“deep amidst the crab claw mangrove thickets of machinery“


The Anodizing Line

by Scott Nicolay

“This job is just a stepping stone for you but it’s your father’s whole career.”

I genuinely feel awestruck by what I have just read, completely fazed out of my tiny reading brain, in fact! Another full-length novella gulped inside, and its own reference to a ‘limp hose’ becomes tantamount to those photos of Worms Horribilis I showed earlier after AFTER. This work even has another stopclock!
Let’s be honest, one factor in this reading experience has been the synchronous, even preternatural, privilege of an intense mutual synergy with another new work that I happen to be reading alongside this one and its chapter 21 that I read this very morning (here), and its mind-fazing machine-for-machine’s-sake building that transpires into a weird vista of a landscape quite beyond it as seen via a cube within it. And, likewise, here in the Nicolay, just one example being…
“…somewhere deep amidst the crab claw mangrove thickets of machinery a great cogged wheel spinning like the underwater sun.”

Let’s be clear, these works are quite dissimilar with detailed plots unrecognisable from each other and there is no way these works could have known of each other. Yes, this synergy is just one factor why I have been awestruck. But the synergy was tantamount to an extra bonus track on a Bowie LP for me, because this Nicolay novella alone is worth dying for. With its mix of music references and its seemingly pointless factory’s clutter of machinery and dangerous chemicals and hoses, heat exchangers, and mazes of corridors, and PVC, and roof tanks, with only cursory health and safety, and other sludge ponds, indeed a vast factory complex where Kelly is working as a summer holiday temp, a young man with social awkwardness and whose father works at the factory in a low key position. He teams up with another more confident holiday temp called Bobby whose father is one of the factory’s top managers. That fact is not the only tension of characterisation and motives within the plot, and it’s their relationship that is supremely believable and suspenseful and eventually disturbing, just as some of the jobs in the factory these young men need to face are breathtakingly suspenseful. I cannot itemise all the scenes and their emotions, and inferences one makes about them, but one veritably lives with them, blow by blow, and Bobby’s supposed sexual goals with the girls in the highly secret Flashbulb section of the factory.

Their first task in the factory, just as one example, is clearing up mounds of contraptive clutter upon a vast balcony, and a foreman who has it in for them. Kelly’s character is wonderfully evolved and we really feel for him in whatever already affects a neuro-diverse man like him as well as his restraints or proclivities. It is all very heart-wrenching and essentially real. But it’s the nature of the factory and its environs and its sludge clearing scenes that are the ultimate unforgettabilities of this work. And the final scenes with an older man called Striker are something that come straight at you, and I dare suggest there is more and more to this work than meets the eye, stunning material that one gradually dwells on with one’s conclusions still ever-developing.

I am yearning to tell you more, such as the quim trembler!… but as I said before about another work above, it can only be read for yourself to even approximate the power I sense from having just done so. And, for me, I think I noticed at least four ‘elbow’ trigger-points in the plot. And Bobby’s a douchebag. And there is also Kelly’s “Joy Division and the Cure” as a trauma, a music reference that perhaps takes on a new meaning here — an ‘Oh oh oh oh oh, oooh’ to quote Bowie. But flip remarks like that from me should not in any way diminish the obvious attritionally consistent and seriously intended power of this work’s development and climax.

“So witness the future.”


Full context of above review here: https://etepsed.wordpress.com/scott-nicolay/

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