11 thoughts on “The Half-Freaks – Nicole Cushing

  1. Just read the first few brief chapters about Harry in interface with Nicole the writer. I like the style, as if they both live equally their lives and she is adopting him to make him even more real in her fiction, but he is already real, I guess, a cross between Quasimodo and Fred Flintstone. Other than that, you will have to read up to “Yes, yes. He visits me.” to know what I already know about the brain of Harry.

  2. Read up to but not yet beyond this chapter heading…
    “Our Story Begins in Earnest”

    In view of what I have already said above, I now try to roll with my own prejudices and mistakes, but I am still convinced of the paradox of fiction – or ‘fabrication’ as it is now called in these pages – as we head towards a fuller picture of Harry – the paradox, that is, of fiction being truth, truth fiction, and in these pages the names Trump and Ligotti are both mentioned, if not spoken in the very same breath. Intriguing, you may feel, but enough for you to follow me into this book? Or are you one of those future non-readers that Nicole mentions? No spoilers here, by the way.

  3. Read up to…
    “Harry had begun to associate sexual pleasure with the obliteration of a woman.”

    The scenes with his mother dying in hospital, her bones like knives akimbo, is arguably shocking, but are we meant to be shocked by or empathic with Harry’s behaviour that I will not cover here.
    Reminded me of what I read yesterday in a story by Melanie and Steve Tem called The Marriage (1994), his trying to get off in a hospital ward. The imagined razoring, waxing, and overlapping medical-machine noises, notwithstanding.

  4. “She was sittin in her own filth and tryin to shove it back up into her, well… y’know.”

    …as well as Harry’s aunt, an authorial or narratorial device, too?
    The incorrigibly reprehensible backstory of only-child Harry’s mother’s death and its aftermath. As an aside, I happened to read yesterday — More Than Should Be Asked — as another M & S Tem story (obliquely complementary to this section of Harry’s story) about parental desperation regarding the need to only have one child when bearing in mind that very child! As another possibly unaccountable aside, I myself wonder, out of the blue, how many cocks have been chafed to the march in Shostakovich’s Leningrad symphony?

    Read up to: “Harry actually liked robot voices. They never screamed, nor did they make fun of him.”

  5. Read up to…
    “So now is as good a time as any to reveal exactly what those sights were.”

    I am getting more and more involved with the nature of Harry, if not of Tranquillity Mortality Services, as he deals in his own fashion with his mother’s funeral arrangements, cutting the mowing in the middle of a row. We can all empathise if not with ourselves but with others in real life we have observed or learned about. The book somehow sort of reads me, thinks it knows me, whether it does or doesn’t. Most of people like me have bits of Harry at least to contend with. Many differences, but anyone enthralled by the nature of Harry here will also appreciate another great book that I happened recently to review: Patience.

  6. Read up to
    “Whuh?”

    Whether in canon or out of canon of this ground-breaking and body-cushing fictional truth or truthful fiction about Harry, where we learn about the eponymous halvers; just one consideration following my Tem reading/reviewing yesterday elsewhere, are they related to ‘nvumbi’? Is this just the other half-Ligotti? With only half of two bone-legs. The word ligotti as half-legs rather than knots? A half-Ligotti now created making the whole with another half-Ligotti. Its gestalt. The first real Town Supermarket, Town Hospital, a new holistic Town Manager against the irony of halves?

    From my research : “Cushing syndrome — a fatty hump between your shoulders, a rounded face, and pink or purple stretch marks on your skin. It can also result in high blood pressure, bone loss…”

  7. Read up to…
    “The Angels, cherubs, and diamonds all began to dissolve…”

    The more I read this, the more it reads me, with half plus half making a whole in real-time. Listen to what I say. Or am I adding two plus two and making five? I am convinced the concepts here of half-freaks, half-cracks, “post-mortem care”, pie charts for small mouths, its slant on Christian burial versus Cremation &c &c. are highly original concepts and will stick with me as I factor them into my life of reality as well as the special kind of literature I experience on a daily basis.

    As a perhaps irrelevant aside: quoted from my research: “Schnittke, half Jewish, his parents and grandparents atheists, a German Russian who spent much of his post-war childhood in Vienna, was a polystylistic man. He was led to the spiritual. His music, therefore, makes appeals to dark spaces, to mysteries, to enduring things, certainties. He was no reductivist, and more, I think, a synthetic than an analytical composer.”

  8. “If ya think The Town Factory was bad,” she had once said, “the last thing ya need to do is get all wrapped up in this cyber-bullyin I hear so much about. Nah. Nah. My son don’t need to get tortured like that!”

    Harry tries to airbrush things. Wishes his mother away, for example. All mothers, in fact. A sort of retrocausal Anti-Natalism? But Nicole, as she now calls herself explicitly, and as you can see from the above quote, is not helping him airbrush things by dint of her narratorial rights. Meanwhile, there is something that happens in this section concerned with his mother’s remains that is staggeringly thought-provoking, and it would be a spoiler indeed even to hint at its nature here.

    Read up to: “I think he half-wished he had binoculars.”

  9. “Reality was falling apart and there was nothing he could do about it.”

    The last pages of this slim book flew by upon an extravaganza of authorial intervention, nay, character intervention upon the author, nay, even I (as a reader) felt apocalyptic when the sky appeared to be falling through its half-cracks! We all saw it, didn’t we?
    Much talk of various things, like the two natures of people contemplating the template of suicide. The smell of ghosts. Fake News even when we had proper newspapers to doctor, and Town Libraries to visit for such research that I today conducted in this review above on the Internet. Ovens and Onanisms. And much else. And, oh yes, a trumpet trumpeting on Judgement Day and today may be that very day, the day upon which you finish this book* …

    Read beyond ‘After The End’.

    * which fits neatly with the Kaaron Warren work I read yesterday here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2019/11/13/a-miscellany-of-death-folly/#comment-17472

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