FEATHER: Tales of Isolation and Descent — David Rix

Eibonvale Press 2012

My previous reviews of DAVID RIX: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/tag/david-rix/ and this publisher: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/eibonvale-press/

Introduction by Alexander Zelenyj

When I read this book, Covfefe permitting, my thoughts will appear in the comment stream below…

59 thoughts on “FEATHER: Tales of Isolation and Descent — David Rix

  1. Is this the same Feather whom I first met here? —

    FOREWORD: The Tiny Window on River Street

    “I think the above.  I see, smell, taste, touch, feel the above – but I don’t write it down.”

    “Who can tell?  Certainly not you, reading this.”

    “ – putting on a performance.  Being trapped in negativity.”

    “It’s funny but when someone else is reading what you have written, everything seems different.  And much more confusing.”

    I look through an otherwise blank wall’s small frosted window of this book, while imagining I am situated in a genius loci identical, I guess, to the genius loci created by the blast I had reading such a genius loci that (for me) has derived from an earlier (but really, for the author, a later?) book…
    What I see today, though, through that window of opportunity of the potentially shocking in the empty room of a household’s intense lockdown bubble and what the protagonist sees there may differ, but I am fascinated enough to follow the path of this book, to follow its protagonist who has a sister as sounding-board and a now distanced ‘ex’, an ‘ex’ who did not seem to see eye to eye, as I hope I do, with him as a protagonist. Inferences about (and pregnancies of) meaning and about (and of) a new born, before or after real-time’s fiction flash or blast scatters either the meaning or the new born or both?



    “There is sea all round as I walk slowly along – land back me, seabeach before me –“

    “It was a pointless gate because there was no fence for it to let you through and she simply walked around it,…”

    Well, I am now even more captivated, as if once through such a gate you can never pass back. No way round it. I am now in a genius loci more in keeping with my own stamping ground by the sea. I am a beachcomber as well as a reader of books, an amateur photographer, too. There are photos in this book. And I guess this is where Feather lived as a mid-teenager, before the previous chapter began. Before she became the appealing Feather as depicted by Alexander Zelenyj so miraculously in this book’s introduction earlier, an introduction I actually read before reading the whole book, as is not usually my wont do. I think I was somehow misled through a previous gate or frosted window? Or the fact that Zelenyj himself has irresistible writing. Anyway, we follow Feather near the coastal power station (a measured Sizewell?) and the wild cottage where she lives with her ‘hippy’ father who paints surreally. Some sort of fugitive? Or some sort of abusive relationship? Perhaps it will always be unclear, once through the gate of this book? But above all, the mushrooms. DO please read the descriptions of the mushrooms. This inferred fugitive lockdown seems to me somehow like Alice’s stewpot in Lessing’s ‘The Good Terrorist’ HERE? And how all of us feel today 8 years after this book was published. I wonder how I have managed to avoid reading this Rix book for so long?

    So far in this chapter, I have read up to –
    “Her father’s exasperated shout faded behind her.”
    Measuring out this book. Being measured, as I hope I always am. A Measuring Man.

    • 9604F979-1FBF-47CE-BE5B-AB47162FE119 “The feeling that nobody knew that she existed or cared.  The feeling that she was as alone as it was possible to be.”

      This is astonishing material, shocking, even, and I do not say that lightly. It has all the power with which I was impressed when reading this author’s ‘A Blast of Hunters’ last year HERE. Feather rawly naked and in extremis in and around the coastal power station after visiting a windmill museum, even while seemingly she is demonstrating what I have long called ‘The Tenacity of Feathers’ (please google “tenacity of feathers” – and repeat the search with the omitted results included – for further info.) I will not spoil the effect by itemising the plot or the environs that she negotiates and her thoughts about her father. (Father/ Feather)
      I was particularly interested, meanwhile, in the Amanita Virosa, the latter half of that mushroom’s name, I think, meaning foully smelling.

      “But whatever it was, she realised that she had driven a knife deep between the past and the future.”

      The lethal hinge of time we all suffer at the moment? A virus that protects your sense of smell?

      “to dream of mushrooms and windmills”

      “What do you have to do to get rid of memories?  You couldn’t forget them – that didn’t seem to be happening.”

      I have the answer to that. Old age.

      Why a lot of things?”

      I have now read up to:
      “, then she slowly turned and headed back into the trees.”

      Shown to the right — my photographs used on a book in 2010 of the ‘windmills’ that had then just been built; I distantly watched their building process along the coast where I was born (and have again lived beside for the last 25 years).

  3. “The first thing she noticed when she arrived home was the smell.”

    Feather and Father again, and I now know why this chapter has its title of YELLOW EYES. A Father who has made a mistake, has allowed a loophole to open their bubble up to the ‘contamination’, and he speaks with illness’s delirium. Of me, the measuring man, measuring being a form of, I guess, gestalt real-time reviewing. Feather, meanwhile, tries to make sense of her own backstory, why they are here, in the middle of nowhere near the coastal power station, after her rite of passage by dint of kicking against two pricks not one, the backstories ‘running’ away from her as they do from the measuring man, who has to become a running man himself to keep up with the plot without spoiling it.
    Father’s paintings reminding me of the Leonora Carrington-like paintings recently in The Wise Friend, and the more rudimentary spray-paintings in ‘The Good Terrorist’ previously mentioned above… “the kitchen, where the pot of mushroom stew still sat on the stove, ornamented with small tufts of mould.”
    And there are those who now hustle her from the house and its contamination, this breaking all our similar lockdowns? … I have now read up to the end of this chapter. No spoilers here. Simply a measured appreciation.

    “What’s the point of hiding if you don’t know what you are hiding from?  Tell me . . .”

  4. I wrote the entry below yesterday but it seems I forgot to post it (or posted it somewhere else by mistake)!


    “This was a classic seaside town beach.  Shingle and gravel sloped down to a dark grey sea under a dark grey sky – the strand line littered with seaweed and shells, bits of rubbish and fragments of wood.”

    That passage encapsulates where I spend a lot of my time over the years, most days, but more sporadically during the recent lockdown. And its following few passages are exquisitely similar to my own environs. Then, a wine-bibbing character called Jimmy discovering on the beach the one whom I take to be this book’s eponymous Feather…

    Read up to: “Three cheers for the Red.” And an italicised prophecy of today’s co-vivid dreaming and “…childhood seems nothing more than another dream –“

    • “Human beings had the right to smell.”

      Jimmy — with, inter alia, his ‘World Cage’ and his ghost writing and his thunderegg and his sense of wondering how he had ended up ‘owning’ this waif and stray (our Feather?) — reminds me strangely and strongly of a parallel but fundamentally different situation vis à vis the narrator in the brilliant WALKING HORATIO being concurrently read and reviewed HERE.

      I have, in FEATHER, now read up to…

      “He yawned hugely.
      Aaaahh those times – those strange slow times.  You sit in your house wondering what to do.  But you can’t settle down to anything.  You are reluctant to go out (What is there outside?) but you can’t find anything to do indoors either except watch the clock and let your mind run loose.  While your guest still sleeps.”

    • “She did not hate me – because she also was an outcast. […] – and sending flashes of colour for the first time through the whiteness – flashes of a deep and wonderful red.”

      Red wine, too. The description of the incipient indoors contact between Jimmy and Feather is beautiful, limpid, perfect, I have to say. As is his ‘World Cage’, but also a less limpid, clotted version of our world today (see quote below)? In a work first published in 2012! Writ by a ghost writer who is the source writer himself?

      Read up to:
      “I made it because I hate the world and everything in it.  Because I would love to see the whole fucking thing fall into ruin.  But above all because I wish more than anything that it was at a safe distance and somewhere far away from me.”

    • “‘I don’t have many guests here – so welcome.’
      There was a moment of silence, both staring at the sombre figure.  The world cage,…”

      There is something of today’s ‘bubble’ here, from the “red-dregged” to the white of snow. Feather as an apotheosis for Jimmy, an unfurling of his soul as she adds all her clothes to the World Cage art installation or scientific contraption or complex spiritual icon, stripping both Feather and Jimmy effectively to their nubs. And from nubs there can unfurl tenaciously feathered wings?… amid such intense visionary material in prose and scraps of other material and personal writings all of which somehow combine all our stories, all our fictions, a sort of universal dabbling with diabelli, as I can now see it…A bubble or a declared enclave amid inimical onsets, an enclave of two for more than one season but eventually a staging post or way station for at least our heroine…the one with a singular angelic harper’s dark nest…

      “- yes, all got one.  Well – half of us have.  The human flower.  Soft and warm and hungry.  As parts of the anatomy goes, it is really really quite fun.”

      Read to the end of THE ANGELS.

  5. E9BE6A9E-C9DE-4D67-A7A4-BB5907FBABA1


    Read up to…
    “‘Who are you toasting?’ she asked, her accent hard-edged and almost harsh, but very engaging.
    Richard gave a dark chuckle.  ‘Just the demon of a broken heart,’ he said.”

    A change of gear, a change of place, a change of time – a cocktail bar, probably in yesterday’s future, with much talk by men about broken hearts, the science of higher physics and a possible ‘get even higher’ nostrum deal involving a bank transfer, all amid the “– bizarre yellow and black furnishings –“ and I stop reading just at the enticing and tantalising moment when someone called Feather enters this bar…

  6. Pingback: Yellow in the Poppy Bush | THE DES LEWIS GESTALT REAL-TIME REVIEWS

  7. “…one way to take control of your dreams is to make a habit of trying to put your hand through something solid.”

    Touch wood.

    We learn more about the characters, and Feather’s recent pilgrimage to, for her, a strange contrast in a city ambiance where this bar is situated. What are they drinking in addition to rakija? We nostrums know who imbibe us but do they know what nostrums they actually imbibe, I ask.

    “Then we might as well make up our own superstitions,” she murmured.

    These are passages about the solidity of various surfaces, with an undercurrent of Socratic dialogues regarding higher physics. I sense Rix as author has a cosmic physics rictus in his work from time to time. A need to spread belief systems out for scrutiny…

    “Or does it matter, if it is all just a void?  Perhaps you would rather a slice of this wooden table instead?”

    And we appear now to be in Camden Town, where such talk often happens, I once gathered years ago in Chalk Farm.

    “There was something soothing about it,..” — a soothing something in such an urban setting for Feather, and something Machensque, too?…with my having now read up to:
    “Željka’s presence was adding a small glow to the clustering buildings and narrow streets.”

  8. “It smelled nothing like any drink he had ever encountered before.”

    Our nostrums scented… explained
    Depiction of an idealised relationship not only broken in itself but one’s self broken too as a result. One’s Ex shat flower petals, you see… a scent not a smell. But today the broken self as one of two new characters for this book, testing the water of a relationship…amid a miraculously conjured genius-loci of Camden Town at that time… soon to become the archetypal sense of place following Covid? Without any dreads except hair…

    “Pink died hair, blacks under dreads – black leather and shabby street clothes.  Gothic prancing or post-anime cosplay toned down just enough for street use.”

    And Chinese hovering over huge woks….

    Read up to “This stuff is precious.”

  9. “Instantly there was a flash of colour in his eyes and a small but specific pain in his head – and he felt a chill at the back of his neck, feeling as though something very alien was happening.”

    Made him cough, too. Twice.
    This amazing nostrum or medicine….this nostrum’s gestalt. My word, nostrum, not explicitly the book’s. We need it today, I guess.
    Mark suddenly thinks more about Feather, the almost alien woman whom Richard shows to the expli-city in the shape of Camden, like also showing someone an alien place. As if Mark needs, like the reader, to retake stock after concentrating for a while on Željka.

    Read up to:
    “The nearby Chalk Farm Road seemed to have fallen silent and he wondered why.”

  10. “He paused, realising then why he could hear no cars.  There weren’t any.”

    The scenes here are a perfect prophecy, in this book of 2012, of today’s co-vivid dreams and how I have incrementally experienced them and still do, our nostrum medicine, and how I imagine YOU must experience them, being tormented, taunted, fazed, maddened, pleasured, wishes fulfilled …please tell me that I am right … the huge floating blue creature in the sky being as if to be carved while still alive for cooking by those below in Camden, if not Wuhan, market? It also resonated perfectly with the hot air balloons that I just read about half an hour ago in the concurrent Horatio book HERE.

    Read up to…
    “This means I am dreaming.  Of course I am bloody dreaming.  Take control of your dreams, Matherson had said.  Mark didn’t feel in control at all though.”

    • “fences feel embarrassed, realising their ultimate pointlessness – and they make way for lovers with deference.” Fence/deference

      “…’Touch wood,’ out of habit, jabbing at a passing fence.  When his finger went straight into the wood with barely any resistance,…”

  11. He puts he hand through metal & wood & stone …. or all three blended like Diabelli’s ULO?

    This book is such that I often can read it only in small doses! It somehow means too much in one go.

    “Just a dream just a dream just a dream.  Just a dream just a dream – will wake up again and the world would be just as it should be.  Just keep remembering that.  Just a dream just a dream just a . . .”

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  13. “All that happened though was that it spat him out into a small open area where huge statues reared up.”

    The statue scene is also emblematic of today. And I hope I’m not repeating myself when I cite this Dream Sickness being part of The Dream Sickness radiating in both Nemonymous Night and cOvid, as three preternaturally mutual synergies, ignorant of each other till real-time time today,,,
    Meanwhile, Mark wakes tantalisingly to the tenacity of Feather, not Željka, as I read up to the end of TOUCH WOOD, all those ULO substances now unable to be touched but somehow penetrated, perhaps made of no substances at all, not even nostrum drinks…


    Part 1: The Bird Caller

    “In its intense wild isolation, Dartmoor could make any human emotion seem small and needless.

    Elizabeth Ise (or Elizabeth Eyes as she is sometimes known professionally or on-line when ‘chatting’ with previously lost friends, one called Feather) is haunted with music. As perhaps we all are, without some of us knowing it?

    Read up to:
    “Patterns were patterns.  The mind followed the patterns in the world and drew conclusions from them – and when new data arrived, new theories were written.  It was that simple.”

    …which is a long needed rationale for my Gestalt Real-Time Reviewing which, I now realise, is always wrong till it is eventually right.

  15. Here we have darting intersections between Elizabeth and her brother Jacob sloughed off in Slovenia and a dead magpie on her Moor today…
    I note earlier in the Mark part of this book…
    ‘There is the Slovenian Salamander Brandy – with a drowned poisonous salamander in it .’

    “But you can’t argue with a simple relationship between lines and angles.”

    I have spent a good 13 years now with the process of triangulating coordinates in my book reviews, a maths, like Elizabeth’s, beyond religion or superstition. I call it preternatural. And I, too, have dealt with many SICnificant typos over the years, and now there are the autocorrects of her chatting on-line eith our Feather…


    “Do not connect” – or should that be Only Correct.

    Read up to:
    “Maybe ghosts can exist mathematically.”

  16. “The lines and patterns of her harp strings felt completely out of reach.  And what did they mean?  Here there were no intersections or angles whatsoever.
    Before this is over, I’ll be in a council cupboard in Exeter, she thought bitterly –
    and she opened her eyes quickly, begging the world to return to normalcy.
    Sometimes it almost seemed that there were too many patterns in the world…”

    I know the feeling about too many patterns…co-vividness?

  17. “Where was the rest of all this?”

    Elizabeth and corpses of dead creatures, a mag-pie perhaps, as she receives off-line Feather’s nostrum as fragile missive in the post. And meets a similar trip as Mark once did in London…except this book is a trip in itself, one trip tripping out the other trip and becoming a leap instead?

    Read up to:
    “Where were her familiar moors and trees now?”

  18. “Why couldn’t everything communicate with each other?  It would all make so much more sense then.”

    We are ever off-line even when we are on-line, I say.
    A telling nostrum’s vision of a figure with a black recorder. Better than a contaminant sort of sideways spittle of a flute? No, a means of remembering the hypnosis of music? A fitting climax to the end of PART 1 of this book.

    Whether this be a premonition of what happens later in this book or a mere side-issue, I issued this Facebook post earlier today…

    Photo pre-chosen later somehow reminded me of …

  19. Part 2 Ringing the Carrion Bell

    “That pattern didn’t work.”

    I share Elizabeth’s vertices as the carrion of corpses, and an imagined stench. Yet after a lifetime of what I thought to be meaningful typos or autocorrects, I suddenly see a doubt shed…
    I dreamt last night I was reading a poem by e.e. cummings but it had the photo of the other Cummings alongside it!

    Read up to:

  20. “These were polyhedra.  Polyhedral forms were beautiful, as well as mathematically perfect.  Elegant interactions of regular shapes in regular ways, eventually building up the most complex objects you could imagine – in fact, far beyond what you could imagine.  Vast stars of spires and pinnacles – vertices in fact – of meeting flat faces.”

    I quoted that in full as it moved me so much, especially in the Drink Me – Alice context of Elizabeth’s nostrum trip-become-leap of the Recorder Player, a sort of pied piper, but also a reviewer who records what is read in real-time, the synaesthesia of gestalt, and I feel swept away by the triangulated vertices, and polyhedra.
    Big-Heads to Flat Faces. And back again. In perpetuo.
    Interesting that when I read the huge VanderMeer curated Big Book Book of Classic Fantasy, I found myself distilling it from dream ‘Trip’ to dream ‘Leap’ in my public real-time review…

    Read up to: “, blanking the patterns forever.  And then the feel of herself losing flesh . . .”

  21. “Coincidence?”

    Aftermath, for Elizabeth, about her missing brother, also her recorder player man or harpist on the moors, carrion geometries, but. can there be ghosts beforemath?
    Feather off-line again.
    Read to the end of THE MAGPIES.


    “Choice artworks from the various tides he had read and recorded suspended there as mementoes – all given a uniform aesthetic by the processes of the sea.”

    I thought of my own old prose poem, very recently shown here – https://nullimmortalis.wordpress.com/2020/05/08/painting-a-smile/

    This Rix early gentle literary rictus is beautiful stuff about Feather, with her being discovered by a man on another coast, post her London, here on a remote part of Scotland. How did she get there? The man, if man it is, seems to be a writer, one who scries the bits the coast throws up, and scries the smell out-seaed belongings she has in a bag when he ‘rescues’ her. We all scry in our own ways.

    Read up to:
    “But if you look hard enough, you can read rubbish as clearly as any great literature.  And . . . it all has stories to tell if you can find them.”

  23. CA08DC4D-D570-41DC-9E8D-71766BE5E997

    “‘You tell the stories of the sea,’ she murmured, as though there was nothing strange about that.”

    Read up to:
    “….page after page of small texts flashed passed on the screen. 
    ‘Each one is a separate story,’ he said.  ‘And together they make up one . . . big . . . novel.’”


  24. “Sorry,” he said at last, “I must write it down.  I – I cannot . . . talk.”

    The man continues, thus, to hawl the gestalt of our Feather…scrying each of her belongings and her own bodyself’s scar city of scars. Her scar museum? A dreamcatcher…

    “… spinning the nets of lines and angles that are the world.”

    “too scared even to move” – too scarred, too?

    Doris Lessing’s ‘Good Terrorist’ again?

    Read up to:
    “Did some girl really blow up a building?  It is just stories, isn’t it?”

  25. “‘Stop telling stories about me,’ she screamed. 
    ‘Feather,’ I call, wanting to help but unsure how. She flinches and gazes at me with fear in her eyes.  Why is she frightened of me?”

    I sort of intrude into the beachscryer man’s dreams, but as an author of this review rather than just as a reader of F’s stories. As if I am making up my own stories about her! Indeed, the passports he later finds floating in the sea somehow seem apposite for our non-travelling times today and, ironically, too, for what I found in the sea as recounted by my ‘painting a smile’ link somewhere above….

    Read up to this passage that chimes with what I already think of this Book of Tides:
    “This is really an unusual tide,” he said at last, announcing it almost formally.  “I have never seen a horde quite like this – and . . .”

  26. “The sensation that these passports radiated was horrendous – stifling, chains, helplessness, ritual, random, the opposite of freedom.”

    “There’s something very strange going on in all this stuff.  In this novel.  Something serious.”

    Indeed! Some previous detritus finds of Feather’s on the beach from which we had been withheld extra-omnisciently.

    Read up to:
    “You hate stories, yet without stories, none of it makes sense.”

  27. “After all . . . there’s more difference between generations now than there are between countries.”

    Such a war now makes potential sense after the recent herd-immunity attempts in our real-time!

    The artful blend of fiction telling another fiction, makes even the readers feel more feathery or fictitious themselves … a flotsam tree with three feathery hairs. Him, her, me. All as real as each other, but in different ways. While we are told reliably – or misled into believing – that she returns to the busy brain of London … as if let out of today’s lockdown box?

    Read up to end of THE BOOK OF TIDES


    “An Ivesian Haze.”

    …being a block of student quarters, everything merging, students themselves in various rooms, the colours of food, even a subtle reference back to my reference above to Alice’s stewpot from Lessing…

    “Then that strange saucepan that nobody identifies would join the party.”

    Feather now sporadically doing a degree? other students including Elizabeth Eyes, and that man with a flute?

    Read up to…
    “That man was too fucking perceptive.”

  29. “Britten’s Six Metamorphoses after Ovid for solo oboe.  It was a gorgeous composition –“

    After Ovid, but before Covid, before Void.
    A sublime passage on one’s experiential approach to music.
    And, after seeing a moth, another woodwind instrument, a breed of recorder, with sounds that this beautifully gentle rictus of words evokes, an instrument that needed unblocking, and he used that earlier saucepan to help the process? Student parties, too, with a further welcome, if invasively Ivesian, haze-of-colours as if in hindsight, but they were pairs of specific colours on each occasion as they happened.
    Sometimes, even Britten is not enough.

    Read up to: “That music didn’t have a name.  It just came, and then was gone forever.”

  30. “Kay could recall flute players sitting in tree branches or suspended from ceilings and theatrical events in the local river.”

    The social distancing of performance-audience matters in co-vivid dreams And some passages here go over the top, I guess, as we are all going over the top today eight years after this book was published. Avant garde Boulez piano sonatas, I guess, as well as Ladymusic et al. A mutant premature AS Byatt climax as arts festival, due to get its billions of pounds in Covid grants.. Music as a sexual orgasm. And some of Shearman (still concurrently being real-time reviewed) is echoed here in Kay’s dream “Like a porn star, she looked plastic and artificial.”

    After waking, I have read up to:
    “They caught trailing remnants of the thighs and plucked lingering shreds of breast meat.  She flipped it over and quickly removed the small muscles of the bird’s back and spine.  Kay watched with interest – and some appreciation.  Right then, Feather’s hands seemed to shine through the dull haze of sleep as one of the most beautiful things he had ever seen.”
    Echoes of Lessing’s commune’s culinary matters. A passage that seems significant, so forgive me quoting it in full. In fact, forgive me, full stop.

  31. From bare chicken bones free of their feathers and flesh, to bare wire, wires that are often coded in colours, to the bare uninhibited disarming naturism of Feather herself, the gold and silver installations of diorama or party, the colours of food, the tableaux of cerebral cannibalism or even cannibalism itself! The herbs and condiments of student life, their stains and intermittent wreckages…I remember it all well from the sixties, even though I can’t now remember everything that happened recently or even what I read yesterday….best to gestalt real-time review passing time when it is actually passing, I guess!

    Read up to:
    “Something was very wrong somewhere.”

  32. You will never ever read a scene of a mess in a fridge and kitchen experience caused by raw steak like this one! It was a relief to return home after reading it, and so I’ve duly read up to…

    “This place seemed to suggest something of southern East Anglia, where he had grown up.  Only more so.  Estuarine mudflats surrounded him almost as far along the coast as he could see in an endless landscape of sand bars, salt marsh islands of succulent samphire and coarse eel grass –“

  33. “He was trying to play Birtwistle’s Pulse Sampler now – the Britten made him feel melancholy…”

    Bubble of college life, thoughts of the sea, some scariest silences being those you can find in some music…not only after the music finishes, I say.

    “Sorry, it is just a very strange world.”

  34. “It was not hard to imagine cabin fever and spontaneous fears and stories sweeping through this place…”

    The student accommodation-blockdown subject to a poltergeist or, bearing in mind the exploding jars of lemon curd, the Good Terrorist, I wonder? Cabins with fever in them often explode, I find.
    Whatever the case, events lead to my even deeper knowledge of Feather, and of Kay. This sometimes feels like a regular novel! And I mean that as a complement….

  35. “Instead, he grabbed the jar of pennies and stared at it.  This thing alone seemed to cut through the clouds that surrounded him.  They were a hint that there was something out there that went beyond the horrors and misery that he could see and feel and understand of the world and the people in it.”

    …this being a statement for our times, and, now, having read up to “Why was the human body so beautiful?”, we are provided with a path, by some water-animal emblem, towards some semblance of an answer to that question, a dream-like path via the aura of salt-marsh sea-channels, with naked Feather on all fours amid the samphire, seen through the eyes of Kay, but Kay’s eyes seeing the beauty of a gangly body through the body-owner’s eyes instead of his own eyes, the body-owner’s perhaps unconscious blend of secret shyness, sexual mystery and paradoxically open brazenness….

  36. “And the dream was gone.  Goodbye Elizabeth.  Goodbye Feather.  Goodbye familiar salt marsh.  Time to wake up – to where reality waits.”

    But was it really gone? There is, after all, Kay’s own (for me, spiritual) atonal music improvised now flowing in contrast to chaos’ improvised strewn music on the floor, and, like the distant saltsea’s own well-intentioned. ‘terrorist bomb’, the substance of sea itself and its smell now soaking Feather’s room in this inland student apartment block …. or like a horror film poltergeist?

    Read up to “Waves.” And I do – wave, that is. In awe, perhaps, or perhaps in some sort of constructive despair? This ‘Waves’ is here a single paragraph. Not only a single paragraph, but also a single subsection of the chapter. The Waves is also a book by Virginia Woolf I once reviewed here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2017/07/25/the-waves-virginia-woolf/

  37. “This was what you did at college.  You sat in the kitchen.  With a bottle of wine perhaps.  Making conversation.”

    A sort of constant debriefing … as we all did once. Once?
    So it ends?
    This is a new ‘Folk Horror’, I guess, a blend of the fantasy horror genre with unashamed literature, plus dream, music such as Britten and atonal avant-garde and some of those progressive rock albums from the 70s and today’s ambient, together with art installations of living quarters and sea strands, Dada ready-mades , too, like a jar of pennies, and Feather herself in various settings? An epiphany O Kay?

    Read to the end of THE BOOK OF TIDES


    “Two great towers facing each other – known together as the Dvojčka or Twins.  They rose together high above the city of Ljubljana, two giant standing stones of formal concrete and glass.  Sometimes it almost seemed to Tallis that he could lean out and touch the other wall.”

    This is a new enticing setting, amid what is described as ‘modern classical music’, long my favourite music genre, although, ironically, Tallis is one of my favourite composers from centuries ago. Not that doubtless this is the same Tallis we have just met!

  39. “Cars would vanish down into the depths like fertilising sperm, or immerge from below him like obscene eggs laid into the dark city.”

    Thundereggs as polyhedral? To hatch what or whom from lockdown? I sense Tallis as he wanders the empty night … with later sudden appearance of many bubbled couples, a train, cats, Tallis with a companion called Clair, a naive child, or (past or present) lover, or himself? Whispering from above. I really FEEL the genius loci of this Ljubljana at night. This is most exquisite stuff to which I can do no justice or have real understanding of – yet.
    I simply GUESS that she he meets there tonight is our Feather.

    Read up to: “Of did they also understand what came with isolation?”

  40. Tallis’ meeting with she who I assume to be our Tenacity of Feather, although she seems to be hanging on by the skin of her fingernails, – and the ambiance and their interaction are something, if justice held, would be considered literary gold. A rendition of atmosphere, mood and dangerously decaying tenacities. Yet I sense the world, like the Internet, is crammed with stuff, and the bad hides the good…perhaps forever…

    Read up to: “The music was Morton Feldman.  Crippled Symmetry.  It was an apt soundscape for these twin towers in its endlessly repeating, reflecting melodic lines.”

  41. “He felt an unexpected touch of the dreamlike and dazed – the sleepy shock of an unreal feeling that encompassed everything around him.”

    Seemed a perfect description of today. As we follow Tallis during day, not night, another glimpse of she I assume to be Feather whom he later onanises in a sort of dream. His familiar Clair seems clearer during daylight, if a familiar this figure is. Or just another commune or bubble of two? Whatever, I have long been entranced by this novel, that I now take it for granted.

  42. “An astrology that existed simply for its own sake.”

    I have been seeking such since 1975 when I was still not yet 30. Esoteric astrology. Alice A Bailey and her star stew.

    “The whole world was full of patterns of one sort or another – patterns and mirrors…”

    And mannequins. Tallis is English, I gather, and his Clair either a mannequin herself or someone who dresses mannequins in this city show windows. A window is flat and breakable. Mannequins crotch areas smooth curved mounds. And the twin towers imagined mirror images of each other? – does Tallis see Feather in the replica room opposite his?

    Smooth mounds to high cheekbones….

    Read up to: “– or the young girls, their pretty faces with the characteristic prominent cheekbones of this part of Europe, but still haunted and slender.  Still with a fracture somewhere deep down – right through the middle.”

  43. “Don’t die so much,”

    “Reflections? Patterns? Loops? Cycles?”

    “This was Alice going through the looking glass.  Only in the process, in some obscure way, Alice was going home.”

    This mirroring Tallis (Tallis rhyming with Alice! Just noticed!) journeying through crosssections of Communist plaster’s déjà vu — towards music by Glass and Birtwistle — is nostrum’s mind-game gold.

  44. “Countless tales acted out by the lights and the people within the lights.”

    There is much in the Slavic tongue in this section that I did not understand. But I understood the English narrative even less! It did not seem to matter. It was as if I were Mačka between mirrored wounds. A stew of human wounds.

    “Underwear in fabric puddles on the floor…”


    “The sea where emotions and yearning suddenly seem belittled.”

    The disarming feeling of an author with his or her character somewhere else in the same train trundling towards a lonely seaside halt. And, as in the final scene of the film of The Railway Children, her mouth in an agape, seeing through the smoke she calls to her Father. Here the author similarly calls to their Feather. A classic ending to a book that will never become a classic in itself because it will sadly never have enough readers as a quorum to measure it and decide. But, meanwhile, how do I simply measure a rictus?


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