A Nightjar Sextet

The NightJaw Syndrome

A FEW ALTERATIONS by Jordan Harrison-Twist

STATIC by Justine Bothwick

RETURN by David Frankel

ON MIRRORS by Ben Tufnell

BAT WALK by Shirley Stephenson

A VISIT TO THE BONESETTER by Christopher Burns


NightJar, NightJaw, NightJour, NuitJour, NightDay, NightLight, NightJourney


My previous reviews of this publisher: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/tag/nightjar-press/

When I read these works during 2022, my thoughts will appear in the comment stream below…

12 thoughts on “A Nightjar Sextet

  1. 31E3AE0A-C97D-4C96-94F4-FDC68D93DBCF

    It seems as if this truly remarkable work…

    — about a new stroke of fortune in the hands of a callow couturier, involving valiant suits and bespoke, made-to-measure configurations of material, with stiff or lax collars, under the auspices of an unreadywear shop’s bleeding umlaut as its name’s sigil, and there is one of two brothers in a car accident where he becomes a templated pattern of the other brother (a leasehold-narrative outfitter), as multi-pinned to these few otherwise blank pages with the disguise of printed words that bear some indicative meaning as a still-growing gestalt —

    …is actually becoming what one might imagine to be tailored to (or symbolised by) the freehold author’s arguably lax signature above, thus ribbed or stiffened horizontally by a second accidental if confidently sturdy and longer stroke.

  2. 721310A7-5069-4BF8-BC61-ED236D2DA62C

    There is something quantum theory here, something in the sand, a fossil-creature as rock, Iago petrified-meaning-TERRIfied but then literally petrified, something as seduced by a woman named after an island from the Ionian Sea and a vague mention of man called Iannes (though I can’t find him again, not even in the text’s tableaux under glass) and, Hans, the name of Wolf’s late father’s voice in his head, something one side of the page as mysterious as the other side in the hand of the author herself, and, yes, something else, the aforementioned character called Wolf hearing his dead parents in his head scorning him for his shortcomings like not wearing a hat in the increasingly hot sun and then they are spurring him on to trigger a new reality as an escape from global warming, a trigger by a quantum theory of petrified words as well as a woman’s body now proffered him, and a Meltemi wind unusually short-lived making me think the only way to survive climate change is to become petrified, a new birth from what is proffered. An eternity of stone in — or literal nightjar as — the human head, instead of voices.
    Something formed from the indelible blots upon a new landscape of literature ….

    Additional recommended reading:

    Burn like the mines of sulphur”: Othello, Iago, fossil fuels, and New Materialism by Marianne Kimura

    A Quantum Theoretical Reading of Shakespeare’s “Othello” by Nachi Keta

  3. …to the initially pleasant “weathered stone and terracotta…” of:-


    “…a churning mass pushing upwards…”

    Eventually, after the “sacred standstill” of my review elsewhere today, this is a most powerful story with a ghostly feel in it of Elizabeth Bowen and her prehensile accoutrements and belongings of a home and its earlier denizens, at least it has that feel until this shocking journey ever towards its ending, where the above signature arguably becomes an emblem of what sticks up from the chair depicted on this work’s front cover. A story about a man walking forever, it seems, through the woods recurrently arriving at the garden gate of his boyhood home where the memories as ghosts or entities as real as the above ‘pushing upwards’ “to shift a great weight” — waiting for his erstwhile family there possibly to big him up, but “no one to great me on my return” amid the guilt complex of what happened to his father by dint of someone called Giselle, and by consequence to himself as well as to his mother, sister and brother…

    “And, too, I can hear the sound of floorboards moving, the compression of wood under the shifting weight of a person.”

  4. Pingback: Return by David Frankel | The Des Lewis Gestalt Real-Time Reviews

  5. Are we reflected by our own wordself or sigil?


    About an hour ago, before reading this work, I gratuitously quoted, with an instinct I could not then fully comprehend, these words during my latest episodic review of a Bowen fiction (here): ‘…a visitor’s dog sat up to beg politely; he, frowning carefully, dropped tea-cake into its mouth.’
    Now I see this reflected in a new light when obliquely reflected in this story, wherein a character called Smith (whom the main narrative protagonist, with a flower in his lapel, regularly meets for dinner) talks about animals having the test of recognising themselves in mirrors …and things begin to ensue ‘backwards’ as if in search of lost time…
    The first impression of this work, as a plainly accomplished and effective horror tale or ghost story about an ornate haunted mirror as bought by the main protagonist, and the reflection being slightly out of kilter with his own movements, and this develops with almost alchemical sense of doppelgängers or what I have long called Proustian selves. Verging from Borri to Borges, Blake’s fearful symmetry, and 17th century spells or cabalisms, and much else. But who is Smith? That ‘sense of self’ (explicitly mentioned), a sense of self that, I wonder, one needs to buttonhole or emulate?
    I seem to be haunted by a sense of self beyond the words in this story.
    Not to speak of a sense of ‘fatherhood and copulation — GFB: God Fucks Bodies? Leaving what behind?

  6. Pingback: On Mirrors by Ben Tufnell | The Des Lewis Gestalt Real-Time Reviews

  7. C5529CDF-1EF4-4CBF-86E7-EF1EB04B13B0

    “You’re a fan of one-word texts.” — “A persistent two-word instruction.”

    ”You’re reminded of the heartrate monitor, three squiggles […] Sharp jolting waves that move up and down, occasionally synchronised, sometimes not.”

    The […] that I inserted above as an edit proves the ’sometimes’ bit…. Yet, in a way, this story is almost, too synchronised, connections too readily set-up, too much on-route, despite its ‘off-route’ sat-nav, whereby ideas and images easily cohere along with mentions of ‘cross-contamination of species’ and Weil’s disease, and its description of a Scandinavian statue — as the narrative ‘you’, a woman mainly haunted by her father’s beep-tracked condition in hospital, but she is also preoccupied, 722F97F3-0053-4138-90A6-F18657C42F18 in varying graph-lines, by other factors, such as a friend called Rosie who runs a ‘feel-good’ black-and-white films cinema, and, of course, the ironically not so ‘feel-good’ trip with her boy friend Sam (who is a Doctor of some university science) that entails bat walks in some indeterminate northern archipelago, forming the action of this story, a story with these and other leitmotifs — her phobic dreams and thoughts of spiders, bats & rats — white noise and speech bubbles with noises inside instead of words (black noise […]s?) — a doppelgänger app with no signal and the blotting out of words from a political discussion on the car radio — a huge antlered reindeer and some cattle of Bashan who see people as oblong clouds (in contrast to speech bubbles?) — echolocation and boomerang shouts — a detector like the one measuring ‘your’ father in hospital, inducing a ‘string of saliva’ and picking up alien non-animal sounds and the concomitant bats’ ‘eerily constant’ sounds, and the putting your hand right through a door — “the end of transmission in films […] before black and white lines fill a screen” — “your phone playing games”, your story, too. A story of black on white, as well as containing many enticing […]s that have captivated and/or provoked me.

  8. Pingback: Echolocation and Bat-Navs | The Des Lewis Gestalt Real-Time Reviews

  9. The Bowensetter prevails… a bone, if not the boner from the Frankel, delivered with the Chinese Burns as the signature’s bone upon the temptingly proffered plate below… Twist’s lax collar being stiffened attritionally into a Bothwick stone …with bat-navs and boomerang screams… GFB indeed!


    “Lisa walked forward and Mr Jolley took her by the elbow to steer her through the gate.”

    A powerfully, plain-spokenly bespoke description of a sort of Kafkaesque regime as a now unabateable dystopia in our country as we have slipped into by devious dint of the jolly man’s populist vote, a smoothly persuasive process of bonesetting as if inducing a long co-vivid of a nightmare… Not Kafkaesque in any speculatively fantastic or literary sense, but terribly real!
    It affected me deeply, especially in the context of the Nightjar sextet as gestalt.
    Read it! It’s a must. You can’t say no once you’ve been chosen.

    [ Man of Bone and Fame (a quite different plot by a different author, but induceable collateral reading for the Burns from 2011)… http://revelatormagazine.com/fiction/man-of-bone-and-fame/ ]

    My previous reviews of significant works by Christopher Burns: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/tag/christopher-burns/

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