10 thoughts on “Thin Places – Kay Chronister

  1. I read the first story in 2018, and below is what I wrote about it in its then context:



    “I shut my eyes and saw the veins snaking across your forehead, the veil slipping loose.”

    This is a story of veins (felt or seen as part of the unrequited young love exchange of near cousins, in Marseille and elsewhere): and veils (with a retrocausal birthline of vampiric death and a taking of the veil as a (sanguinary as bleeding?) nun that both resonate ironically with the earlier Tobler) and I counted several uses of ‘vein’ and ‘veil’ throughout the text, plus ‘half-veiled’ and ‘unveiled’. It is a lush Proustian work with tea and teacups and hyacinths instead of cattleyas, a work that I have relished as another epiphany. This work actually used the word “epiphany”, and I also feel my mouth sucking and probing words like “nascent” and “abject”. And it also made me want to pick up my copy of CLARISSA to reread it but I can only currently find PAMELA (volume two) and that sort of defeats my purpose. But who wrote which letters to whom, pretending to be who? I shall reread this story itself. It seems to be calling me. And is slightly shorter than CLARISSA.

    “a lifted vein”

  2. D693EC1A-C68C-4663-BEFC-679A2AA7A686

    A comment made by someone about an hour ago to my ‘Sand Keyboard’ Facebook memory post HERE has the joke about Polish Chopin’s relationship with a woman named George Sand.


    “Civilisation had no beauty any longer, he had told someone in a Viennese coffeehouse. He wanted to compose the wilderness.”

    This is a story that strongly appeals to me about music especially silent music à la Cage, so much so that I wonder whether I am going over the top in calling it a potential weird classic. It is about a composer like Zoltan Kodaly, with his assistant, searching distant Eastern European places about music with his recording equipment and notebook. The particular place in this story has the tone, for me, of some of the Midsommar rituals, but it is the silent songs from the mouths of women that gradually enchant and then entrammel him. Us, too. The rain and droughts are controlled by such rituals. From wet to desert, including an appropriate reference to Chopin. And storms of rain. Yesterday, I travelled to a concert in a named storm, to which I refer HERE in my review of it earlier today before reading this!

    “Even the wettest things had become perilously dry.”

  3. 47E4E44E-31ED-4462-8E04-DD4F7F32836B

    “When he swims across the river and Ana is submerged, she feels coldness but not wet. After months in the desert, shivering is unfamiliar and magnificent.”

    That seems in tune with the previous story, but unsure why. Maybe in that creative area between Aztec ”dust-streaked truths” and “velvet-clad Catholicism”, Ana, with her baby Sylvie, is escaping an estranged husband’s debtors, and needs to face out the Land of Death with the grudging help of a Coyote — thus summoning from literature (as this is) the shape-shifting exchange of life as a Nagual (‘nager’ being ‘to swim’ in at least one language, I suggest), exchanged for the otherwise everlasting act of dying, drowning. The crows as souls of great explorers or warriors, not their corpses, buoying up the feisty mother, the crows or crown of the undrowned. The Coyote says it has been “starving for a few eternities and getting no thinner.” Coyote as inadvertent float or buoy? So, with the brainstorming of your interpretative help, Ana is learning the rules of crossing the dead land and thus, against the odds, will pull this off? The story itself is a self-autonomous Nagual? The reader crossing its land, trying to learn its rules, the most important rules known only to the meaning of the story, even to a meaning beyond the story, beyond the reader, beyond any authorial or other predatory intention. Brainstorming can never end. The only way towards Null Immortalis.

  4. I read the next story only seven days ago, and below is my review in its then context…


    TOO LONELY, TOO WILD by Kay Chronister

    “, and if I opened the door she would be there waiting to become me.”

    Wonderfully, that could have been easily written by the woman narrator in the previous story. It is as if something magic is seeping through this book already. And that is not only blood, although it is now blood, too. A fountain of it inside a silk dress? This narrator is as silent in courting as she is in marriage. Mr Szabo is now here Mr Rishner. Both women escape, in the end, or so I hope, although here Mr Rishner and the narrator try for baby but he gets a coonhound called Baby instead. Slippery with enticingly styled meaning, this story is about a close community with a tradition of witches and such beliefs, the stoically withdrawn narrator precariously inheriting this tradition in face of another woman who she believes or fears is tantalisingly tantamount to being herself! All imbued with written records in family bibles, and what we might call superstitious methods to aid fertility and love, coins in clothes and nailed trees. Not stoically withdrawn after all, but wild?

    “No one goes halfway bewitched.”

  5. I reviewed the next story last March, and below is what I wrote in its then context…



    Need help? Those well-formed letters like typeface in a book.”

    A message to me, as well as Molly? As if I, too, do not know the difference between ‘ravish’ and ‘ravage’, should I read those old-fashioned romance novels she has been given. Molly who seems to work in a hotel in the heart of darkness and swamp, with a ‘mother’ who is really in charge but to whose room Molly holds the unique key. At first I believed this was some haunted enclave where normal guests sometimes turn up as if it is a real hotel, where Molly is being kept back from normal life beyond the swamp, a swamp that divides a Conradian heartland and the normal world. Until one realises with utter fright that there is no normality left to rescue you. Or, at least, that is my interpretation among the even more frightening realisation that it is one of many possible interpretations. Probably the least frightening interpretation I could have possibly made! Subsuming colours, the devious nature of words, suggested edibilities, alien invasion, shape-shifting, bodily cleaving (in both senses of the word ‘cleave’) and much more.


    “When I courted the Glaire woman I really courted the Glaire house,…”

    There is something dynastic or surrogate about the debt here that the men or their deputed sons have with the eponymous woman or her yearned-for daughter, or rather, her house, a house that increases a room at a timely time with each man it calls by assumed debt; it has bones in its walls, wallpaper to be peeled, “yellowed lengths of human femur…” A piano sulking in the corner, and much more to savour; this house is also prehensilely and preternaturally in mutual synergy with the wearable house in ‘The Quiet Forms of Belonging’ in a synchronous review of mine here. This story wraps me like my own bungalow house where I have lived marriage-long with my own beloved Glaire Woman (often said by her former pupils to have the severest unblinking teacherly face-stare in the world!)… The thing about this clinging and adroitly timely Chronister of a story is that it hauntingly represents a different bespoke life cycle for each reader who reads it…

    “The Glaire woman watched me solidly, stopping her stare only when she blinked.”


    “‘No,’ said Marigold, in a whisper that sounded more like yes.”

    “‘It seems wrong to bury her where she grew,’ Marigold whispered.”

    This is quite an astonishing story that grows alongside your ability to read it. Whether that is due to cause-and-effect or as-above-so-below synchronistery, I leave you to decide. Deadpan and almost Biblical in incantatory refrain, it tells of childbirth from all manner of seed groundlings and tendrils or vines and the odd items of mechanics and daily household food stuffs and domestic implements, created by some women in the various gables, and now they do this at the request of Marigold Hest, a stranger who has come up the road to the gabled house, where the women make their beds, even in the cellar, and, at one point the word ‘mangled’ turns up (wrung out, as if from a mangle, as well as being the ‘mangled’ of uglily twisted) and even mangled male readers like me can feel the pain of childbirth for themselves, perhaps beyond just vicariously? And also to feel the loss of a baby after such pain. This has some resonance with the previous Chronister story. Actually, today, this work is perhaps further deeply felt as I happened to read it on such a day as I also read a story by Toase here, and the type of Chronister baby-birth, for me, is a happenstance inverse of the Toase type of death as oldster-birth. But an inverse with similar ingredients. Seeds from the sepulchre, seeds back to the sepulchre. Ashes to seeds, seeds to ashes. “Soda ash” in the Chronister, and Todash, as I mentioned earlier in respect of the Toase.


    “The purewater man never came to Pryor before, but before we never had bones unearthed from fresh graves, never had ten mothers disappear within two months, never had demons in the woods.”

    There is something simply more than tantalising about this story; it is also equivocal about who is the behemoth as abomination and who is the gun-toting teenage girl hunting them to keep them at bay. Who is on the right or wrong side of the burn-line of Hell in the Holler to keep demons from entering Pryor community, sheriff or preacher, or their daughters? We think we get to know one of the girls and two sisters whom she hunts with. This book’s composite SynchronSister of ambivalence (nothing is black and white). Or a self-conscious storytelling that creates a new sort of Twin Peaks community as plagued by murders and now dogged by a neckful of rattling canines or a purewater Lynching party. Each holier than thou or more holistic than Holler. Blessed water holier. But the human throat is a hole that leads down to base organs, and does not reach heavenward heads up.
    Whatever is inside your head, nothing is completely black, nothing is completely white… and the greatest authors often create magic unintentionally. A purewater place beyond the thinnest attenuation.

    “Demons can’t speak aloud, but they can talk inside your head and tell you what they want you to know.”

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