12 thoughts on “Collision – J.S. Breukelaar


    “‘Ay-me,’ she said. ‘It’s spelled Ame, but you say it like Amy.’”

    The band gives an audition for the new pianist, Ame, who has no arms, and no hands on them, I guess. Yet, with a purging of audiences, she takes the club by storm, with her feet of piano-playing, and later, on one rare occasion, her soul-searching voice, scouring all the band’s backstories, including that of Deel (Delia) who runs the club and band. The eventual mutual melting of both women is moving. Ame did not need to see the lake to know where it was. I did not need to fully grasp this story, to know what it was all about.

  2. Below is shown my previous review of the next story in the context of when it first appeared in Black Static #63:


    RAINING STREET by J.S. Breukelaar

    “I manage to get the Donald-thing in the groin…”

    Not that this is necessarily a reference to a shapeshifter of the infamous Donald, but this Donald does seem to own a cat with an orange ear — and there is also mention of the two Kims that must have been written here before it happened! (“…the way Little Red Riding Hood looks like a Kardashian and Prince Charming more like a Korean alcoholic.”) These considerations aside, RAINING STREET proves that Black Static spoils you, because this is yet another of its classics. Like the writer in the Dines, this narrator is a writer coping with today’s Dire of Life, here the poverty of a single parent in the city, then encouraged by elderly neighbours, Marie and Donald (characters you will NOT forget easily), to go ‘beyond the three bridges’ for better foodstuff at a cheaper rate, ending up on Raining Street (and this is a place you will NOT forget easily, either!), with such direcity then being at least partly assuaged by reconnection with the narrator’s loving partner who died some years ago. A place that also resonates with the other Dines fiction in Interzone I reviewed yesterday. TTA Press spoils me rotten. Has done for years. You will not forget the snake beans and the stoical encouragement that the well-characterised narrator benefits from against the direcity of life. All in a style that crepitates semantically, syntactically and phonetically. And to inadvertently echo the title of the Dines novella above: “…and all I can recall from Raining Street are instruments lowered at the end of the song.” Literally unforgettable. Even if.

    “I should forget it — just have a nap, write that review…”

  3. I am not sure if this book’s items of artwork add or detract from the stories, but onward…


    “Smells and tastes were a bitch to code.”

    An artful blend between open healthy running by the ocean, sexy nudity, memories of other ladies being hot after one’s wife Lucy AND the process of being reconstituted as it were by the box of this story. I was successfully consumed by this Cartesian portrait of a couple whose original wedding had taken place in the Gaslight district of town, the beach hotels being too expensive.


    “Sometimes the stories come easily, like they did for her mother, sometimes they come urgently, and she can feel them down in her body,…”

    A darkly pungent, basely honest story, one that is more than just felt, down in the eponymous friendless fifteen-year-old girl’s body, living in a town with her ‘step uncle’, a place where all the men tend to sell tyres from back gardens. Or at best garages, I guess. Her own story is Norwegian émigré based, Níõhöggr et al, in her story-writing and personal backstory armoury, as it certainly turns out, wearing her late mother’s old bikini she finds in the attic, invited as an unlikely débutante whipping-post to a teenage swim and surreptitious drinks party in this out of the way place,,,and all things pan out bodily and blood-dynastically in an honest and deadpan way, that entails belief and revelation, not only revelation on her part about her own smoke-ringed mother, but on our part, too, about humanity.


    “The child blowing spit bubbles and Clint Eastwood muttering to himself behind the roundabout.”

    Deadpan enough for us to accept we know what is going on with this man, thinking of his brother who left home, grandparents who left their lives at least for a while, like his Grandad’s hang ‘em high, his talking Ridgeback dog, his grandmother’s whatever-Daschund, bitten off hands, and more. Parents with smartphones should look after their children better, I guess. I found this work pungent, disarmingly Ame-putated, ringnosed and cutthroat, a tad Flannery, cancer-threaded, and unforgiving. Every which way but loose. By the way, the Rhodesian Ridgeback, was also known as the ‘lion dog’…


    “The younger players sat strung out along the fence during her games, like birds on a wire,…”

    …after the lady Sheriff told him there was a murder (as bird collective) of the girl’s sort of migrant kids in the woods… he being an Afghanistan war veteran, now back home, in a wheelchair, and he had more or less adopted the girl – who plays Rapunzel with a wig at Halloween – the girl whom he remembers, as a bony little girl, as an AK-47 bearer, as the one who had shot him, injured him in Afghanistan but failed to kill him, and now she had turned up out of the blue on his doorstep in America. And it all seems natural, whichever one of them is on the point of never killing the other. If I were to be a fairy tale, I’d now choose Rapunzel as unaccountably spot on, whether a ravening Beast, or a fabrication, or a disarming innocence soon to become a synergy for good, or just two fallible people hanging onto each end of the tenuous links between them, the scope of vast differences being a bond of strength. From one corner of the earth to the other.

  7. FIXED

    I am afraid I could not get very far into this story. It seems to be part of this book’s Flannery and Lycanthropy. But the plot and characters did not engage me and I found myself floundering

  8. ROGUES BAY 3013

    “You broke her.”
    “I fixed her.”

    A Rorschach whence gradually emerged a far future of artificials, memory dogs, cyborg pilots, half angels and, here, an Aristotelian debate between two of these from the point of one of them about a woman they claim to love or to have saved, both, or neither. One with a revolver between his missing legs. It’s like reading David Bowie music.


    “Jack got to thinking how if it weren’t for the cattle and the illegals hefting mud-whitened hoes over their shoulders, he could be on Mars.”

    Ironic, then, that his admitted ambition — following the future Korean War of which he is currently unaware he will be attending — is to leave this homeland and go to Mars! Meanwhile, this is possibly one of the strongest literary stories I have read in a long while. And I can give it no greater compliment than by saying that. It includes a stunning description of teenage Jack and his friend, Dicky, friend and possible rival in love with an older teenage girl called Kit (the description of which girl I also relished), yes, a stunning description of their relieving a cow of its dead still-birth, and its frightening monstrous aftermath. This description is part and parcel of a catharsis or collision by factors of the two boys’ witnessing 1940s post-war equivalent to modern PTSD with their fathers, and with a brother not coming back at all. And the demolition of bridges as a method of war, just as the cow’s womb-kill looks like a cruel blend of “A building, a rocket, a bridge, a man.” Did they fix her, or worsen the collision?


    “Muslims or Martians? Yes, tell us who.”

    Or Maggots? Maggots in a frying pan.
    This is a mind-frazzling experience of Cassi / Isaac, as two halves of a heart, in this book’s cover of freewheeling into quantum physics, unisex toilets, name calling, names that CAN break your bones or become word puzzles, probabilities, first causes, home economics, transvestiture, a quiff or other high hair, ray guns to kill today’s Martians (although this was written obviously long before today), body snatchers, cracks with worms or maggots as antimatter or white goo, and much more. I enjoyed this “collision of bubble worlds”, or, at least, someone else did who became me. Mean time, the new President of the United States wears a rakish eyepatch. Or will do, one day?

  11. GLOW

    As far as I can understand it, this is a potentially growing-on-you story of a Swiftian satire with empathisable characters, when a far future President called Towers – as named after Trump Towers, I guess – presides over a climate-changed Earth where the Martians / Muslims trope in the previous story is now given context by Towers’ “Humanity First” movement, and where our today’s insular xenophobia has extended to hatred of the non-human aliens who have more than just mingled with humans. But how can you divide a glow from its light?
    Collision or collusion?


    “, or a beach in New Zealand where the whales repeatedly stranded.”

    I consider this to be an important, compelling, tantalising – arguably increasingly dysfunctional towards the end – novelette, even more so in the context of the whole book (Flannery become high literary SF) and in the context of what happened in world history just two days ago in my own real-time while reading the book. The concept of Hosts in wagon circles arguably oppressing the natives (ironic, or what!) with their leaking cheesy goo (even in Rodin sculptures) related to this book’s earlier ‘collision’ of bubble worlds, Aristotelian logic, time paradoxes, so-called mixed marriages, the conundrum of self-identity, first causes absolved, weird coincidences (one of the heroine’s wedding dress), transitions of gender, and souls stranded in whales, killing Hosts being mere manslaughter, and much more. There is strong prose expression in this story; it is often quite mind-frazzling and open to endless interpretation. With empathisable characters. And as I said above with regard to this book’s first story, “I did not need to fully grasp this story, to know what it was all about”, and I personally sense that this whole book’s gestalt, beyond any Intentional Fallacy, is one of potential healing. The earlier quiff now shaved off in synergy with the ‘eternity scarf’ of Rapunzel’s hair between us all? The calved glaciers in the shape of a monstrous still birth and all our other bad choices transcended?

    “He says humans are nothing but bundles of bad choices. There’s no first cause. No one thing to blame.”

    I will now read the book’s introduction and author story notes for the first time.


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