Real-Time Review continued from HERE

What Shall We Do About Barker? – Reginald Oliver
“…he had begun to talk about women, or ‘the wimskys’ as he liked to call them, making them sound like a rare breed of flightless bird.”
In many ways a mutation or inversion of the Ted & Ralph sketches from the Fast Show, subtly laced with Monty Python’s unsubtle ‘anyone for tennis?’ skit.  This Reggiefication of a  bloody sex romp of a story is a hilarious caricature of people like me and my wife (in their sixties and been married for over forty years), but, here, it is a tally-ho Colonel and his wife whose baby daughter, many years before, had been born 9 months after both of them had enjoyed a gory bullfight in Barcelona! Meanwhile, the Colonel’s gamekeeper, Barker, who’s  he meant to caricature? (12 Oct 12 – 1.05 pm bst)

Old Grudge Ender – David A. Riley
“Grudge End was close knit with close-knit mouths.”
As earlier with ‘One of the Family’, here we have an American visiting UK, particularly the industrial township of Grudge End (with “infanticide and madness replacing witchcraft as the main scapegoats in recent times.”) in research for his book about evil cults etc. [possibly also drawn here by having read Riley’s own prequel about Grudge End (a place so pungently named it seems ripe for such research and, no doubt, for reconcilement as a name at all for any place!), a prequel printed  by Mains in this very anthology’s own prequel: ‘Back From the Dead’]. He eventually encounters not his long-lost family one by one as in the Taylor story, but, with oblique co-resonance, drabbier, blankier, waxier, lardier, zombier versions one-by-one of the fat dialect-speaking local he met in a pub near Grudge End…. This story is threaded through with a drink-driving moral message (alcohol here force-fed, to ensure such come-uppance, in the same way as the food is force -fed in the Miles story, force- fed, as it happens, with the good old ‘true spirit’). There are many wonderful stock Horror moments and memorable turns of phrase in this story. I shall no doubt remember it as equally as I remembered its prequel. (12 Oct 12 – 3.35 pm bst)

Jack and Jill – Steve Rasnic Tem
“–how his dad had been in his cups when Jack were born, and how his mum died during the event. Some would say she were dead before the event.”
A marvellous raw, nigh-Homeric dialect of a fiction gem, incorporating the local in Grudge End’s speech rhythms (the Grudge at this township’s End here being an ancient barrow full of ‘treasures’, J&J’s famous hill?) and incorporating Moore’s you/I-type Pronoun Horror – even inCORPOrating this book’s apparent central leitmotif when Jill’s own treasure is rifled from her own barrow. Loved it! (13 Oct 12 – 9.00 am bst)

The Blackshore Dreamer – John Burke
Do you know, to this day when a man’s at sea his wife at home will never throw away an eggshell without smashing it into tiny pieces.”
A substantive horror story, a genuine classic of this genre, one that I’ve not read before. Science versus superstition in 1889; a sea township encompassing a battle between good and evil telepathists; conveying a sense of dreams and ghosts drifting on the air (as well as a ‘priapic fever’:  a wonderful phrase for ‘lust’) … these dreams being ‘read’ by the telepathists in the same way as I see readers inferring and visualising leitmotifs from any words of fiction that they happen to read: amid what I sense to be a subtle Innsmouth-like soul underlying the cruel historical underbelly of this ‘Grudge End’ of a seaport – all written in a wonderful prose conjuring up these images and more. For example, the first section of the story is about a barge docking and this seems to me like a metaphor for childbirth, foreshadowing the plot’s direct news later of a pregnancy, a pregnancy by  the end of the story (hopefully not a spoiler) giving HOPE, I sense, to this book’s apparent central leitmotif  instead of the earlier various shades of ‘infanticide’…  (13 Oct 12 – 11.35 am bst)



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