32 thoughts on “Song For The Unraveling Of The World – Brian Evenson

  1. I reviewed the first work in the context of reading it in July 2017, as follows:

    NO MATTER WHICH WAY WE TURNED

    This haunting abruptness of a faceless girl is Katie’s reflection just now in the Lloyd story and a symbol of this whole book tantalising itself. With a lodge as a blend of a chosen group and an aboded structure and a verb to position something within. Beckett reflecting Lovecraft and vice versa. Just to name two.

    *****
    I have now read its two pages again. And I still do not understand what it is about! Having now read the same half of it as a story twice its size, I will have to keep evening out its odds or circling its potential gestalt till they publish the rest of it or the writer even writes it.
    (I take it that Katie was from the previous context, not from the Evenson work itself. I take Katie.)

    • “…a neat, endless now of monuments and epitaphs,…”
      —- from GRAVES by Quentin S. Crisp

      A dead monument to once ancient hope cloistered by ravelled bones and ruined walls.
      GRAVES arrived in the same postal package as SONG FOR THE UNRAVELING OF THE WORLD by Brian Evenson.

  2. 506E79C5-DB50-4CCC-BB27-2489E532EE33BORN STILLBORN
    “Or even, it occurred to him, as if there were two of him, two different therapists who, for some reason, looked identical.”

    For sum reason? A zero-sum game? This Evenson story seems to fit the previous story perfectly, like the human and the apple being circled within the same Venn diagram? The anti-natalism, too, still unborn, of Ligotti, the fertile banana trapped within the same Venn of Verl Kramm?
    My photograph herewith from four years ago. The night therapist as the night doctor, equal to the day one? An apple a day keeps the doctor away? An even sum of Evenson stories a day helps the doctor stay? Disturbed and delighted by this work.

  3. My previous review last year of the next story when it was in NEW FEARS 2:-

    “LEAKING OUT
    ‘I already told you this is not that kind of story, the kind that explains things. Be quiet and listen.’
    A story as apotheosis of Evenson. No leaking out from me, either.”

    *
    But I have read it again today, as if I am a different person eking it out. Something the protagonist Lars feels, too, in more ways than one. As if I want to find those dead batteries to see if they are truly dead. A truly great disarmingly dislocated story of zero-sum selfhood. I am the Ake Man, they are the Ake Men. Aking out.

  4. SONG FOR THE UNRAVELING OF THE WORLD

    “He had carefully broken the circle, moving aside his daughter’s coat, her teddy bear, and then stepped inside and closed the circle again.”

    A moving story, of a man who, following marital break up, abducts his own daughter, a daughter who later inexplicably vanishes. Involving this book’s eVENNson diagrams, its VERL ravel. Ravel and unravel mean the same thing, unlike cleave that means two opposite things, cleaver (with ravel embedded), too. Bringing us back full circle to No Matter Which Way We Turned and Born Stillborn. Dead dreamers still do dream.

    • Or perhaps unraveling is removing from the world such ‘songs’ as Le Tombeau de Couperin, Pavane for a Dead Infanta, Miroirs, La Valse, Scheherazade, Bolero…?
      Is not the normal spelling – unravelling?

  5. I reviewed the next story in 2017 in its then context, as follows:

    =====================================

    THE SECOND DOOR

    “I have lived alone now for long enough to no longer have a proper sense of how to convey a story to another being.”

    Except not to know how to convey something is the best way to convey it. I am a great fan of the deadpan tentative self-location literature inspired by Aldiss’s Report on Probability A and Samuel Beckett’s work, and here with two dolls as role-playing props for a brother-sister mėnage to resolve their parental backstory and the nature of two hallway doors and to what sort of outside they lead, with hints of a mechanical being inside trying to get out and a more amorphous carcass of a creature hunted outside trying to get in.
    Cf the Wise hedge short cut (very significant) and the Wehunt morphing with costumes rather than dolls (‘we hunt’, brother and sister as eventually the first person plural??)
    in the Evenson.

  6. SISTERS

    I think I will now call them, not eVennsons, but woVenn, these sisters who are part of a family like the Addams as, discretely, the AI inside A-L-I-E-Ns or within the overlapping circles or skins of all of us – with our traditional holidays, arcane rituals that seem common, here Halloween. I defy anyone to fully get under the skin of this story without reading it in the context of this whole book so far.

    “Remember that I wrote a pavane for a dead princess, and not a dead pavane for a princess!”
    — Maurice Ravel

    For a dead dreamer?

  7. ROOM TONE

    “…the wrong silence.”

    I have not encountered the expression “room tone” before, and it is indeed here quite a revelation. Filip rents temporarily a house for shooting his murder movie but needs to rush the last few shots as the house is sold to a new owner, one who takes great exception to the presence of the film crew in now what is HIS house! The merging of the two scenarios takes on a seemingly inevitable course and makes for a striking reading experience. The story’s own tone, its authorial voice, its register, lasting, at least for me, exactly four minutes thirty-three seconds, quite a bit longer in the scheme of things than the mere twenty seconds given to Filip. And a sense of inevitability as silence overlaps silence.

  8. SHIRTS AND SKINS

    “Didn’t casual prelude heels?”
    “It was as if their relationship, having gotten off on a particular foot, had lopped off the other one —“

    Evenson’s stories themselves are sort of blind dates, this one literally so. Art Installations and real life overlapping, like the two silences in the previous story, and here we have the classic Evenson entrapment in a place unknown, a place that here is a female-upon-male abusive relationship, a flaccid curve asleep to one side upon the thigh. An accreting emptiness over attritional years to come, as equivalently accreted an hour ago when I read a different story here. Another song for an unraveling world. Shirts and then more skins for this book, coming and going…

  9. THE TOWER

    “, the seepage of one skin through another skin, the loss of most of one foot then the loss of most of the other,…”

    To tow is to do horizontally what hawl does vertically, but not always. Here the tower is vertical, and the hawler horizontal. This story – as if, heaven forfend, the whole book was planned! – is the latest exponential extrapolation of the Gestalt, and now we see stragglers struggle with other stragglers in an inferred post-post-apocalyptic city that has holes that in turn have tipping-rocks to guard us against stragglers coming into our holes to get us but those of us who keep being me seem to have a straggler slowly incubating within, to become someone else, up and down, in and out, the tower. Where even heads are cooked and eaten, and skins skinned. Like to cleave something, to skin something has opposite meanings and can mean to give a skin back or peel a skin away. The further this book thus extrapolates itself exponentially the further it skins us, (un)ravels us. I sense we have surely reached the limit of any such process, and now we will ease back. I could be wrong, though.

  10. By chance, I have just watched this evening a Japanese film from 1964 called Woman in the Dunes directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara. It has turned out to be the perfect complement for this book!

  11. The next story I reviewed contextually in 2017, as follows:

    =====================================

    THE HOLE

    “The landscape was gray, unvarying,…”

    Washed out, finding or seeking someone or something in the closet, that of Golaski and Bartlett? Here a hole, not a dustbin as in Godot-Golaski. A washed out planet, a vessel, crew looking for the captain. But also an existential search for identity as in Niveau, a spirited if laconic level search, with a sudden hole… one of us breaking their fall on another of us? A gestalt of us. A gestalt of US under Trump? Hole as holism. Whole. Whatever, this is a brilliant Beckettian deployment. Even also with this book’s eponymous forward slash or the hole or the slit in seeking puppet-jawed Slatsky, Slitsky, Slashky… which dream is yours or is it all our own single dream?

    “…and so leaned there as if about to pitch to one side, like an ill-made puppet,…”

  12. A DISAPPEARANCE

    For this book, a relatively straightforward story of a tragic love triangle, but, then again, arguably not straightforward at all. For me, it has a tinge of Christopher Priest in an esoteric way, but mainly it is those erstwhile overlapping Venn diagrams in this book that permeate the triangle and make this a rather special reading experience. Anything else I tell you will spoil it.

  13. THE CARDIACS

    “I have now read its two pages again. And I still do not understand what it is about! Having now read the same half of it as a story twice its size, I will have to keep evening out its odds or circling its potential gestalt till they publish the rest of it or the writer even writes it.”

  14. SMEAR

    “It was a a tremendous effort to move a digit, let alone a limb.”

    …as if this is an oblique way to compare our previous analog living with the modern digital one today (as this Paris story did here just now before reading this one.) A tantalising sense of being part of a machine and a mind, with body parts, by mistaken default, intervening, intervening upon a vessel, with which you are conjoined somehow, a vessel that tours the floaters as smears of someone else’s eyes in the space between bulkhead and face? The space of future time? But there are other bodies with voices watching, with their own floaters between?

  15. 0FC54A42-8C16-467E-91F8-7DC2A35E8176THE GLISTENING WORLD

    “When she was out with Karin, this is what they did: went from bar to bar, drank, waited, watched.”

    Two girls on the town, playing the being-picked-up game, a dangerous game, no doubt, but one where one girl’s man on a particular night might helpfully be the other girl’s evening out of the odds. But it is the first time since I started Gestalt Real-Time Reviewing where I have myself been cancelled out. On the face of it, it just was and then wasn’t. Stuck on you.

  16. WANDERLUST

    “And so it went on, with Rask moving from city to city, either on foot or by way of these bits of overlap,…”

    The eVENNson overlap. A concept I have now grown to treasure. This story, meanwhile, if I tell you too much about the sense office-worker Rask has of being watched, leading to an obsessive panorama of paranoia, it would spoil it. I merely say: Ask yourself, the Reader as wanderer witness. (Cf Melmoth here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2018/10/10/melmoth-sarah-perry/)

  17. LORD OF THE VATS

    “—just a vibration, something he was feeling through the soles of his boots.”

    Vats, vessels, and vids; Villads, Vorag, Volke, and that vibration, a craft where interrogation. And investigates a spacecraft. Identity of crew and whats and wherefores. Who is construct, who is nobody and who is somebody? What hit them? Spacecraft and LoVecraft. Rock, paper, scissors, includes a V with the fingers. And salVage. HyperVentilating.

  18. D338280A-728B-4163-881C-2839202979CAGLASSES

    “, turning the pages with apparent synchronicity.”

    Varifocals or Progressives? This is a disarmingly naïve narration of a liberal-placard wielding woman named Geir whose new glasses are biofocals (sic). Just that. The secret of all these stories, disarming naïvety? Towards the vanishing-point amid an increasingly prehensile smear.

  19. MENNO

    “blind spot to blind spot”

    And from apartment to apartment. And judas to judas (I had no idea, till now, that a judas is a sort of peephole.) A man who has paranoia about things going missing in each of his otherwise perfectible apartments where he happens to live; he leaves one apartment for another apartment because of his things mysteriously going missing. He even suspects himself sleep-walking and, while he sleeps, he lets films film his apartment between blind spots. Menno seems to be the name of his neighbour in one apartment block or perhaps in more than one. Is Menno connected to Nemo, I asked myself. Or Omen? Elevator doors opening and shuttling have their own blind spots of filmic purview? Do apartments have apports? I could go on and on about this story. And not get anywhere. The book’s own blind spot.

  20. I reviewed the next story in April 2017 in its then context, as follows:

    ============================================

    LINE OF SIGHT

    “You had to understand, Conrad claimed, that what it looked like was probably not what it was.”

    This starts with some anangst, a sort of non-angst of astonishment that your inborn and endemic angst has not borne self-fulfilling fruit, self-fulfilling truth, a feeling with which I am very familiar, a sort of confirmation denial. Here, it is you having worked on a film that seems perfect, but NOTHING ever goes perfect (does it?) and via a skein of a few characters all of whom may be you, you as director, cameraman and lead actor (who, in one form or another of reality and rôle-playing, had separated his parents from their bodies), and you are trapped within some hiatus warren of feathery glitches that I remember cinema films used to have invading the picture from the margins, when projected.
    An existentialien living ‘In Camera’, in not so much Beckett’s as Danielewski’s house of frames. (Also, any story using the word ‘annealed’ is bound to be a winner.)

  21. KINDRED SPIRIT

    “…that at least one of us—me—was grown in a vat.”

    Or a mirror? Two kindred sisters, if there are two, one of them supposedly looking after the other, under the jurisdiction of their ‘father.’ It is another numinously naïve work that keeps on giving: a work, too, that — although completely different or having the above previous Evenson work’s “same difference, really” — has a synchronous kindred spirit with the different pairs of sisters in the Mauro book that I have been real-time reviewing by chance alongside this one (here).

  22. LATHER OF FLIES

    “…as if there were no bones in his neck.”

    There is a fly in the previous story above, one that if you try to squash it you destroy where it is sitting. This, meanwhile, is a unique theme and variations on ‘The Vanishing Life and Films of Emmanuel Escobada’, and here the director’s name is Lahr which, I see, is in Vennish overlap with Lather, and ‘ate’ as a conjoined smear. Acetate, or a cult film that eats you.
    It all figures.
    There is even a character in it called Desmond.

    This tantalising brain-fly of a book cannot be squashed without smashing its reader’s skull. And if that is too glib or clever-clever, so be it. It works for me. Same difference, really.

    end

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