MEDLAR by Joanne Done


NIGHTJAR PRESS 2022 (my previous reviews of this publisher HERE)

“…it mocked every hypothesis, every equation, every poem and psalm ever thought or ever written.”

I looked up references to ‘medlar’ in Chaucer, I looked up Shakespeare…. But I was wrong about Andrew Marvell. I even morphed MEDLAR DONE to ’endodermal’ in strong resonance with Bevan’s Bull Frog arguably created as a hybrid by the coupling of the two Nightjars just reviewed before this ‘shadowy third’. But this Done story has remained the first ever  work of fiction that has genuinely bletted me, left me literarily pucker-arsed. Yet I did somehow have tactilely evoked for me by it — two girls kissing as they grew up, kissing to a mutual groaning brink, with certain men as threats, but which of these men nailed up the chicken wire?  Which the notorious murderer? Which the uncle, which the step dad? And why the dreaming spires transposed from  an inferred northern roughness? Why the specific names of women that sound like real ones, why the cream doughnuts and mandarin segments? 1970s stuff at first, while my first  era was the 1950s. And why did I read it twice? I rarely do. I may even do so a third time! Readying myself anew. The reading of a work like this is never done.

Not even DH Lawrence is helping much, something about ‘loving someone rotten’ and…
“A kiss, and a vivid spasm of farewell, a moment’s orgasm of rupture.
Then along the damp road alone, till the next turning.”  (from ‘Medlars and Sorb-Apples’)

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