VASTARIEN – A Literary Journal: Fall 2019

Vol. 2, Issue 3
Matt Cardin & Jon Padgett: Co-Editors-in-Chief

My previous reviews of Vastarien:

Work by Charlotte Begg, Jubel Brosseau, John A. Delaughter, P.A. Glazier, Mathhew B. Hare, Sean Patrick Hazlett, Carl Lavoie, Patricia Lillie, Sean Moreland, Annie Neugebauer, Dejan Ognjanović, Joanna Parypinski, Derek Pegritz, Zeny May Dy Recidoro, David F. Shultz, Farah Rose Smith, Dan Stintzi, Daryl Sznyter, Matt Thompson, Robert S. Wilson.

If I review this book, my thoughts will appear in the comment stream below…

23 thoughts on “VASTARIEN – A Literary Journal: Fall 2019

  1. 7A3296F8-62ED-4933-894B-447DF01447E7

    The illustration by Derek Pegritz and his front cover artwork, too, seem connected with the Matt Thompson story, a sort of Ted Chiang type contact with the arrival of alien craft wheeling above Earth, and the mutual connections with a boy’s drawing, and cinema films being made. I did not fully understand it, but after all this is only my own first contact. This story itself may be part of what is happening, linking the ‘broken wing’ in ‘Dead Astronauts’ (a broken wing read about and reviewed by me today) now as Pegritz’s geo-metric triangulation of budding creatures in array plus two separate references to Lagos here in the Thompson in further reference to two other separate references to Lagos in a very recent review by me of the fiction in Black Static 72/Interzone 284, one story dealt with in which review being another by Matt Thompson. A part of the patterns of this story’s attempted contact, my reviews themselves?

    My previous reviews of Matt Thompson:

  2. HOW TO MAKE A MARIONETTE by Patricia Lillie

    I like short paragraphs sometimes when they give me a rest from extending my mind through huge blocks of text. Still Proust is not a bad Cat. Love his languid longueurs of prowling. The Cat here is more a comfort zone for Kathryn on her transport of choice: a bus. Mari the eponymous MARIonette, a nut to crack a sledgehammer, RIP, if that is not a spoiler, having been snatched nude from the girls’ shower by her Father, everyone’s Father disguised as a famous doctor who keeps them there, and is Mari really Kathryn and Jimjim the boy who wants his mother to kiss him goodnight, or perhaps his Father to kiss him, the same Father who wrote THE EMPTY SOUL: FALSE PARENTS AND CHANGELING CHILDREN. Liking ballet is not an excuse to commit arson, whatever the justification. Whatever the circumstances of disabled control. Or even to commit suicide en pointe. Breathe.

    Previous reviews of this author:

  3. Recuerdos de Patay
    (Images of the Dead)
    by Zeny May Dy Recidiro

    “Images of the dead framed suspended in lonely museums humming to themselves”

    A work of free verse with extreme enjambment fitting for its subject matter.
    A paradoxically spare and rich statement of where the poet lives. Vasta and Rien.

    “it never truly stops,”

  4. Bloom by Carl Lavoie, artwork that seems highly appropriate to be followed by this story…

    THE FLOODED CELLAR by Dan Stintzi

    “…that places are sometimes worse than people.”

    A visit by Marcus Peery to numbered rooms in a strip club’s basement, intent on new sexual experiences by shackle, shock or swamp? Or something far wider as a Ligottian human apotheosis involving the threads that thread us and where they lead? Picking at the lip-ring of reading till it bleeds or sinks even to deeper sumps than you can peer Into? I try to keep my powder dry above the flood till further conclusion in my mind is reached, a near endless leap moment by moment. A leap of faith beyond that scum of swamp that still threads itself into me.

    My previous review of this author:

  5. EVERY NOWHERE by Matthew B. Hare

    “(not behind me, not above, not anywhere Tyler ‘s hands clutched his drawing pad even as his mouth opened wide, wider, darker and darker. Everything about him opened in the nowhere place, wider and wider in the sea of dim lights . . .”
    (sic – the wide space before the apostrophe and the open-ended nature of a non-closed parenthesis.)

    A taunting, haunting vision of our Facebook mœurs, and our psychogeographical ‘nowheres’ (real and dreamed) containing empty Ligottian storefronts and dripping Lovecraftian ichor…

  6. Some more artwork by Derek Pegritz that seems frighteningly to depict, inter alios, puppet-strung or machine hook-hung body parts, followed by…

    MADDENING MANIKINS: The Atmospheric Machines of Poe and Ligotti
    by Sean Moreland

    A 32 page non-fiction article with footnotes and bibliography.

  7. Another wonderful artwork by Derek Pegritz that is a perfect accompaniment for a consecutive work by someone else called Sean…

    RADIX MALORUM by Sean Patrick Hazlett

    “Reality is a Rorschach test, an inkblot on the ethereal plane. The sheep can only interpret it, but the artist peering down from the higher dimensions has the power to shape how that inkblot is rendered.”

    You are a sheep following mindlessly the trivial greedy impulses of employment in Business Corporate life, an employment as horrified into fiction by an earlier Ligotti, but here you learn the lesson that a sheep cannot possibly have understood such literature as this. So you cannot be such a sheep. You have just read it and understood it. But, as gestalt real-time reviewer, I am at even a higher dimension than any so-called non-sheep like YOU! Let me just tell you to get the flesh of your face off and inflated into a balloon and realise that De Wees may have been just another subject of a dream dreamt by Adam Weishaupt. Of course I dreamed Adam Weishaupt into a named being within this story myself. But who dreamed me? And my face balloon?

  8. An artwork by Derek Pegritz entitled ‘The Tsalal’, followed by…

    WE ARE NOT OURSELVES by Joanna Parypinski

    “What do you do when you meet yourself in a dark alley?”

    That is the opening of the story and in addition to being a plot-spoiler, it develops into how two Proustian selves of the same person gradually interact, insidiously or otherwise, and effectively makes any earlier plot-spoiler irrelevant by hindsight. About a woman called Christa in a Ligottian downbeat job and “dormant storefronts.” And a moon hailed.
    In addition, for me, the story is made preternaturally even more powerful, by a staggeringly striking and uncanny chance-synchronicity with chapters 13, 14, 15 & 16 of a novel that I happened to read and review here ( ) only an hour before reading and reviewing this Parypinski story.

    “You know. We all have two voices —“

    My previous reviews of this author:

  9. In ‘Every Nowhere’ above, I noted an unclosed prenthesis. Here in the next story below, with equal significance, there’s another one: “(Cathartic.”

    MAPPING CATHARSIS by P. A. Glazier

    “There was an off-ramp, so I took it, even though it led to nowhere. They have those on freeways, off-ramps to nowhere.”

    Starting with a man in a downbeat job from Corporate Ligottiana, suddenly fired in situ, now eschewing the box for a bathroom, this work has a remarkably sporadic parenthesis / non-parenthesis of off-puttingly engaging literariness, amid a number of disarmingly David-Lynchian stays and encounters on the way driving in his familiar Datsun, the ever onward roads and deadpan distances descried, a scary latte, a forbidden beige and, after other fateless things, eventually arriving ‘back home’?

    “(And when you do actually find a place that feels like it’s a place, it’s not that place.)”

  10. B5770356-9352-4FAE-A822-CC6F1D8DCBBB PAVEMENT by Robert S. Wilson

    “Everyone turns to watch Jim on the highway.”

    Another highly effective piece of artwork by Derek Pegritz, with a road’s no-entry sign at the top as a head’s head… perhaps appropriately for Jim’s young cancerous daughter who is currently in remission…
    A compelling, tentative-brainstorming, eventually successful work, combining the Datsun car journey in the previous story and this whole journal’s downbeat Corporate Horror, here with regular commuting to work. Jim tries to avoid the highway when all the other drivers stare at him driving — as they rubberneck, I guess, towards him from their vehicles (see the Pegritz illo for mutant hallucinated rubbernecking), and this only happens when he is driving on the highway so, at first successfully, he tries other GPS routes. Such staring and rubbernecking at him inevitably begin to cause collateral vehicle crashes and deaths. If I tell you more it will spoil it. Suffice to say it results in that universally hallucinated gestalt I often seem to seek, but perhaps it is dangerous to show off when one is reviewing books, even more so than when one is driving on public roads.

    My previous reviews of this author:

  11. THE FILLING by Annie Neugebauer

    “I look at the chair she waved to. It’s a pink shade of pleather that was probably marketed as mauve in the 1980 dental supply catalog she got it from. It sits up like its own entity, a patient person just waiting for me to slide my form alongside its own, but then we both know it will stretch its feet out and down, stretching me prone and exposed on its surface like a cowardly beast offering up the belly of another for sacrifice.”

    Perfect rendition of getting seated in the dentist’s chair for particularly angst-inducing surgery on the teeth. And there are many such disturbingly evocative passages in this work, including the dental room itself — filling the cavities of a Victorian building — with the narrator viewing it from the chair as prehensile with IV piping, even a crown on which to perch in the ceiling. During the laughing-gas anaesthesia and overhearing the strange chatter of the dentist with an assistant (part of which chatter seems to refer to the daughter’s suffering in the previous Wilson story!), the narrator’s diaspora of Proustian selves are scattered into miniature selves upon various parts of the room, one of the narrator’s selves in particular being left behind on its perch after the surgery. An ingenious visit-to-the-dentist story.

    My previous reviews of this author:

  12. LABYRINTH artwork by Derek Pegritz, as an eye- / I-emblem of the pulled together threads in this whole journal and particularly of the final work…

    UNRAVELLING by David F. Schultz

    “And we’re finite beings — so there’s always something more — something we don’t understand.”

    A strikingly labyrinthine view of gestalt through homeless threads or seams or glimpses of the sun through the slit in window-blinds, blind but seeing, too. That dentist room earlier today above: “The room felt stale and suffocating, and my skull throbbed.” Automatic writing between waking and dream, the lump in scrambled egg like that earlier self on a perch. Steamwhistle, too. A fishing-line either a Dreamcatcher or Hawler. And old man’s suicide threaded, at one remove, to subway tracks. An old man like me. I’m nearly 74. Well, a year or two to go. My thread is taut, my worm shrunk. Lines to follow, like the line on the back cover of this book, edge to edge. Unravelling and ravelling mean the same thing. Look the words up.



  13. Pingback: 2019 Writing Statistics and Revenue | Reflections of a Rational Republican

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s