18 thoughts on “Waiting For The End Of The World – R.B. Russell

  1. Chapters One & Two

    A most promising, well-written, intriguing and engaging start with names, first 2006, then 1986, the narrator a man with the name of Elliott and with a guilty secret in the past about to erupt via an answerphone message from a name in the past, now in the present, threatening to affect his relationship with his beautiful partner with the name of Lana — and then the start of what that nameless guilty secret might have been about, I presume, and when, in 1986, he was at school, he had brittle bones (probably still does) and a teacher with the name of Mr Ovenden. I think everyone in the past had a teacher with the name of Mr Ovenden! All of this taking place in the North East, ‘today’, 2006, in Saltburn with roads having their own names named after precious stones, with cold channels of wind running through them. Elliot’s own names variously in the earlier 1986 days in Thirsk were spaz, brain-ache and posh…. Elliot’s job ‘today’ seems to be disguising other people’s plagiarisms?
    I will come back here when I have read a lot more in this book of what has been promised by these two chapters, with more of the book’s names no doubt but without giving away any of its secrets in the future by having then later read about them in the past…

  2. Chapters Three & Four

    “But it is a coincidence.”

    …that plagiarisms are accidents, even so-called versions of the Necronomicon.
    Everyone who reads someone’s else book is a potential plagiarist, I guess. Even if you are now too old to remember what you stored inside for future use.
    The book piles beyond the jumped chasm.
    And the counters are higher in ironmongers than anywhere else, I have always found.
    I have been all over Europe in my day, but never Barcelona.

  3. Chapters Five & Six

    Still 2006 and now 1987 …respectively.
    Elliot’s additional names, vicar and shirt-lifter. Much unfolds regarding the nature of bigoted mono-religion and of multi-religions, including those of an occult nature. Sexual orientations, too. Homo- or Pan-. The alleged plagiarist lifted into the sky from Sweden, but by what? Conviction and loss. Old age and unrequitedness. Brother love or hate, too. Friends falling out. Ovenden sacrificed to such conviction. The pangs of love and business. Iron-mongering as well as flighty artistry. My powers of cohering fiction leitmotifs or gestalt-managing as I call them are severely being tested here! Spanning the chapters. Magnifying and condensing. Flight containments of intoxication or larger earthbound versions…

    “There is still a childish part of me that wonders if the manufacturers have a method of shrinking a full-size bottle, label and all.”

  4. Chapters Seven & Eight

    “I can take the dream back…”

    2006, 1988 respectively. But if there are schisms — such as, say, extremes like Evangelicals and Methodists — within the otherwise mono-religion of Christianity, then anything is possible. A father’s forgiveness. Or a dream diary. Two time-zones in parallel conduits of cause and effect, while perhaps halted by a chiliastic or millennium bug on Jan 1 2000? An airfield full of books, where McCann flew from or to? But now McCann’s can with a fuse? And a miracle cure for brittle bones? Not unlike keeping a dream diary I am letting this book flow over me with some of its themes sticking, others not, some cohering, some flying off God knows where … till perhaps when I reverse the bus into what happens in the dream’s past, into the part of the dream that I forgot or that I never really dreamt at all….and what is the past going to say when it rings the present?

  5. Chapters Nine, Ten & Eleven

    “I’m sure all of my nightmares are coming true.”

    2006, 1988, 2006.
    More on the dream diary fusing Jerry’s McCann, et al. Later reported awakenings to Christ by someone who at a school decried such things. A bulldozed pile of books threatening avalanche, one being Moby Dick. A pile of other printed and franked material in sheaves or stacks. And all this and more amid this increasingly compelling, page-turning book. I was beginning to feel that I was allowing this book to flow too easily, banking on my own instinctive cohering methods learnt over the last 13 years, almost as back far as 2006, but now it is allowing me to stick and dwell, too, despite the pages turning so consumingly fast. The inner twist in this plot, meanwhile, as presented within these chapters was quite staggering, and I wondered whether it was planned from the start. But then I looked back at the Elvis Costello quote that I gave almost gratuitously yesterday above, but now I simply know more. I daren’t tell you much more for fear of spoilers. Rewinding the book back beyond where I remembered it starting, as with Elliot’s dream diary, perhaps? My Dr Who who was grown up with from my age of 15 onward, by the way, was William Hartnell, a matter broached in these chapters. Peter Capaldi as the Doctor, incidentally, found the book Moby Dick boring, and bemoaned, ‘Honestly, shut up and get to the whale.’

    “Please, leave the past alone.”

  6. Chapter Twelve (1988-1994)

    I can seen this book more clearly now, laundering my own notes, as it were. A clearer picture of Elliot as he develops beyond age 16. In Saltburn and Sapphire Street as a refuge, living with his Uncle and working for him as an ironmonger. The soffits and guttering of life. And music. The first meeting with Lana. Dreading repercussions from certain things in the past contacting him again — or for the first time?
    A clearer picture, true. But, as with my own photos as they have developed, as well as with Elliot’s, the image of this picture is perhaps accidental, and despite this or because of this it becomes art, as untouched by any potential subjectivity of my reading fallacies and even, or especially, by any intentional fallacies of the imputed author.

  7. Chapters Thirteen & Fourteen

    2006, 1995

    As I still enjoyably read these pages, the plot and its characters developing in two time channels, meetings and goings, lives and deaths, I wonder what motive the narrator, Elliot, has to tell it it to us in this staged, if engaging and intriguing, way. There is in fact a staged house party with many of the characters brought together to interact in 1995, a party that ends with some of the characters’ subterfuge of flight. Elliot works as a compiler of guide books, indeed. A professional coherer of facts arguably to entice the public to buy his guidebooks and to follow their pathways and audit trails in as disarmingly and enticingly devious a way as possible. The two dogs, Keegan and Shearer, notwithstanding?
    Who shot the sheriff? The narrator? Or his creator, the author?

    ‘Everyone was looking for a little entertainment
    So they’ll probably pull his hands off when they find out his name’
    – Elvis Costello

  8. CDB6E4A0-50E2-40CF-9997-52B24238996BChapter Fifteen (2006)

    “Pray, meditate on these matters and you will find that on a spiritual plane there are no contradictions.”

    We follow Elliot to the refuge of the chiliastic Children of the Cross, a brotherhood of prayerful black and white men, the refuge of the past, too, as a vessel or grail of the past’s conundrums in the present, and Elliot tries to fathom the past that had recently rung or wrung him, indeed to fathom its intentions by dint of meeting someone from that past, now in this brotherhood, a person contradicting his own previous agnostic beliefs that there is no proof God does exist let alone the resurrection of Christ. For Elliot, there is nothing in the Millennialisms of Comings and Goings. Here, though, Christ exists under the roof of this book, it is said by those forces arguing with Elliot who has himself not changed his agnostic beliefs.
    Literature holds within itself the new Messiah by dint of connections and gestalt? Or each reader or reviewer is the Messiah him- or herself by revealing that fact?

  9. Chapters Sixteen & Seventeen

    “‘It is pointless to call any modern art good or bad,’ she said.”

    1996, 2006
    Truth or fiction, genuine luck or meaningful coincidence, confirmation bias or genuine preternatural gestalt cohering, of modern art, tarot cards, mainstream religions, occult religions, miracles, second comings, Y2K transcending ….
    I continue to be compelled into reading these two streams of time, but why or how did I earlier miscall this book’s Retreat a Refuge, and how is it today that I happened to read The God of Storage Options of such mutual synergy with this book, here, just now, earlier today?

  10. Chapter Eighteen, Nineteen & Twenty

    “Meanwhile, back in the real world . . .”

    A joke to be shared or simply a reaction to one channel of time, 2006, now appearing fully to overtake the other? “La, la, la” Lana takes over with a confessive regression into her backstory Ex. And I sort of put fingers in my own ears as I realise that my own Who shot the sheriff? The narrator? Or his creator, the author? above still nags at me. Who pulled the trigger of this book? The pecking-order ladder of narration has been instinctively created arguably to hide some intrinsic guilty belief at the top end of that ladder in alternative religions if not outsider art, now needing exorcism by the erstwhile creation of characters in this intriguing multi-level, twin-time-channeled narration, characters who are no longer certain to exist in the eyes of the ‘real’ characters. A Pascal’s Wager. A ‘la la la’ land of too easy acceptance of not believing whom one has met or places one has visited, except for the evidence of a pound coin or the shadow of a man-size cross on the wall. Still, I truly recall a real teacher called Ovenden in my own early life.
    No evidence, no crime. Just a cat called Murakami.

    “We deliberate visiting Barcelona, and reminisce about our trips abroad, both for Persimmon Press and on proper holidays.”


    Dear Lord, I sincerely hope You’re coming
    ‘Cause You really started something
    […] Now he’d like to go to Spain or somewhere like that
    — Elvis Costello

  11. “All got onto the train when we were three stations east, yeah”
    — Elvis Costello

    Chapters Twenty-One to Twenty-Four

    “‘Your faith,’ I say, ‘is a belief in something that cannot be seen or touched and for which there is no empirical proof. It defies logic and understanding and commonsense, and yet you ask people to believe you are right, somehow, on a spiritual plane.’”

    2011, 2020
    Empiricism and Literature, a couplet mentioned earlier in my review, too. A preternatural ability to scry the books we read that were intended as fiction and make them somehow true in a new way. Yet, in tune with this book, I do not believe this; I do not even believe myself. Simply hope I might be. Each of us a Messiah of sorts in our own self’s world?
    A book that has been a sort of enlightenment, not who pulled the trigger but at whom was it aimed? A staggering outcome, that shook out the stuffed feathers of this ofttimes teetering on the edge of romcom or mystic mysteries or the ‘drifting in and out of alternative realities.’ Occasionally in spite of itself, this potentially important and always entertaining novel will hang about in my mind, as we all await our own individual apocalypses or armageddons, each end of each self’s world.
    Even a steam train, a wedding breakfast at Prague Castle… and a slower route back to Sweden with all the characters on board. Even one of the characters driving it. And indeed one character in this book whom I had cursorily noticed before, and only in passing, a character who turns out to be an angel or fairy godmover. And there is also a sort of elephant in a room that “illustrates how the truth can be seen and described in different ways, and yet still be the truth.” Until the poker comes down? Or one has one’s kids and tends allotments? Free Will but with hidden controlling designs and meanings. We perhaps each read a different book when we think we all read the same one. A two-tone Bible.
    Who can’t wait for the whale, if not the elephant!?

    “There is a plan, apparently, and an awful pattern and every element is connected, although we might not understand it.”


  12. Pingback: Fairy Godmover | The Des Lewis Gestalt Real-Time Reviews

  13. NB: My own quotations from Elvis Costello. Not the book’s.
    In fact, I am unsure they are even relevant – I just had an instinct that they were, judging by the title of this book.

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