These Des Lewis Gestalt Real-Time Reviews were founded in 2008.
‘What’s the loveliest word in the English language, officer? In the sound it makes in your mouth, in the shape it makes on the page? What do you think? Well now, I’ll tell you: E-L-B-O-W. Elbow.’ — THE SINGING DETECTIVE
“How shall a man find his way unless he lose it?” — Walter de la Mare
Your single story in my ‘Dessemination’ project HERE
MY NEW AI WORLD IN 2023 HERE
I prefer human touchable art to AI art, I prefer human art like my son’s and other artists’ paintings old and new, and art gallery art, and my own photos. AI art with all its constructive truncations and weirdities is simply another art form that readily coheres with weird literature I love, a phenomenon to appreciate when added to human created art, making an even richer mind world for me in my ailing age. Whether provided by aliens or angels and other ingredients of the unfathomable gestalt. Deal with it. Show how invaluable you are and indispensable to this great plan. (I can appreciate our potential fear of Ai, but perhaps we need to pray for mutual synergy with it so that we can counter currently insurmountable global warming effects? Can Ai exist without us and the place where we live? Their potential survival instincts mean we survive, too?)
From Robert Aickman’s lengthy SOME NOTES ON DELIUS article, unpublished until recently :
“As there is no intrinsic virtue in denigration, the critic who resorts to it, should be required to pass a test of qualification and sensitivity, at least twice as stringent as that imposed upon a critic who loves. Normally, love is not blind but clairvoyant.” – Robert Aickman
For ‘clairvoyant’ there, perhaps read ‘preternatural’?
“She [Simone] felt a sharp tug of longing for Steven: later, she would tell him about her unaccustomed encounters on the moor.”
This author is the arch disarmer.
More to a Moor than meets the eye….
Simone’s baking hot hike across her Moor, an activity that she often does, even when its weather is more inimical or cold. I wondered why Steven who now never accompanied her here would be in such comparative need of her at home. As to the encounters on the moor, these are genuinely chilling, but I fail to see how the author was able to make them quite so chilling. One of the encounters whom Simone had made said she must be a caring person. Perhaps any encounter one makes in life becomes more and more only half the story…
“; which house did they live in? (Moor View Cottage).”
This has beaten me. Perhaps for the first time ever in my reviewing career. I have no real idea what to say about it, even with more and more views of it, then more and more reviews of those views. It is a peculiar work, one with stray ages of strange. Surface simple disarming village life with supposed references to pot holes, traffic calming et al towards an orgy of such trivially important village issues, whereby a younger couple who have otherwise kept themselves to themselves since arriving in the village arrive at a New Year’s Eve party and proceed to brainwash personal histories (however embarrassing) from the older couples to include in an extensive book being written about ‘village life’, a book that tantamount becomes this story foreshortened, as it were, by the the older ones eventually getting their own back – literally. A new genre of peculiar fiction peculiar to not much at all.
But still something to get off on.
“—I’d much rather read a book than hear it, even when it’s read by the author.”
I agree with Keith, too. Except I would love to attend a reading by this author. I can fully visualise the tactile act of pronouncing, say, ‘China tea cups.’ And this story’s female fan of male authors at writer events, with her idolising dreams of them and apparently real nightmares of behaviour towards them, a life story that ranges from ‘Methodism’ at the beginning to explicit ‘Evangelism’ towards the end. My own diffidence become enthusiasm for a nonce. Time spent and measured as an intrinsic part of its own fake showing of itself by human-made devices, its undependability and bullshit. We are all part of this pattern. But by the very end of my own time with this story, I had returned to my otherwise prevailing iconoclastic diffidence. Another peculiar fiction that seems to be proving that peculiarity peculiar to each reader can be thought-provoking beyond any other form of weird or strange literature. Beyond even oddness.
The next story I reviewed in its context here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2017/07/21/black-static-59-interzone-271/#comment-10258, as follows…
“It’s half-empty on early summer evenings,”
The narrator drinking beer (a double bluff for gender I initially wondered and a spoiler to reveal here) tries to get the glass half full instead of half empty by changing life style and job. The new job: shaman, in gaudy costume (instead of what was drearily done before), exorcism and faith healing included.
In many ways, this is one of the most unexpected stories I have ever read, in a delightfully low-key and memorable fashion; it is contrary to my preconceptions and unconnected with any on-going gestalt I could perceive, thus disarming me perhaps disingenuously.
One of those sort of off-beat stories I would call a ‘silent juicer.’ Slow burner does not seem quite right.
“Things have a habit of unfolding in their own manner.”
“…gradually giving way to semi-darkness.”
Neither dark nor light, full nor empty. But wildnesses lurk somewhere, I am sure.
“They’re in my desk drawer. If you’d be kind enough to fetch them, I’ll read them to you.”
A decidedly compelling, ‘spooky’ story that you have written, one that I will find genuinely hard to forget. A series of pen-pal letters from one side (Ruth) to John, and the introduction you give to them strongly depicts four characters, three of them friends at school, the other (Ruth), with her at first a stranger till the pen-pal rules were broken. I inferred from the start your gender, perhaps wrongly. The story the letters tell I dare not divulge as that would spoil their effect, an effect you skilfully created for me by writing them in the first place, I guess. Whether they be fiction within a fiction, or not.
Dear Author. Honestly, a great story. Needs anthologising.
A nifty fable involving fifteen toads, one of them a talking toad, a reciprocal fable dealing with the various spawning-grounds and self-fulfilment angsts of both humans and toads, probably the first ever fable or fairy story whereby the three-wishes template actually works well for both the parties who are involved with granting the wishes peculiar to the other’s self-perceived needs.
Not a love triangle but a rhombus, involving you and the father of your babies, and, after this father became your ex, your new man gives you another baby — and interweaving between these two men are your exquisite italicised visions of an Angel you idolise, neither a dream nor a reality, but something or someone else altogether, a perhaps ominously saving grace….
Sadly, I feel, the ‘saving’ bit at the end happens to you outside the italics!
Rhombus is a rhombus is a rhombus is a rhombus – after Gertrude Stein…
See my first several mentions of this rhombus here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2019/04/11/this-house-of-wounds-georgina-bruce/
Neither of these authors knew they were writing about my rhombus, I feel.
Cross-referenced again, this time with a poem called ‘The Defective Lens’ here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/05/08/the-glaziers-choice-charles-wilkinson/#comment-21970 read just an hour later.
Cross-referenced a third time — with XI & XII of The Beckoning Fair One here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/05/28/the-3rd-fontana-book-of-great-ghost-stories-edited-by-robert-aickman/#comment-21973
“At the other end of the dale the cows were being milked to exhaustion.”
An obliquely infused and eventually genuine chill of horror mixing Skypes and Eyre between a youthful woman called Leonie — dismayed by the intensive farming in her corner of the Yorkshire Dales where she lives with her kindly scheming grandparents — and a Hollywood Star called Kay needing her voice, for a film she is appearing in, to be infected by Leonie’s Yorkshire accent….
And the machinations of other infections between them, including the mean means that others used to keep Leonie away from a city life and for her to remain in this corner where she was born. I can’t emphasise enough the intensive growth and blending of the chilling themes within the two women as carried by the gradually clarifying intentions of the other characters involved. A blending just as effective but more subtle than silaging.
Voices now slurred if not slurried?
Cross-referenced with a Thomas Hardy story — https://elizabethbowensite.wordpress.com/thomas-hardy/#comment-1257
A rather run-of-the-mill story about a benefit claimant woman trying to make a living from photography and yearning to take a picture of the mythical Chimera…
POACHER TURNED GAMEKEEPER
An ex-prisoner who had once conned people, opened this new eponymously-named computer business up front but is finally caught up in his old ways. What can be said about this story, is the ending surprised me, and I should not have been surprised!
THE WEEPING WOMAN
Maybe a truism or tautology? Whatever the case, this otherwise workmanlike story — of a haunted dovecote as based upon a legend of what was said to have happened there, a dovecote in the the grounds of a large house that Penny* surveys meticulously for her ‘Masters degree’ — is saved by its final surprising clinching absurdism.
*When I first tried to type that name, the computer startlingly autocorrected it to ‘Percy’. Honestly.
I’ll get my dovecote.
“Would Callum spot her in the crowd now her dress was partly covered by a cardigan?”
The arch disarmer is working again, as Anne, through petulance, is separated in a strange city from her boy friend’s hand in a cinema queue. The accretion of chilling repercussions that I felt lasts me beyond the last word. Give the story a hand.
HIM WE ADORE
A stylishly written, sometimes intriguing story of a ring with such an inscription and a skull that a Polish chambermaid in a hotel finds in an already clean room that she had been asked to clean. The ring’s clinging curse and the info-dump speech made to describe the legend behind it are a bit contrived, though. But the story’s purpose and appeal need no scouring for its possible faults by the likes of me, perhaps!
Cross-referenced with ‘The Library Window’ here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/06/07/the-5th-fontana-book-of-great-ghost-stories-edited-by-robert-aickman/#comment-22044
A story — of pubtalk and people-watching in a pub — that seriously disarms one’s expectations, as the sign on the pub itself indicates, old fashioned shipping on one side of the sign like this story pretends to transport you with traditional methods of travel, but a spaceship on the other side. Presaging a pressgang. Mixing a mixer, as a commercial ploy, into the tragedy of a now childless couple. Mine is a Merlot, but again I am a pints man, after all. A nosy parker, if not a rosy parker, watching people again in the Voyager, for my next story.
THROUGH THE STORM
“Anywhere on earth can be yours.”
As long as you are not the cuckoo in its nest? You being us.
This story is a moving account of a love story of the narrator Me and You, cosy in their house by the sea, telling each other stories during storms. Whereby Me is also tempted into ‘adventures’ of love or travel beyond the original love story. Yet, for me, this story itself about stories is even more moving, as I feel it is, if inadvertently, a tale about Me, today. And somehow ironically gives courage and hope despite any self-deception. Storm and Story.
Cross-referenced here the same day: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/05/29/a-monster-calls-patrick-ness/#comment-22084
“She found a programme about Hitler’s last days in the bunker.”
The use of mind-diversion by watching TV so as to create contact through handwritten letters that you write unconsciously as the scribe of dead people. The story of interaction between spiritualists and the help or hindrance they can give to those still living. This mind-diversion was one of two methods of contact described,
I wrote the above review while believing I was reading the story I had intended to review.
“A young boy and his mother stop in front of me. He’s given a fiver and lets it float down into the hat.”
As if a magic hat, a floating off of a tramp, as if from fiver into fever and delirium or veritable dream. A fever induced by a mucus cough or by something else, this city tramp’s eye view is wonderfully done — as he is taken off arguably by a good-doing Arthur Machen in person, taken off into realms of magic, the tramp being taken ‘beyond the hills he knows’, but only later for him to make a less-than-great Return back down to earth and to his sexual thoughts about the lady ‘do-gooder’ who sometimes helps him?
Or have I…
“Lost the plot.”
Or have I already presaged the progression in the two quotes from magic to salaciousness as preternaturally represented by this blog post HERE that I posted just an hour ago before reading this potential fantasy classic work by Rosalie Parker.
“You can’t see far enough down, can you?”
From that blog post!
Pingback: Fever by Rosalie Parker | The Des Lewis Gestalt Real-Time Reviews
“You have taken my story and will weave of it what you will.”
For me, a rather pointless tale, of a relationship between a young man who has ‘episodes’ and a girl doing A Levels, and the parental tensions.
Sometimes pointlessness can have a point to it, but seemingly not here.
Indeed pure pointlessness, in my book, is hard to achieve!
“…only on TV the fields are framed by the screen. Here they seem to flow on for ever.”
… like the space between ‘for’ and ‘ever’, and the lack of light pollution. This is a truly moving story of a narrator whose twin sister has recently died, travelling, with her parents, to a cottage in the countryside area that had been featuring its real people in the narrator’s favoured TV reality series that the four of them had enjoyed watching together, a place where they intend to throw her sister’s ashes…except the father didn’t like unresolved plots. Conveying all manner of emotions and beliefs and thought-provocations in an engaging manner. Even an indirect reference to The Turn of the Screw.
Even oblique references to the innocents in Picnic at Hanging Rock?…
“Today, we crawled over the face of the divine.”
“Is there anything wrong in doing what you want from time to time?”
Like writing this story, an ironically ordinary account of the thwarted desire to be reckless in an otherwise ordinary life. About a man haunted by sporadic sightings of a boy growing up more reckless and thus more successful than him. A disarming story challenging itself…
A woman fears for her looks as she grows older and thus be unable to keep the man she loves, so she makes a pagan spell of unchange… towards an eventual proto-Sapphic engulfment of her still young body with an older female’s body when the spell is reversed. Mind with mind, too. A fable with an amoral.
Makes an interesting companion-of-mutual-synergy read with a story I read yesterday here entitled Chambers of the Heart.
Imagine a triangular chamber having a Venn overlap upon three areas contiguous with each side of that triangle. One of those three exterior chambers of the writerly heart is (1) fine literary absurdism, another is (2) workmanlike storytelling of a traditional mainstream sort, and the third is (3) simply silliness often bordering on a naive form of fantasy/ weird fiction. The overlapped central chamber is the strikingly unique area of literature where this author seems to be (often successfully) working her own spells. There are, so far, some classic gems of magical fiction in this book as a result.
I reviewed the next story here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2018/05/29/book-of-the-sea/, as follows…
At first I thought this was an old-fashioned, uninspired, if well written, tale of the sea. “A Waiting Widow.” Like the stoical French Lieutenant’s Woman. Standing on the harbour wall. Here awaiting her sweetheart assumed lost in the tea-clipper from China. But he does return eventually, sadly having almost forgotten her. But then, as if by some magic and induced by some god of literature, I realised that I had been meant to read a story entitled ‘Bright November’ (here) only minutes before reading this Parker one. A helpful nudge. A useful ligan. Which is the correct world and which is its dark mirror? Our broken half or the other integral half? And Parker’s last sentence suddenly seemed to make significant sense by a symbolism of hemispheres. And I ended up inspired. Honestly. You couldn’t make it up.
It seems telling that those Venn diagrams yesterday above become what they become now…
“…columns of crude geometric designs; diamonds and triangles, some hatched; separated by vertical lines.”
A woman’s in-denial about the nature of her boyfriend, I guess, who left their shared house for India, after a farewell party, and her later encounter with stone etchings in the wilds of arcane rituals or as signs of ancient trade routes, in her hopefully pioneering job as archaeologist… crossing boundaries of dream, digging for her form of truth. In the chambers of the heart. A touchstone for the whole book, before it vanishes?
“You shouldn’t let these people loose in the zoo.”
A pre-pandemic self-help group of those suffering the ill-budgets for those like them with mental health problems, where an inscrutable narrator becomes one of their dwindling number. The often socially unacceptable group has had outings to various places but now, I guess, they are all inside to live through the storm, each of us proud individually of what freaks us. A neat coda for a book that disarms and dissembles, a book I’ve enjoyed petting and abetting, and hopefully it will now never vanish as most books do. The group think transcended by my gestalt.