58 thoughts on “Allus Cold by Matt Leyshon

  1. SCRATCHINGS by Matt Leyshon

    I remember the place of Leddenton from the Kollection’s Function Room, stuck in my ancient mind, and after pigging on pork scratchings in the pub George takes Eliza on a nature trail of foxes and badgers across the milkily moonlit fields. Reliving youthful excursions or simply tempting fate that their babe Maisie is needing feeding… Its head hanging low, not it’s head… like as if we’re in a DH Lawrence story, one consumed by a crazed version of Charles not Rupert Birkin? It was rabbits, not pigs, with the latter, I recall. Nasty conte cruel and suspenseful, all us cold.


    “The sudden anamnesis of split viscera sets his heart racing…”

    A chunner will probably mutter or murmur words and sometimes difficult looking words are often simpler or more common when inside his mind than when he first created them with his mouth. This getaway merchant for a band of rogues had to mouth off at an unexpected person in the house they were robbing, and ended up crushing her skull instead. And many other natural processes around Leddenton, like voles and rivers and water weed etc transcending even DH Lawrence … a whole “anoesis” with his mind as countryside and him come to be one. Until he is hung — at least in these evocatively sprinkly and biting and viscerally vitiated words telling us about it — from a noose on the old oak tree of his childhood in Leddenton. Astonishingly, I read a completely different story by Westlake but with similar ingredients, at least in what I listed in my review here, a story read an hour ago before I read this Leyshon, ingredients like the self-contained village, the Psycho getaway car, the pareidoliac oak, and the bodily encroaching of Nature as Gaia itself along with the words and the writing/reading mind that mutually created each other. The only thing missing is the cruise ship there and the skull here! Maybe the cruise ship’s coming later in this book? A good name for a ship: The Chunner or The Chunter? Doubt it though. Apophenia can only go so far. Thinking about it, does Mother Nature have a skull to shatter, anyway? Enough of my own chunnering, I guess!


    “…the overgrowth of nettles and tangled vines that leaked lurid white goo when he sliced into them… […] …the musty scent of nature unfettered…”

    Leyshon gets into an even more dark elation of his writerly stride, here now in a graveyard on the edge of Leddington (sic). The story of Kieran on community service for setting a wheelie bin alight, now having been given a scythe to clear up an overgrown graveyard, featuring a Murakami-Kafka cat that loiters there, the graveyard caretaker, the latter’s two granddaughters who often ‘play’ there, the George-Eliza piglet and later frogs that Kieran apparently and accidentally chops with his scythe, the small church, the almost prehensile stone headstones that combine Cthulhu with Kompoloi, I guess. And I will not give too much away, but there will remain little of the reader left with which to change his or her mind upon such literature as this. Suffice to say, I particularly appreciated the well-evoked oasis of calm that work in this graveyard provided, at least initially, for Kieran, bearing in mind his stressfully deprived existence typified by the all too common backstory wherein he has been brought up.


    “…and he sniffed into existence a gore map of the city.”

    A cruor-rich, word-powered portrait of Rail Track Jack on Christmas Day thirsting for blood — from whatever lies within the tracklines’ precinct of quiet on such a day — blood to be procured red from veiny quartz of living flesh, whatever or whoever might provide this feast. With a general preference of humanity over non-humanity but otherwise he has no other prejudices towards whence his Christmas dinner comes. His direction-finding orientations (sexual or otherwise) triangulated wherever the Central London lines took him. Today’s conscientious concern, moreover, for the value of his victim’s legacy felt to me most touching, especially when seen at the potential cost of his own.


    “Lawrence wore a netted marina…”

    An extremely well-written quality short story good enough to deck the selected stories volume of a William Trevor or a Somerset Maugham or a Graham Greene or a DH Lawrence or an Alasdair Gray or an O Henry. Well, I think so, see what you think. A story telling of Derek, a somehow paler version of the generation born from the Jamaican Windrush generation that once shipped to urban England, involved with the hard liquor business where moonshine helps the profits, with Derek going off to Jamaica for some rum do of a self-epiphany in interface with his heritage. A vision and word-drunken brain you will not forget thinking with. If not drinking with.


    “The name he heard reverberating through his body was Tsathoggua; it burrowed relentlessly up into him through the soles of his boots…”

    …became part of an eternal tinnitus, the cacophony or symphony of an ultra-gory battle in unglory — and hawled to the very soul of him, as Captain Hawker told strangers about it in a bar, amid the wastes in American History of Indians versus Custer and co. Depends what you think of Tsathoggua, whether this work is politically correct or not in our terms today. But that concern seems irrelevant when faced with this text that surely you will never forget – it is extremely powerful and you will not come out of it the same person as you went into it. Just as Hawker himself hid from danger inside his own dying horse. I can’t do justice to it here, Seriously. (And that last bit about the horse also reminded me that, about an hour ago, I read about the Trojan Horse in Murakami here).


    This intriguing and sometimes wildly visionary tale of a man investigating fracking possibilities in the Leddenton area. The woman he has met called Hannah, his would-be eponymous daughter as a young girl among tourists wanting claustrophobic epiphany, as seen by him through a crack by a cairn or mound of stones, the long or thin demon, and the noise of throbbing and humming, the spiritual vibration; the work’s whole ambience, in fact, is incredibly a wonderful theme-and-variations on the Murakami book I am currently reading and real-time reviewing. (As an aside Rupert Short mentioned here, and I mentioned Rupert Birkin above.)
    This story was first published in 2016 in a relatively rare magazine called Terror Tales. And the Murakami book was first published in Japan in Japanese in 2017. Translation 2018. The co-vibration of a literary gestalt I still seek.

  8. 4BEA2579-E27B-4382-A1B9-0803F14BEC83THE GROTESQUE BODY

    “Gary F. woke to find a grotesque body in his bed.”

    A very effective theme-and-variations on Kafka’s Metamorphosis, where Gary F’s near-death accident is so utterly near death, it leads not to imminent Rigor Mortis but what I call immanent Null Immortalis, an ever-becoming Zeno’s Paradox of eschatology, a proprioception creating a state of scatological ugliness as projected onto oneself, even to the extent of other people in one’s life becoming part of this process — which begs the question do these others (like you and me) experience Gary F’s process or anyone else’s as a dream or as reality?


    “…the only reason that any new customers came to his coffee shop nowadays was because they thought it was haunted.”

    Disregarding the undoubted quality so far of these stories, I also sense a preternatural force at work, too. It may of course be my imagination after eleven years of carrying out this book gestalt reviewing. But today this ghost story of a coffee shop and a man who is haunted by a shadow on its wall (at first in synergy with Gahan Wilson’s famous ‘spot’ story from Again, Dangerous Visions that has been so important in my life) have amazing resonances with my (earlier today) connections (here and here) to ‘The Dead Man’s Coffee’ read yesterday and the Murakami today (and the Guardian article today about coffee shops and mathematics)!


    “‘You just have to listen, not fade away,’ the voice says.”

    From Holly to Meek via the perfect circular sound — a sound that out-nirvanas nirvana, I guess. A remarkable story about disarmingly unmeek Joe competing in a series of Russian Roulette shows in a public betting and drinking club bar, blended with quantums of alternate worlds to decide the winner and the competitor left alive. One can actually feel the bullet entering your head, by reading this, assuming you end up in a different world, if only slightly different, to be able to remember that feeling. A tontine, towards that of a perfect telling star? Perhaps, but this is an equally ingenious conflux of inwardly mouthed words that goes into an overdrive: a wildly controlled text of scatology with much more than just Teddy Boy quiffs and quim cum: a living text that out-Azathoths Azathoth. Really!


    “The Waghorn’s home was like a poor kid dressed in hand-me-downs; nothing quite fitted and everything looked wrong.”

    Even at least two of the words in the architecture of the text are, without adequate planning permission, made to look wrong in their context: e.g. “discretely” and “peddled”… and “Waghorn’s” when repeated later also looks unsightly and out of keeping. The story of the Waghorn family in Leddenton, family members having Christian names named after some of the products they buy in the local grocery shop where Robin is the new proprietor. You will hardly credit how the descriptions here take over your mind with what I can only call a new genre: the Grotesque Grotesque. Seriousy ground-breaking. Allus stomach-turning. Robin is scatologically convulsed by his welcome to the town at the hands of the Waghorns.


    “There was a man walking ahead of him, and he thought it most likely that it was the man he had seen earlier walking through the sloping grounds of the villa towards the town.”

    Somerset Maugham-like evoked ambiance but to the ultimate bodily-contagion, blood-filamented power of, in this case, Jamaica, a white man convalescing from a heart attack with his wife in mosquito ridden villa, a sense of slave heritage guilt, language impenetrabilities around him from the smoking characters with layered or stuffed hair, white dusty visages as well as black, one a supposed security guard, a vast veiny prophylactic in a repurposed shipping container? Or a visionary description of a mis-convalescence erupting? Leyshon literariness containing ley-lines of dark wordy elation and bodily attrition together with choice veins of traditional horror.

  13. I reviewed the next story in January 2014 as follows, in its then context:


    The Amber Komboloi by Matt Leyshon
    “And no matter how so many of his other memories faded like the yellowing pages of an old book,…”
    A short piece that evokes a Greek Island setting, as the light-fingered (in a pilfering sense) protagonist seeks his mother from within the sounds and sights of that genius loci (as the man ‘seeking’ his father through clothes and the young woman copying an old book to preserve it: both leading to catharses earlier in this book) – reaching, as it now does here, some catharsis for himself similar to that in the caves of EM Forster’s ‘Passage to India’, now a Passage to Greece and one’s own root cause, here being a differently light-fingered loudening rattle of worry-beads mixing with an atonal symphonic ‘dying fall’ of another Greek cave catharsis of his mother and, I infer, his father as they created him… Seems appropriate as I was given yesterday for my birthday a CD of atonal music by the Greek composer Xenakis, including ‘Aïs’ that I first heard at a London prom, in company with my own son, in the 1980s.
    This fiction work has persuaded me to seek out more by this author.



    “Politicians had said that cities like R’lyeh would drown under waves of asylum seekers and illegal immigrants if they did not protect themselves. Evoked by the fears of the people walls had begun to lurch upwards everywhere like buried and forgotten stone circles being released from the land’s suppressed memories by the workman’s picks and their shovels piercing the earth’s skull.”

    A very powerful story first published in 2011 and I could not believe that this story had not been written after 2016, as it has the pervasion of that later Trump-Brexit era. With other fears and mixed nightmares or mirages of immigrants and foreign religions, and much more, through the eyes of the indigenous once family men portrayed here. The delirium is tangible, as are the chemical metaphors and toxic pools of what has grown up alongside the walls, walls that merge with the ground. At the end, they drink like dead astronauts, I guess, at the very Lovecraftian or broken-Gaia toxicity they once feared, now in paradoxical hope of similar nightmares as the foreigners. As we ourselves shall drink from the Brexit holding pools this coming Friday 31st January. It was as if the story’s ending was prophetically written specifically for that moment.


    “They had departed from San Francisco on 8 July 1879 aboard the USS Jeanette for the polar tropics. The oaks had immediately crossed the lane and the winter would be little more than a ditch, worn by their passing.”

    I quote the opening of this story to demonstrate the undoubted literary skill of this author: the deeper you go into his prose, and it is all like this, the more that blooms into meaning. And this work – wow! – is an apotheosis of the darkly word-textured elations of Leyshon from “Mount Lycaeum” to today’s ironic “dark January.” That ironic Allus Cold? A tale of a shipwreck in Siberia and what the Captain meets there, his being in one of possibly two lifeboats that made it to shore. The visionary epiphany of beast and perhaps too too temperate climate is that of a new Algernon Blackwood, mixed with DH Lawrence, Ted Hughes, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and much more that is unique. Can you tell that I think this author’s work is a major discovery in Weird Literature? Many of you, though, might have discovered his work already. And I am not yet even halfway through this collection!


    A “crushing nullification” or Null Immortalis? “…a veil of fish scales” “a stench of putrid carrion”

    Near, like this story’s, a pier with its own funland, I took this photo of a tower, also near the beach, a week or so ago. I actually pass it on a walk each week with a regular companion, and I have often mentioned to him this tower’s potential prayer boosting powers for those who might believe in prayers, because of the device you can see slowly twirling at the top. But to which God or Meccanical? I just noticed that the people in this text with British names depend on their spliffs, whilst the Asian in the next door flat on Allah. Allus Allah? Again, this is a truly amazing work. Will such works ever end? And the creature in it. Is it a tench, I ask? Wellsian Mad Scientist or Spiritual Genius? An engine powered by those prayer beads or amber vials? Convulsion or Epiphany?

    “…a Petra [Petri?] dish of viral immorality and nothing else.”

    “…he eyed the cast steel tower from the empty beach…”

  17. 759E7A42-59F7-4BA5-88CE-C349A42E7712 THE MANOR BY THE MIRE

    “filled by gigantic bookcases filled”

    Perhaps the first false step in this otherwise (so far) magnificent Weird Literature collection. A sometimes enjoyable sort of secret room cartographic game with Leddington, R’lyeh, Venice, Telford and the trompe-l’oeils of the eponymous Manor House, satirically factored into a difficult marriage, social envy, old school backslapping, possible misogyny, with a mire of info-dump.


    “Wolf Solent was a bell; two in dull gees.”

    Wolf Solent is also a novel by John Cowper Powys whose question, “Is it a tench?”, from The Glastonbury Romance, I surreptitiously quoted earlier in this review in connection with The Jannah Generator. And there are hidden messages all over this three pager, codes and references, a blend of John Cowper Powys, plus Nursery Rhymes, Finnegans Wake, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Ted Hughes, DH Lawrence, and much more I’ve missed seeing – and even stuff that keeps appearing for the first time when I recurrently look back at the text!

    My other quotes from Powys’s Glastonbury Romance: https://weirdtongue.wordpress.com/quotations-from-the-glastonbury-romance-by-john-cowper-powys/ and my real time review of Joyce’s Finnegans Wake: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2014/02/05/finnegans-wake-james-joyce/


    I have often admitted that one of my failings is the inability to enjoy or interpret elided text that is meant to represent an otherwise meaningful dialect, and this is four pages solid of such elisions. I recognise several words like Leddenton and archaisms that I recognise but it defeats me. I invite anyone to add a sub-comment below as a critique or explanation of this work. I felt much more at home with the My Myth Hole of Cheese. (I suspect, meanwhile, it was meant to be called Th’ Knap Witch.)

  20. ….and Dorset was where the John Cowper Powys fiction canon centred, and, perhaps inadvertently, the The Funk Root in particular is, for me, the ultimate: a creatively and wildly mad apotheosis of Powys texts…

    45FE01A7-A265-4A55-8F1A-AD4AE595CD65 THE FUNK ROOT

    “I’m here for the Golden Sphere.”

    And, in recent days I have deemed this quest as one for my Golden Area (some may call it a Golden Section or Golden Mean) at my current life-cusp of confusion and clarity, and so this important book has come at precisely the optimum moment for me, if not the world, where the orange glow in this story has become, in my eyes, a corona with spikes, a Null Immortalis … maybe just a temporary warning-shot hopefully. At the optimum moment, yes, when I need my second childhood’s dummy, a ‘funk root’ to keep my mind chewing, and what a perfect expression for it! This story of Brady beset by a prehensile virus where things and people take part in (or are taken apart by) a tangible or tactile synaesthesia of the world around them. Things as well as creatures in free rein, “The sky outside is a blank television scream”, a media madness as well as a spiritual one, tangerine dreams, and imbuing on today’s Imbolc by old black and white photographs as on the book’s cover. Stalkers, too, masquerading as previous loved ones. A story not for the non-adult nor the squeamish! It continues to coruscate, even as I speak. Bring me the amber vials.


    Whether I am to blame by being in the wrong mood for such stuff, I really could not get on with this seemingly gratuitous tale of vegetal sexual rituals. In fact, I could not finish it. I did recognise the admirable Leyshon word-texture but this time it did not seem to come together.


    A fine rhyming and assonant Swinburnean poem, where, despite her spell upon me with, inter alia, “A mouth of horror and strange seabirds”, I try to echo her, so that “Golden wheels turn in nests of basement-grey hair.”

  23. ‘: a living text that out-Azathoths Azathoth. Really!’ – from my review above…and now we have that apotheosis, I guess, one that out-apotheosises apotheosis itself, out-apotheosises even where I had Azathoth sitting at the centre of Chaos, the Chaos of Earth, sitting at the Earth’s core in ‘Nemonymous Night’ where our consciousness of time itself is contracted to its own core, I guess. This story seems to have been published before that novel.


    This story is beyond even my own concepts of Tench and Time, but the dark eels spewed forth give random clues, as we follow a random petty thief who delves into pilfering watches and a watchmaker’s notebook, where we reach what I would consider to be the masterpiece of Azathoth. Those of you who come to this book as a result of my high literary references, will need to hold noses as you read this, until even you are swayed by its sheer (albeit horror melodramatic) power. Conceits of time herein should keep your brain satisfied at least. Beyond even “chat show repeats on a jammed television.” Seriously, though, a great work.

  24. ‘Nowhere in Shakespeare’s plays are two more sharply contrasted characters than Ariel and Caliban. Both are equally preternatural; Ariel is the air spirit, Caliban the earth spirit.’
    And Ariel was also said to be the name of The Little Mermaid…
    And the rightful Duke was Prospero…
    And such implications, like dodging a tempest’s initial or latent raindrops with alcohol in the belly of man, and other implications, too numerous to count, radiate on, some true, some false, or all true and none false, or all false and none true, in…


    “The fish face that sometimes found its way onto his father’s head…”

    Who would call a son Duke? Duke’s father did! They are off on one of their coastal holidays in Dorset, the mother having long left the drunken sot of a husband. The contempt that Duke, the son, has for the fags and tinnies his father wields in the caravan campsite is unmistakeably etched. I have met men like Duke’s Dad, and this character rings utterly true. Even Tench is too good a word for this the father. Duke’s scene witnessing a final denigration in the cave at the end with the paid and laid mermaid, is so utterly powerful, I shall leave you to read it and approach it cold, if, hopefully, not wet. Dry like the wall they camped beside. Another significant read.


    “People are free, what they want is more control.”

    Published in 2008, this is a wild Lovecraftian vision with a newly risen Cthulhu referred to as ‘She’ but I also recognise elements that have come true. People without choices, being easier to govern. The ‘Dunwich scrying glass’ is inherited from America, through which a orange hue tainted the Prime Minister. And “…big projects should always be quoted in billions.” And the Prime Minister, “his hair felt alive as if he was brimming with static electricity.” And the ‘Targeted Electromagnetic Revilers’: Remainers or Leavers, I wonder!


    “; oil was one of the first fossil fuels on Earth thought to have totally expired, so consequently its re-emergence had been curious.”

    From Britain to Ritain, Arabia to Irabia.. A story first published in 2012, it is expressed, like its own plotting of ‘humanoid nocturnal emissions’, in what I have now grown accustomed to think of as Lexic Levels of Leyshonage, here flowing into the holding pools of this work’s own flowingly sown and foul silage. A far future dying or dead earth revisited by an ambiance of dead or living astronauts, complete with references to Dream Readers, molten DNA, word Squid, “a backdrop as deeply shadowed as a woodcutting.” Matchless prose and concepts, as ever. The ultimate Rorschach blot left by Climate Change? Who says the Jungian Collective Unconscious does not work?


    “‘In Ancient Egypt, when a family cat died, the family would remove their eyebrows as a sign of mourning,’ she whispered into his ear.”

    Without fear of demur, this is the most reprehensible story you are ever likely to read. And thus it should be even more famous than Courbet’s Origin of the World. Yet, with its ends possibly justifying its means, the sting of capital punishment for its author is taken out of its tail. Otherwise, a story of pussy cats and cunts, arse for arse. And meantime just let a man’s horsecock go hang! Seriously outrageous. With a literary undercurrent of fabled nous. For the grace of God.


    “Everything I touched became a vanishing perspective of the road.”

    Is he walking or driving? Towards a house where his books have been sent ahead to? A hero in Aickman towards some hospice or Mannish sanatorium? Or is it Aickman blended with John Cowper Powys and Lord Dunsany? Yes, yes, yes. (“‘Yes, I’m allus cold,’ he said, ‘in this strangely beautiful country.’”) Poetic and beautiful, about a Lawrencian journey featuring things non-understandable that a sensitive reader will nevertheless instinctively understand — a journey transcending yesterday’s literally fabulous reprehensibility and outrage of body parts. Towards a boy he once was? Or still is? I keep mentioning Leyshon in connection, yes, in mere untouching connection, with the names of other (variously stylistically and substantially diverse) authors, perhaps by dint of some Collective Unconscious, but there is always a unique Leyshonage of soul underpinning such academic or spiritual cross-references. Here this untouchable underpinning comes to the fore in full fruition, I say. And what is the importance of the sixtystone? And other constructive imponderables here?

    “We were a connection, an odd volume absorbed in the odd mixture of fact and caught by the heading of a chapter.”


    “A nervous tench scum of sweat films his brow.”

    I knew that the impossible sexual tension — and my premonition of what the question would be — might prove too much to keep secret further into this book! I once kept thinking that the extrapolations of inspiration could never grow exponentially, and that they would tail off by the end. No such already fulfilled premonition is now possible as many more premonitions become fulfillable. There is no ultimate apotheosis, I now realise. All is open for once-impossible extension. Here a once-considered-impossible projection of, say, Misery of Mermaids and Courbet’s 19th century Origin of the World towards a multi-faceted sexuality offered in fish-girl tanks, a Mad Scientist, not mad at all perhaps, thus providing a brothel of glandular satisfaction even to the extent that a back-passage — here it is the story of the draughtsman’s back passage — can act as YOUR Trojan Horse to escape into (or, even, from) some reality that you cannot otherwise readily conceptualise (nor conceptualise the nature of your influence, good or bad, whether entry or exit, upon that reality) without submitting yourself wholeheartedly to this book and being thus incubated. Well, some such thoughts do go through your mind as you read this.


    “, and snotty as a tench.”

    This is Leyshon where “his imagination preceded him.” A seaside resort and pier where “the heavy odour of sea life hung in the air like brothel laundry.” A portrait of a dreadful pusher of drugs called Apache and of other drug takers, one of which drugs is called Dagon. A portrait that is only exceeded by the utter explosion of dreadfulness and gunk at the end (a forensically-foul textual phenomenon that only Leyshon can manage in the realms of the horror genre, I truly believe). An eruption of awfulness that I fear Ciara threatens hereabouts. Indeed I plan to work hard at Leyshon works today and tomorrow, not only to outwit any Corona of Ciara, by finishing my review before Hell breaks loose, but also to experience an extended and condensed spate of this writer’s type of texts in one relative go.

    “, a gushing torrent of fizzing amber foam and gut acids…”


    “…they watched the angry waves and bucking white horses as they shovelled mushy peas into their hungry mouths.”

    A story of a man whose self-respect centres on his academic qualifications and curating studies in music and local folklore songs. When determined to prove a student wrong about the existence of a song he had not heard of, he travels from Manchester to Dorset’s Portland and back again complete with another of this book’s hagstones. DCE9D1B9-8099-4AAA-80FE-E6A81BE1BB55 This one from Chesil Beach. The repercussions are pure Leyshon — complete with a rancid clench of smells and a dire propinquity to a mermaid in the oddest coffee shop in Manchester. And much more of a musical ‘dying fall’ quality…

    “…the creeping salt waters and looked to the golden thread of light stretched across the horizon.”


    “Deep in Dessy’s Wood…”

    …there are three figures, Earthrid, Spooky Suze and Feltcher, three people evocatively described in a painterly fashion as are their ritualised summonings of visions in Lovecraftian dissplendour or splendour, depending on your own vantage point — three personalised visions for each of them. Complete with riven black-horse seas and equally riven roads and buildings. Apocalyptic fission. The only way for anyone else to describe this text is as being Leyshone-upon. Nothing I can say will do justice to the rituals or their resultant visions. Aptly today, a blend of John GALE (a stylistic kindred-spirit of Leyshon?) and of Ron Weighell (Weighing Hell) underpinning the Leyshone-upon uniqueness. And would-be healing of us all. [Judging by both the contents list and publishing history, this should be entitled ‘Paynim Agaric Nightmares.’]

    My previous reviews of John Gale:
    https://nullimmortalis.wordpress.com/2011/07/01/allurements-of-cabochon-by-john-gale/ and https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/tag/john-gale/
    And of Ron Weighell:

  33. 262ADD61-7988-43E5-86ED-EE060BDB4FC3 TRANSMISSION

    “Government spin is like an opiate; it dulls the senses and destroys thought processes.”

    – [ ] …as we found out with Brexit! This is a page-turner and teaser (and the tease at the end is worth waiting for!) in a relatively straightforward narrative style, starting with a Ligottian Corporate Horror atmosphere, satirically telling of a civil servant employed to garner statistics to help Government spin about postcode lotteries in Health. He finds nine postcodes countrywide where there had been no cancer deaths and tries to find a link between them, as helped by mysterious messages as interference on radio broadcasts. 618FE9FD-9C97-4C97-886F-260AC564365D
    – [ ] I did not mind the teasing, as there was at least one moment in this story that helped me understand better the power I have found in the linkages uncovered by the process of gestalt real-time reviewing books. It is as if I was simply meant to be, meant to stay whatever the dangers of global climate or virulent disease and I am thus preserved to SURVIve VIRUS and whatever else is thrown at me just to do this uniquely invented job of book reviewing….

    “…losing their race against the take-away wrappers and snack packets racing along the pavements in the wind.”


    “He sensed Her dreadful proximity and quakes in awe as he foresaw the great waves that would wash the human race into oblivion.”

    There seems some instinctive assonance with the name of the modern woman here called Ceran and the name Ciara (even Corona!), and some connection also to Cthulhu to whom this book again refers as SHE. This, alongside the above quote, is a powerful message of synchronicity for me at least today, and that is enough for me !
    I was otherwise a bit confused. Yet this story has the rich Leyshonage of prose style again, telling of Ceran – about to collect her small son from school – keeps seeing her own image in what is being broadcast on her TV, much as those radio messages appeared in the previous story. There is some linkage between Ceran and the Cthulhu being summoned by an acolyte in Iran /Persia by the Caspian (yes, that style of word again!) Sea, because, having lost his master, he has been left the responsibility of forging some ritual with the use of screens and other equipment in a cave, but he forgets to “place the red jelly of anemones over his eyes as the ancients had instructed and the Necronomicon described.” I dread to think what that might portend!


    “It was a word virus that spread through the trees and fields…”

    A tarramadiddle of a tale, a hokum of a long lost village and the ability of the inhabitants to change their faces so as to escape Pan. The foolhardy investigator of this village ended up wishing he hadn’t investigated it at all – nor do I myself wish that I had foolhardily found ‘Pan’ inveigled into a story-title above when it shouldn’t have been! And agaric was in both.


    “Well, I’m not mad. That much I do know.”

    A double play on the expression ‘bad egg’, this is another, longer, tarramadiddle of a tale to match the Pan one with echoes of a curse in taking some things away like the earlier stone from Chesil Beach. Here a bird’s egg that his mother once took as a child. Paul, a bad egg at least to some he once let down in Manchester by leaving there, returns there to visit his mother after several years. She appears to be suffering from a severe case of paranoia, telling him about her roof tiles being stolen, feathers being found in the bath, and surveillance by tree surgeons. The end is arguably another tease to match that in Transmission, two makes needing an unmake to make sense, I guess.

  37. 233A646A-E5FF-46D8-ABCF-F740600B9F21

    “One balmy winter a stranger had shrieked through their letterbox that in 1897 Jarry had painted the factory green and rode through tracheas on a bigwig before being drafted into the arse.”

    Like that drafted into the arse draughtsman living life with the notochords! Here we have Père Ubu, the ultimate father (“reminiscent of Father emerging stung from a hive”) but not with his Dorset dialect mentioned above. No dialect here, indeed, as we have a miraculous theme and variations upon Mallory, his son, being a doorstop with a doll, who’d rather die than drizzle, or was that vice versa? I use the word ‘miraculous’ advisedly, as this stream of Joycean stuff – no, no, no, it is not Joycean, it is much much better than Joycean but equally Joycean, too. It is miraculously engaging to read as well as instinctively meaningful, despite the overt absurdity of similes and metaphors as if by André Breton. IT WORKS, somehow. A hole UNDER a wardrobe, too, and not through its back, to a Dantean scene worthy of filming by Fritz Lang. So much more I COULD tell you about this work, but I am fast running out of time! [Father not filth, so much, as a policeman? — a question gratuitous on my part.]

    “…the ceiling drifted below them like a storm cloud.”

  38. This book’s coda –


    “—The wind mouthed something incomprehensible…”

    A beautiful, haunting story, Leyshone-upon here with limpid clarity but blurred innuendo upon Lukundoo, connecting, I infer, Arthur Machen and Edward Lucas White. And linking, too, with the author’s personal life, where his wife’s heavy handedness with the food measuring inadvertently evokes a real road milestone that brings us to a house from White’s fiction and the Fosse Way (“a thread of light that separates the land from the sky”) and Warminster area (recently I received in the same post through the door a letter from someone who referred to the War Minister John Profumo and a postcard from someone else telling us of their change of address to one in Warminster) – and from Hodgson’s Hog to an upturned Land Rover, we follow a maze of truth to the ending…a hill of dreams, not beans. Delightfully gentle. With figures from literature coming to life.

    “…but you will surely be thinking that the connections that I am making here are spurious.”

    But it is miraculous what luck can do. This book is not lucky, though. It is simply miraculous.


    • 80F810FC-CFCC-4A4D-B93D-19DD4B3B9C9F8D86D877-EE3F-4EC7-B619-9F0A7BC129BB

      And fortuitously received today — before the storm Ciara, or the virus Corona, arrive — was this limited edition booklet. Crammed with this author’s black and white photos that are perfectly up my street of sea and carcass, all already late-labelled, as a setting for a Leyshon prose poem called the Sea Witch that contains, like the similarly entitled poem I reviewed above, the Mother of Beetles.

      “; a fish mouth of horror.”

  39. Pingback: My Best of 2020 | The Des Lewis Gestalt Real-Time Reviews

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