17 thoughts on “What I Was Afraid Of — Eric Hanson


    “The windows put crosses on the grass.”

    A boy as narrator, confiding in us about confiding in the eponymous man who talked to him at the bottom of the garden. An uncertain conspiracy theory about his parents, a blue pedal car, a space ship ride, perhaps more a blimp than a ship, down by the shops. And more uncertainties about who was the spy and who the reader. Was there anything at all to be afraid of? And if there was abuse involved, who abused whom? Who to blame, who to impale? I felt this could have been a tale of wonder but it sure put the winders up me instead. Hugger-mugger, and loop the loop, it halted the confident swagger of my well-tried divulging-to-you methods after reading something. As a boy I had I-Spy books as helpful templates for my country walks. Many years later, I genuinely knew people called Pilbeam and Hanson in my grown-up day job many years ago.


    I think I am afraid of this book already. The thoughts of the narrator about theirself and Billy Shaws, are enough to make any sighted reader afraid, I’m afraid. Such cold and deadpan words married to each other. Some other words curtained round, but with heads still sticking out. Can my epub version carry braille? Not seen the hardback version, so I’ll leave that to you. No audio available at all, I guess, especially to hear the sad birdsong after we die.

  3. When do you think it was, in the history of human evolution, that we decided to divorce reality from dreaming?” — Glen Hirshberg


    “He wore a soft blue shirt the color of the sky, slightly worn at the elbows.”

    I read the Hirshberg quote this very morning in the last chapter of the Infinity Dreams book HERE. This Hirshberg work has now inadvertently turned out, In more ways than one, to possess a chance inadvertent synergy with this brief entrancing story of a small boy in a large house and his idyllic life of sleeping, meals, TV, sleeping again, without anyone else around who appears to make these meals, on and on. Nobody else around at all, ever. Till he starts dreaming for the first time, of a man and woman at various stages, who appear to be his parents in the same house. He only connects the word ‘dream’ with this experience gradually and the last dream divulged to us in this strange evolution is one of not knowing what it might turn into — a dream or reality, a nice dream or a nice reality or a nightmare dream or a nightmare reality … even nothing or something?
    To be afraid of or not?


    “There was a foundation into which a house had collapsed long ago and a pole barn with trees growing up through the empty roof.”

    Disarmingly shocking, if that were possible, but now it surely is!
    It also has a situational meaning in assonance with the plot of the previous story, but instead of a small boy here it’s an even smaller girl, one dressed in a baby doll nightie and who has an eventual flighty relationship with a taxi-driver…


    “I want, but I don’t love what I want anymore.”

    A man and a woman as wife and her beloved bird named after him, and I wondered about the nature of narrator actually being held out to me on a fork. Who or what is holding out the fork and who or what is at the other end of the fork and who or what is having it held out for eating or reading. Who or what was I afraid of? Not understanding this or fully understanding it?
    I imagined this to be what Henry Green’s lost works would read like.


    “The shrew handling this sale thought of me as a temporary custodian of goods. […] These shrewd customers are all like me. Nosey Parkers winding down pointless lives.”

    A miracle of mutual, yet inadvertent, synergy with a major work I have just been reading (here). These things happen to me more and more. This one, as well as uniquely tantalising in its own right and for its own sake, is a perfect coda, one of mischief, spite, sudden pratfalls, miniaturised fantasies, almost a religion of collecting, here, in the Hanson, conveyancing rivalries, and bric à brac forming the residue of lives as part of estate duties following death. The eponymous protagonist is followed by us readers in a particular house containing its denizen dealers, as he follows his own defiant instincts, in this story hankering after a doll’s house, and also buying things for their own sake as well as for mischief. With neat oblique references synergising towards some Swiftian infinity of modest proposals. And the psychological furniture and objects of Hirshberg’s HOME as well as Elizabeth Bowen’s.

    “Especially when things stop making perfect sense. You will need to be very careful how you sort this out…”


    A story that features Stalin in the Kremlin and a card trick.
    It FEELS archetypal as a famous and prophetic Swiftian fable or parable, one that should be read, if you are not afraid of its power, by anyone who has experienced recent history involving two blonde haired men who deliberately kept or still keep their hair messy as part of their prestidigitations of brainwashing and denial and narcissism and self-blindness to truth, as well as involving tropes of behaviour in Trump — and Putin, particularly now after this work was written.
    To tell you more would spoil this work for you.

  8. MORT

    “A bookstore is an endless series of doors opening and closing. Reminders that make you forget what you promised to do.”

    The ultimate Zeno’s Paradox story of getting nowhere: a reader’s digest condensation with the bits missing still being put back in? Not exactly, but a very witty work about book collecting in the mode of collecting discussed earlier in this review and about book stealing, too — with wondrous descriptions of books that I used to hanker after and see in secondhand bookshops in my heyday. Two male characters, ‘bilbliomanes’, one as narrator with an essence of poignancy, if not poisson, who is leaving Marie waiting in the cold somewhere; she will kill him if he is late … and he has concern for another woman called Eleanor for whom he buys books, Eleanor now being mindless on a machine in a special institution, and the other man is Mort who wants to find his own family crypt, and is autistic I think, and steals books as well as collects Sir Walter Scott actually to read! And much else. They are driving a car through traffic lights to pick up Marie. They get caught up in a funeral cortège, while talking about, inter alia, other car accidents — a cortège that somehow takes them into a cemetery maze forever, it seems, but how do I know if they ever get out? They should make a musical about this mighty work. A wonderful work, indeed, of literature that reads on and on, one of five works of literature I would want buried with me along with Proust and Aickman and Bowen! I’ll leave the fifth one blank by ‘cheating time.’ Well, this is a passion, if not poisson, of the reading moment, a moment that is everything. Lasts till the next moment, if it ever comes. “But nothing makes any sense really when you think about it.” — “Time is everything, even small portions of it.”

    PS: Mört is a type of fish that a character eats in an Aickman story.
    “I tell him: ‘I found a Nancy Drew for Eleanor,’ which opens up another can of worms.”

  9. Pingback: “Time is everything, even small portions of it.”  | The Des Lewis Gestalt Real-Time Reviews


    “‘I slept rugged,’ Tompkins repeated.
    ‘You can sleep in the car,’ said Mother brightly. She winked at me.”

    A bit like Candyland, this is shockingly disarming, it really is, with two parents of ‘perfect’ children, a boy called Tompkins and a girl called Bibby, parents who wish to return to their childless existence, and regularly try to abandon the kids, say, to a downbeat gas station pederast or a day at the beach left asleep together under the sun umbrella….
    It is all very neatly done with highly adept description of the accoutrements of behaviour that make their kids even more ‘endearing’ to us readers, and I think of my own ‘perfect’ son and daughter, now grown up but still deservingly absorbent of our valued time….
    Another very modest proposal… but shame the cloying Zeno’s Paradox of life never abandons us!

  11. Lily, Lily, Piccadilly

    “I am writing a sentence that will be in doubt halfway through,…”

    Another story that again has a link to my literally immediate concurrent reading (here).

    “Thomas Edison has a million ideas and all of them are being invented at once.”

    Lily, a polymath living with a female housecarer and mentor with, again in this book, a very young mental and/or physical age, here four and half (Charles Dodgson is somehow mentioned here), yes, Lily an A.D.D. without the H for Hanson, whereby the cemetery — with its headstones as a symbol, and as in the autism of Mort — is ever the path’s endgame, while Lily’s own posterity is everything she created or thought or provided to the world, I guess, when reading between the poignant lines. Labels work only if one ignores them or interprets them to match one’s backstory that one thinks one knows the meaning of.
    Like hunting, by finding, ghosts?

    “The longer you hunt for things in every direction the more things you find out; it doesn’t matter if you know what you are looking for, just that you are looking.”


    “How long had they been hunting?”

    This is a genuine classic. It should never be left unread. Seriously. I am glad I bought this book just for this story. The rest are bonus. But who knows what else I may find later in this book?
    It is the story of a boy growing up with his Uncle Silver and Benny, their morbid collecting of the dead, the dead’s knowledge and souls and belongings, their photos fading in and out, souls, colour and black and white, in shoeboxes, smells like urine and of an endless supply of cigarettes, and the classically good looking man they found sweeping up in a cafe, and later we found his name is like the horse Silver’s hirtshshit, the Lone Ranger gun — a work that is miraculously in mutual synergy with the collecting rituals in the Hirshberg Infinity Dreams, the obsessive collecting there by Normal and Spook to outwit inevitable entropy! — almost as if it it was meant spiritually for me to read them roughly together in recent days, and in mutual synergy with the entropy of finding, hunting, winning and losing in this very morning’s Rhys Hughes story Stork Reality. I am agog and speechless. In mutual synergy, too, with Aickman and Elizabeth Bowen. Read them all! Exciting days of entropy as a sort of literary fulfilment.

  13. Pingback: Collecting Rituals | The Des Lewis Gestalt Real-Time Reviews

  14. Pingback: Connected in Hindsight | The Des Lewis Gestalt Real-Time Reviews

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