Edited by Mark Valentine
Swan River Press MMXIX
My previous reviews of Mark Valentine HERE and of Swan River Press HERE
Stories by Ron Weighell, D.P. Watt, Rosanne Rabinowitz, Catriona Lally, John Howard, Timothy J. Jarvis, Derek John, Lynda E. Rucker, Reggie Oliver, Nina Antonia.
When I read this book, my thoughts will appear in the comment stream below…
UNDER THE FRENZY OF THE FOURTEENTH MOON
by Ron Weighell
“Even a Palladian mansion and the library of my dreams, I concluded, wouldn’t compensate for facing every day with those in your mouth.”
A Yeats student has the chance of obtaining unpublished Yeats material, and meets a man with bad teeth who keeps it in that mansion’s library. Via this catalyst and that of a flat stone found by a thorn, there evolve dreams, later realities, of sporadic erotic contact with a beautiful woman in entrancing scenarios. Blake’s Los mentioned, inter alios. Resplendent but odd. I’m even in it somewhere, as an old man shambling along. Gyres of cosmic time and a code-wheel installation, too. And other Yeatsiana. Growing on me.
My previous reviews of this author: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/peter-bell-ron-weighell/
DAEMON EST DEUS INVERSUS by D.P. Watt
You must not lose faith in humanity. So spake the Illuminati in this Golden Dawn here represented by a stylised parable where a man as sneak thief returns his ill gotten gains to the ‘victim’ amid visionary experiences that I just hinted about, in a dynasty thread from Easter 1916 to Goose Green 1982 and then back to Mons… I sense that D.P. Watt himself is this rough diamond’s guardian angel, filling the man with an authorial effulgence of fiction whereby the man would have otherwise stayed in his gutter garage with the previous story’s bad teeth and without such golden experiences that Watt electrified in him. Endowing the city with Machen’s Fragment of Life as well as with the yeast of Yeats. DH Lawrence’s balanced stars, too.
My previous reviews of this author: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/d-p-watt/
THE SHIFTINGS by Rosanne Rabinowitz
“Imagine . . . a boundless lattice of worlds.”
This turned out, being serendipitously read by me today, a real Christmas Day treat. Dare I say, even in its already great surrounding canon, this is this author’s classic story … until she writes another one. I was particularly taken with this author named Ethel, now 80, her automatic-writing contact with WBY, from her Song of Songs of roses, a feisty woman of the Left, brilliantly conveyed as fallible, as she reviews her mixed feelings of a relationship with WBY. Was he a charlatan, I ask? Ethel a woman, now a lost author, once potentially prominent author, now researched by young Lucy. “The supernatural as the natural plus.” No wonder “The girl says her name in Lucy” (‘in’ sic) when she initially mentions Ethel’s lost, now forgotten novel ‘Lucifer and the Child’ as the one she had read. And the act of writing when ‘on a roll’ is perfectly expressed in this story.
Bored of being dead.
(I once wrote a short prose piece entitled ‘The Shiftlings’ (sic) that was chosen for the Weirdmonger book.)
My previous reviews of this author: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/3228-2/
HERMITS FOR HIRE by Catriona Lally
“He was seventy-two though, how could he start making stories at this age?”
I am 72, too! And coincidentally, earlier this boxing day, before reading this agonising story of a day searching by this man for epiphany cabins like those real or metaphorical ones in Innisfree or Walden, I happened to write about Sibelius’ empty ellipsis period (pages 30-34 here) which seems highly appropriate!
The Lally is well written and sardonically witty, giving me added Yeatsian yeast to any insight I may have when my wife next asks if I want a cuppa. Not that she watches strictly come dancing. She in fact just asked me if I want a cuppa as I wrote that (honestly!) before I drive us to a family do.
My previous review of this author written on Christmas Day last year: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2017/12/19/the-scarlet-soul-stories-for-dorian-gray/#comment-11319
THE PROPERTY OF THE DEAD by John Howard
“If the moon judges me, I’ll judge it back.”
This is so delightfully disorientating, even confusing — from decontroversialised city club to Galway, amid Irish history, a father son relationship — that I am tempted to let this story’s architecture stand alone, an emblem for you to seek, one in honour of Yeats’ gyres and interpenetrating cones. The book’s eponymous tower itself.
My previous reviews of this author: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/john-howard-mark-valentine/
Cross-referenced this John Howard with the Condous here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2019/12/10/mysterium-andrew-condous/#comment-17719
“Though grave-diggers’ toil is long,
Sharp their spades, their muscle strong,
They but thrust their buried men
Back in the human mind again.”
– W.B. Yeats
CAST A COLD EYE by Timothy J. Jarvis
My madly inferred gestalt of Jarvis’ theme and variations, including this book’s earlier “Daemon est Deus Inversus”, its gyres, its interpenetrating tower (here of one giant bone with scrimshaw), its gestalt created of WBY but here as if from the poet’s skull and dislocated bones, aspirationally built towards such an eventual gestalt integral skeleton tower, the poet’s skeleton created, though, by a fateful chance of each bone coming together as a gestalt by dint of separate mythic events. WBY died at 73, one year older than me, and he had this story’s title, alongside other words, on his tomb. No coincidence.
My previous reviews of this author: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/tag/timothy-j-jarvis/
THE MESSIAH OF BLACKHALL PLACE by Derek John
“The vowels especially, contain the most esoteric and formidable potencies. In certain combinations, they become words of power: elemental formulae with the ability to make and unmake the entire universe.”
…and I have no idea how each word of this story — with a narrator who is what I take to be a séance troubleshooter in the early twentieth century — has that sort of power, but it does! It also has the inferred religio-erotic character of this author’s own classic ‘The Aesthete Hagiographer’, and I can give it no bigger compliment. Mixing, too, concepts of the Annunciation, Swedenborg, Rubens, incarnation of the spirit, the Bible’s opening with LOGOS in the flesh, the struggle towards the parthenogenetic divinity of angelhood, possibly via the incubus process, with passing references to AE, to MR James, and to Yeatsian ‘slouching’ (those knowledgeable of Yeats’ canon will know what I mean by the latter)…
“That the greatest apotheosis must, of necessity, coexist with the greatest degradation.”
My previous reviews of this author: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/tag/derek-john/
THE CRUMBLING PAGEANT by Lynda E. Rucker
“It was the astronauts he couldn’t stop thinking about.”
Yeats himself thought things happened in cycles. Via the ‘thin spaces’ here we have a theme and variations on the cycle of the recently expressed Dead Astronauts syndrome (as born from Yeats poem The Second Coming, cf the ‘slouching’ in the previous John story). About our latest Yeatsian cycle of climatic emergency, I guess, here artfully disguised by a sort of modern soap opera of young people today, on holiday, near the Mississippi, with their smartphones and even smarter chat. One of them, a girl called Astrid studying Yeats. With Pictionary as an occult thinktank, as well as a fascist game?
My previous reviews of this author: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/tag/lynda-e-rucker/
SHADOWY WATERS by Reggie Oliver
“The chapel was, as I had expected, an aesthetically null brick box, as dismal inside as it was without.”
Not Null Immortalis so much as a blend of Gull Immortalis and Nell Immortalis, and when you read this Reggie Oliver classic you will know what I mean!
Yes, an engaging, eloquent and puckish classic, yet perhaps a little TOO puckish, satirical and undark for my taste, with its donkey sanctuary/crematorium and skits on the spiritualist or occult crowd. The Unitarian Church skit, though, seemed fair game.
A retired man, once actor then teacher, and after his wife dies, he goes to the funeral of an old flame called Nell in a seaside resort where he once consummated a relationship with her on the beach when much younger. Now caught up in conspiracies and eccentricities concerning her will. With sly references to Yeats titles, such as second coming and shadowy waters. But I, too, like Nell, often get confused about Jung and Yeats.
A fine meditation on the nature of nostalgia, too. A marquetry box to contrast with the brick one. And many other memorable moments, but I could have done without the melodramatic pre-finale denouement.
My previous reviews of this author: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/reggie-oliver/
Now linked to the above Reggie Oliver on my Synchronicity Rampant page: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2017/06/08/synchronicity-rampant/
In addition, I now remember there was a Reggie Oliver story in the Null Immortalis book depicted above!
This book ends with a non-fiction article about WBY by Nina Antonia, entitled ‘THE HOST IN THE AIR’: YEATS AND THE SIDHE. To call it non-fiction (a phenomenon I have always eschewed reviewing at all) makes me believe even more in the gestalt WBY poetry as truth. WBY by WBY. Endless years of Yeats’ yeast. I will leave you with the thought that this entrancing book lends itself to the aspiration of gestalt real-time reviewing itself as a magical process. Something I say with a smile. A pretence or a pretension.
And a smile brings us full circle to Weighell’s ‘bad teeth’!
Pingback: Synchronicity rampant… | The Des Lewis Gestalt Real-Time Reviews
Cross-referenced this book with William Trevor’s Caffè Daria: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2020/01/04/last-stories-william-trevor/#comment-17832
I think the answer is ‘gyres’.