Uncertainties V

SWAN RIVER PRESS MMXXI (my previous reviews HERE)

Edited by Brian J. Showers

Work by Eóin Murphy, Ramsey Campbell, Sean Hogan, Jason E. Rolfe, Alan Moore, Aislínn Clarke, Inna Effress, Deirdre Sullivan, Simon Strantzas, Nina Antonia, John Langan, Carly Holmes.

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

25 thoughts on “Uncertainties V

  1. THREE SISTERS BOG by Eóin Murphy

    A remarkably tactile and psycho-pungent coagulance of a story, that slowly slowly makes it impossible to leave or grow out of — as unput-downable by its owner as the dog that got lost within it. A story at the ‘timeless point’ when advanced age does not matter, except when it needs to be sacrificed for those younger — a story wherein one is often offered things to eat or drink that one must never eat or drink, offered them, here, by the eponymous ugly sisters in the eponymous “What went in, might never come out.”

  2. From my review yesterday above before reading the next story…. ‘A story at the ‘timeless point’ when advanced age does not matter, except when it needs to be sacrificed for those younger —‘

    FIRST A BIRD by Ramsey Campbell

    A six year old boy follows his kick-sandalled ball into what his now sleeping grandfather had earlier, perhaps pretentiously, called a ‘glade’, thus demonstrating a pecking-order of intellect with the boy’s parents, too, who are also now asleep outside the glade, as he, like the boy in the previous story above, is gradually absorbed by the coagulant uncrisp bog but then released by an ancestor’s sacrifice of self, but here the same boy is absorbed by the crisper fricatives and plosives of the glade-christened domain wherein a would-be bird in a bush worth two outside it does coo ‘yous’ at him and other such self-awareness tricks in a whole series of thrown voices that obliquely make this book be absorbed onward along its meaningful path of uncertain identities.

  3. Pingback: The Fictives and Plosives of Ramsey Campbell | The Des Lewis Gestalt Real-Time Reviews

  4. Feeling oneself become another daytime drinker’s “ventriloquist’s dummy” in a local pub seems obliquely in tune with the thrown voices of the previous story now thrown into the next…

    TO SEE THE SEA by Sean Hogan

    “Your death advancing frame by frame, millisecond by millisecond. Would it be possible to indefinitely delay the moment if you slowed down time enough?”

    Another work of gluey Zenoism and other timeless points between youth and age… an engaging and page-turning work despite the implied slow ‘tepid leaks’… and I feel somehow in tune, too, with Robert in this story, down from London, to this downbeat seaside place where I live now and his eventual symbiosis with the arty statue (male, but otherwise featureless) placed out at sea, a work as if by Antony Gormley or Maggi Hambling… a place where he is trying to avoid unwelcome acquaintances, including a dubious Ex who keeps ringing him up. A place of blue numberless house doors, of “palsied karaoke” and pensioners like me with “congealing breakfasts”. And Dobbo, that man in the pub, who says of me in this story: ”Fuckin’ DFL. Comin’ down here with his airs and graces. He got what was comin’ to ‘im.”

  5. Pingback: Down From London | The Des Lewis Gestalt Real-Time Reviews

  6. EVERYTHING WE SAY AND ALL THE THINGS WE DO (On the Permanent Impression of Our Words and Actions on the World We Inhabit)
    by Jason E. Rolfe


    Those words in the title above seem to make ghostly visitations such as men in plague-masks with a severed head to flay and flense (and these words’ meaning either as absurdity or truth vis à vis our immersion in or protection from the nonsense of death) musically pan-demic across place-memories, as they are, specifically in this story, from Vienna to Montreal. Transcending traditional ghost stories’ pinpointing of each genius loci. Just as in this wonderful wonderful still lingering story of now and of 200 years ago, one hears of today’s Arnie Schönberg and the now ‘grating’ avant garde of Franz Schubert spanning time but also inverting their own such absurdities and formal stylised acceptabilities of art across time as well as place. The pantheism of ghosts and philosophies. The Nonsense Society in which we all inescapably live, threaded through with haunting frissons of erstwhile hopes and despairs, plagues of the mind as well as of the flesh between our flayed ligaments. From Campbell’s earlier bird in a bush to those out of it. Bog to bog. Slowly and forever.

    My previous reviews of this author: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/tag/jason-e-rolfe/

  7. Pingback: A Fearless Faith In Fiction | The Des Lewis Gestalt Real-Time Reviews

  8. As presaged by the previous story above and its ‘Nonsense Society’… we go forward in time (or perhaps back) to the next previous story…

    NOT EVEN LEGEND by Alan Moore

    …a potentially hilarious story of another such society, now meeting upon the firm base of a meeting room made available by a firm of Estate Agents… multi-viewpoint theatrics of well-characterised individual personalities and their paranormal quirks, discussions that even outdo the Fortean Times, not only exploring the Unknown but also the unknown Unknown! The speech tonight by someone is of the Snapjackets, jilkies, mormoleens and Whispering Petes in a retrocausal extravaganza (whereby the travel of gluey Zenoism is backwards), and where even the legendary times of lockdowns etc. are more than just envisageable.
    I see myself as also a sort of scryer of unknown unknowns, those in literature, such as seeing things that are not there. Like the ‘covered market’ here being a reference to a Covid Market. And I would add another word to the list above: DROGULUS, now a real word (Google it!), a word said to be invented by (A.J.) Ayer or Air.
    My name’s Des and I’m just such a drogulus! A Remainer not a Lever.

    “…air-kissing hello to everybody.”

  9. Pingback: The Drogulus Descried | The Des Lewis Gestalt Real-Time Reviews

  10. SKELETON DAY by Aislínn Clarke

    “, be it blood, or be it felt.”

    An honestly disturbing story of a well-characterised woman living a dirty weekend’s ‘lie’ with a married man in Bangor. Masquerading as Mr and Mrs Skelton. Ireland’s religions, if not its legends here represented by the eponymous day, yes, its religions north and south, are, I infer, also imbued with guilt and shame, metaphorised by a waltzer with screaming passengers, one a woman in a red hat, as part of a constant carnival very near their paranoia-inducing hotel. I loved the disarming quality of the various characters and inferred horrors, including the song sung by ‘Mr Skelton’, a story perhaps even outdoing Aickman in some unique respects. Yet it was not after all a metaphor that was metaphorised, but it is something else that has stayed with me. A surfaceless as well as empty drogulus that naturally cannot be felt… Yet, I imagine I hear its blood still screaming.
    Now it’s just left for me to sign this story’s guestbook.

  11. MALADY OF LAUGHTER by Inna Effress

    “A series of whoops seemed to come from every direction, from behind every boulder and tree. Each call started low and mounted.”

    Whether nightjar or hyena, this has been infected by (or, vice versa, into) this book’s earlier ventriloquist bush, yes, bush, here a richness of fricatives and plosives, textured words that wow me with their density, weight, lightness, too, and witchy temptations, an African symphony of sounds and smells and spells — words or svelte, leggy person abductions, other senses of pluck and trawl, too, as Theodore, an exile from Manchester, for whatever acknowledged or hidden crime of deed or of thought, and now a possibly hands-on teacher of adolescent girls in a Church of England missionary school now quarantined except for him and the groundskeeper, thus emptied to airbrush covert desires that have come out as laughs if not Covid, an ironic plague of thrown giggles or chortles, an occult backdrop to Theodore’s visions and floating lake reflections amid all his other dubious sights and potential or real handlings of flesh like others handling fish, eyeing and/or handling of perhaps males as well as females in this inferred bush or bushes of desire, ‘the bush’ often standing, as a word, for the African bush that he now infects or is infected by. The bush as a word transplanted from that earlier story in this book. Bush, too, is inferred upon a physical adolescent mound? Makes me laugh with a literary satisfying. My lady of more dire gulps and hiccups of otherwise blocked sound disguised as laughs? Screams of laughter on the previous story’s carnival waltzer? Tantalising and may need more than the one reading I have given it so far.

    My previous reviews of this author:

  12. LITTLE LIVES by Deirdre Sullivan

    “Another window, differently shaped, looks out on the pools of water and the bog…”

    Almost as if this is the inside story of this book so far as started by its first story, a parade of fictions perhaps misordered as the numbered chapters in this particular story, a book that itself now feels to me as haunted as some of the dolls in this story. I need scraping out of this book, no doubt, before I do more damage to its creative sump, perhaps. “People think that damaged things can hurt them.” A series of disarmingly mis-numbered bullet points if not chapters interspersing sales-blurbs as examples of the individually named dolls being sold, this work and its words having spiked me as well as spooked me. Meat-fingered or thumbed me. These two women beyond the abandoned window, one a child herself perhaps if not a doll. Are these characters in symbiosis with the haunted dolls (haunted by documentary proof), dolls they sell. I keep saying perhaps, and that’s half the horror. The story itself says somewhere, I recall, “perhaps preternatural”, and for no accountable reason that tautology made me truly shudder. Whatever my ramblings induced by this story, this story genuinely gives me pause for thought as to the nature of hauntings, the nature of our bodies, our bodies’ bodies, their built likenesses and what can be physically / psychically contained within them. The ‘narrator’, incidentally, is explicitly infected in chapter 26 by the previous story’s giggles and laughs.

  13. So Much Potential by Simon Strantzas


    A one word paragraph.
    An intermission or premature coda for this book’s Gestalt?
    Whatever the case, I imagined I read a story otherwise from a space where no words stood, with its sense of such reading-between-the-lines words, a sense, in its own words, ‘that had just left or was about to arrive’, a story that turned out to be genuinely a suspenseful, effectively narrated page-turner about a woman stalked by the frightening, paranoiac uncertainties of an aborted blind date to the detriment of her career hopes. So much potential.

    My previous reviews of this author: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/simon-strantzas/

  14. AWAY by Nina Antonia

    “This strange state of being ‘present, yet absent’…”

    ‘Away’ with the Fae… the tantalising, mowsly and eerie story narrated by one of his school girl peers about a typically lively boy, a cheeky, sarky, “almost teenager” (as “twixt youth and beast” as a statue in this story), a boy called Carl, who becomes, on a school trip, an almost-drogulus for this book via sacrilege of a tree in a dell. In short he becomes accretively fey. Until, well, there can be no long cuts to permanent old age, let alone middle age, are there, just the short-cut ambitions of youth? Another ‘dead monument to once ancient hope’? All of this steeped me deep.

    My previous reviews of this author: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/tag/nina-antonia/


    Although much interest to be found for me in the narrator’s literary, philosophical and classical-music explorations, this otherwise textually and traditionally well-written horror novelette of a student working for survival money in a garage kiosk at night with responsibility for the security camera tapes, a fiction with its transcendent and sometimes gory tale of a sacrificial sun cult based on Mithras and Bataille, presented me with the uncertainty of it not seeming to fit well into my perceived and preferred context of this book so far. Unless I’m missing something?

    My previous reviews of this author: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/john-langan-nathan-ballingrud/

  16. From one timed camera trap in the previous story to the next in the next….

    TRAP by Carly Holmes

    …one that perhaps captures the soul of an adolescent girl with all her tantrums and fears? Pure uncertainty at last.
    Not a changeling or a full-fledged presence-as-absence but what I shall ever now call a drogling or ogulus stemming from this engaging, eventually chilling, tale of a woman’s trials and errors in bringing up two obstreperously typical daughters with smartphones in a house and barn at the end of a country lane. Living off the stolen sights of unexpected minutiae that one might never ever see …except by studied chance or accident on Instagram? Things spied in wonderful books like this one by having to look away first. Bits as invisible wholes.

    My previous reviews of this author: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/tag/carly-holmes/


  17. Pingback: The New Drogulus | The Des Lewis Gestalt Real-Time Reviews

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

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

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s