24 thoughts on “GLITCH – Lee Rourke


    Pages 3 – 12

    “Sometimes a cackle, a fizz would surface, a short in the circuit…”

    Is that the first glitch? Not so bad a glitch, if it is a glitch, as the many glitches in the film blurb our hero L-J reads at the end of these pages. And I LOVE the opening experience of reading this book, an experience, like that of the lineman L-J wanted to be in America, an experience of being surrounded by a vast electricity of text, then taking, for me, an alarming, but thrilling, flight in a jet liner (something I’ve never done in real life), this being L-J’s flight home, after an engineering career in America, to that part of the east coast of England that I happen to know well. D1DC8994-B484-4600-B609-2F1F3B92DEB8 L-J with a painful lump in his hand. His career, now a sick note. This whole text teeters on a glitch, I guess. A glitch in a giant gestalt. Like the Twin Tower EVENT, and like the ‘twin tower’ cover of the book I real-time reviewed recently here, Priest’s An American Story. Meanwhile, I sense L-J has a thing about his as yet undisclosed backstory… “In his disappearance Father was always close at hand.”
    There will be no spoilers in this review, but being real-time, there may be inadvertent ones.

  2. 13 – 24

    “He found glitches comforting […] it felt natural.”

    …as do I. And I wonder if this is another glitch deliberately loaded into this book’s barrel of near-invisible glitches: “L-J discretely filmed her,” (sic).
    And there is an “invisible line” mentioned in connection with his Mother back home in Dunwich — an evocative corollary to this book’s powerful “lineman” image. And this is a powerful plane journey, both terrifying and eerie. I defy you to be scared and exhilarated by these passages. The gestalt of the plane and its elements “all connected somehow, one homogenous force hurtling forwards.”

    [As an aside, may I mention my ‘The Mentioning’ (here) written by me on Dunwich beach in 1989 about a Father?]


    Pages 25 – 42

    “Getting up off his bed he spotted it immediately: the small piece of amber he’d found with Mother on the beach while out looking for fossils all those years ago.”

    After his near-death glitch of a flight, L-J, via Cork, arrives back home at Dunwich, and we learn, with accretive interest, a lot , but not everything, about his backstory (including a knitting needle) and today as he meets his sister Ellie (a name’s sound ending -lee), and the genius loci House by the sea, and the surprise and anguish to him about news of their seemingly dying mother… I am one reader already entranced.

    [I am increasingly intrigued by what I happened to write (linked above) on the beach in Dunwich, Suffolk in 1989 (independently published in 1991 in a small press magazine) and its mutual synergy of preternatural tentacles with this book, a book that feels like REAL memories as alchemised by fiction. Also Dunwich to me feels Lovecraftian, the undersea there in Suffolk. Dunwich was the actual name of a fictional town in New England significant to the Cthulhu Mythos. And I have lived in a road named ‘Dulwich’ for 25 years in a town on the same east coast but a little lower down than Suffolk. Any of my personal or madcap connections as review glitches will appear in square brackets, so that you can avoid them. Amber? Rudd resigned last night.]

  4. Pages 42 – 57

    “, everything connected mediated in every conceivable way,”

    L-J, visually, is almost like the recurrent “…” in previous Rourke books. Visiting his mother in hospital, is a poignant read. And reminding me of something I mentioned earlier from this book, we now have the fact that “She was surrounded by machinery, wires, pulse-bleeps in boxes,” — followed by memories of finding that amber on Dunwich beach all those years ago, beauty made from a mistake, yet what she is now suffering is the Lovecraftian monster of cancer – spreading also like money, money, moneey with the communally pervasive numericals of the recession in 2008/2009 when these scenes take place, I guess. All of us then talking numericals, “a giant web of commerce”, as today in 2019 we seem to be exclusively talking about something else, as another glitch? My thought and resultant question, not necessarily the book’s. Meanwhile, we are reminded of L-J’s glitched hand.
    [Regarding the passages concerning amber etc., compare the Lovecraftian geology or archaeology in Caitlín R. Kiernan fiction?]

    “It gets everyone in the end.”

  5. —> Page 63

    “a point omega of non-existence”

    …which now reminds me that the Aldiss quote above is from his anthology in 1970 entitled ‘Moment of Eclipse [reviewed here.] [I myself have always claimed to have published the world’s first blank story in Nemonymous issue 2 in 2002.] Meanwhile, in this section, I begin to believe [that a synonym for glitch as beauty should now be a rourke!] that L-J’s relationship with his dying mother and with reality as glitch is here complemented not only by his regret but also by his interests in art, poetry, film …. the ‘snags’ in Warhol’s films, Dadaism, Cubism, the art of boredom, the process of succinosis…

    “Father was still a ghost.”

  6. “The imperfect is our paradise.” — Wallace Stevens

    —> Page 83

    “: that’s the beauty of poetry, there’s nothing to understand, only something to grasp.”

    L-J, a blend of poetry and of engineering, and perhaps of the taxi driver who speaks the first thing that comes into his head, we learn more about his relationship with his mother as she tries to recover “green phlegm, yellowy puss” in her throat from the operation for cancer, his own post-operative self having undergone the minor surgery on his hand, about his view of reality, cinematic as well as artistic/poetic, including the 9/11-type conspiracy theories about the recordings of his own plane flight to Cork, and the ghostliness of his father who once was SAID to say about his son: “He isn’t wired to be a poet, as an engineer — the engineer he’ll become — he’ll see things at surface level.”
    And so much more to grasp, if not fully understand. Major stuff for me.

  7. —> Page 102

    “He’d always liked the sound of Rebecca’s voice, too: well-spoken Estuary English with hints of Irish.”

    L-J’s old flame is one of the nurses, with a relationship’s telling backstory, a flame due to be switched back on? … a pivotal scene, but what I am also drawn toward is the Estuary English and the electricity pylons, the conflux of today’s life force electricity that L-J stands at the centre of, as it were. The old sewing box, the boy on the beach, the knitting needle, his pervasive mother, all to be factored into the growing gestalt. White wine as an antidote to potential red wine stains. And a glitch, again ‘discretely’ used indiscreetly. And “they didn’t each much of it.” Glitches like that one mean more than they know.

  8. 441397D1-C0C7-4BE2-AFEF-C13511381BE4—> Page 116

    “The sky caving in all around him didn’t bother him in the slightest. He thought it the most beautiful catastrophe, the mechanism failing — letting it all just fall and exist this way, falling, out-of-control, a slippage of the most glorious kind: glitch. […] …and the developing melancholy that was enveloping him.”

    It now seems predestined that I happened to watch, the day before yesterday, for the first time, Von Trier’s film MELANCHOLIA…
    And in 2009, I posted these Hammershøi paintings here: http://www.ligotti.net/showpost.php?p=31619&postcount=1, women with their backs to us, that seem appropriate, obliquely perhaps, to Rourke’s canon of work so far. Sadly some of the images I originally posted there have now fallen by the wayside. And, as a glitch, this painter is also referred to as Hammersøi as well as Hammershøi in this book.
    A visit to the Southwold Sailors’ Reading Rooms, and a discussion is held about the possible fakery of filmed Twin Towers images. Yesterday, I forgot it was the anniversary of 9/11.
    L-J’s touching communication with his mother as she writes to him with a pencil, being unable to talk after her operation. “…a living breathing ellipsis between them.” Please see what I said earlier above about the name L-J and “…”.
    There are some remarkable things that his Mother writes about art, fragments, dust motes, glitches, Gestalt…
    A telling dead seagull memory, too, on Dunwich beach in the past, he and his sister then young children.
    Some may say that the dialogue by the old sailor about Twin Towers and L-J’s account of what his mother wrote to him from her hospital bed are forced or contrived as part of a roman à clef or personal didacticism. I still keep my powder dry. It all seems to flow naturally to me, even if this is a necessary glitch.

  9. —> Page 133

    “You’re stuck in all that talk about books and art, and none of it is real, none of it matters:”

    A striking section of stoicism and of recession and a looming end – and jogs to the memory, one in particular like a needle. Ellie “always such a closed box.” Mother’s box, too, still unopened. The key not found. Perhaps only the reader can find it? Why is dialogue here not divided by quote marks or em dashes? Why are any info-dumps, like personal letters quoted, also without such dividers? Red wine thrown at a white wall, like blood in the veins of the house itself, prefigured earlier. Gravity taking hold as if a decompression of familial emotion. I remember the small museum in Dunwich. Not been there for many years. My own father also had a PEG, i.e. when he was dying of Motor Neurone Disease in 2007.

    “I am a fiction, and a dying one at that.”

  10. 52E29E4D-FBDA-4ECD-A8A5-E9ED900F256C—> Page 153

    “ … ‘That was when I learned that words are no good; that words don’t ever fit even what they are trying to say at.’ L-J didn’t know what to make of it. He figured Mother was trying to remember something,”

    Her notebook makes it clear – amid this book’s meticulously aberrant use of inverted commas/dividers and [strike][/strike] of receding consciousness or stream of writing – that it was addressed to his estranged father who must have just visited her in the hospital… The vultures – some with champagne and Ellie’s e-cigarette in an expensive Southwold restaurant – now hovering over the financial security of ‘inheriting’ her Dunwich house. And the undercurrent-Lovecraftian ‘recessional’ and ‘succinosis’ in amber of that late noughties era. I recently watched Russell Beale in the West End production of ‘Lehman Brothers’… And L-J’s flipping of sea food molluscs on the plate of “slutch” resonates strongly with my happening to reread Kafka’s Metamorphosis yesterday (before reading this Rourke section just now) and real-time reviewing it here.


    “— what’s that about a lie travelling the world before the truth has even put on its boots?”

    We are all even more in that situation of lies in the late tensies than we were in this book’s late noughties. Those noughties of blanks, zeros, gaps, and strike-throughs. Today, digital broadcasting IS clearer than analog yet the digital glitches, when the glitches actually happen as they always do, scar the flow of frames much more than the steady state static of analog used to do, I say. The upshot of L-J and his final access to his mother’s box, that we provide to the world as readers, by simply reading about it here and absorbing it into the collective gestalt. Without us nothing would happen. And I can safely say that my powder is still dry, and I tamp it down, but not to fire it at this book, but to point it towards all those others outside the book that crowd out our lives with lies. What I now learn of L-J’s father, via his virtual mother, and what I see that L-J himself saw during that decompression moment at the start of this book, was it a lie of just another way of looking at it in hindsight? And all comes to something important, that blank moment, the one that crystallises the rare truth. The Amy or a ‘me’ we never see again after the ambulance takes us away. “It had lead him to this point:”, a perfect glitch; being without a typo in this final section would have disappointed me; you see, it should be ‘led’ not “lead”. Bigger and bigger suns as in a serial Melancholia. Each of us a genuine trier, but “People spend far too much time trying to iron out the mistakes from their life. Imagine that, a life without mistakes: it’s not worth living.” A dead crow on the road after the driverless car sped by. Even God makes mistakes, I say. I may have said too many things about this book and some of these things may be wrong, but this deeply felt book (surely, essential reading) MADE me say them. But not that I say them, exactly, but have here written them down, before I go. Some of you will read them here after I’m gone, my having crumbled into the sea, myself. Become one of Lovecraft’s Deep Ones. Read, Amber, Black. (Red not read).


  12. …this deeply felt book (surely, essential reading)…

    “Truth gets well if she is run over by a locomotive, while error dies of lock-jaw if she scratches her finger.” William C. Bryant (1794-1878) Author of the poem ‘Thanatopsis’.

    “What our eyes behold may well be the text of life but one’s meditations on the text and the disclosures of these meditations are no less a part of the structure of reality.” Wallace Stevens (1879-1955)

  13. Pingback: Synchronicity rampant… | THE DES LEWIS GESTALT REAL-TIME REVIEWS

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