RAPHUS PRESS MMXIX
Edited by Alcebiades Diniz
Work by Rhys Hughes, Mark Valentine, John Howard, Fábio Waki, Thomas Phillips, Alcebiades Diniz Miguel, Justin Isis, Jonathan Wood, Stephan Friedman, Brendan Connell, D.P. Watt, Adam Cantwell, Eric Stener Carlson, Fernando Klabin, Roman Lasalle.
When I read this book in due course, my thoughts will appear in the comment stream below…
This is an aesthetically handleable volume of around 140 pages, with a wonderful full page architectural picture to deck each work. My copy numbered 10/100.
THE HEMISEMIDEMIURGE by Rhys Hughes
“16. A hotel without rooms, walls or roof for penniless travellers that is located both nowhere and in every street in the city.”
A sort of Air B & B? The numbered list is exhaustible. This is a street corner unmissable Rhys Hughes classic, no mistake. Stringently algorithmic without algorithms, about an architectural student, son of Pierre Menard who helped produce the multitudinous monkeys’ version of Quixote. And the younger Menard reminds me of my invisible Nemo No 6, and my non-contextual abiding to the Intentional fallacy, like learning about the history of Athens without knowing anything about it! Or eschewing any family connection seeking him out! The main story is his project as a student to sort of retrocausally ‘rebuild’ his own digs — a conceit to cherish. Can’t do justice to it here.
My previous reviews of this author: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/494-2/
Regarding – as a later afterthought today – the next story below, please see the arse of the book here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2019/09/04/crystal-castles-invitations-to-the-voyage/#comment-16904
ON THE ART by Mark Valentine & John Howard
“That which is invisible briefly becomes visible, and the clarity of a companion reasserts itself.”
This may or may not be the best story I have read this year so far, but it is certainly my favourite. In fact, it may be my favourite for far longer than that. It has everything I love. A quest for a rare book, ponderings upon the nature of chance, and luck in book searching as well as the “Howevers” of bookshop contiguity with another bookshop, and by inference, coincidence, plus philosophies upon invisibility and the nature of companionship, a visit to an ambient town here with a quirky museum, a museum of blotting paper, much bibliographical stuff to die for, and this being a top flight elegant MV/JH collaboration per se. On top of all that, the nature of the rare book itself in the physical context here, with it’s being stitched into another book, and with other considerations of nesting, and possible strobing of invisibility and visibility, all tied into THIS book with its tight margins within its spine’s seams whereunto the words threaten to vanish! However, I hold by what I said above about this physical book; it is indeed supremely handleable, and that brinkmanship of inner margin – and my need to use sensuously my fingers to manipulate it – is an essential part of its charm. I even sense that was done intentionally by the publishers. Or it was a serendipity of chance?
My previous reviews of these authors: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/john-howard-mark-valentine/
A loose bookmark with a fascinating prose work on it by RHYS HUGHES about bookmarks…
It now seems somehow appropriate to read this bookmark following the above MV/JH story, this being a loose story rather than an inbuilt one.
But, having read it, I find it contains a reference to a library within another library!
It also criticises people who mark a book by dog-earing pages, with which I agree needs criticism. It also criticises other marks plotting the way a reader reads a book, so I wonder what it might think of my pencilled marginalia in all the books that I real-time review.
Just before reading this bookmark, I went for a walk and posted this Facebook post on my return:
“I was just walking around the area in various obscure roads and streets, but in every one I seemed to be followed by an ice cream van very loudly playing I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles. It even followed me quite closely to my home street. It was a very strange route it took.”
A true account, by the way. I now wonder if the van was a bookmark for each locality I walked?
Finally, the hardback version of WEIRDMONGER had one of my stories straddling the foldover flaps of its separate dustjacket!
THE HUNT by Fábio Waki
“When you reach your last hours of life, you will certainly wish to live longer.”
A powerful document, a beautifully couched Socratic Dialogue between a captured jaguar in the Amazon region, and the man currently fighting a devouring plague in the area, dealing with death, suffering, stoicism, man’s treatment of the dying breeds, by inference, global warming, and the jaguar’s preternatural powers of prophecy. Somehow, by its own “shape of irony”, I also thought of a different Amazon. This one infecting the other. Stitched separately inside its currents.
IT BECAME UNSPEAKABLE by Thomas Phillips
“Sometimes it was all one could do to survive, to accept the trajectory of one’s life as it is manifested, improvisationally, at a nexus point.”
Starting with a long quote from a Borges poem (containing the line “The whole house knows me,”), this is a sophisticated portrait of a man called Chase entering his house, his wife Cynthia grappling with culinary matters and a phone chat with a friend, two teenaged children, the son named after a guitar, I guess, and the daughter with messy peeves, both children leaving drink rings on table surfaces… and more is built up about the characters, inner and outer, teetering upon inferred infidelities as mixed with good intentions…
A slice of life through a red onion.
My previous reviews of this author: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/tag/thomas-phillips/
From that man above who I was, with my teenage son and daughter – in the house and with ‘Neighbors’ – to…
THE ANCHORITE AND THE HERESIARCH by Alcebiades Diniz Miguel
“, the deity worshipped by Christians was false. But there was a true Lord, hidden behind the most complex and fickle layers of existence.”
For existence, I say, read literature, too, as literature is existence, and vice e versa. I hope to be that anchorite turned heresiarch – soon to turn anchorite again via some epiphany of house as a toothless mouth and pigsty. Much can be read into this story, but, for once, OUT of this story, something read ME and saw what I am soon to become! Hope to become? No simply WILL become.
Cf the pigsty in ‘The Good Terrorist’ here.
My previous reviews of this author: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/tag/alcebiades-diniz-miguel/
The Gravity Envelope…
ON BEHALF OF THE HUMAN RACE WE’VE PREPARED A PRESENTATION by Justin Isis
“Dr Cho is smeary like a crayon and crying.”
A disorientating work where the words are about, for me, the sort of Unidentified Landed Object with huge specific gravity as the thing above was in my own area in situ for a year and now slowly strobing in and out of existence. Like the slow strobing of the emergency light in this text and the disarming incantatory refrain of words around it, including about an Ambassador from other forces, a Collider and an empathisable human protagonist hinted at ….
Hey, this seems special, somehow.
My previous reviews of this author: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/tag/justin-isis/
“This is more truly death than the death of friends, than the death of youth. I am the swathed figure in the hairdresser’s shop taking up only so much space.” — Virginia Woolf (The Waves)
BLACK ANGELS by Jonathan Wood
“There’s not a public toilet bowl in the entire of the city that Gerardo had not done his business in, his irrigatory divination, assessing the salts and the minerals and the proteins that flooded out from his bereft kidneys.”
“Kidneys” just autocorrected to “kindness” when pointing out a mistype. This is a shocking and characteristically powerful Wood-text texture, depicting what is going on in the minds of a small group of terrorists (the eponymous conspirators) as they commit atrocities against the workers of the city. Whether the Wood-text itself be gratuitous, or the actions of the terrorists be gratuitous, or the actions of the terrorists are guided by other factors like the shadow of a bird or the charlatanry of mediumship or the dead wind of bodily evacuation, it is the reader that ultimately feels guilt at what happens in what he or she has just read. A premature burial within words.
My previous reviews of this author here: https://nullimmortalis.wordpress.com/2013/03/06/the-new-fate-by-jonathan-wood/ & https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/tag/jonathan-wood/
Lessing’s ‘good’ terrorists again?
THE PALLID EIDOLON by Stephan Friedman
“Little worm! You’re my little worm now!”
Amid the immediate aftermath of the ravages of the Second World War in Wroclaw, a charity worker becomes concerned about a particular orphan boy, who visits a house where a woman abuses him… Disturbing, with suspicions of life’s residues collecting liquid of whatever pallidity, against the least resistance, in whatever contains it now as cavities left for ruins to harbour. Goddesses and mythic serpents, notwithstanding.
Seems to throw a new light on my reading of WORMS last night here. And vice versa.
My previous reviews of this author: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/tag/stephan-friedman/
ELK by Brendan Connell
“Depth is over-rated, like some four-star hotel without a hook to hang your coat”
The nature study of sculptures, their materials and their curative bird nests, but there is a sort of Russian Roulette feel to reincarnations… we all want to check in as long as we know we can check out. Elk is a tiny place in California, and they’re eyries, not simple nests we book. Whatever the star rating.
My previous reviews of this author: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/brendan-connell/
THESE, HIS OTHER WORLDS by D.P. Watt
“It was weird to be moving through something that looked so viscous, like hot tar, and yet feel nothing.”
A genuine weird classic, I deem. But more than just weird. There should be a new word for it. Here, I sense the ficto-religious for perhaps the first time, the exudations of creativity-flow actually being shared with the reader from Him to Me and then the tutelary Them. A seedy Parisian apartment of a head that needs a pest controller one moment, and visionary Gods in robes the next. All described with the Wattian style at the top of its game. Each reader will have his or her own synchronicities with this work, I feel. My synchronicities include the fact that I studied Calderon’s Life is a Dream for A Level, and it has never left me, and in past weeks I have been steeped in literary versions of Paris here and here. And only yesterday I wrote of ‘fairy footsteps’ here and so does this text speak of them today. And perhaps other synchronicities I have not yet noticed. What are Your synchronicities, as You enter earth’s such slimy flows of Our Gestalt here on the brink of airy illumination beyond the pest of all other worlds? Watt is just one of Us. Our conspiracy now in the open,
My previous reviews of this author: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/d-p-watt/
Cross-referenced this Watt work re the Rourke one here: https://nullimmortalis.wordpress.com/22792-2/#comment-15098/
THE BOW, THE ARM, THE ARROW by Adam Cantwell
There is so much I feel urged to quote from this work, I have decided not to quote anything at all. A work that is the perfect follow-on from the previous Watt, in so many obvious and less obvious ways, and indeed it is, for me, the second stylistically textured-weird and spiritually avant-garde classic in a row for this book. I often feel guilty that I use my Gestalt Real-Time Reviewing in a solipsistic way, i.e the reader, myself, me. With a sense of the UFO (see my review of Isis above) and the cosmic ‘happening’ (see my ‘the hawler: the sky’s limit’ here), and, immodestly, a ficto-religion in itself. This Cantwell work now seems to absolve this perhaps ego-centrist approach, with its telling and involving portrait/history of a township or community where the experimentation of literature is rife, novels written as you undergo what they describe, random text and blank spaces, ‘gaseous novels’, deconstructing famous novels in various ways, an ‘architectonic’ approach, particularly one author who tries to ‘encompass’ the reader in much the same way as many of my reviews have happened to do over the years, as a result of my studying Wimsatt’s Intentional Fallacy in the 1960s. My synchronous roosters finally coming home to roost, at last. Borges and Grutland, together? Transcending the absurd.
My previous reviews of this author: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/tag/adam-s-cantwell/
THE ATELIER by Eric Stener Carlson
“What did he know about Borges? Reading one poem did not make him an expert.”
And just one or two namechecks of Borges does not make for a Borgean gestalt. But saying that in itself is Borgean! You can’t win … or lose. This is some near or far future scenario of global diaspora, in water and land, from continent to continent, names of characters, willowy thin and fulsome fat characters, straight and gay or both, and you think you grasp the relationships, then the namechecks seem to slip out of your reading grasp, characters being chased by fear of the one big bomb that has already dropped somewhere from where they flee in South America, I recall, if my mind is still intact, and characters involved with something called the Code, and stalked by an incantation of these words: ‘Please give me your identity papers’ from an official which is tantamount to stabbing with a blade, or being stabbed by it. The painting and the need for special colours to fix at least one female character called Alicia on a canvas if not on these papers with text. Survivor guilt. ‘Atelier’ – ‘I relate’. In Paris, of course.
One of Cantwell’s ‘gaseous’ works of fiction mentioned earlier above? Or Carlson’s own?
My previous review of this author: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2017/10/23/gas-eric-stener-carlson/
“Since then my loneliness does not pain me, because I know my redeemer lives and he will finally rise above the dust.”
― Jorge Luis Borges, ‘La casa de Asterión’
MINOTAURE by Fernando Klabin
Three short paragraphs concerned with its own title and ruinenlust, each accompanied by a black and white photo.
“…shadows and screams are still reported.”
POSTSCRIPT : There Are Many Borges
By Roman Lasalle
Borges as a name: a multiple signifier, as I somehow predicted above regarding the Carlson, just read and reviewed, before reading this short non fiction postscript.
A page of couplets labelled (MATHNAWI, Rumi)
I also dug much from the gutter between spine and text. Still stock-taking the items.
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