Mother’s Tattered Phantomimes


Raphus Press 2020
My previous reviews of this publisher:

Crepuscularks And Phantomimes by Rhys Hughes
Mother by Brian Evenson
The Tattered Shadows by John Howard & Mark Valentine

When I read these books, my thoughts will appear in the comment stream below…

23 thoughts on “Mother’s Tattered Phantomimes

  1. 490EE248-0F5D-47E3-B5C9-FC866807FE2B About 70 pages in total. An Ace Double printed format, luxuriously designed as a hardback comprising this novelette in English and as translated into Portuguese by Alcebiades Diniz Miguel.

    by Brian Evenson

    “It might be called an act of imagination as much as a conveyance of fact, if imagination were deeply rooted in the truth.”

    A misremembering and unlearning translated by an imaginative SF’s accretion of identity as characters begin to realise what or who or why they are or once were, and we seem to follow the thoughts of one of those characters, initially believing herself to be a sister and daughter, and questions as to why these characters have landed in this place, and as to the nature of Father as a room, the nature of a ‘groove’ in the hill and what fragmentary items of gestalt accretion they pick up and use, with added questions of self-control or control of others, and of who is really Mother to whom. Like an author misremembering writing the story, and later imagining that it is, at root, about the author?

    My previous reviews of this author:

    by Rhys Hughes


    From the gestalt Mother above, to her umbilical cords that she’d shed, joined end to end like a conjoined wire tautened in a telephone communication derived from our childhood games with two tin cans. Now in grown up days, you conduct dirty talk, instead of toddler talk about fishing. Here the husband, via the pit in his cellar, connects his umbilical connection to one who strips nature’s creature symbols, strips them like underwear, slowly and sensually, you hear, creature by creature.
    His wife, meanwhile, humouring him, takes tentacles instead of umbilicals, those tentacles of horror stories, I guess, and has the optimum deal with future’s unknown Azathoth, and opening her legs to it. The only way to go, I infer. Let the future fuck you. The past is already a dead tribal ritual. A shocking tale, that travels these invisible wires of reading, such connections also black-stitched permanently as strengthening along the spine.


    “This swelling communal madness…”

    This is probably the most effective prophecy of my current lockdown since I started looking for such in literature past and present. Not so much, here, a co-vivid, covidual dream that the word ‘communal’ above portends but a genuine evocation of our times via conceits of sheer madness derived from Dr Caligari’s Holstenwall, its geometry with angled lines as taut and slanted as unbearable configurations of the communication wire above, alongside ‘a dog I sewed into man’ just as the text is sewn into this book. A near unravelling journey of straddling bandaged words…


    Three men in a boat? No, three would-be explorers in a lovecraft, powered by metal lips upon blown kisses, even involving tongues… But they have no dog but their digs landlady who is a scatologically mutant version of Hilda Ogdon. You will not believe what she’s like unless you read about her yourself here. The men meanwhile get stuck in emotional lockdown with their oversized craft, while remaining eager to explore the unexplorable, i.e. exploring life as a gestalt of real abstractions without the need to think of them, nor even dream them first. A clotted epitome of our times today. The only place undiscovered for each of us to discover is where the reader alone controls what lies between the poles of any writer’s conceit.
    [Many great jokes and wordjoys, except this one: “Plus plenty of screwing, despite the fact they were bachelors,…”]


    This longish work is the sort of work that gives this author a bad name. And what worse name can you have than Creepy Aplomb! Seemingly juvenile in-jokes about horror fiction and a character called Beston Simwick. Couldn’t finish it. Perhaps I wasn’t in the right mood for it.
    For Rhys Hughes completists alone. Some of its passages, though, worth preserving.


    “Gut Road came as a big surprise.”

    Ironic, after previous entry above, that I should now unexpectedly encounter this work which is of course Rhys Hughes’ greatest — being an explicit pastiche of my own work! Any “Old worn out jokes” now exorcised, I feel. It is genuinely a great classic vignette of yore. Featuring a character called Mr Lewis, too!

    “He tried not to breathe through his nose as he bit into it, to avoid the smell and lessen the taste.”

  7. 0441ED77-B7BA-4CD2-A1F4-25FF059D1A63BACK TO BACK

    “, and it was frankly impossible for anyone to gossip about them behind their backs because they had no backs.”

    I do not hold back here. Any jokes above now discarded, I would claim that this is possibly Rhys Hughes’ most powerful work, especially in today’s circumstances of the world (read it and discover your own resonating comparisons). A1D9CCC8-A37F-4BF6-9BC0-677AD7A0B0C7 About a surgeon (“one of the heroes of the hospital”) who takes the rough with the smooth, expecting the rough, but striving for the smooth. Here he manages, against all the odds, to divide two Siamese-twin sisters, and they with relief divide and resort separately elsewhere, amid with what we today would recognise as co-vivid dreaming, in control but not in control, resorting to their own lockdowns and imagine ‘phantom limbs’ that backbite gossip … till requesting the surgeon to reverse the operation!

    “Brains are odd. Let’s leave it at that.”


    “Part bird and part deer in appearance they might seem at first glance to be a fairly ordinary addition to the mythological bestiaries.”

    …and having just read that, it is perhaps amazing that half an hour ago I read for the first time and reviewed HERE ‘The Origin of the Birds’ by Italo Calvino, before reading this Rhysian work wherein the shadow that should be that of horse and rider is a shadow of a monster at least part bird… And the protagonist here sacking Carthage with Scipio’s troops is arguably later subsumed by a woman also as a shadow which is at least part bird?

    • “deer. The horse spread its wings, its shadow almost touch-
      throws himself into her embrace, laying its head in her lap:
      ing the deer.”
      – quoted from the story (‘The Prey’ by Bilge Karasu) following straight on after the above mentioned Calvino story in the Big Book of Modern Fantasy.


    “But the hinges keeping him upright are those of soiled hope and epiphany;”

    This ‘Crepuscularks and Phantomimes’ is becoming increasingly a seminal new collection, a must-buy by those who collect this author. I collect him, including even his most dubious hinges. It is not his first sale, but it feels it ought to be, and this story is indeed in al-dente textured prose that makes you feel it is something you can’t refuse. Trammelled by its sales pitch, the sway and flow of its plot direction, the ultimate entrapment by a shop you never really wanted to go into in the first place. The shopkeeper a character to avoid at all costs yet somehow a shopkeeper to cherish for his outlandish character. Having travelled there, you now need to board a new form of misled transporting. And you know, against all good sense, this shopkeeper can truly transport you with his wordy wares, whatever else you may think of him.


    “I don’t think that the statues have been partially Raptured too. How can dead stone be good or evil?”

    Because of not only the above prophetic gloss on today’s recent statue posterity syndrome, but also this work’s mind-opening conceits about partial Rapture of good and bad bits of us as a gestalt here on earth or a gestalt in paradise, this is a genuine Rhys Hughes classic that has just hit my eye-dust and honestly spun me into a whirl of idea-particles. Also prophetically reflective of many other aspects of our tumultuous times today — as well as expressed by a Rhysian prose style in a sheer overdrive of mind-wrenching horror and partial inspiring rapture. It is that good. The mosaic men, the montage women, the scherzos and nocturnes, et al.

    “, we never expected a situation remotely like this, a grotesque antic comedy.”

  11. I don’t think one can generalise from a dislike of any particular Rhysian Comedic story towards a blanket dislike of Rhysian Comedic stories. Since 2008, many of my reviews have publicly relished his Comedic stories as much as his arguably more serious ones. Even more so, in fact!
    As evidence, my reviews of Rhys Hughes over many years are linked from here:

  12. “and together they flew across the babbling brook” – Satu Waltari
    From the Big Book of Modern Fantasy

    And in my detailed review of the Big Book of Classic Fantasy, I speculated that the gestalt of all fantasy fiction over recent generations was a “leaping over a brook”…
    e.g. :-
    THE OTHER SIDE: A Breton Legend by Count Eric Stanlislaus Stenbock
    THE WHITE PEOPLE by Arthur Machen

    Which now leads me to
    THE BABBLING BROOK (by Rhys Hughes)

    An apotheosis of that above-mentioned gestalt, I guess. A tour de force of fantasy from the Dunsany Zone. A quest to fill a flask and to extrapolate the effete or fey reading of books versus the playing of manly cricket. A new pair of collusive as well as mutually competing characters that will go down in the annals of Classic Fantasy, in a style that genuinely outdoes the communal coruscating forces of Clark Ashton Smith, Lord Dunsany and M.P. Shiel — and even many of the added ingredients from the authors featured in both Big Fantasy Books put together! Read this Rhysian work and dare tell me that I am wrong!

    • My tentative gestalt so far of the Big Book of Modern Fantasy is an incubation by lockdown so as to leap anew! Or to just moulder away, sans smells, sans sounds, sans season.
      We shall see who wins! Life or death.

  13. And now I find out that the final Rhysian story — in this seemingly important book that is new to this author’s evolving canon — is about the very locked down battle between life and death that I have already described in my previous entry above!!


    A horror vision to end all horror visions. On the very road to Blake’s heaven or hell, or, rather, here, to the actual gut of a cave system, imprisoned in a stalag of tites and mites, locked down with glowing slime that perhaps becomes the very sweat of his fever at the end! The gods and goddesses to whom he does not deign to pray to or or even blame – because they do not exist, CANNOT exist? – deities who’ve never had “immunity to the diseases we carry, that they have already been wiped out by our viruses.” Wiped out, ab initio. The only hope is to become their priest? A priest without a deity to proffer can only substantiate priesthood by becoming that deity’s own leap of faith? A new nesting of monsters? Or a new logic.

  14. Now to a new Babel of Biabelli, a Phantomime of neologisms, a new leaping-the-babbling-brook, through Panama, on to Lisbon, neutral tentacles across the Atlantic, coupled with what I said earlier above about a Mother’s Evenson(g): ‘A misremembering and unlearning translated…”
    A “thank you” by a small girl to her doll…unless the words before translation meant something else?

    “There seems to be a language around in the world that has no earthly origin or nation, spoken in whispers and sighs, a fluttering kind of tongue, that can communicate those states of being for which we have no words.”
    … and this marvellous novelette somehow does just that! — evolved if not written by Howard and Valentine, and I wondered who translated whom towards the concept of neutral language. A story of a trader, not in hard goods, but in papers, where the trade is what is written on them not the papers AS papers, and the narrator is more a trader in the value of an idea or the idea of a value, an added value with which print or handwriting can convert ideas into this work’s concept Idaia… a haunting filmic atmosphere of a Casablanca or a Third Man, with wartime dangers and intrigues, the narrator (from three neutral nations as his backstory) seeking in a 1939 ammonite maze of Lisbon, having translated himself from Chile, yes, seeking, without much hope, his co-Chilean translator friend who has, I infer, met his ultimate challenge, a neutral language as much as a translation now becomes more a beaming up or a beaming down, a beaming beyond even Mother’s SF into, until now, a new form of literature hinted at by this work BEING it itself. My expressions, as my way of conveying the novelette’s honed fiction ammonite with somehow neutrally frictionless ideas. The girl’s doll sadly broke, though. Entropy’s last fling as a butterfly effect that translates itself freely across a whole world’s now tattered frontiers?


  15. Pingback: Babbling with Biabelli | THE DES LEWIS GESTALT REAL-TIME REVIEWS

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