A fearless faith in fiction — Employing, since 2008, a Kantian or Jungian sensibility and an ‘intentional fallacy’ consciousness — Various passions of the reading moment — Walter de la Mare, ELizabeth BOWen, ROBERT aiCKMAN and many others old and new — Please click my name below for this site’s navigation and my backstory as intermittent photographer, writer, editor, publisher & reviewer.
Over 110 pages, my copy numbered 5/77.
A luxurious book, with the Mount Abraxas quality of a beautifully-upholstered and -designed creation, to the nature of which I have long grown accustomed from this publisher. But I never take their books for granted. Each is uniquely beautiful in its own way.
“An ordinary event a decade ago becomes a sacred event;”
The repetition of ‘event’ and the naïve recurrence of a ‘princess in her tower’ marks out this narrator transcending the nostalgia demon with memories as a teenage boy who speaks instinctive Scotticisms in a coastal Leith, and who ekes out a suspense for the reader as he, this boy, stalks — and then is stalked back — by an older girl or woman, that so-called princess from abroad, whose father keeps her otherwise imprisoned. The expression of a naïve wisdom, too, that artfully pulled me along with such suspense, as if I am paradoxically an old but still naïve reader turned back into some yearned for past of his own without this story’s sporadic mobile-phones, and, despite or because of a few endearing typos, I reach towards a constructively naïve ending of nostalgia transcended by alembic and tantalisingly mystic impermanence.
Leith is not literally coastal but still has a shore or sureness?
the black trunk
“‘Get me baby back ribs,’ shouted the husband as his family went inside.”
This represents a remarkable portrait of modern America as outsiders may see it, seeing its wood for its trees, its darkness in its mock light. I don’t think I have ever felt America for real before. Endless routes amid vastness and roadside diners, giant advertisements, and gas stations as they are called in such an America. All of this as if threaded through the eyes of an American family of four in a car, sensitive, necessarily naïve, small girl, and her older brother, and her arguing parents. And, layered on top of this an old man who turns up in the same diner as the family and other customers and waitresses, in many ways a naïve man, like the girl herself, but one with a transcending wisdom, perhaps like hers, too — in telling synergy with the previous story, an old man toting his black trunk of entertaining marionettes and eventual instructive mayhem. The grisly outcome is madly grotesque, too, in emotional terms, but I was somehow enabled to distil wisdom from the naïve horror tropes as well as from the pervading, if magically invisible, subtleties that I myself (also an old man) found were underlying — or perhaps even overlying — such tropes. Making words speak to me in a certain way is a belief that such words had already spoken thus without me.
“…making toys is a rebuke to the misery and suffering and ridiculousness of everything.”
the metaphysician’s daughter
Veronica, brought up in the rabbit-hole world of her father’s metaphysics, has lived “…underneath the alembics” and “Like a child utterly enraptured by a puppet theatre” as well as being “naïve, fey”. And I thus feel this story cosies up to the previous two, yet she escapes this otherworld which becomes the “other otherworld” to the world where she becomes concupiscent woman to a degree that offends even the words used to create offence, as they describe what this other world has thronged with strangers “who spoke indistinctly of indistinct things”, till her escaping back into the literally metaphysical world where alternate worlds can happen as well as endings to create them. And perhaps she met in one of them her father’s bloated puppet of the ‘thing’ that had originally spawned her! There is much engaging originality of metaphysical and physical humanity in this story especially when conjuring up the nature of otherworld versus otherworld within itself, a story that also tries to transcend any lasting orgy of offence with a well-summoned vision of Prague’s lifeless marionettes as readily randy strollers as well as of Prague’s underworld or looking-glass otherworld.
the saint of evil
“You’re actors, now act!”
You’re a writer, now write! And this one duly does, with what he wants its characters to do, and thus he does it himself, conjuring up the eponymous theatrical play — even magnifying it beyond itself by dint of obsessive, sometimes purposefully painful, sometimes involuntarily clumsy or overblown words! — a play that he darkly discovers so as to replace the run-of-the-mill sentimental ones played by the actors he directs. A play that was originally published in the year of my birth, one that even outArts Artaud! Angels and Demons mating and dire things much worse — or perhaps better? A play we are here told is performed and seen — and also told about in detail as it is here in burgeoning strictures of sought perfection and sprawling info-dumps and select quotations, all of which infiltrate the actors themselves and the protagonist director, and finally their audience, an audience that includes us readers? But I feel you may not even need to see this play or read this story about it to reap, unfailsafe, its sought perfections and involuntary clumsinesses of osmotic effect through my own clumsy review of it!
You’re readers, now read!
the demonic jester
“…he straddled the line between local eccentric and sinister bogeyman.”
If it needs coming together, this is where this book (so far) does come together in the most optimally disturbing version of its prose style, emotional undercurrents and naïve wisdom. The story of a boy, his crush Juliette at school, and this ambivalent Jester with his clownish behaviour and pet monkey and marionette in his box and and hurdy-gurdy, occupying the overlapping lands of false and real memories or the ‘single memory’ he shares with another and, of course, dreaming.
Dealing with nostalgia and the unknown…
The actual Jester himself is perhaps the one who has just read this story and has now marked out the susceptibility of whatever or whoever is the story’s grown-up point of view or perhaps the Jester is the one who is due to read it next or has already read it concurrently with the rest of us? A Jester full of hoax as well as visionary capabilities.
the abiding clock tower
“the weird statues peopled”
A page-turning quest by the narrator as the next representative of this book’s intrinsic soul as so far adumbrated by my review as well as more fulsomely instilled by itself. And a final work in it as impulsively page-turning as this suspenseful one somehow meaningfully crosses against the grain of the stiff heady pages of the physical book itself that one needs to turn.
The narrator, amid a modernist busy world of ant-spotting from the eponymous tower, ants with their “portable machines” and “electronic contraptions”. But, first, he stares alone from his bedroom, obsessed with the derelict cathedral’s clock tower and its still regular strikings at noon and midnight (and sometimes six o’clock?), the bells rung by a bell-ringer, he envisages, and he later finds out for real that such is living there as an old man, and although he does not yet fully realise that he yearns for a similar sort of Quasimodo sanctuary there, perhaps this narrator does now, having finally told us this story? Or perhaps it is I myself, as the now captive reader, who becomes the old man as the bell-ringer whom he finds there? For me, the fact he discovers — by significantly unforced entry into it — that this disused cathedral contains a naïvely ludicrous amount of almost prehensile gargoyles and statues of various degrees of monstrousness within it, accentuates an equal fact that one statue is of a beautiful woman with which or with whom he almost falls or does fall in love. The latter statue poised upon the very Last Balcony of all, I somehow feel.
An abiding clock tower…
Cf Clocktime as a Zeno’s Paradox in many of my past reviews, particularly the recent ones about Aickman’s work…