Just received this book and packaging, edited by James Everington & Dan Howarth

Black Shuck Books 2019

Stories by Sarah Read, Eliza Chan, Tim Major, Rich Hawkins, Carly Holmes, G.V.Anderson, Charlotte Bond, Daniel Braum, Rosanne Rabinowitz, Andrew David Barker.

When I read this book, my thoughts will appear in the comment stream below…

17 thoughts on “PAREIDOLIA

  1. DF5C2757-B76B-47F1-8D92-4379857453D7

    INTO THE WOOD by Sarah Read

    “, but I noticed the house first. The way the woodgrain noticed us back — “

    I have long thought pareidolia worked like a two-way filter, in both directions of flow, and thus this darkly poetic story clinches the deal beyond such mere thought. Together with a remarkable trope of a heavy bunch of keys being an anchor, a highly sensitised text of a woman with her own dark backstory finding a way to Brian’s house or cabin, warmth and shelter being the operative motive for her. His teenage daughter Thea, though, is “odd” with woodden walls and panels, a synergy of Thea’s Theatricks of such walls and self. The outcome is a dream for those who enjoy suffering such dreams as well as, I find, an awful series of knots to remove from the pictures in the mind.

    My previous reviews of this author:


    “It was no good talking about coincidences and delusions.”

    Yet, it was good in the end. Illusions, allusions, elusions as well as delusions, if, in some way, they make a pattern or gestalt at all of a face, then the face exists, I guess. A tantalising, China-infused, origami-burning portrait of Harriet’s visit to the orient half of herself by her occident half, both halves unmarried, but a mother with a partner nevertheless. Her por-por’s funeral, whereby all her relations, her own Chinese mother included (wife of her British father), expect her to see the ghost of her por-por (grandmother, I infer). She cynically resists the real reason for hoping to retrieve a replica of a broken vase, a por-por associated vase, one with intricate decorations wherein she used to suffer the apophenia of tracing or following the line of least resistance in an earlier sentimental audit trail, a line factored into or from other powers of infused pareidolia, but does she continue to resist the inevitable culminating pattern of a comfort’s haunting beyond the aunting of aunts and whatever uncles saw beyond the joss sticks and their origami papers?

    “See the shadow of a pattern.”


    “You may have helped me, and you may be stranded. […] But I can’t make your safe delivery home my concern.”

    The only story where a literary Bluetooth device actually works well. An ear-opening soundscape of the sound artist in film making, here a woman whose surname approximates the forename of a friend with a baby son, and a philandering film star whose acting needs to be re-evoked — after a car crash in real life before the film was finished — re-evoked from previous recordings or supplemented by another actor in post-production sound work, the dead lead actor who leaves a posthumous baby with the leading actress in the film. Was I right in scrying the sound pareidolia to discover that the sound artist herself was once ‘had’ by the now dead lead actor from the film? By the repetition of words in the quote above, one can scry much to envision as in all sound pareidolia of ambient life. Reading this story was like experiencing a classic Ingmar Bergman film.
    This Pareidolia book seems to convey themes-and-variations on the dictionary-definition of pareidolia. Meanwhile, so far, there is a series of oblique meanings to the word pareidolia in the other pareidolia anthology that I am concurrently reviewing. Both books’ methods are worthy. Presenting, shoulder to shoulder, the pareidolia of pareidolia. Car crashes in the Fawver there, and in this Major story, too.

    My previous review of this author:

  4. THE LONELY by Rich Hawkins

    The previous story’s sound pareidolia migrates here to a central heating radiator and the growling of a kettle boiling, and the tooting of a party horn. A moving, disturbing portrait of a woman’s loneliness and humdrumming workplace, her cloistered, claustrophobic flat where party balloons infiltrate mockingly, drawing her out to exact whence those meta-party noises come. The repetitive words of ‘stranded’ and ‘delivery’ here now become the meter of meat: “She is the lamb.” To rid oneself of such deep-seated loneliness one needs, perhaps counterproductively, to share oneself even more deeply. And more than just metaphorically, I guess.

    My review of ‘Meat For The Field’ by this author:

  5. Pingback: Träumalising… | The Des Lewis Gestalt Real-Time Reviews

  6. I invented the word träumalising today after an earlier one I invented: Träumtrawler as a title for the way books can be read and reviewed. Not based on trauma as trauma so much as on Träumerei (Schumann) aka Dreaming. Pareidolia and apophenia as words need, in perhaps confused hindsight, the word träumalising for them to exist at all, I guess. Words always mean something.

    A SHADOW FLITS by Carly Holmes

    “, focussing on it until it flattened and merged with the surrounding marks, and became part of the whole.”

    An amazingly disturbing story, worthy of this author who I discovered relatively recently. Perhaps, particularly disturbing to me, who once read aloud [A spot] by Gahan Wilson from Again, Dangerous Visions, or has since dreamed that I once read it aloud, to my son in the late 1970s or early 1980s as a ‘scary’ entertainment. Together with showing the development of the ‘spot’ visually by pointing at it in the book. Here, my now aging memory of it is transposed to or by this story’s paternal paranoia and worry and subconsciously clearing of evidence, a story of a man, as, in this plot, his own small son has an inexplicable illness, taken with his wife to the hospital, for further tests. Who can see that growing ‘spot’? Convergence on the boy’s optimal Teddy, notwithstanding. A Rasnic Tem vision of paternal responsibility now an obsessive elephant in the room of life, I guess. Who knows what good or bad comes from something or permeates into it? Imagination arguably needs strengthening, but at what hindsight cost? At least the intentions were good, I think. And I hope scary does not also mean scarred. Not trauma but träumerei.

    My previous reviews of this author:

  7. THE BUTCHERY TREE by G.V. Anderson

    “It’s so typical of men to make trophies of what scares them, as if fear can be brought to heel.”

    …and that almost describes the act of horrifying storifying itself? But now not only by men. Meanwhile, this work is a powerful example of that, a story about an ancient clan where the narrator woman goatherder is chosen as wife by the Prince, much to the active jealousy of the more high born ladies he could have chosen. It is a most glutly candlelit work of grease and wood grain, here taken the Nth power of tactile pareidolia, where pareidolia actually infects and spreads. A table made from the eponymous tree, where our narrator was once more than just brutally bullied by men, one man in particular, who, inter alia, now resides in this table, as only this book, I guess, could allow anyone thus to reside in anything. A story, too, of childbirth, where the latching upon the ripest nipple is part of some hidden process in the narration itself.

    My previous review of this author:

  8. THE LENS OF DYING by Charlotte Bond

    “I’m spooking myself now. It was just a light on the wall, not a face.”

    There seems something latently important about the concept embodied by this story’s title. In fact, the concept of the last person seen by the dying just before they died was something that I had as part of a different mutual synergy within a 1989 published work (as shown here: And, perhaps inadvertently, this story is taking that concept into new haunting realms, despite – or because? – it is inchoate as far as its narration is concerned about a man now in his seventies who conjures up his past as a serial child-killer, one of his victim’s fingers today being the protruding roots of an apple tree. Thump thump thump, said Elizabeth Bowen’s apple tree ghost. He even sees himself as a child in this mad pareidolia. Appendages somehow to his self today. His name Simms strangely matches the Simms in this Tem story I reviewed only a few days ago here: — Another purveyor of human body-parts as psychotic appendages, but in a quite different SF setting?

    My previous reviews of this author:


    “Fear isn’t strength, it’s just…thrashing,” I mutter.

    The only author with stories in both Pareidolia books that I am currently reading, here in mutual synergy with his own work. Surfboard science, sharking, bath’s electric-shocking, even potential drowning. Another bar-cafe scenario by the sea, the narrator’s rum-punching prior to a boating/fishing trip next day which he is reluctant to go on, his sister Alison’s business in this way needing his lucky-chance-vulnerability, by being on board as shark-bait, his also regretting and still holding a torch for a deceased woman called Nina from the past (young love), his now meeting another taunting woman in the bar, one with her own sister baring mini shark-like teeth, or vice versa, arguably resonating with Schliewe’s ‘The Lighthouse’ (recently reviewed here) as well as my own and D. Mathew’s ‘Don’t Drown The Man Who Taught You To Swim’ (recently, also, reviewed here). Going back and forth in time, this is a complex story that really works, with telling familial backstory, and its subtleties and interior cross-references fulfilling a visualisable plot, proto-Lowry-Volcano, and poignant by inference. Liking this story is akin to chumming a shark, negotiating the whirlpools in the pareidoliac patterns of semantic estuary.

    My other reviews of this author:

  10. GEODE by Rosanne Rabinowitz

    “When the frost drew patterns on the windows I imagined a formula that showed the way to another shore. / And behind the patterns on the glass, the fern and feather forests, I saw movement and the faces of folk.”

    A movingly reflective sort of ode to the geography of an earlier self, as Lisa the narrator revisits the house by the often frozen lake where she lived when bullied by her brother and schoolmates, a house now less claustrophobic, lighter, and brought to a new neighbourhood with more open gender mœurs of love and expectation. The schoolteacher of whom she had an inferred crush, a geode and its fragments she once left in some chamber of the lake, a rhapsodic dream she follows, and the chambers in the Mathew/Lewis ‘drowning’ story (conveniently, but by chance, mentioned in connection with the previous story above) have a wonderful mutual-synergy with this story and Braum’s, too. The ball geode now as gestalt become a thunderegg? Pulled by a string from the mouth, a new definition of what meaning itself struggles to mean?

    “Hear the thunder. Ride our wave.”

    My previous reviews of this author:

  11. HOUSE OF FACES by Andrew David Barker

    “It was difficult to make out in such blazing light and deep sun-shadows, but it was a face made of old curtains and dirt on the glass.”

    Those sun shadows, and pareidoliac faces throughout to which he speaks, and snatches of voiced words, this resonates uncannily with my experience of the Evenson (here) earlier this morning in the other Pareidolia book before I read this Barker — a hum of life or just murmurs, and to echo the previous Rabinowitz story’s subtle thunder above, thunder comes and goes at the end of this one. An effectively plain-spoken account of an apocalypse where the supposedly only man left alive – the rest of us plucked into the sky by who knows what force above – returns to his derelict family home…
    An ominously quiet coda to this haunting and overtly pareidoliac book, a 200+ page paperback that sits neatly in the pocket. My brain above ever scries pictures through its lent lens of memory and death. The shadow flits.

    My previous reviews of James Everington: and Dan Howarth: and Black Shuck Books:


  12. Pingback: New Year roundup | Cosy catastrophes

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