Nightscript #7

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CHTHONIC MATTER 2021

Edited by C. M. Muller

My previous reviews of Nightscript and C.M. Muller: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/tag/c-m-muller/

Stories by Clint Smith, Joshua Rex, Douglas Thompson, Timothy Granville, Elin Olausson, Gordon Brown, David Surface, Douglas Ford, Alexander James, Jason A. Wyckoff, Rhonda Eikamp, Steve Toase, Tim Major, Ashley Stokes, Regina Garza Mitchell, Marc Joan, Danny Rhodes, Charles Wilkinson, LC von Hessen.

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

19 thoughts on “Nightscript #7

  1. Feast Your Eyes on the Yawning Monotony of Humdrum Rot
    Clint Smith

    “It’s like someone jammed the House of the Seven Gables into the middle of The Flying Dutchman.”

    …‘the tick of her hips’ in tune with the harbour’s own ‘hips’ whereon this tourist hotel as ancient ship sits… HIPS, it says, and a SHIP we reach
    As HANDS had earlier later become separately a blood vow and a duly hammered curse …

    A backstory to a reunion and investment in vows that have been broken and now punished by the nightmare of the ship’s worm infestment. All happening at a wedding reception on 31st December 2000 on the ship hotel when an old man like me ‘begins to see patterns’ of a gestalt work out — but then did the new Millennium start dead on time or a year late?
    My mind has somehow leapfrogged any meaning in this story or has been fazed by its utter craftsmanship of tactile horror words for their own sake. Building new homes, too, for old duffers to live in, where a roof is more valuable than a lay.

    “Though interspersed and nearly unnoticeable among the dark whorls of varnished grain, the schizophrenic honeycomb-holes were now quite conspicuous. […]
    ‘Well, terado worms is one name for them, depending on how smart you want to sound. Pileworms is another. But their more common name is naval shipworm.’”

    My previous reviews of this author: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/tag/clint-smith/

  2. 43CF3B57-1D06-4A0D-BC11-9208F1C4DA98 The Passing
    Joshua Rex

    “….inscrutable as Oma Wespe was—as frighteningly as his relatives depicted her in their (presumably) apocryphal tales concerning the old woman’s startling intuition (the way she seemed to know everything about them)—she was still his grandmother.”

    ‘Great great great’ grandmother, in fact, like the rhythm of three eggs, within a fraktur font and her crack of a smile. Klaus, a nine year old boy, is made by his mother to climb a staircase explicitly like that in the previous story’s old ship. But this is a building, if one soon to be riven by Edda and Yggdrasil and then remade like a humpty dumpty, I infer, as a new dynastic era starts … 6E966745-7F97-4C5A-BE1B-95EFDDCD75AA wonderfully word-carved, evocatively, pungently, cataclysmically (even teeming with the previous story’s equivalent to this story’s “sightless vermicules”) about a boy’s initiation — as he is taken, by his mother, as chosen one, with his book and beads, to experience the passing of once endlessness within this woman: the previous family treehead. A work that engenders hope and healing despite, or even because of, its ‘three blind roots’… riven like the passing’s ‘split grin’, exploring every inch of the boy’s interior atlas, and now ours.

  3. WHEN SLEEP AT LAST by Douglas Thompson

    “Did he create this world by revealing it as he moved through it like this, like the captain of a ship?””

    One may well ask, as I set out in this human ship of a story, another harbouring vessel of time and destiny, with the initial feeling that this was the start of some massive fantasy saga, but like a drone’s code that watched its path from above I suddenly saw the succinct and terrible ending even before the story itself did. When robots and flesh are involved in some future where history panned out as a reflection of itself. Back to Christ himself. “…the laughing grin of a skull at all humanity, the ultimate, monstrous joke.”
    Anything else would be plot spoilers.

    “Hell mend them.”

    My previous reviews of this author: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/tag/douglas-thompson/

      • Although not directly connected with the next story, this photo is one I happened to take earlier this morning, without any forethought, and before first reading the story — a photo of a funeral parlour window, that turned out in hindsight to be remarkable, if oblique, collateral!

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        BEWARE POSSIBLE SPOILERS, though, for me, it already worked even if with firm forethought.

        The Summer King’s Day
        Timothy Granville

        “The crown of wildflowers seemed a grotesque afterthought, a mockery like Christ’s crown.”

        Alongside the ending of the previous story above, this was as great an afterthought as it was a hindsight…. A suspenseful story of a young couple and a toddler called Poppy, the latter learning to talk as well as walk. They seem to have booked a holiday in a place off the beaten track called Elveley, and are surprised, in fact at first slightly fearful, that an off-season day’s festival with rattling of pots and pans coincided with their visit. It centres around the eponymous King played by a tall man in a mask, who for me — via the words describing him and what is said about him by others, and his choice for quietness — actually succeeded in making me shudder. And also made the husband have one of his, what I deemed to be, asthmatic fits. The family later decide to cut their losses and on the same day leave the village for a trip to a wooded barrow in the area, whereby the hi-jinx chasing and hunting with Poppy insidiously merges with chitinous chirring and a flowery mound to mimic what had been buried — yes, with a chirring if not cheering! They had been foolhardy enough to break the festival’s bounds and to travel to leave Elveley on the day in question… Hindsight was never enough, I guess. Afterthought is ever being transcended by forethought, too. Earlier that day, you see, before their reaching the end of the story, there was for the wife … “a bluebottle still buzzing in a cobweb on the window frame, gathering the dusty mesh like a spool. She felt strange, apprehensive, as though there was something awful she had to face but she’d temporarily forgotten what.”
        Remember — ‘remember to breathe’.

        My previous reviews of this author: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/tag/timothy-granville/

  4. Pingback: Remember to Breathe | The Des Lewis Gestalt Real-Time Reviews

  5. Roadkill
    Elin Olausson

    “. . . well. I take my time polishing the eggs, because I don’t have much else to do.”

    Now four, not three. Each egg a future life to handle. Four feather falls? And a maggot cut in half…. “Today, he drives slower than usual and it takes forever before he’s even off the main road.” — Zeno’s Paradox yet again that often seems to permeate the literature I read
    A thoughtful, tantalising, eventually sort of entrancing Null-Immortalis of a story, whereby the narrator, whom we only gradually realise what is her lot and her gender and her circumstances of living where she lives, now old enough to mend a roof with a hammer, the roof on the retro time- and entropy- secluded house (do they really have gas to buy in the distant dystopic cities?), the house that is upon a through road with a bend ahead and then a gap that drivers can’t forethink other than in a crash of hindsight, this narrator living with the older-Dolores who thinks philosophically of a Mike who still is in the city and has not joined her. If I tell you more about all this, it might prevent future accidents but also involve you in prethought plot spoilers. Just think of the narrator as she sits in her room in the house telling us about it in the glow of a red nightlight and with her doll’s head. And how an occasional visitor called Gabriel in that slower-than-usual car might come again to investigate something he once investigated as the sheriff… death is easy, but life goes on like any journey, I guess. We all have that innocent bend ahead to negotiate and survive, had we but known.

    “‘Of course he died. That’s what people do.’ I guess that’s true. The chickens die, too, and the strangers who don’t know about the gap in the road.”

  6. It Looked Like Her
    Gordon Brown

    “A little too dollish, too Dali, but still—they followed us into our restless dreams.”

    A crisp, powerful first-person-plural narration, where it was not only our ‘training bra’ that “tethered us together. It should’ve been enough.” A bad summer, too, where even a town’s drinking water picked up the contaminated results of its poultry plant exploding. A pack of narrators, too girly, too Goya, I say, as they stalk a living female missing murder victim from a TV real crime programme, a woman watching a soap opera on another TV, as it happened, when they thought they found her. Or she found them? — and then, I thought, all of them grown up, including her, following us into our own dreams after reading this, scars with wrong shapes or not. Can a book review itself be infected by — and then harbour — such first-person-plural power as part of its autonomous working through the system of words and those who read them? It looked like us.

  7. Little Gods To Live In Them
    David Surface

    “Pulsing, steady as a heartbeat, they rattled the dishes in her cupboard, and made the panes of glass in the window frames buzz like wasps.”

    A seething buzz as if the earlier wasp woman and her control over a whole family tree, a tree here become an American township, crawling with things polluting the water in the previous story now, I feel, turning into corruptive floaters of visionary vision: “Hundreds of wraith-like shapes rising like the bacteria she sometimes saw swimming across her own eyeballs.” In the sight of solar eclipses become sky quakes in those who believe in things behind things like chakras or would-be equivalent models modelling the very house where we met that wasp woman… all this embodied as a paranoiac, conniving, subtly accretive invasion of the town by Kafkaesque building works, a bridge among bridges that straddle as well as underpin the frame or gestalt of truth in all great visionary literature. Peppered with human fingers and knowing house pets and a woman whose good nature is harnessed by those bridge builders of some more inimical gestalt, I sense. Their gestalt disguised as “A shifting rupture-like absence in the world.” My battle starts and begins here, I sense, against such shifting. Or it is simply something far worse, something not even real enough to be dangerous, something that has always been empty whatever such shifts that our eye-floaters disguise, an emptiness veiled by the ‘little gods’ that live in various upstanding townships, shallow communities as increasingly and superstitiously touched by mutant surface beliefs and polarities? Or a human digit that becomes a shrivelled carrot…
    But could even my own such beliefs be mutant, too?

    “Many voices, hundreds of them. One long, furious wail of grief and rage.”

    My previous reviews of this author: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/tag/david-surface/

  8. From above:

    My mind has somehow leapfrogged any meaning in this story or has been fazed by its utter craftsmanship of tactile horror words for their own sake. Building new homes, too, for old duffers to live in, where a roof is more valuable than a lay.

    “…the laughing grin of a skull at all humanity, the ultimate, monstrous joke.”
    Anything else would be plot spoilers.

    A pack of narrators, too girly, too Goya, I say,…

    But could even my own such beliefs be mutant, too?
    “Many voices, hundreds of them. One long, furious wail of grief and rage.”

    .
    Too Goya, too Gorilla, too Girly.

    ====

    We Are The Gorillas
    Douglas Ford

    My mind has somehow leapfrogged any meaning in this story or has been fazed by its utter bravado for its own sake of hardcore horror, its retrocausal hirsuteness and schooldays brutality, its disarming naked forthrightness of adolescents, its outrageous teachers with paddles to wield and its infective lessons no doubt in backward evolution. Building new horrors, too, for ancient gorillas like me to assess, even the ultra-trans concept of boy gorillas taking on the identity they have been given by those who should have known better, including the sole girly gorilla as narrator, whereby a hairy hoot is more valuable than a bark if not a bare bum. Especially or even if you are (or are not) the most unreliable narrator or monstrously spoiling absurdist reviewer in the realms of literature, all of us deserve paddling, — those paddled and paddlers alike. Not forgetting the gorilla inside Flannery O’Connor. Gorillas are the only way to go. No jokes. No Swiftian modest ironies.

    My previous review of this author: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/02/06/oculus-sinister/#comment-20944

  9. From above

    — Zeno’s Paradox yet again that often seems to permeate the literature I read.

    …this photo is one I happened to take earlier this morning, without any forethought, and before first reading the story — a photo of a funeral parlour window, that turned out in hindsight to be remarkable, if oblique, collateral! […] Alongside the ending of the previous story above, this was as great an afterthought as it was a hindsight…
    Remember — ‘remember to breathe’.

    ….its infective lessons no doubt in backward evolution.
    .

    The Body Trick
    Alexander James

    “Ellen was a few minutes younger, so she always had to drink second.”

    There was always something a bit off about that near the beginning of this story, and I can’t quite fathom back far enough why I found that strange about Jess and Ellen, as twins sisters who often played dead as a joke for their single mother complete with hard-won realistic props. But which one of them was the hardest?

    This is a terribly disturbing story, in many direct and oblique ways, and if I tell you more, I might soon forget why telling you more might be an even more terrible spoiler in hindsight. Suffice to say, this seems to be a most original work that conveys a sort of retro Zeno’s Paradox, and a sort of Null Immortalis as I understand it. It affected me deeply, as you would find understandable if you have been reading my exhaustive Aickman reviews recently. Or as recently as I can remember, for one of my age and mindset.

    “An idea which forgot itself.”

    My previous review of this author: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2020/10/04/nightscript-6/#comment-20060

  10. Just now, a tweet by my son — a tweet first seen, liked and retweeted ten minutes after reading the next story:

    Feed
    Jason A. Wyckoff

    “Nell turned her head to see to whom the offensive odor clung, but her view was blocked…”

    An effectively and increasingly nightmarish series of Venn-word diagrams of people whom Nell sees in real life, prehensile stenches and felt traumas on a train, all overlapping piecemeal with one’s Facebook feed, post by post, a unique mixture of other people’s lives and their current preoccupations, and friend requests, and pictures one is polite about and ‘likes’, those that make one angry or sad, toward a whole dead elephant in the headroom, I guess. The ultimate Zeno’s Paradox story, where a scream is ever only partway complete. But still time enough to snap…

    My previous reviews of this author : https://nullimmortalis.wordpress.com/2012/03/03/black-horse-and-other-strange-stories/ and https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/tag/jason-a-wyckoff/

    • “Eternity is inside us – it’s a secret that we must never, never try to betray. Look where just time has brought me; look at where it’s left me. When you make friends, don’t talk about me.”
      — Elizabeth Bowen, ‘No. 16’

  11. Pingback: Elephant in the Memory, with little room remaining… | The Des Lewis Gestalt Real-Time Reviews

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