Continuation from HERE of my dreamcatcher real-time review of A Season in Carcosa and The Grimscribe’s Puppets edited by Joe Pulver.


22 responses to “*

  1. imageThe Holiness of Desolation by Robert M. Price
    “Spines would be bent into broken circles, pages would have sloughed off their cheap glue to fall like autumn leaves…”
    I always recall with fondness dealing with this author at the turn of the 80s/90s when submitting stories to ‘The Crypt of Cthulhu’ that he edited. It is with great pleasure therefore to renew my acquaintanceship with him via this ‘fiction’ dealing with the unreal unreal and the real unreal, vis-a-vis an actual explicit mention of CATHR, and an unironic irony concerning that book’s collateral-suicide repercussions to other humans when extrapolated to considerations of dream and non-dream, plus an evocatively conjured township of decay and other matters. For the first time, perhaps, I have paid the price of interpretation, indulging the part of humanity’s angst that stems from too big a brain and tying myself into knots not only by these Dreamcatcher reviews but by reading real philosophers’ own rarefied mind-ligotti that Price describes. This story also deals with Proustian selves (that I think I have mentioned before in this on-going review) and with Jon Padgett’s ventriloquist-dummy symbiosis, or Gardner’s puppet-puppeteer. [And with my own Hawler part of ‘Nemonymous Night’ from which a passage concerning the ‘real unreal’, in so many words, was quoted by my old friend GS Carnivals on TLO a few years ago here.]

  2. Not Enough Hope: {for a king sorely missed, KEW} by Joseph S. Pulver, Sr.
    “How hard would it have been to navigate thirty steps and talk for a few minutes?”…. So even beyond those 20 Padgettian steps toward their optimum two-way ventriloquising between death and life, dream and non-dream, and between Price’s unreal unreal and real unreal…as I read, for the first but not the last time, Pulver’s theme and variations upon Chambers work – watching and listening to KEW as the KEY of KiY as well as its retrocausal sigil knot.
    I shall continue reading and rereading this Pulver and receiving more and more from it, as I shall reread KEW’s work, too, to enable those steps back and forth to be completed before I do truly end up on that mall with Elvis eating anchovies – and that was a great surprise and honour to me tonight to suddenly see that reference in the Pulver. Thanks, Joe.
    But, of course, that personal reference is trivial when compared to this multi-resonating story as a whole…and to a king’s sad death and the Sign many saw in his face at that time.

    A momentous night for me concerning those great ones who have sadly departed, because I have realised just now that I inadvertently and inexcusably missed out Joel Lane’s Carcosa story “My Voice Is Dead” when earlier reading and reviewing these two books’ stories in my gratuitously prescribed alphabetical-by-author’s-surname order (gratuitous other than as a preternatural experiment in dreamcatching?)
    Perhaps it was meant to be (but that’s still no excuse) – and I shall leave reading “My Voice Is Dead” till the very end of this review. The Last Ventriloquism.

    • And I have now spotted, upon checking, that I inadvertently missed out a Carcosa story by Michael Kelly. Sorry about that. I shall read it next.

      • The White-Face at Dawn by Michael Kelly
        A ‘yellow haze’ and a mannequin add a sense of Ligotti to Chambers, but which the ventriloquist which the dummy, retrocausal or otherwise? Spiders crepitating, creepy movements seen out the corner of the eye, a white-face at a balcony, a pallid mask, that is, atomised by spiders to make stone to flesh and sculpturally vice versa. Bereavement of love, then a new adoption: with death as Kelly’s new adoptee. Enjoyed this cloying, scuttling atmosphere surrounding a spider-human symbiosis that I once discovered (along with Prince Autumn) pervaded as a major leitmotif the VanderMeers’ huge WEIRD book… It as if we have here again entered a world where everything is sinister because that is how everything always is, undecorated with false hope or light. Truth is realistic, fiction a bubble, and this story is no bubble.

    • It was reported that KEW seemed unwell – with his face looking unusually yellow – by various people attending the 1994 BFS convention who saw him there, and he sadly died very soon thereafter.

  3. Finale, Act Two by Ann K. Schwader
    “In threnodies through bones…”
    This is a satisfyingly Casian and Cathrian poem through and through (tinged with Carcosa), and by saying that, I give it, from me, an enormous compliment. Serendipitously, I have been real-time reviewing, in the last few weeks (and still on-going), the new Penguin Classics edition of CAS’s ‘Dark Eidolon and Other Fantasies’ and here are my links to that review of his stories, prose poems and poetry and to my brave (!) reading-aloud only yesterday of the huge and mouth-trapping ‘Hashish-Eater: Apocalypse of Evil’ poem.

  4. No Signal by Darrell Schweitzer
    There seems something very Cathrian about forgetting one’s own daughter’s name. I manage to remember mine by having called her by a memorable name. There is, for me, something of an unremarkably linear and plain prose about this short short, but it retains a ring of a poetically narcissistic involution that, when coupled, with modern mobile corporate communication gone sour, will definitely stay with me. It also seems significant that a story entitled ‘No Signal’ appears in the Grimscribe book rather than the Carcosa one. Cf ‘Signalism’ earlier in this review.

  5. Salvation in Yellow by Robin Spriggs
    “A prayer. A prayer from the past to the future. Or from the future to the past. With moments of…of ‘now’ in between.”
    Retrocausal child-abuse, daughter’s name conveniently still unremembered as in the previous story just reviewed above, exonerated upon the high moral ground of the Christian religion, expressed by gradually degenerating staccato word-refrains. Salvation in Yellow, double yellow lines, the forward and the back in parallel, or double yellow lines that, in UK, would prevent you parking there or ark-ing her? Screams. Try Salvation in Yelling. Each level of the Knot of Home, Body and Self going deeper. Toward one of Lane’s Basement Angels. Review by staccato refrain. Words leaking. Into a Livid Furnace.

  6. The Xenumbulist: A Fable in Four Acts by Robin Spriggs
    “…he came up one step short. In the past he had always counted thirty-six, but tonight…”
    ‘Zenumbles and Fables!’ as Toby Belch shouted in Twelfth Night. Padgett’s twenty steps, then Pulver’s thirty, and we are, here, with Spriggs’ thirty-six, and whither now? This highly CASian and more subtly CATHRian story is a densely packed prose rite-of-passage through an imputed Christian church building and doorways to doorways, not Spriggs’ earlier Yellow Brick Highway so much as a scrying of an “oubliette of self”, toward some aeonic Yoh-Vombis, I guess, or wherever your weird leanings, as reader, take you on the back of this author. Its signal purpose, within the wonderful dark journey, is, for me, to hide a Mad Valve (a type of fuligin braid or ectoplasmic knot) within an anagram: ‘Lamed Vav’.

  7. I read and reviewed the next story – by Simon Strantzas – here, a few weeks ago, and below is a copy of what I wrote:

    [[ By Invisible Hands
    “The house around him was peculiar, but its design called forth something from the void of his memory, some arcane thought that barely surfaced like a leviathan beneath arctic ice.”
    His hands riven not so much by arctic ice but by many an arthritic ligottus, this is the tale of an aged and still ageing puppet-maker, an effectively and unashamedly Gothic-textured fable of identity and control – and I dare you not to go along with its dark spirit.
    Mr. L—: I have need of your services. Please come at once.” ]]

    Cf the Jon Padgett and Cate Gardner stories.

  8. I also read and reviewed the next story – by Simon Strantzas – a few weeks ago at the same link as above. This is a copy of what I wrote:

    [[ Beyond the Banks of the River Seine
    “Few truly know those they idolise most.”
    This story is, for me, the book truly back on track. And that is not only because it is about classical music, my deepest leisure-time love, but also because it combines a Proustian unrequited love of a lady, the jealousy and envy of composers, the nature of art, the Dr Faustus theme of Thomas Mann where that book’s classical music is reaped from a harvest of the Devil, and here, in the Strantzas, the Devil is skilfully represented by a hybrid of three things: Chambers’ Carcosa, an imputed Lovecraftian xenophobia concerning alien breeds from abroad and the failed requital of obsessive love. ]]

  9. So glad you enjoyed it, Des. Always hoped when you came upon it, you wouldn’t want me dead. Also, always thought if any writer I admire was Carcosan through and through, it was you, so I had to drop you into one of my tales.



  10. King Wolf by Anna Tambour
    “–loving the idea of kids.”
    This is a satisfying ‘al dente’ texture of dialogue enfolding the described beginnings of an Australian ‘walkabout’, a cross between a conjuring of Narnia (magic yellow rings?) and Lord of the Flies, as, toward a funeral, a car has been carrying a family and it suddenly crashes, and the driver, a version of Spriggs’ Daddy Preacher, I infer, and his wife, are killed, leaving the kids with their fantasisations, nonsense names for pets, their own pet names, their magnified enemies, their oblique role-playing and brave trials, the deadpan acceptance of what has happened to them, the deadpan blotting out of certain memories, lending an intriguing backdrop to Kelly’s adopter and adoptee scenario and to Cathrian anti-Natalism, adults as monsters…careless of what is shown to children and what they want children to show to them. That Highway again. “…she walked a trail of yellow bricks.”

  11. The Prosthesis by Jeffrey Thomas
    “Some people have too many children, and some people don’t have any.”
    Ignoring the twist at the end of this tale, which you will need to discover for yourself, I can say that this story of an all-purpose prosthesis factory amid atmospheric derelict Cathrian Corporatism – with a character rather too obviously called Crampton – fits well upon the body of stories that both books have moulded in my mind as a breathing and walking gestalt. Here, Thomas cleverly brings the adopter/adoptee theme toward phantom births and dolls as missing offspring, even extending, “as autumn deepened”, into Frankenstein proportions…

  12. Where We Will All Be by Paul G. Tremblay
    “The news ticker at the bottom of the screen is unreadable. Yellow letters and symbols overlap and blur.”
    On the macro level, a page-turning SF ‘disaster’ apotheosis of the flashmob diaspora. On a micro level, the disconnect between parent and child, adopter and adoptee. On this double review’s level, a story of the loner who survives simply because he is a loner, a loner because he is different…escaping that Gailestis river, a river within the sea… The blue star now a high-beam symbol.
    “The crowd bears his weight like he’s not there, like a river carrying a log.”

  13. The Human Moth by Kaaron Warren
    “They took in foster children, for your own good,…”
    A highly haunting tale of moth, mother, ‘no mouth’, where the human protagonist resonates in reality between what she is and what she believes she is, yellow lilac, I infer, turning purple in her throat, or, more obviously, that review-starting blue star flower, where a moth or the moth is shown here as becoming the essential sigil of Cathrianism. Death for all us, whether we are curtain-closed or curtain-open people. Open or unadulterated light is always a certain strength or weakness of yellow, I guess. A story as exquisition.

  14. Movie Night at Phil’s by Don Webb
    As well as tellingly significant to this review inasmuch as transgressive films are seen to be adding to a father-son symbiosis or bonding, this accretively believable tale of Roger Corman films, the last one of which is, of course, his Blish-based film entitled ‘The King in Yellow’, reminds me of the legendary, and also accretively believable, story about films entitled The Vanishing Life and Films of Emmanuel Escobada that was published in 2002 and remains anonymously written until this very day, although Joel Lane (as well as myself) knew who wrote it, as Joel acknowledged with reference to its influence, as stated in one of his novella books. I can give this Webb story no bigger compliment than this comparison, although it is quite different in style and subject-matter (other than being about films). It is also significant, for me, that this story was originally intended to be the culmination of my alphabetically-ordered double-review (an intention not to be fulfilled, as it turned out and as explained above) – significant, because it finally links the two books as strongly as they can be linked with its references to the ‘Suicide Chambers’ or, as I call them in “Nemonymous Night”, ‘Lethal Chambers’ as Chambers himself, I remember, called them, too.

  15. imageA Ventriloquiser with Dummy, or a Rorschach Sigil? These are landmark books that are both those things – separately and together.
    My Voice is Dead by Joel Lane
    “Is he an Elvis impersonator?”
    I loved the use of the word ‘littorally’ on page 9. This is a Lane-like story of someone “objectively speaking, close to death” who is tempted into Signal Yellowism, amid anonymous messages on the Internet, from his rosary-knotting membership of, tellingly, a child-abuse harbouring Christian Church… Wherein which story Cassilda’s Cathrian Kiss is a “twisted” Key to a KiY: into a lock that is a Knot… A Ligottus… “A teenage couple with a pram crossed the narrow road in front of the car. ‘Mindless creatures,’ he muttered. ‘If I ran them down, who’d know the difference? Their world means less than the world of slugs. You haven’t told anyone where you’re going, have you?'”

  16. Significant discovery of THE YELLOW CHRIST by Paul Gauguin (1889) showing Breton women praying… http://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2014/10/27/the-monks-bible/#comment-3403

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