The Varvaros Ascensions — Forrest Aguirre

Mount Abraxas Press MMXX

My previous reviews of Forrest Aguirre: and of Mount Abraxas Press:

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

12 thoughts on “The Varvaros Ascensions — Forrest Aguirre

  1. THE ARCH:

    Pages 7&8

    “I told the Bird Man to go to hell. Hell, I almost killed him myself.”

    A text that seems to warrant eking out savoured drop by savoured drop – and immediately I am staggered by a mutual synergy with other “blatant errors” in another text from the past, some fakery or doctoring, as I have already been, daily, real-time reviewing ‘The Liar’s Dictionary’ HERE, wherein wrong or fake words (aka ‘mountweazels’) in an age-established Encyclopaedic Dictionary (and such fakeries’ or errors’ ancient-or-otherwise culprit) are being smoked out by another “clairvoyant bloodhound” !
    Quite utterly diverse books, otherwise! And both were first published together in recent weeks.

  2. Pages 8-11

    “Obsessions, I suppose, are inexplicable. Otherwise they wouldn’t be obsession right?”

    And I am already somehow obsessed with this truly striking physical book, as well as its text so far, an obsession engendered by my restraint in reading it too quickly. As if I know it will change even more towards the optimal the more I keep yet to be read, even though the forthcoming text, I simply know, is already unchangeable in copperbottomed print as contrasted with what has already been hinted earlier at the top of page 8 about the way the text could have morphed if given a reader’s over-rush to prematurely check it ahead. Paradoxes are a bit like obsessions. And the book’s rich upholstery and design, 60 stiff pages, gold marker ribbon, are utterly fitting for this narrative account of an obsessive quest for the Bird Man fiddler of text, the narrator-protagonist’s relationship with Alice and the remarkable genius-loci of where it takes place so far at Madison university. And the way I originally ‘read over’ ARCH: CONJECTURE in one visual gulp as ‘architecture’, till I felt myself checking back at it retrocausally on page 7, or so it seemed to this susceptible reader at least! I have only yesterday’s real-time review of mine above to check for any contrary evidence.

  3. Pages 11 – 18

    “‘Very punny for an urban planner,’ he rolled his eyes.
    ‘Yeah sure.’”

    This is amazing stuff, be assured. Our student urban-planner narrator’s tracking of the Bird Man thesis culprit called Burdock Mannfrey to a city bookshop, but what a bookshop! On several levels, like this book itself. You won’t forget these scenes easily! Towards a gathering of mixed races involved in urbanism. There are also moments that remind me of the architecture of gestalt real-time reviewing, my long attested triangulation over the years of the coordinates of all readers of the same book, into a gestalt, here into urban evolution of architecture. To the genius loci of each city, the words here are indeed to be savoured. Dadaism, even, my Zeroism, even! perhaps! Amid “the babble of languages.” Getting lost in London, as a topic, know that feeling! I am astonished at the coincidence, that by chance, yesterday, I started watching with my wife a BBC documentary of yore on iPlayer called; Bunkers and Brutalism ( Particularly as Burdock Mannfrey is given a British’s caste as curse? “…in that British way…” and another thing you will never forget — the description of the broken hope of a big-headed mother and her little daughter. Down in the annals of the bookshop, the memory of her when being lost in London. This stuff shakes!

  4. Pages 19-23

    “, mapping the contours of the city with my hands and feet, melting into concrete and glass, pouncing and scaling against gravity up the sidewalks and buildings,…”

    Where do fog and cigarette smoke begin and end, where the person and the person in the mirror begin and end, too? Where do this book, I wonder, and its reader? I follow the narrator back and forth to the bookshop; he thinks his life is imperceptibly changing, but still changing nevertheless, like his relationship with Alice, like his sudden realisation of his own beard, and his destructive attitudes to the bookshop, and the calls of “sister-cities” from around the world to this book’s city. Like my margin-notes to this book, and his own to the The Arch: Conjecture of Cities. Unlearn your learning to fully understand this work, and to appreciate destructively atonal music. Like one of my favourite composers, Xenakis, and my story in Dabbling with Diabelli entitled ‘They Crawl Over the Outside of Buildings More Than They Walk in the Streets Between.’ This Aguirre book seems to make the reader feel pretentiously more important than she or he is or ever will be. As readers assume (wrongly) they can control what happens and what is interpreted in books such as this one by simple gestalt real-time reviewing it? The simple present moment (this Aguirre text says) has long-term effects on future structures. But what about on the past structures, too, I ask, having requoted Alasdair Gray (‘It is true that the world is so packed with the present moment that the past, a far greater quantity, can only gain entrance through the narrow gate of a mind.’) about an hour or so ago here before reading this section of the Aguirre!

  5. Pages 23-28

    “I give full rein to my grief.”

    Only yesterday, I read and reviewed this ultra-powerfully driven work, equally as instinctive and as passionate as this Aguirre, whereby GRIEF becomes an engine, becomes a power source and a fuel for perhaps dangerous, perhaps fruitful journeys, here welding cities together as a melted-together Metropolis, there connecting planets and dead people, even if today’s narrator’s toes fall off in ironic contrast to such melding! Only books like this can pull off such feats.
    A monument to an apocalypse. A symbol for our own troubled city-wide times. And a voice I ought to recognise. Trump’s own yesterday still rings in my ears. ‘Cleaning night’ approaches.


    Pages 31-37

    “…it seemed that each scene was a vignette in a larger drama that hinted at a back story, or at least the outline of a story. At that time I could not begin to piece it together,… […] I was, am, enmeshed in the puzzle: its assembler, as well as a piece.”

    I gather, not yet necessarily a complete architecture of person and place, nor even a meal of chicken wings where structure is dependent more upon the gaseous gaps between than the bones themselves, but I do gather this woman, 16 years older than her female assistant, in the university’s book and bone library, their individual back stories, and the academic politics surrounding them… and the place’s accoutrements of image and history… rich arcane visual items of environmental decor where she works, within and without the words just as this book is, too. Thin stone window frames somehow holding up the heft of walls, too. Graffiti or icons crafted or scratched by far-reaching age as well as by student awl. That last bit may be my own single piece so far in the puzzle, not necessarily one of those put into place by the book itself. But there is so much more I may have made up without the help of the book and also without my realising it? Reading fiction sometimes is an act of denial or defiance.

  7. Pages 37-47

    Some sort of genocidal/cannibalistic backward leap or flip-take in the otherwise empirical time-trails of human or neanderthal anthropology, even archaeoastronomy? We follow our lady narrator – now known as Doctor Parkerson – via EXTRA-spicy chicken wings to obviate a common cold or some other contagion towards her self-revelations that seem against the rules of the ‘scientific method’, revelations in the patterns of bones she is studying, while, at the same time, investigating with her assistant Columbia their own perhaps relevant backstories with their attached, now unattached, menfolk … and the academic conspiracies that seem to be evolving around them… Love this sort of stuff. Caitlín Kiernan plus something uniquely Aguirrean. Was some sense of a similar ‘genocide’ also mentioned in the Arch Conjecture? Are there five of us?

  8. Pages 47-57

    “The sun rose, then fell again as I wracked my brain to piece together the mysteries of the book.”

    …as I do, too, mustering my aforementioned denial and defiance as a reader and student of it. For example, this book is arguably connected with Saint Barbaros (aka Varvaros) the Myrrhgusher or the Agios Varvaros spring 50 km from Agrinio (Agra Aska?) With its implications of the machinations of time and race beyond human intellect, or is it simply an entertaining fiction yarn to help us (compel us?) pass the time when undefined archaeoastronomical machinations are feared to be cyclically transpiring around us in the form of political, climate and viral convulsions. The significant “five pointed star” that we are now made aware of as, possibly, Varvaros? Five of us? Here disarmingly symbolised in the story by Parkerson, Columbia, Kratzer, Jared and Justin? Or as many as “fifty individuals”, as this book suggests? Or am I the only one, and this book’s author himself (having been published in “fifty venues” as its blurb attests) believes that his own book is a mere fiction yarn? I somehow look to the bones and the sky for answers. A false “logic-engine” perhaps even placed in the author’s brain as well as the reader’s, as this expression itself and other contrasting concepts in the book are deployed overtly, a book with a ‘story’ about another book whose code needs breaking. But which book has the deeper code? Part of me enjoyed, even chided, this book; part of me feared, even believed, what it implied. Different parts of the puzzle that is me.

    “I smirked at the story, chiding myself for having made such a fuss over an obscure work of fiction.”


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s