and a chandelier that hung in a bag like a cheese  

(above images from the new book THE GHOSTLY SEQUENCES by A.C. Wise)

the Bridge playing in…

THE DISINHERITED by Elizabeth Bowen

“Half-made roads, like the first knowing cuts of a scalpel, mapped the flank of the hill out, up to the concrete water-tower upon its crest.”

From this place of a new housing estate, no chickens allowed nor hanging out clothes, an estate near the village and its church, we reach the ever half-made roads of life at the end of this mighty novelette…

“She saw that events led nowhere, crisis was an illusion, and that passions of momentary violent reality were struck off like sparks from the spirit, only to die. One could precipitate nothing. One is empowered to live fully: occasion does not offer.”

My passions of the reading moment threatened by their built-in ends.

But this certainly is one helluva passion, this work, perhaps, in hindsight, EB’s masterpiece. One woman, Marianne, with an unsatisfactory marriage on the estate, the other, Davina, staying with her aunt in village, and being paid by the chauffeur, Prothero, for her kisses. And he not being called Prothero all along as we can judge by his own Joycean backstory that he scribbles out with the light of four candles…

“Whatever you did want it wasn’t that, whatever you did want you didn’t seem to be getting. I never did know what you did want and I don’t think you did. What you did get you didn’t want, that was me. But you got what you didn’t want. You got that and now I don’t want any more.”

And more!

The trip that Marianne and Davina take to Lord Thingumny’s mansion and gallery and grand saloon, a party of would-be or actual neerdowells, Oliver like a tree about to fall on Marianne, and kisses sold to darkness, if not for money, and Purdon the dentist, Miriam the tea lady from her shop in a horrible touristy place, and a White Russian and others. This is dangerous stuff, prophetically warning of the trends towards today…

“…she therefore despised Marianne’s habit of shopping by telephone, which put her, she thought, out of touch with reality.”

And pure Bowen’s half-made Zeno’s Paradox…

“This first phase of autumn was lovely; decay first made itself felt as an extreme sweetness: with just such a touch of delicious morbidity a lover might contemplate the idea of death. […] Everything rotted slowly. […] eternity seemed to have set in at late autumn.”

My own ‘Prothero’-like automatic writing:  Village church beetle-green gas canister trains city tentacles no shops on estate “the frontispiece to a ghost-story” a bridge party Dulwich dead baby in cistern Jewish girl “Marianne she was big-limbed, wide-browed, and looked like a diffident goddess” 15 years younger than hubbie invited Davina to her new house, nullish “clock ticked, but the room had no pulse” “A friend’s unknown friends are daemons or demigods with frightful attributes” revellers randomness misbegotten meeting at “The road-house stood at the cross-roads, its row of Christmas-card windows shedding a fictitious glow” “…you would unthink the thought you thought under the pillow,” Anita “Downstairs, in the ante-room, the gilt clock had stopped at ten minutes to four” housemaid awakening, Marianne “A segment of bright unknown world had fallen across her path, where it shed prisms” and much talk of social classes… “Oliver a broken-spirited Viking. He was capable of fantastically disinterested affections. Not having been born for nothing into a privileged class, he was, like Davina, entirely unscrupulous” ”…and a chandelier that hung in a bag like a cheese and glittered inside the muslin”…

But the chauffeur never passed on the message from amid the ramblings of his crooked brain. Let’s hope I am more successful in conveying why you should read this masterpiece of English literature, with Aickman vibes and modernist trends.

“Then he said he thought the end of the world would soon come.”

My ongoing reviews of all Elizabeth Bowen stories:

Apples and Eggs

‘Now and then in the grass his foot knocked a dropped apple – he would sigh, stoop rather stiffly, pick up the apple, examine it with the pad of his thumb for bruises and slip it, tenderly as though it had been an egg, into a baggy pocket of his tweed coat. This was not a good apple year.” – Elizabeth Bowen, Summer Night

My ongoing links to an enormous project of gestalt real-time reviewing all the stories of Elizabeth Bowen:

A Sail of Smoke

THE GOOD EARL by Elizabeth Bowen

“…and the Earl was informing the Lady Mary that they should be enabled to set their clocks by the Steamer’s passing by of the Castle terrace.”

This is a strange and somehow captivating story in a semi-archaic style with capitalisations that make it seem as if a mythology, even a religion, such as Little Dog, (the Protestant ‘god’ backwards?) After the Bad Earl, his son the Good, owning both  shores of this Irish Lough, but not its tides, renovates the castle with its no doubt Last Balcony (I infer)  or terrace balustrade where the Lady Mary his only  child  stands at the end viewing  some arcane Christlike Vision as her father is returned dead in the Steamer he had yearned to finance (awkwardly unavailable finance)  so as to service the new Hotel project  (an Inn with room enough?) that he was building. There are some blurred and tantalisingly unknowing romantic moments  of Lady Mary (“ignorant that she was a woman”) with a man called Harris and uncertain narration about all of this (as uncertain as the Capitalisations)  by someone among  ‘we young fellows’. I felt hallucinated by this strangest of fictions… particularly by the Steamer and other poignancies of some invented faith now made real… “So white was she that we all smiled with sorrow. No sail bore  her, only a sail of smoke which was devoured up by the sun…” 

Cf the steam-yacht scenario in Robert Aickman’s GO BACK AT ONCE novel!


All my reviews so far of Bowens’s massive story canon:

A Foothold in Coordinated Triangulation – a great ghost story that benefits from sharing…

FOOTHOLD by Elizabeth Bowen

“(I like the third person imperative.)”

…’Let it howl’, as imperative — the wind. And at the end the wind fidgets the curtain and I believe THAT is Clara, the ghost behind the curtain blaming wind for her shape being able to shape it out as her shape. But that’s just me!

The ghost has got or is getting a foothold here, called Clara, as we earlier came down to breakfast, but the butler has not yet brought the boiled eggs. Thomas is staying with a married couple Janet and Gerard in their new mansion where Janet, to her husband’s worrying chagrin, has sort of set the ghost going from her mind, and it has now become arguably real. With Thomas seeing it and then he suspects Gerard sees it, too, at the end, after circling the port, and as Thomas can’t find the light switch on the landing, listening to Janet in her room talking to Clara… And, in between the breakfast and the end, there is the most complex Proustian, Aickmanesque paradox of unending time and half-atmospheres, but essentially a Bowendigo of meticulous and stylistically difficult, endlessly interpretable, interaction between the three people and the ghost, but whose is the Shadowy Third’s imperative? With much prose tactility of decoration & fabric words and psychological furniture (“It wears the material veil pretty thin”) and breakfast food, and yes, port, and talk of dogs and the couple’s distant, but still growing up children. Thomas wants to retire as a writer into Proust… while reading this story is like (its own) “losing a book in the move, knowing one can’t really have lost it, that it must have got into the shelves somewhere, but not being able to trace it.” It has a foothold somewhere other than in what you can grasp.

Some important passages…[…]


All my EB story reviews so far:

Note my long held beliefs shown in public about readers triangulating coordinates in gestalt real-time reviewing!

Elizabeth Bowen’s own triangulating signal—


Nightscript Storeys

Thanks, Danny. Really gratifying.
If what I do to inspire myself within the world of creative fiction helps others, too, as its collateral — then thank heavens for such serendipity, I say.

Hopefully, I am now retroactively earning properly my BFS Karl Edward Wagner Award in 1998, when I was completely bemused why and how I had been thus honoured!

My full review here:

The Overture to the Worst


(Image within above book is by Reggie Oliver)


“Some few scarlet berries, spared by the birds, gleamed bravely out of the stacks of holly,…”

A somewhat comic ghost story down a few notches of sophisticated texture from EB’s GREEN HOLLY, and including satire of the arts (including Momo’s, if not Nono’s, incomprehensible flute music!) and a similar social party scene (this one with  a Gothic ballroom and talk of or on roofs  et al, maybe helping Santa up there, and now and again talk of the occult) seeming quite reminiscent of Aickman’s LARGER THAN ONESELF (reviewed HERE), there, in Aickman, Mr Coner, and here Lady Cuckoo (surely that is not her real name!) who has suddenly  not enough space in her huge manorial  nest for all her Christmas visitors (about whose characters we learn much that is disposable, viz. about their marital aims etc.), — and she has to open, as an emergency, the Gothic wing, with its jackdaws’ nests, ‘reek of ancient damp’ etc. etc. A Wing that is larger than itself? A lot of “idiotic games” ensue, including Sardines and Hide and Seek…

“This, no doubt, was the overture to the Worst.”


My ongoing reviews of all Elizabeth Bowen’s stories:


Tawûsê Melek 


Madam and Yves 
Marc Joan

“…the feeling grew on me that there was something there, some hidden design. Something intangible; something that, at first, I could not quite discern.”

The bits of this whole book, as if now told to PRINT! as far as it’s got, bits of one, bits of another in it, the last three stories above in particular, perfect doll (“a doll-like creature with dog’s breasts, her fecund pelvis perched on famine-child legs, grinned at me in a revolting parody of allure…”) and earlier museum mutants as golems alike, in a bookface stream of multi-polymer app-apotheoses of 3D printing to see who is the Zoroastrian god beyond even MelekTOASE, now twisted askew by my own pretensions of an exterior god gestalt, as this storyGOD tries to do before I can, outdoing even the freehold author’s story, having already outdone his leasehold narrator Georges who was trying to bring together bits of his lover Yves (himself a god of polymer faces spreading them piecemeal to create a gestalt between bits of them), all happening in Yves’ studio after he has seemingly died, Georges doing this by co-opting, by creating a communication relationship with, one of Yves’ software creatures, a maDAM gender but multi-formed, but here in my own relationship with her I am bluffing to maintain my way with this story and the fact that I can freely admit bluffing shows my omnipotence beyond even Jarry’s unUbu and the others that strive to become supreme. All trying to make others in their own image, as I do with all the stories that I have, as god-reviewer, so-called reviewed over the years ! Beyond the ultimate literary “doppelgänger mask” and the “The unclotting of memories!” And the “How can gods rest without adoration?” syndrome. And many long passages of physically app-covivid Frankensteining that ineluctably blow the reader’s mind. Now all mine!


All my reviews if the latest amazing NIGHTSCRIPT: