reflection. Maybe it wasn’t really a mirror, maybe it was a window.”

    A possible summation of this book’s earlier clockworms and snakes at the periphery of sight, and the twin-within-twin-and-vice-versa, and the reflected images of self with not even a vestigial foot out of place in the Zeno’s Paradox of Gestalt searches amid splintered stars — and here the palindromic Hannah is perhaps the new Alice heuling into view a new archetype of literature, a bridge towards an even more supreme architecture of itself within an alternate or mirror world. Figaro characters, eat your hearts out.

    This book is my gargoyle, and I am its highrise cleaner.


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