8 thoughts on “Pharricide – Vincent de Swarte

  1. Pages 19 – 37

    “I lost the plot.”

    …pages that seem fortuitously to cover the whole of October in this lighthouse keeper’s journal, except it is not a journal really, but a confession-to-self, a would-be replacing of a crucifix with a treated conger eel, amid the enforced but yearned-for loneliness, the hoist, the net, the gaff. A man who perhaps ironically calls himself “a big soft doggie.” Meanwhile, I have already learnt a lot about this man. Not sure I have properly met him yet, outside of the dark places where I would NOT like to meet anybody I didn’t already know. This specific dark place of the soul strobed by a blinding pulse, I infer. Geoffroy Lefayen would, doubtless, not welcome me, as a reader of his words, even if fleetingly visiting him aboard the lighthouse’s sporadic supply ship… And if I really did tell you what I already know about him, as I cross-section him in the flenses of my mind’s eye, as I picture these particular lighthouse environs, as I prepare to go through a presumably sea-cloying book, you would still WANT to read it for yourself, especially assuming you are of a certain literary frame of mind, but you perhaps would not NEED to read it. Yet plot is not everything, and it certainly isn’t so here. There’s something else to learn, I sense. To be alone with this man’s book of days. To become his lighthouse before he does.

  2. —> Page 50

    “It’s romantic here in the evening.”

    I don’t know how to even DARE broach what Geoffroy tells us in these pages about the visit of the English couple who have an ambition to get married in a lighthouse. I feel like I am one of those two gratuitous-seeming (at first) mooring-posts that they help him stake in the sand while the tide recedes. Or the mullet he later treats. Or the lion on TV he watches and imagines being party to his hobby, and no doubt you already know exactly the nature of that hobby, by means of a reader’s second sight. Better still, read it for yourself. Otherwise, I am just a medium for those who will never choose to read it. Or an invisible Christ between two criminals representing studied inference and preternatural guesswork. I know which one I prefer.

  3. 2C79BAE5-45A4-462F-8617-AF8A3EB2EF7F—> Page 72
    “I’m no longer setting myself boundaries.”

    Do cooked things clench up when you bring a pepper mill towards them? Do readers when you dangle such a book as this before them? There is so much here as a narrative and backstory about someone who wrote it, before which you clench up. Even asleep, you sense what it is dangled before your eyelids? Understandably clenched up. My double telescope is now fully upon him. But my name is not Damien, nor am I a cockroach.

  4. —> Page 101

    “— Shine a light.”

    I have forbidden myself from divulging most of what is in Geoffroy’s book of days. How can a real-time reviewer deploy someone else’s thoughts’ thoughts? How can even an author of them do that? How can a translator of an author, of an author who has also translated the narrative protagonist’s thoughts? All madness, perhaps, part of what is trapped at this lighthouse. Some of the sexuality eye-opening. Crucial question, though — does a madman’s diary seem mad to HIM? Crucial, but perhaps not relevant. Because who among us can truly scry madness? Or murder? Or hoarding flesh beyond any telescope’s scope?
    (Anyone else seen the Swedish film BORDER?)

    “Why was I not born looking on the bright side?”

  5. —> Page 125

    “Am I in some kind of a trance when I’m concentrating on the lighthouse, and myself the rest of the time, or the other way around?”

    When younger, I often got muddled up between being fazed and phased by something, but now I truly know what it’s like to be PHARED. Unlike Mr Ramsay, though, I can still complete my alphabet, without too much effort, even though this lighthouse is one where I am now myself being watched, as all lighthouses are by those in fear of rocks or in adventurous trepidation, being watched writing this real-time review as I in turn also watch Geoffroy’s ploys to assuage his own possible madness, even at one point — the windfall monkey brandy and a new companion dog notwithstanding — to the extent that he somehow sees himself as someone else. The characters who visit him, too, the Spanish smugglers, the supply ship, the telescope wielder and Joël, and, of course, Lise herself who, as implied here, can probably see things from beyond her closed eyelids! That [expletive deleted] lighthouse, “there’s no telling what it’ll make you do next.” The buffer of any translation of the author’s textual take — upon Geoffroy the lighthouse-keeper as journal-keeper — is perhaps paradoxically both a buffer AND a disguised means for ease of brokering or pimping the two-way filtering of the text’s effect. It’s a long hot summer here, today. A collective ‘seaside.’

  6. —> Page 150

    “Afterwards, hopefully, there’ll be dancing.”

    This is the sort of book – no doubt a future classic from the past – that you will keep in your pocket, as you gad about, in case evidence is one day needed against you in any sweet moment of due justice. Well, at least regarding what you allowed yourself to read, if not otherwise do. These last pages are intensely moving, Geoffroy – a crucified Roy, Rex or Rey – sucked into all manner of natural fish-stuffed wells or oubliettes along with the hopes of marriage with orange-haired “bizarre orange”, a “damselfish”, the irresistible irrigable sucking-well of woman to hopefully marry, as well as dance with amid the live seagulls and dead ones. As things close in. Bambi is the film at which most kids when I was a kid found themselves crying for the first time in their life at a form of art. As I did in a cinema in 1953 with my then 5 year old girl friend, left there alone by our parents. A prie-dieu, pried, die you. Chocolate liqueur, monkey or not. Fishing nets on the wall. Reading clouds. FLUNTZ, a form of flensing, and only one of those telescopes shown above now needed. Or a one-eyed teddy bear. Stuffed at last, as the sea taxi comes for your last thwarted shipwreck. Yes, a most significant experience, this book. Relatively easy to understand and to appreciate its aesthetic of language, but not easy to endure as a seismic series of days. Thanks to those who have made the medium for this equivalent Bambi of my latter years. And I shall now read, for the first time, the foreword and afterword, by Patrick McGrath and Alison Moore respectively.

    “— How many lives have been saved thanks to you, Geoffroy?”


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