19 thoughts on “Infinity Dreams – Glen Hirshberg

  1. HOME

    “Sharing moments of experience, the experience of experiencing.”

    That’s exactly how this first experience feels, as if the words, and the characters — Nadine as main protagonist, Tony, the Collector, Normal, the young (not-)journalist with grasshopper legs and using a writing case inserted of an iPad, with at least one of these characters dead or become one of the other characters — flow over me like ‘shadows melting’. Who is selling what to whom? Houses, financial schemes, stories…. Even songs, or music without words…

    “A walking “Unanswered Question,…”

    A town called Jolene mentioned, and characters’ names in the town we’ve not yet met, and a sense of experience that has never been experienced before that now begins somehow to experience itself on the reader’s behalf… The impossible ultra-Bowen. The wishing-tree clock, too, and a story to be told, if not sold, by Nadine, a story about Spook…


    “Knocking against hulls. Murmuring hello.”

    A short wave radio, seeking, as once I did, with numbers being recited by an announcer, and maybe I should have listened more to the BBC’s shadowy Third Programme as it was called in the early 1960s. This story is the only work of literature where someone actually asks the others whether they can find a boat, when they are all sitting on a houseboat! This is a story of a triangulation of shadowy thirds — Nadine, her man Normal (the Collector, too?) and Spook. I am getting a more focussed position on this book’s own radio station of motives and characters. Helps to clear the ‘mist-ache’. Spook is a collector, too, and has a client who wants the unique optimum version of a song by Robert William Guthrie, whatever the otherwise elusive apocryphal concerts that intervene. Spook collects radio stations on his dial, and they glimpse the sound of that version on one station. They move off in the houseboat to where the signal’s position appears to be beyond the Eel and the Russian Rivers, whatever logs or sharks they encounter. The three being ‘Three miles out’, reminds me of the cruise in ‘Three Miles Up’…

    “The voice ice would speak in, if ice spoke.”

    “Such a strangely beautiful thing to collect: voices minus voice. Code minus meaning. Memory stripped of memory.”

    “The second time he did that, the shadow fell away.”

    ‘Three miles out’, reminds me of the cruise in Three Miles Up….

    “…a low, droning drawl, where it rooted furiously in a furrow of words”

    “…pre-me. It’s one of those clever markers I use.”

    …these are just some of the signals I have tuned into from this shortwave story towards a bespoke gestalt or song…


    I have read this story up to: “…he was much more interested in what she might say than whether they drowned. Which was why they really were a team as well as a couple.”

    • “They drifted slowly and smoothly toward the sailboat just taking shape in the mist. Seemingly forming out of it.”

      This is a crystallisation-point for me beyond any crystal set, the passion if the ‘most’ perfect reading moment amid moments, reprising the time when I was immersed in the Pirate Radio of the 1960s off the Essex coast, UK. Earlier estuary Muddy Waters, a sailboat or ark with the gestalt DJ with tapes and much else as music becomes what I have since found literature to be. I am the Story DJ, I hope. And this is both a perfect moment and a first moment. Nothing can be stolen from that fact. And why does it seem appropriate to mention Star Trek in the same breath as Spook’s name?
      Souls as Collected Signals. In a Dead Calm, beyond the Doldrums of Death. Sagacious, nor Sargasso.

      “Not the kind you’d expect from a collecting man with a literal boatload of treasures thousands of people might have wept…paid…bled to get their hands or ears on.”

      “LA82235. BD112460.[…] BF122677.”

  3. HOME

    “Make some startling connection to someone else’s story… […] Shudder in empathy or understanding? Understanding of what, exactly?”

    I feel like that young man ‘interviewing’ (literally) Nadine, revved-up, changing his own collectable-urged Nemonymities, questioning her, questioning the very collectorism of her and Normal/Collector and now sets in motion the story, in the next entry below, of how they first met, it seems. He had also wanted to see the previous entry’s crucial Cassette, astounded when she tells him they had not even listened to it.
    Much Bowenesque wonders, here, of psychological collections as her own Homes in her books were full of and listed amply in immaculately fractured prose. This Hirshberg is an amazing book, too. Why have I not read it before?

    “Whatever he came here wanting, he still wants it.”

    “The mist outside has drizzle in it, now. It taps against the windows as though it has grown nails. Lets loose mist-squirrels to scurry over the roof.”


    “In fact, the whole thing struck her that way even as it was happening.”

    .. as I read it, too, as it happened, after this remarkably haunting novelette starts, the most haunting of it partway up to where I have read it (but how do I already know that it will not haunt me more later? Well, I don’t!), after it starts, that is, with a much younger Nadine with her mother’s apple cake in Ireland. She has just been dumped by her boy friend Kieran…

    “Ma. Tell me you didn’t bake me a cake to celebrate my boyfriend leaving me.”

    “I was always bringing him my world. My music, my crazy dreamlands, my discoveries. I never just sat with him in his world.”

    Paris come! Kieran writes and traps her with his life in Paris to where he has gone; love lasts or does it? We shall never know nor whether she reaches that last bouquin shop to open or whether she was waylaid by wreckers like Team Buddha and the fireplace girl in the most haunting ever dreamlikeness of a hostile hostel in the backest back alley of Paris.
    Not a Pirate Radio ship of cassettes, but a ship of books.

    Not forgetting , earlier, before following Kieran to Paris, without anywhere to stay, she had thought…
    “Not until her third rereading did Nadine recognize those words, remember that they were mostly hers. She’d used them to paint Kieran a picture of his possible new French life, just waiting for him to claim it.” The lure built in because Kieran was the devil? And the newspaper clipping in his letter from Paris had been truncated by him. As truncated as this novelette is bound to be as I will discover should I ever finish reading it. I shall probably never even reach this passage: “…connections between bouqinistes and spying or resistance during the Terror, the Napoleonic tyrannies, the Resistance.”

    I meanwhile visualise her being given a bunk to sleep in by those she meets in the ‘hostel’… a book of bunk, but I can never be certain. Part of my mind, you see, has been captivated by what I have managed to read so far. The rest of my mind tries to write this review of it.

    “Tomorrow, in sunlight, it would be a painting. Maybe after that—someday soon—it would turn real. Become simply somewhere she went. Whenever she felt like it.”


    I have read up to: “Nadine remembered her notion about this whole building having elbowed into the alley.”

    • “But all she saw was blackness, total and complete. Impossible, surely, in the City of Light, in a room with a window. Where was the window?

      …when she wakes up in the night, and feels someone near, a man or who? Never seen or grasped or been touched by…. We all have slept through such dreams, if dream it was.

      Some thoughts, earlier, before she slept, out of the air from egg to auk and back again, as if we all now share the osmosis of this novella as a tranche in Nadine’s life. How much is her bunk for the night going to cost? The Buddha thinks she had walked into this place from thin air, in prospect of “a bookstall that had hung locked beside the Seine for 150 years, and inside it, there would be great auk eggs,…”, and the fireplace girl is named Binna… and in that later sleeping or waking darkness, “Like we’re locked in a bin…” … that mysterious ‘man’ in the darkness that “triggered another lightning-charge, and jolted her up on her elbows.”

      I have now read (in Nadine’s new morning as witnessed by Binna) up to: “‘Nnnh?’ she mumbled, wedging up on one elbow.”

    • ”What had she seen?”

      What’s more to the point, what on earth have I just read?! I don’t think I can convey any idea, other than to say it is intensely suspenseful as Nadine and Binna walk to Notre Dame in the morning, to where the bouqinistes will be opening up, and the 150 year old yet unopened one to be opened for the first time it seems by Binna herself with a golden key from her private areas that are later more vigorously rifled by Buddha and his son, all the while comparing their walk to a blend of Ireland and its Shannon river with Paris and its river, in a wondrous Impressionist painting type description that we absorb along the way in the Parisian ambiance, using a prose style that is just, well, just is something you rarely read, if at all — but you somehow yearn to read something like it again.
      Other characters are there, collectors or agents, including ‘Mothersodding’ Kieran, his arm around a redhead, Nadine notices with disdain, and two older me,, one tweedy with elbow patches, and the Weathervane man who later turns out to be – SPOILER – her future Normal, who says she can call him Norm…. well, that’s just a surface sketch of something much deeper, as we approach the indescribable epiphany of the opening itself. Indescribable, till you have it somehow described to you by this book! And there seems to be access to a future photo of the crowd that attended, too. It is something else. Anything more that I divulge to you would be an even worse spoiler than the one I have already let slip above. Seriously, this is literarily unclassifiable material. Yet equally accessible material that does not suck despite the sucking described in it.

      “Pinstripes. Pocket squares.”

  5. HOME

    “He picks up the uneaten half a Rich Tea on his plate, puts it down. ‘Fish and chips in Devonport by Auckland.’”

    Auks from Auckland? Nadine and young Rev who jars her from her ‘reverie’ upon or after Night Food thoughts, regarding the the previous Parisious prelude to this further Home interlude, as these Homes are not the Houses they sell to, whether a client list is available or not, a catalogue or not, both of which Rev cheekily requests amidst definitions of Collecting itself. And questions on my belief in the literary theory of The Intentional Fallacy…

    “…taste being one of those rare, marvelous things that can’t be collected, like most of the most marvelous things.”

    ”Which makes collecting a collective experience?”

    A literary gestalt we triangulate together?

    Bowen’s ‘couch cushions’ mentioned, in which Rev loses his keys?

    “…not of her. Not of here.”

    “The human fallacy of believing in one’s self as a self.”

    “…not that she’s reading much meaning or intention into that. Anything Irish or Irish-themed would fit that description,…”

    Does he accept the Cookies at the end? Or want to manage them in a bespoke way, before the next Inlogue starts? Or does he scry the rich tea before he leaves? [I invented Inlogues in 1973 in ‘The Visitor’, it seem apt to mention here, at least within côrnered brackets.]


    “It would be a long time before she touched the tea. If she ever did. This taste would have to leave her of its own accord.”

    More cookies disguised as two small winking loaves, tasted Proust-like without the tea, taste infused like Mozart. Nadine and Normal/ The Collector — after their morning’s flirtation, and after hearing a news report of the above eponymous bakery being rifled — travel into the wilds of Nevada to meet their next client who needs something Collected. An old man, like me, but this is a German, I infer, who’d been bred by Hitler for the Fatherland and, later, somehow landed in America, and he is the client for them to collect something (something like those cookies with no point in clicking anything but ‘I agree to these cookies’?)
    The old man’s house, more like a ‘bunker’ than the earlier book bunk, I guess.

    Lebensspuren. The word tingled on Nadine’s tongue as she mouthed it, lit a fuse buried somewhere in the back of her brain. She stood still, let the fuse run. But no revelations burst through her.”

    This Hirshberg material is endlessly scryable Weird Literature, as well as Horror that underlies us: words that one chews over and then dwells upon their aftertaste; nothing like this Hirshberg is tasteable elsewhere, I say.


    I have so far read up to: “It was a really, really good cookie…”

    • “He had his hand on the witch’s elbow…”

      What in heaven or hell have I just read? This work is something other than fiction or reality. It is perhaps the only in-between creativity-in-words that I have ever read. Starting with the ecstatic ‘taste’ fading under other tastes when on their flight to Detroit and to the eponymous burgled bakery, stalked all the way there by the old man client, as we grow to know more about the relationship between Nadine and Normal, and their collecting duties and other personal interactions, and the baker, a Quasimodo fish-husband as another old man like me with a wooden Hansel and Gretel witch statue outside his shop, and we learn about Detroit’s resemblance in Nadine’s eyes to Ireland, as Paris, earlier, was, an Ireland somehow seeming to spawn three separate ‘elbow’ references in this text followed closely by at least three ‘knee’ ones, including a bullet shattered knee and a fallen gashed one. Hinges that are always in-between. So, who is the Demon, who the Angel in this Parkinson’s-shaking- evolving-into -steadiness- duel/dual of Nazi breeding programmes? And did Normal taste the real cookie (or not) inside the bakery, and which ever was the case any would-be intaken or missed Eucharist made him cry. Peculiarly, I felt weepy, too, reading this. Hoping any tears would help me taste the taste of meaning.

      “I gave a demon from hell a taste of heaven.”

  7. HOME

    “The Collector snatches out a hand as though to stop the clock’s pendulum, hold it—and time—still.”

    It make me think of Bowen’s endemic employment of Zeno’s Paradox in her fiction and this book’s ‘wishing tree clock’… as Normal (after chanting like his own earlier SOMA co-lurkers) is somehow let out of the House by Rev into the rain like a clockwork train, and Nadine speed dials Spook to help (interesting that she also has Binna on speed dial, too). Her suspicions of Rev increase, after her thinking of the nature of ‘affection’ as one grows older, as I do. I am like Normal now, slow deleted, slow demented, I guess. The Age of Norm. We are all April Fools today, of course, but old people can have many such days….whatever ‘pan lid’ one abnormally plays with before forgetting where to put it.
    Rev wants essence of Jolene, no joke. And, so, onto this goto Home interlude’s postlude…


    “”Tony’s a twollocks.’
    ‘It’s important and healthy that we have different friends.’”

    This is quite remarkable material in the canons of literature. Trust me, it is.
    It now takes us straight into further insight of the Nadine-Normal relationship, her Irishness, her mother’s hurling-count, and his endearing fault-lines and poached egg reveries, and now, in turn, we learn about this relationship of two in relationship with its genuine ‘shadowy third’ called Tony. And the genius-loci of Jolene, via Louisa and its Lizard (Nadine’s hotline) and Miranda.
    Tony and Normal, as man-talk together on their collecting trips, and Tony’s friction with or begrudged tolerance of Nadine tagging along, but his also now finding her somewhat magical skills useful. “Her fairy-sense. Giant’s Causeway radar, ringing her awake.”
    “Tony was simply the walking, talking embodiment of root-in-your-underwear-drawer.” — “You’re the stray dog collector of collecting.” Tony as an individual, his collecting strengths, the sort of houses and people that his business favours, and now we hear of a matching pocket watch in a hunting casing with raised left hand that reminds me of the Bowen quote I set alongside this author’s SLOUGH (here). And Normal’s ‘hunting grin’.
    Jolene as a place and the picnic tables and the shadow people, all took my breath away. As this whole book increasingly does. You need to read it for yourself. “….find new homes for the things that made your home home. Generous terms. Thoughtful consultation. Of course we do house calls.”
    Fetid adders et al.

    “…pot farms, ranger stations, meth labs. The Lost City of Z, maybe. Every time they passed a turnoff, Nadine felt her eyes drawn down it, felt the Giant’s Causeway fairy she’d always either been or housed—“

    “It’s what we do. It’s the hum in human.”

    “…old View-Master reels. Nadine knew she would be having a flip through those once Tony moved on. She’d always liked the feel of them. Oversized communion wafer-wheels of white plastic embedded with dark squares that glinted with the colors buried in them.”

    I have read so far up to:
    “…they’d reminded her of church-window cookies, the sugar-marshmallow Sundays where she’d learned to love collecting.”

    • “An absurdly elongated moment through which a thousand more ephemeral moments—“

      I was more than just rhapsodised by the second half of this PITHOS; I was powerfully awestruck as if I had myself entered this story and it turned out to be Tony’s ‘warehouse’ that it describes! The place Nadine and Normal visited alongside any reader who could reach that far… it was as if all my gestalt real-time reviewing had led up to this passion of an absurdly elongated reading moment…

      Still, I am jumping ahead – Jolene summons for me what we British call boot sales, almost a religious experience of collecting by buying from bric à brac, certainly a preternatural experience. With “Garage sale patois. Parry-riposte, touches scored on both sides and no one judging.” And Jolene reminded me of a place quite close to where I live called Jaywick…. Or what it might be or might have been.

      The pungent poignancy of PITHOS to which I can do no justice; I cannot SHOP IT to you, as it were, whether earthenware pathos or a path to the fingerbones of a young girl. A flesh-covered ossuary.
      A Prothero stream of monologue on my part to convey half of it and then half of the remainder, and then half of that reduced remainder, and so on…
      The box that Denise tears knitting races Hand daughter clicking
      “It’s a great get.”
      Get home no lunch normal sad
      See his warehouse, his casings. No home for the Hunter.
      Storage Garage heaven
      Searching Databases, the Grace of a Padlock or Porlock, Louisa Queen of Heaven, Gollum, Precious Dolly Parton singing at just over half speed, half-wrist melting, at Poppa Joe’s old men like me in pizza carrels thinking ahead to a mass of teddy bears subsuming — a cataclysm, a breaking of the perfect pitch of a Pandora’s box clicked together at last….

      No one can possibly have predicted what eventually happens at the end, but it now seems inevitable …not even the author himself could have predicted it, I guess. As if he were taken over, too, but perhaps not as much as the reader has been?


      ‘My passion of the reading moment threatened by built-in ends.’
      …this being one of the things I recently wrote about Bowen’s THE DISINHERITED and its Prothero….
      THE INHERITED CLOCK, too, now revealed as the communion of two watches?

  9. Pingback: “at least somewhere, at least once” | The Des Lewis Gestalt Real-Time Reviews

  10. Pingback: Gestalt Real-Time Review of INFINITY DREAMS – Glen Hirshberg

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