31 thoughts on “Sing Ho! Stout Cortez by Michael W. Thomas

  1. Esp: The Voice of Grenada
    Henderson Bray’s Account
    A novella

    ”The UN General Assembly subsequently condemned the invasion as an unlawful intervention in the affairs of a sovereign state. Discussed in the Security Council, the consequent resolution looked set for enshrinement till the US vetoed it.

    Preface

    Voices in letters…. Hmmm.

    1
    7, Coneygreane Place, Hagley, Worcestershire, England.

    “Friends and family in abeyance, you busy yourself with surmise about strangers, especially if they don’t seem so strange, if accident invites you to claim an intimacy with them.”

    An intriguing start to this novella, however little I’ve read so far, learning about a different sort of UKraine in the name of Grenada, and USA here the culprit, not Russia!? A timely provocation for my own reading real-time today (look at the date).

    A letter received by whoever now lives at the above italicised address (Mr Bray?), and his batting off or forwarding letters to former residents called Bedworth, hoping the Bedworths got back together as married partners? Yet, he gets another letter, one from Grenada…I keep my powder dry…

    Though, I should also add that I was excited by the coincidence of the phrase ‘Friends and family in abeyance’ quoted above, as I am currently obsessed with the fiction of ELizabeth BOWen and, serendipitously, I am currently dissecting her novel ‘Friends and Relations’ (this morning HERE) and the major literary device used by Bowen in all her work, other than perhaps ‘Elbow’ itself, happens to be the concept of ‘abeyance’ — honestly.

  2. 2

    Bon Jay, where am I? Good job, while reading this chapter, I was also listening to this weekend’s Tony Blackburn’s Sounds of the Sixties, esp. his bravery in doing it from home while having Covid! (Honestly)
    I let it all flow over me, the characters, the school essays over-marked by Headey but such marking giving someone called Paul the nickname Esp, but who of them is Caribbean, who is the voice of Grenada, who formed the Rock Exponents, and why Les Paul and Mary Ford, and I think I am slightly older than these people are now, today, and I wonder what happened to their music groups, but I do remember this sort of boy talk in such boy schools, when there weren’t clickable footnotes, like in this Kindle version of the book, and much else yet to scry and tell you—t’ing on t’ing.[6]

    PS what is a catamite?

  3. 3

    “The boys resumed their seats amid wild applause, from those who got what was going on, from those who didn’t but guessed…”

    Well, I know the feeling of those that didn’t! This novella is too good to review at all! Too wild to allow anything but unconsidered admiration. Impossible to praise, as well as to criticise. It squashes my mind into a “pop nightmare” of the music that made me a Stockhausen fan — Roy Orbison, and ‘a Presley snarl’, as the boys act out “a conquistador and an English milord”, seeming to send Headey out of his head! — with outbursts of reluctant praise (somehow he knew about the Rock Exponents?) as well as badly, politically incorrect behaviour that remind me of one of my own teachers from 1961, S**t Curry by name.

    Just one complaint. Its footnote for ‘bacchanal’ seems wrong to me. Which puts all the other footnotes in doubt… hmmm.

  4. 4

    This is great MWTwinko stuff; it’s starting to flow more understandably, but still in its own wildly creative terms as I sort of follow Esp, and the ‘Ponents into the future, their future, my past, my own footnote and trying to ‘fight a fart in church’. Headey, now my head full of him taking me over, and his bluster and perhaps his instinctive creativity against his own better judgement of flying off the handle with his red marker pen, mine being a pencil of real-time marginalia in books, except if electronic ones. And what was that about another teacher getting a job in Port of Spain, while Headey is possibly carpeted. Like on that carpet that starts off my own only novel.

  5. 5

    ‘Maybe I sound mad, but this piecing it all together is more fun than downright fact.’

    Indeed, reading this work day by day in bits works a delight. Second to none. As the boys wander off into their singular destinies. Our narrator, as it were, to Nova Scotia with ‘home’ now “like tidings from a planet which figured in a recurring dream” (a valiant Razalia?) Contacts and connections kept with this ‘home’, building a gestalt like I am. E.G. What in the end was Headey’s fate after his ‘vileness’? Where has Esp vanished to? I get the sense Esp may be back one day as a new Messiah!

    Read up to ‘But the clues kept coming’, in 5.

    • This novella has beaten me, it has given me the Windrush! It reads even better than Finnegans Wake though I understand the latter better, as you will judge by my real-time review of it some years ago.
      Work that out!

  6. 6

    Bon Jay, where am I? Again! Esp etc,
    This is the first work of fiction in my 14 years of gestalt real-time time reviewing that I have loved to bits but also at the same time having no idea what is happening in it and what part of the world I am in or even what planet I am on when reading it!

  7. 7

    “: Esp had voodoo’d the songs, made them his own, seemingly freed the spirit of the first from its desolating repetitions, spread the elixir of youth over the second.”

    Much more enjoyable comprehensive comprehensibility of incomprehensibilities of in-flight movie flow of story flow from Canada to Grenada where ESP is managing to be managed in hotel lounge music! I think!

  8. 8

    “‘Runaway train’, I found, was on everyone’s lips.”

    That is a quote from my reading today of ESP.

    In this poignant chapter about our narrator’s approximation to his father’s nearly dying in hospital, THERE IS THE MOST AMAZING SYNCHRONICITY in the history of all my gestalt real-time reviewing since 2008, even more so than these rampant synchronicities: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2017/06/08/synchronicity-rampant/

    In the closing chapters of my Elizabeth Bowen year-long reviewing project as completed a day or so ago, there is reference to the ‘Runaway Train’ with its lyrics quoted in the Bowen text, on all the characters’ lips… !!

    A quote from my Bowen review the day before yesterday: ‘Runaway train song… the same train, not the gun, the train that self-killed D’s father?’ here : https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2022/03/21/the-little-girls-by-elizabeth-bowen/#comment-24308

    — and it happens to be my own late Dad’s birthday today!! (He would have been 100 today.)

  9. Pingback: Astounding Synchronicity | The Des Lewis Gestalt Real-Time Reviews (from 2008)

  10. 9

    “Walking is a matter of away from as much as towards.”

    Like being abducted straight to a “distant, near-invisible star”…with no walking at all?

    Cf the father in today’s co-review here, a father who spent time with his son exploring the stars… ‘where all is night, and starless’

    • 10 to End

      A wonderful pen picture of La Galaxie Bleue in the next chapter, and the reunion of chums and their music talk, and the potential sighting of ESP….I feel my real-time processes have been outwitted by this unique novella’s devices, especially its own extra sensory perception of what I am up to with my own such gestalt-cultivated perception. I admit defeat, all credit to it, as if the novella was designed to do this as well as to entertain me with such literary devices. As if it impishly tempted me into this very trap by dint of my earlier valiant reviews. As if there is no way I can comprise its nature other than with my battling osmotic joy. As if I shall read the rest of this novella alone in private … and later as if I shall review any separate stories that follow it in this book. Which I shall.

  11. Tickle, Tickle
    A novella

    “I read. Easy reads, mostly, some would call them.”

    … and that is up to where I have so far read.
    Ironic, after the previous constructively difficult work I have now fully en-joyed.
    This, equally, seems not easy, but it is easier, in its first couple of pages, and it is truly exquisitely couched, as told by a narrator with a world that he says he has, or once had, behind the bookcase. And there is a gate with a shapeless object beside it, perhaps dangerous, and someone called Trish in this or that world. I am already entirely entranced, if not entrished… I intend to eke out this work’s evocative prose slowly enough to savour, savour as saviour?
    So — “I have this world. Slip into it when I want to.”

  12. “…I’ve less than half a clue what it’s about but there it is,…”

    The nature of books as an opening into a different world, whatever one’s understanding of them, Poetry, too. Like scrying a Roy Orbison song, and also the inscrutable ‘Whiter Shade of Pale’, the latter long having been ‘our song’, it being what was played on my first date with my then future wife back in the day. Its singer died recently. The Big O died a long time ago.

  13. “Dismal old place, it is. You’d need to be drunk on words.”

    …drunk on choice words as mutated from Procul Harum? Our narrator accompanies his ‘best friend’ Trish to the Writers’ Group she’s just joined in this dismal place: a compelling description of such a group and tellingly satirical, I guess. But Trish’s poem is not too bad at all. I might read this review out loud if I ever go there myself. I’m still entranced by the narrator’s gate-world he explores or dreams about after getting home, stalked home by something or someone from the writers’ group…who knows? But this Thomas work itself is far too good for the writers’ group that it evokes so wonderfully.

    “I felt I’d turned into a trespasser in my own world,…”

  14. I like ‘partic’ used here instead of esp!?
    And all the meandering thoughts.

    Read up to: “It was funny, going page by page, I mean nice-funny not odd, or I suppose I do.”

  15. Vimto and 1960s sitting-room bar with double diamond or drambuie; this is the worst and best of times as I remember them. I was called Noddy, not Prudence from the White Album. But esp. by the time that partic. Album did come out, I was already at University in Bailrigg. But I was male anyway, unlike this narrator?

    “Finally he got his finger in. Tickle, tickle. A dead awkward angle…”

    I’m going to read the rest of this novella on my own. So you’re on your own now, too, Not that I have been much help, anyway! Simply to say it’s potentially a great job of literature.

  16. MISTER SIXTH

    “Evan had been making sure about all sorts for years, then suffering the whispers, then making sure again.”

    A fine piece that makes me think of a rattlesnake in a forgotten transom, beautifully written, brilliantly characterised but probably will rarely be read because it is too good, the story of mid-life crisis Evan and his paranoia amidst ‘milestone reunions’ with his old ‘friends’, all of them made good in the world, none with his insecurities, yet here he is faced with the ghosts of past successes and failures like a gestalt ghost in the night of the reunionmaster himself, Evan having once come a glorious sixth in a story competition, which was what jealousy was created about, to such an extent Evan needs to flee before he realises it was all in his head. Or off the top of it. A top he had forgot to shut.
    I think this Thomas story would have made him Mister First. Not that I have read it aloud to see how long it is. And the characters seemed real enough, but the author defamed himself in the guise of Evan, so that doesn’t count?

    “…no more than fifteen minutes long, on a subject of the writer’s choosing (with the usual caveats—no defamation of living characters, nothing wildly experimental, no porn).”

  17. Never Any Sometimes

    This was a nightmare of confusion with which I could empathise! Being an oldening man , too, who feels uptight at things in life, friends and relations, social gatherings, wayward wives, officious daughters, changed travelling plans…
    Luckily my wife, son and daughter are not like that!
    Well, I had to say that, in case they ever read this. Which they won’t!

  18. ‘Sing Ho! Stout Cortez’

    This is full of antimacassars, and toilets and basins in a factory that need smashing up because they are seconds, a revelling of 1970s working practices and New Year’s Day instituted, and even workmen had dreams from books, like that eponymous eponym, till our own urn of ashes is thrown too early, because someone could not be bothered to go the whole mile.
    To Garinish Island, that is. Minutes away, not seconds.

  19. The Maker’s Mark

    I assumed the Mark was the ‘signature way’, as it says here, the way people got into their cars, various ways that 14 year old Ian observed (with hilarious detail) and then meticulously logged them, as a means to obviate an ‘unreliable world’, statistics of such bodily choreography towards lettered road routes, as an instinctive, perhaps autistic psychological device, to chase away his brother in law’s cutting up his pizza for him, after Ian earlier watched his parents argue about the nature of this year’s Christmas Tree to be ordered.
    I do these reviews as my equivalent to young Ian’s methods of logging, to calm me down at a much older age. Yet this book has flustered me, got its own back, made its indelible mark on my literary blotting paper of a mind where all ideas get smudged together except for the visualised pareidolia or apophenia of a gestalt stain! The maker’s mark is that stain, the stain of Our Maker Himself, the freehold author of our lives, the First Mover getting into his first car, ostensibly too young to drive. Like Ian. Like I Am. Or was.
    Joy-rides can kill! And this one did or would! A book to die for. If not from.
    To book my death as well as to justly bring such death to book — another Astounding Synchronicity that I will cherish forever.

    end

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