18 thoughts on “Petals and Violins – D.P. Watt

  1. I reviewed the first story here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2018/09/14/the-silent-garden-a-journal-of-esoteric-fabulism/#comment-13680 as follows –

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    BLOOD AND SMOKE, VINEGAR AND ASHES

    “My soup had caught in the pan but enough was salvageable to keep hunger at bay.”

    Enough to scrape words off the bottom of the deadpan, but you need to follow highly detailed, sometimes absurdly itemised instructions of recipe when reading this text – to gain full benefit of its narration by a woman doing a favour for her ex-husband by arranging – in person – the funeral of his father in far-off Poland. Leading to rites of past passage. A pungent herbal pot-roast of post-fatal sex by means of a precariously pre-prepared unready-meal eventually made from dreamfully spilled spells and precise spices. Or so I inferred, alongside “…an ample garden, with many well-tended beds and borders, all carefully prepared for winter.”

  2. EA4EB3FB-37E2-48A9-9C7C-91FC1AFA2DF3 THE MAGICIAN, OR, CRAB LINES

    ‘Just a word of advice, lad, about your bait.’

    Today has been my wife’s birthday and she received a present from our daughter who told my wife she bought it when on holiday with her husband in Sheringham. Here a boy — on holiday crabbing and so forth with his parents on the same Norfolk coast — buys a birthday present from a bric à brac shop for his mother when in Sheringham. A coincidence, I guess, is like casting bait for, say, a crab, and one is pulled by the enticement of the other. Prey as prayer. A sort of filter working in both directions of flow. Here the flow is one of self now as boy and later of self as an old man like me. A sort of war between them or a war fought by both of them against a common enemy, a war from which only one of them returns? An enchanting story, with a twinge of poignancy, and a chopped whelk — a Watt classic not to be missed.

  3. I reviewed the next story here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2019/01/25/the-book-of-flowering/#comment-14699, as follows –

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    BUT THEY WITHERED ALL

    “; a town that knew so little of our family that it felt compelled, instead, to make up what they didn’t know. I shall return the favour.”

    Not so much a catapult of gossip (even though, in it, you would need to go far to read another such remarkable description of a real catapult shot), but more a boomerang with internal ricochets as well as outward floral tributes that often never came home to roost. This is a deceptively ingenious story narrated by a woman that we suspect is the various women of whom she writes, in a quilted tale of nefarious preternatural recrimination after her father died. Full of roses (another lady who starts with just one) and pansies, plus fish and fennel tarts or rue fancies for funerals. What is invented by her, what is not invented by her: an eternal tussle that no amount of re-readings of this style-enticing story of inferred abyssal flowering paranoia will allow you out of its prison, yes, you, perhaps the only one she seeks out. Though, my name is not Davis, but close enough Welshly. Got me over a barrel. By the way, I think the catapult shot must have hit her head, not her coat.

  4. MIZPAH

    “….cotton buds, windscreen wipers were propped against a peeling poster of Marilyn Monroe pinned to the wall with increasingly sized lock knives. […] unnerved by the sudden rush of connections and coincidences.”

    And cracklin’ toffee.
    Other than these quirky lists, this is an accomplished but, for me, run-of-the-mill tale of time travel and ghostly lost love on the North Yorkshire coast.

  5. WE DON’T WANT FOR COMPANY

    Amazingly I read this Watt work just after creating today HERE this post on Facebook (also simultaneously shown here: https://nemonymous.livejournal.com/332603.html). Watt’s entrancing soliloquy of a story — as well as containing the wholesomely gory business of cooking rabbit (see my review earlier this year of David Rix’s ‘A Blast of Hunters’ which, one day, I predict will be generally deemed a classic novel) — deals with the misdescribed loneliness of darkness, the need to summon a new day out of night, and a talking to a ghost of self as company, a ghost that has come to these wilds to see the chalk giant (white knight?)

  6. OPHELIA

    “Nowhere was hidden from us, all of history our playground—we travelled its wonders together. What you did not know you invented.”

    A rapture and rhapsody of words, spoken by someone or something as a first person singular narrator to the ‘you’ who fetched such child-like rapture and rhapsody into the world.
    Till a drowning of the narrator, I infer.

    As I read this work just now on my computer, a flag suddenly came up at the top of the screen, taking me to this breaking news…

    ==============================

    Photo of ‘hero’ son taken moments before he was swept out to sea while saving mum’s life:
    http://news.sky.com/story/photo-of-hero-son-taken-moments-before-he-was-swept-out-to-sea-while-saving-mums-life-11861022

    ==============================

    This made me teem with sadness. Particularly as a mother may see a child, even when grown up, as her doll.

  7. I reviewed the next story here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2017/12/19/the-scarlet-soul-stories-for-dorian-gray/#comment-11342, as follows:

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    December 30, 2017 at 6:19 pm
    DOREEN by D.P. Watt

    I am usually a fan of Dan Watt works, but this story is as dreary as its title. In fact I cannot summon up enough enthusiasm to describe its plot or try to evaluate it. Perhaps, I am missing some intrinsic irony?

    December 31, 2017 at 8:26 am
    Having slept on it, maybe the way it sucked out my will to live was part of its irony!

  8. I reviewed the next story here: https://nullimmortalis.wordpress.com/14750-2/#comment-8770, as follows:

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    Oh, Pretty Polly!
    “I selected our little Polly because she moves us on so perfectly from our last tale to the next.”
    Here, for me, Watt entrancingly takes us into a Puppet Proust, alliterative character names, unrequited and obsessive love, and into what I Imagine to be the staccato movements of both ugliness and beauty moving within the proscenium arch of my fiction antennae – paralleling the previous story, that previous movement of Hawling’s Suite Bergamasque (as I call it), with the self-harm that man somehow imposes on others, here the male protagonist imposing it on his unrequited love as a deliberate entropy… Here a more fast- than slow-motion Invitation to the Dance.

  9. THE ROCKING HORSE

    “…sometimes the frivolous leads us to more meaningful discoveries.”

    For most of this story — other than the striking description of the nostalgic rocking horse itself and the sense of Wales and the Welsh language felt by the protagonist and his wife and children when newcomers to Wales — I thought it was another of Watt’s more run-of-the-mill ghost stories, engaging enough… But I had not accounted for its ending. I suddenly felt I was in a Haneke film. Sometimes, I guess, such a rocking-horse can take you on a journey without your realising it as you rock to and fro with your eyes closed.

  10. THE PEDAGOGUE, OR, THEY MUTTERED

    “One day they would be able to unlock all of the past just through the residual sounds in the walls of buildings—“

    A satirical story of a curmudgeonly Professor and the internal politics of the institution where he works; after one outburst, he is attacked by emails and other phenomena repeating the word ‘mutter’ like a concrete poem, and, indeed, the more you look at a single word repeated again and again, it morphs its meaning and its power, muttering of what he had accused other people of doing with their gossip. And it reaches an inferred trajectory towards a cosmically repeated concatenation of theme-and-variations upon GRAMOPHONE OF THE AGES by Yefim Zozulya, a work I recently reviewed HERE? And was the book — the one he conveniently used as a theatrical prop by stealing it from someone’s office — THE NECRONOMICON by the Mad Arab Abdul Has Read?

  11. OUR SECOND HOME

    “—grief does not wither it merely transforms.”

    “…the late afternoon sun bursting from behind a cloud and shining through the slats in the blinds. It sort of chopped me into segments that seemed to slide apart from each other,…”

    A sort of mirror effect, yet here the two homes are not discrete, because you still own the first home after moving to the second one, and the loss and grief remains, somehow like a bridge of pareidolia between Cumbria and Cornwall…. the previous tragic loss of your daughter in a crash of events and the subsequent ability of the dead even to phone you only being half the story. I watched this morning, before reading this story, the film AMOUR directed by Michael Haneke. You will appreciate why I might tell you that in this review if you happen, as I just did, to experience by chance this story AND the film while still owning (remembering) the first of these that you experienced. That ghost of a chance beyond the fallibility of more distant memories?

    ‘I see her in the waves,’ she said quietly. ‘I see lots of faces in the waves . . . old friends . . . family . . . you know, people that are gone.’

  12. A SPECIES OF THE DEAD

    “I have seen the place where I once was. I have looked into those endless mirrors and my empty eyes;”

    An artist woman in deep grief whose artist husband has died, now picking up the pieces, And it is an important horror-coda to the previous work of bereavement, horror as rapture, although it is a standalone work as well as a coda, a standalone as your body can be made to be when you have left it? The physical flaying and flensing from around the soul when set against the art installations of conceptual taxidermy, as mixed with the chemical ‘mad science’ of life-continuation beyond death. Our second home.
    Please excuse my quoting below from the text liberally. Far better than anything else I can say about it.

    “; a badger a round stone that rolled gently through a circular groove in a slab of granite; that stone came to her regularly in dreams since he had died, just rolling and rolling and rolling, on and on through the tormented synapses of her sleeping brain.”

    “She had seen too many dead things; she had worked with their remains and knew the empty eyes; the nothing that lay within. But human beings might be different; she might glimpse a soul.”

  13. ‘Golden in the Mercy of His Means’

    I reviewed the next story in the 2017 context here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2017/08/25/darkly-haunting/#comment-10557, as follows:

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    IMG_3566
    If Brexit happens, we shall be required to hang famous European paintings upside down. (A quote from a review a few weeks ago.)
    Now for what was found in the Ballet Case…

    THE ENGLISH HOUSE by D.P. Watt

    “, like I was in a cupboard while Europe falls apart…”

    In some ways, a post-Brexit SF story depicting the foul and fell repercussions some 30 years hence, without using the word Brexit at all.
    In another way, an extension of this book’s nostalgia gent-to-gent over cordial whisky factored into by the thwarted ambitions of Hughes in the form of a recurrent Zeno’s Paradox, the haunting of them like the past wars in Holman, then Insole’s cross-sections of war and Meaulnes-type literature and Fern Hill or H.E. Bates type gaia, growing into more of this book’s nagging or sometimes gossamer gestalt.
    But in essence, this is a work-on-its-own, a mesmerising tryst with the oblique power of fantasy that is generously dream-like or Sarban-like, even Blakean or Carcosan (a King in a yellow robe) so as to conjure the past and the future’s attempts to transcend it. Despite the strictures of historic Brexit, Englishman Michael lives in Dinan, in a house overlooking the mysterious, seemingly untenanted, ironically-named Maison Anglaise, a vaguely perceived house that seems to haunt him (following the telling departure of his visiting, whisky-sharing old friend David), and somehow, based on the evidence of the diary in his daughter’s Ballet Case, haunting her with its lasting, literally long-standing visions, and his wife, too. It will be hard to forget this moving and gradually grasping work. We shall all need to stand and wait.

    ————————-
    “In the pebbles of the holy streams.”
    Fern Hill, Dylan Thomas

  14. I reviewed the next story in its 2017 context here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2017/05/08/terror-tales-of-cornwall/#comment-9779, as follows:

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    May 20, 2017 at 2:44 pm
    FOUR WINDOWS AND A DOOR by D P Watt

    “It didn’t quite happen like that. It never does.”

    I am a great admirer of the works of D.P. Watt, but, if you read my various reviews of them linked above, you will see, he did disappoint me once. I thought, at its start, that this new work by him was due to disappoint me, too, an utterly plainspoken depiction of a modern family, married couple with a son and daughter, typical bickering while on holiday in Polperro, plus an over-dependence on modern technology, the main character, the father, having humdrum jobs that subsumed his whole life so he could look after his family…
    It didn’t quite happen like that. It never does.
    IT never does, too.
    Unless I imagine the story’s development, it took a new slant, a new Madeline mystery, an aching overhang of ordinary things become strange and threatening. And an attrition, via a cosmic transcendence worthy of this book, towards one of the most powerfully oblique endings you are likely to meet. If I give you more details of what I remember reading, it would not quite happen like that. It would remain modern-dreary and Dead Pan.

    May 20, 2017 at 3:45 pm
    By the way, he had an alibi in Hull, two hundred miles away.

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