Black Static #69


TTA PRESS May – Jun 2019

My previous reviews of this publisher:

Stories by Erinn L. Kemper, Joanna Parypinski, Daniel Carpenter, Jack Westlake, Daniel Bennett, Simon Avery.

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

14 thoughts on “Black Static #69

  1. WHERE IT ENDS, WHERE IT BEGINS by Erinn L. Kemper

    “Sometimes it happens. The sea takes what it wants.”

    I know. You see, I have been a beachcomber for the last twenty odd years, but I’m not really like Mac here at all. I return to my bungalow house nearby, usually empty handed, having taken photos of what I want to keep. But Mac keeps them for real, sells them in his seasonal shop, yet sometimes knitting them together into a gestalt, sometimes the flotsam preternaturally knitting itself together. A huge visionary lure. “Some were facets of a whole,” some needing reburying by learnt mythic rituals around but mainly in the sea, some with almost a romantic yearning in a man and woman sense, or monsters stitched together outwards from a boot’s left foot et al. Even a hand from a fishing net put together with Mac’s chicken salad. Bereavement and exorcised grief, alike. It all hung together and stunk richly to high heaven, for me. Frightening in a dreamcatcher sense. A toot, toot, from Popeye’s pipe, too, I guess.

    My previous review of Erinn Kemper:

  2. BEACH PEOPLE by Joanna Parypinski

    “, trying to lift a two-foot-long piece of rotting driftwood stuck in the sand.”

    What’s under it is ‘beach scum’ somehow needing to reclaim it and little else. What’s under or within this story needs to reclaim its own 16 year old girl’s point of view as she returns to the resort with her parents where they spent holidays, holidays when her brother was still alive, before the road accident that took his face and head apart. A clumsy attempt at an exorcism of grief for all three of them or, as the girl alone thinks, a pointless exercise in a place where even the beach people start drifting off? A place with nests of hair or driftwood. Earlier in the Kemper, an accretion of finds into a walking whole, but here they are drifting off one by one. This is something more in keeping with what nests in oneself. Haunting.

    My previous reviews of Joanna Parypinski:

    (Photo is of this story’s page with Richard Wagner’s artwork.)

  3. HAUNTING BY THE RIVER by Daniel Carpenter

    “He knows then that he will see her everywhere.”

    Lee returns to Manchester – this text’s singular genius-loci of his home ‘cities’ now changed but yet perhaps unchanged, too, in dour deadpan acceptance by himself – returns there because it is his kid sister’s 18th birthday, but she has now vanished again, his mother tells him. He swears to seek her out, rescue her from more sigils cut into her skin. Why he should see her everywhere would spoil this effective story. And spoil the hawling or scrying or combing of its river’s flotsam… “Some building equipment floats past, and Lee notices the hook of a crane sinking slowly into the depths.” My previous review of this author’s other ‘Flotsam’ here:


    “There is nothing else. Only the chant. It ceases being a word and it takes a new power from that.”

    I have often made words incantatory in refrain, where they eventually have new meanings. Here, we have a story about a Wordplague, with the frightening need to keep the words staunched behind the teeth. A touching, as well as tantalising, story in rite of passage, as a young woman travels to seek a cure by the seaside, seaside seaside, seaside… (ah that’s me chanting not the story!), with her lock knife to protect her from the other survivors, and her sister whom she loves is at home waiting and wilting with the Wordplague. “How it’s not about sound, but meaning.” Homonyms are OK? Speaking in one’s sleep is OK? Speaking in someone else’s body à la Daniel Carpenter is OK? Who knows? Best not to know, I guess. Something by chance even more uncanny – there was an anthology which I recently reviewed here where I happened to mention the word ‘pomegranate’ four times in its connection, an anthology that contained a story by Joanna Parypinski who is also here in this Black Static.

    My previous reviews of Jack Westlake:

  5. WHEN YOU DECIDED TO CALL by Daniel Bennett

    “Did he remember, I asked, the time we had built a windmill together out of plastic building bricks? I drew a connection between this windmill of our shared childhood, the windmill on which he now worked, and the windmills of the bland, uncovered Dutch landscape. This, I told him was an example of synchronicity impossible to ignore.”

    And if the narrator had ignored this synchronicity, I surely would have brought it to your attention in my review. Ironically, that is the only one so far that I can establish. The surface style perhaps, meanwhile, is relatively bland, but that is not a criticism. It is necessary to the deadpan facts we begin to garner, a flat landscape. The narrator’s day job has gone vaguely dysfunctional since his holiday in Holland – and his gin-tinged woman neighbour, and the visitor who keeps missing him. And his family, dysfunctional, too, through their unquestioning blandness and meaningful hints via meaninglessness. The pointlessness that is gradually subsumed by pedalled wheels rather than wind-powered ones. As if I might have been a reader as a visitor to the story. Put a spoke in it. Such as people speaking for or through others as in the work here by another Daniel. And are pomegranates orange? Orange as the suit and bricks. This story somehow hypnotised the windmills of my mind, and anything else I say about it would spoil it.

  6. My previous reviews of Simon Avery:


    I will not quote from this story, for various reasons. And I think I can safely say this is the PERFECT story of novelette length, possibly the perfect weird fiction ever. I think I must have been waiting for this story all my life, and so time to do a complete book of all my Black Static reviews so far, the first volume of such. This combines the beachcombing and the flotsam with this particular edition’s Wordplague now become a constructive Weirdland to retrieve and, even with a musical dying fall in its last paragraph, reconfigure a lifetime, via the windmills of the reader’s mind. Blending Lear with Lewis Carroll and Edith Sitwell and something indefinable, lightsome as well as darkly poignant; to my own mind, by chance reconfiguring, at least in part, my own life with my wife at the edge of the sea in our bungalow house. The creativity of the as yet unrequited Weirdland. Messages in bottles have arrived at last, and they just need gestating, gestalting. Mongering, hawling, dreamcatching deep. Ah well, I WILL allow myself a single quote:

    “Get a word! Get another WORD! Which word? Which WORD?”

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