Four New Nightjars

‘Doe Lea’ by M John Harrison
Halloween by Nicola Freeman
so this is it by Paul Griffiths
Le détective by HP Tinker


Photographs by Nicholas Royle

My previous reviews of Nightjar Press:

When I read these publications, my thoughts will appear in the comment stream below…

4 thoughts on “Four New Nightjars

  1. AF44143C-C0C8-4510-A64A-8EA71513ADF0 259AC6CF-707C-4547-B6B9-19B759F54E6D

    Fifteen pages. Booklet numbered 126/200.

    ’Doe Lea’ by M John Harrison

    “‘Zoe! Zoe!’ Zoe was a long way ahead by then.”

    Looks a bit like those impossible bees buzzing? But it’s someone’s uncontrollable toddler. A languid tale of a man who has lost his father to the hospital – and cafeteria – and his memories, now travelling, the man, not the father, back on the train homeward in Dover; the train breaks near the eponymous place a bit like toy town imbued with the workmanlike post war memories of his Dad and of me who is probably the same age, the same suburbs of the mind, and now a broken lawn mower tended by his father or me or, ostensibly, quite a different old man, later a parked lorry (broken, too?) outside the station from which I had wandered off Poliakoff-like rather than go back to the train, although I did eventually return, as I will to this story, to see if I meet that nice married couple again whom I met amid the sandpiles and toy houses of delightfully doleful Doe Lea. It’s that sort of story: eminently returnable to. Not enthusiastically, but with the slowness of Zeno’s Paradox, I guess. Nothing zooms there. Except its toddlers and the sparks of potentially blown fuses?

    My previous reviews of this author:

  2. Text of pages 5 – 9.
    Booklet numbered 29/200.

    1A575B1B-A7F3-4F3F-86D4-255A01FC4B56 Halloween by Nicola Freeman

    “, I have started to forget about his soft places,”

    …between the blink of two commas. And I also think this is the briefest story I’ve ever held in my hand to read as a ‘self-contained’ publication. Which thought has tantalising bearing on this accretively powerful work of a couple preparing biscuity treats for those Halloweeners knocking tonight. It is as if a modern woman is helping her partner’s hopeful recuperation to start anew his contact with the world — 88842667-6F5B-46A2-A657-72B3A9902D20 just as an older woman might, I infer, similarly encourage an ageing husband whose mind is increasingly drained by dementia’s emptiness … in the same way as the younger discrete body of this story’s couple’s own insular relationship is increasingly softened by something far more outside her grip. Hallowed, evened out.

  3. 0C78A369-3D98-4310-BCF6-A22A23D6023C

    so this is it by Paul Griffiths

    “It was there in my mind, all of it, right down to the last little what-have-you.”

    …like my interpretation of this simple-worded sonata, another slim self-containment, this one of an ever-impending answer to the question “what is it?”
    It is, for me, the eventual visit from whatever or whoever stops me listening to music, be that music be by Schoenberg or Xenakis or Havergal Brian or Scott Walker or Schubert or Fritz Cohen or whatever.
    What is it for you?


  4. 24 pages. Booklet numbered 22/200

    BA180F4A-2CAA-467A-B3A5-7D9CBA7F59FA Le Détective by HP Tinker

    “…undefined undefined undefined undefined undefined undefined undefined undefined undefined undefined undefined undefined—“
    (my initial ellipsis, but the text’s own em dash)

    Ellipses and em dashes and new paragraphing lead us from stylish list to stylish list of rarefied literary and cinematic references and other precisions of detail, some references esoteric, others merely exclusive, a few commonplace, helping this artfully crepitant story of an eventually eponymous acute accent of a detective as he tries to solve the mystery of a growing number of missing men, men as variegated as the aforementioned lists but all lonely men as we all are. Interviewed by a BBC reporter. And like this story itself or this detective himself, I myself am also “channelling small echoes of the past, scratching at resistant memory traces”, “absence or paucity of connection here”, “but I always do things by the book”, “cross-referencing everything he can”, “sieved through the battered pieces of the past, delved into an endlessly inscrutable series of incoherent occurrences”, “Seeking non-linear connections, abstract associations”… what kept me? 22DB4195-C597-4441-BF7A-5C3CE1C193FA Anyway who would steal just my worthless memorabilia rather than my valuables? And is one missing person commonplace but a whole series of them rare, or vice versa? And when I reached the end I realised the whole plot had inadvertently followed the template of the quests and questions in “so this is it” but with less simple words. Seemed also to locate the missing men in the other two booklets by MJH and NF. Their soft tendernesses finally located. Or locating the erstwhile house in Doe Lea. And in the Tinker, finally locating another sort of house, one with referred melancholy across the channel…

    My previous reviews of this author:


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