NIGHTJAR PRESS 2021
ENGLISH HERITAGE by M. John Harrison
MIDDLETON SANDS by Claire Dean
SPOON by Robert Stone
THE PERIPHERY by Cliff McNish
My previous reviews of this publisher: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/tag/nightjar-press/
There may still be significant delays in commencing and then completing this review in the wake of my Elizabeth Bowen and Robert Aickman projects…
“Without their indistinctness things do not exist; you cannot desire them. Blurs and important wrong shapes, ridgy lights, crater darkness making a face unhuman as a map of the moon,…”
— Elizabeth Bowen
…quoted in my today’s daily review of Bowen, about an hour before reading the Harrison Nightjar with the below circumflex-elbow sitting above the end of its signature, and the deliberate or accidental, not elbow-, but bowel-movement in a seaside holiday house’s mis-opened garage…
“She liked to be lost. She liked the adventure of it.”
And despite being unique in itself, this fine Harrisonic story is the essence of ElBowen (in a similar way Aickman was used by her in the form of this story’s succubus), a story depicting one of Bowen’s shadowy triangulations in contact with psychotic objects (mainly in the kitchen at the end) and an Obelisk, this triangulation being one of two men and a woman, on holiday from Covid in a seaside place where Rick Stein gets mentioned. It also mentions Clun, the first time I have seen this place mentioned in literature, a place where I went on honeymoon in 1970 after putting a pin in a map.
This triangulation’s visit to the English Heritage is not only seen in being essential Bowen, but also in the stately house Sweenay — after which house (with its own public car park) their own holiday place was ironically named wherein they were set on telling ghost stories to each other and a place with the strangely opened garage and (or as) outside toilet. Sweenay itself turned out to be badly affected by Pandemic regulations…
And places where one part of the triangulation saw another part unclearly in the distance. A story with kites, a sudden thunderstorm, a “disproportionate thud”, an act of partially losing where one has parked a car, strange shouts across the bay in the night, strangely staged conversations between two parts of the triangulation overheard by a shadowy third (or did I imagine that when learning that one of the men “felt as if he were stuck in some view of himself…”?), the story of Chumble and Widgeon, and a reference to a woman “who had spent her retirement in fabulous but waning old places…”
“Time isn’t specially a thing,…”
My previous reviews of M. John Harrison: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/tag/m-john-harrison/
POSSIBLE SPOILERS IN MY REVIEW OF THE CLAIRE DEAN STORY BELOW…
Pingback: Chumble & Widgeon | The Des Lewis Gestalt Real-Time Reviews
As you can see, I sort of called the previous story “-sonic”, read earlier today, before reading this next Nightjar and its sounds – and bird-hearing instead of bird-watching, by digging personal trenches in the impacted sand, amid gatherings of such people regularly doing this.
Most days I walk in areas of the seaside resort where I have lived for some years, often along a beach where there used to be a big holiday camp alongside it, now just memories and scars where it had once been, just the ghostliness of what it used to be amid the sounds of the sea and the seabirds. Here, I sense we have a future such place where people communally conduct this bird-hearing, even human voice-hearing, and perhaps the birds died off from something like Flew, and the pasts are particular to each bird-hearer, and, in this story, there is the ritual of arrival of such a group, and amid other characters there is a sort of striking-up between an older man who is sort of seeking his deceased wife, and a younger participant woman new to such seeking and needing his mentoring, and she is seeking her mother, I infer. A touching and highly tantalising story. I am still thinking about it… mind-twitching, digging for what it meant. Thinking of all the beach-combing ready-mades of found art that I see each day on the surface, before they are buried by time, buried without signature, or fledged within it.
My previous reviews of this author: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/tag/claire-dean/
My previous reviews of Robert Stone: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/tag/robert-stone/
And from the previous Nightjar to the next Nightjar’s inverse of memory excavation within itself…
“I buried it in the garden. I just pushed the nasty yellow things into the soil, walked away and forgot about it.”
…the title of which, “I think it is important without knowing why.” Except only Bowen’s ‘indistinctness’ above can serve importance sufficiently with oblique power, and I guess this work’s silver symbowl (my word) is its own resistance to indelibility with a faded signature for the selfness of this monologue that makes us all, as readers (well, at least me) wonder who is acting it aloud like a rôle-playing episode of ‘Talking Heads’ with a change of camera angle upon the actor at every section break in the text. The selfness that tries to get into the head to find the Bothwick stone within it, the Dream Stone or a bad-toothed man who wrote this account of a life with his mother (now or then?) and the psychic objects in the maternal house and vermin like rats and spiders and other creepy-crawlies and flyey-flies… and planting an object in the garden to escape the tooth fairy that seeks such a ‘jagged fang’? Better a mother’s silver spoon as a wedge in the outside door of life to keep your death-self away… The above earlier Nightjar’s “disproportionate thud” now become “The first thud” of something falling, rather than being born in a “traumatic birth” with that wishful silver-spoon in your mouth (a thud of hope or one of Bowen’s ‘thud, thud, thud’ apples?)….Dream stones, rat-catching springs and fishy ledgers et al…a lingering ‘spider’s sense of taste’ in my mouth that I can’t shake off after reading this. A compliment from me, not a complaint. I shall audition for acting it out aloud. That’s not even nearly a fraction of the fiction of it all.
“…I couldn’t allow this vicious creature to encounter my mother. I decided to stone it.”
“Without their indistinctness, things do not exist.”
— Elizabeth Bowen
The #PeripheryPandemic impends with some all-consuming power.here…